There's something about 'Hothouse' that I love - in some ways, it's perfect 'Doctor Who', with a megalomaniac rock star turned environmental campaigner (think Sting crossed with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, wonderfully played by Nigel Planer) cultivating alien plant creatures - Krynoids - in the hope of saving the Earth from the devastation that humanity has caused. Naturally, things escalate out of control, and it's up to the Doctor to stop him and save the world.
Which is all well and good - except for the fact that, give or take a few small differences, the plot is worryingly similar to that of 'The Seeds of Doom', the 1970s TV story which saw Tom Baker's Doctor battle the Krynoids. Nigel Planer's character, Alex Marlowe, is just as unhinged as Tony Beckley's Harrison Chase from that story, and both have their bases in the grounds of an English country house. These similarities aren't necessarily a problem in themselves, but if you've seen 'The Seeds of Doom', you'll have a pretty good idea about where things are heading. Unfortunately, 'Hothouse' also suffers a little from the fact that the Krynoids aren't all that well-suited to audio - their appeal is very much in their visual appearance. Although there are a few fairly chilling scenes where we hear the pleas of poor unfortunates who have been infected and are slowly being transformed into the creatures, it's not quite enough to shake the nagging feeling that whoever thought it would be a good idea to revive the Krynoids didn't really think things through.
I'm left rather conflicted about 'Hothouse' in the end. Nigel Planer is good fun, cast against type in the role of a villain. Also, Paul McGann offers one of his most interesting performances as the Doctor - isolated from humanity for years thanks to his extended stay on Orbis, he's lost his affinity with human beings, making him a much more unpredictable, sometimes even cold figure, albeit with that essential element of compassion lingering beneath the surface. It feels very contemporary, and is full of great ideas - but they're not particularly original ideas.