The final story of Tom Baker's second season as Doctor Who comes to dvd. This six episode long story sees the Doctor dealing with both alien and human monsters. He and Sarah Jane are called to an arctic research base to investigate something found in the Ice. Which turns out to be a Krynoid. An alien plant creature that could infect the world.
But the human monster, obsessive millionaire and plant lover Harrison Chase, would like the Krynoid for himself. And after he gets a Krynoid pod back to his manor house in England, the Doctor and Sarah have a fight on their hands. With the future of the entire planet at stake....
The Seeds of Doom comes from a time when the show was absolutely at the top of it's game. The programme and it's star were hugely popular with the public. The producers were giving the viewers gripping tales of gothic terror. And there were very talented people involved from the acting to the writing to the producing and directing departments.
All of which leads to six classic episodes. It stretches itself to six parts by concentrating on the arctic situation for the first two and then what happens back in Britain afterwards. This approach never makes it feel padded. And coupled with a memorable array of supporting characters - Tony Beckley as Harrison Chase exudes menace and is never over the top. John Challis makes his henchman Scorby a fully rounded character with some depth rather than just a thug. And you have to like man from the ministry Sir Colin, an astute individual worlds away from the self serving buffoons of the third doctor's years - this becomes good strong adult drama.
The Doctor does get a bit violent at times, but that's because he understands how high the stakes are. There's some rather gruesome alien possession as the Krynoid takes over people. And it is a bit of a weak exit from the series for UNIT, as their last appearance in a 1970s story sees none of the regular shows. But you can't really criticise. This is classic Doctor Who. Well made and acted and superb entertainment all round.
This is a two disc edition. All six episodes of the story are on disc one.
It has the following language options:
English audio captions.
A commentary from Tom Baker and several members of cast and crew plus the son of the late Douglas Camfield, who directed it.
Disc two has the following extras:
Photo gallery of shots from the story and it's production.
Production information subtitles.
Radio times billings for the story and the director's paper edit as PDF Files that can be viewed by putting the disc into a computer.
'Podshock': A thirty seven minute long documentary about the making of the story.
'Playing the green cathedral', a ten minute long interview with composer of the incidental music for the story. Even if you're not musically minded this is quite interesting viewing as he's a good interviewee.
'Stripped for action: fourth doctor', another in the series that has spread across this range looking at the Doctor's time in comic strips this covers the fourth doctor's era and runs for twenty minutes. Possibly only of interest to comic fans but even so it's an interesting look at how the monthly doctor who magazine began and changed the landscape of the form in many ways.
'Now and then', runs for nine minutes and looks round Athelhampton House in Dorset which was used for a lot of the location filming. Showing off some very lovely scenery this is well worth a watch.
'So what do you do exactly?' has production assistant and later director of other doctor who stories Graeme Harper explain, in a six minute feature, what some of the jobs you always see on tv show credits entail. If you're curious about that then this is very good viewing,
Isolated score gives you the chance to listen to the music from the story on it's own.
There's a trailer for the next release in this range of dvds.
And there are two easter eggs which can be found by watching the second disc on a computer and moving the pointer over the special feature screens till they light up a hidden doctor who logo. There's one on each of the two pages of special features on this disc. The first shows a very funny outake. And the second has actor John Challis [Scorby] tell of the time when Doctor Who met another famous BBC character. It's a funny little anecdote.
The story alone makes this worth five stars, but there's a pretty good batch of extras to go with it.
on 31 May 2010
It is no surprise to learn that Robert Banks Stewart, the writer of "The Seeds of Doom", also contributed to "The Sweeney", for if we ever came close to finding out the Doctor's real name, it is in this story, where it could easily have been revealed to be Jack Regan. This is the Action Man Doctor - crashing through windows, thumping goons, waving guns around, even crashing chairs over heads. "SHUT IT!!" His response to the threat posed by this week's special guest aliens (or perhaps in this case we should call them "blaggers"), the intelligent plant-life Krynoids, is equally one that would make the Brigadier blush with pride. "Finally", the Brig must have sighed, "I've cracked him! He's got the taste for napalm in the morning!" Such a pity it had to happen during the Brig's day off. Similarly absent from "The Seeds of Doom" is any concept of negotiation or restraint; rarely, if ever, has the Doctor been so belligerent (does that UNIT Sergeant REALLY deserve the tongue-lashing he gets for asking what seems like a reasonable enough question?). But questions over its' loyalty to the series' model aside, "The Seeds of Doom" is one of the greatest Doctor Who adventures simply for being a far superior production to the standards of the time. Tom Baker is at his zenith here ("If the Krynoids get established on this planet, Sir Colin, it will mean the end of everything, even your PENSION!") and the supporting cast is up there with the strongest of any story in the "old" Doctor Who, with well-drawn and believable characters convincingly played, and primed with well-crafted dialogue that provides depth as well as wit. Tony Beckley is an enjoyable and suitably menacing villain as the quietly demented Sir Harrison Chase, and while some of the visual effects are typically clumsy the Krynoid monsters are impressive. There is also an understated yet ominous musical score running throughout the story, in keeping with the whole "Quatermass" vibe.
It may not be "true" Who, but it doesn't matter when it's this good. An excellent adventure.
Tom Baker excels as the "Double-O 4th" Doctor, taking on a `green-fingered' villain in an epic action thriller. Twine your tendrils round this ripe fruit of the DVD range and take root in a classic tale of greed and grotesque greenery! 5*
(Review of the DVD Edition plus reviews of the Special Features.)
Robert Banks Stewart wrote only two completed stories for `Doctor Who', but two of the very best. `Terror of the Zygons' and `The Seeds of Doom' opened and closed a superb season in style. Where `Terror' felt like a Fourth Doctor story despite its earthbound UNIT setting, to me `The Seeds of Doom' seems like a splendid hybrid, a familiar offshoot grown from the serious science fiction action roots of Jon Pertwee's first season, plus darkness and green horror grafted on to perfectly match the rest of the aptly numbered `Gothic' Season Thirteen.
Tom Baker is at his very best in a terrific performance as the Doctor faces the appalling threat of the Krynoid, an alien plant species that will turn all Earth's green kingdom against the "animal parasites". It's also an unusually stern performance for this Doctor, there are a few moments of irreverence at the expense of villains and officials, but for the most part the Doctor is intense and serious with flashes of anger and quite ready to use direct violence in his desperate struggle to save humanity.
Whereas Jon Pertwee would have employed `Venusian Aikido', here the Fourth Doctor is a full-on action hero as he breaks through windows, jumps villains, bangs them against car doors, throws very effective punches, puts one thug in hospital and smashes another over the head with a chair (a moment that has Tom Baker saying "good heavens!" on the commentary!) It's more like watching Mr. Bond or `The Saint' at times, brilliantly directed by Douglas Camfield, famous for his `Doctor Who' action stories from `The Web of Fear' to `Terror of the Zygons' and this one, which sadly was his last. Apart from a few model shots and brief stock inserts, there was no film used in this story; the extensive location work was also done on video and this creates a seamless, colourful and very sharp production which looks excellent on this DVD and upscales to an HD TV perfectly.
Two Krynoid seed pods have lain frozen in the Antarctic for years, quite safely, until they are dug up by a scientific expedition and returned to the warmth and light of their base. This is a story about greed as much as alien greenery - the Krynoid wants to live in what for it is the terrifyingly natural way, but the threat to Earth also comes from human avarice - first a scientist protective of his discovery, then a corrupt official out for money and finally the covetous desire to own the pod at all costs from millionaire Harrison Chase.
Tony Beckley gives a gloriously greenery-chewing performance as the cold, crazed plant-loving (and animal and human-hating) aristocrat with black gloves, a palatial manor house, a "green cathedral" of plants serenaded on his electronic organ and a growling beast in a back room - his lethal, chomping compost-grinder... Every `Bond villain' needs a henchman and he has one of the best. John Challis is superb as Scorby, ruthless and violent but with a streak of dark humour; as his brutal world collapses around him, he and the Doctor play off each other brilliantly as they are forced into an alliance against the growing green menace.
And what a menace! From dormant pod, to waving tendril to human possession and then by horrific body-transforming stages to a towering monster, the Krynoid is an unforgettable grotesque created by excellent design and model work and great acting by Mark Jones as the unfortunate Keeler, a botanist with uncertain morals who gets much too close to his work ... I hadn't watched this story since its first broadcast almost 40 years ago and yet I remembered so many details from all six episodes; that's how strong this production is.
Set partly in Antarctica and partly around an English country house, the excellent location work and really impressive model filming are backed up by superb sets by designers Roger Murray-Leach and Jeremy Bear, stylishly lit with appropriate brightness and `Gothic' gloom. Where some `Doctor Who' stories have just a few sets, this one creates not only a snowbound scientific base in detail, but room after room of Chase's mansion (some used for just one brief scene) including his plant-filled "green cathedral". The sense of scale is impressive; this is an attempt at making a big-screen thriller on a `Doctor Who' budget - and it works! Geoffrey Burgon's distinctive music (also heard in `Terror of the Zygons') adds to the filmic quality and creates a great atmosphere; sometimes ethereal and otherworldly, sometimes filled with tension and menace.
It's a very unusual story in that, apart from his vital knowledge of the threat the Krynoid poses to Earth, the facts that the Doctor is a Time Lord and a scientific genius are irrelevant here. Tom Baker effortlessly adds the Doctor to the ranks of great action heroes of fiction from Allan Quartermain onwards; the weapons and technology he uses are all of actual or believable Earth origin. Even the ultimate solution is a human one, not a device of the Doctor's invention - I won't give away too much, but it's safe to say the Brigadier would have loved it!
There's a large and excellent guest cast, but unfortunately Nicholas Courtney wasn't available to appear in what would have been the final `official' UNIT story of the era, so here UNIT is represented by his deputy Major Beresford (John Acheson) when they are called in by Sir Colin Thackeray from the World Ecology Bureau (Michael Barrington). For once in `Doctor Who' we have a civil servant who investigates and takes useful action and is not just a pompous ass! Helped by the wonderfully eccentric flower artist and would-be amateur agent Miss Amelia Ducat (Sylvia Coleridge) "I have wartime experience!" - they provide essential aid to the Doctor and Sarah, who need all the help they can get. Elisabeth Sladen is excellent as usual, and is provided with some very good dialogue and a quite balanced mix of `damsel in distress' and `heroine to the rescue' action; without her timely intervention, the Doctor would have met a very sticky end - and even he could not have regenerated his way out of this one...!
Open the pod and plant `The Seeds of Doom' in your DVD player, then watch the story grow through six episodes of outstanding horticultural horror. Krynoids are a very invasive species so look out for the tendrils ...
Five pods - I mean five stars, thanks for reading. 5*
DVD Special Features:
On Disk 1:
The commentary is very good with a great set of contributors. John Challis is especially good with many fun anecdotes, as is Tom Baker of course. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe, Robert Banks Stewart and Roger Murray-Leach give interesting and entertaining details of the production, Joggs Camfield remembers his father's work as Director and Kenneth Gilbert (Dunbar) and Michael McStay (Moberley) remember their guest appearances in the story.
On Disk 2:
`Podshock' (37 min) - an excellent and very well-presented `making of' feature with many of the same contributors (but sadly not Tom Baker), also joined by composer Geoffrey Burgon.
`Now and Then' (9 min) - a comparative tour around the locations decades later, mainly the gardens of Athelhampton House in Dorset.
`Playing in the Green Cathedral' (10 min) - an excellent interview with composer Geoffrey Burgon about his innovative music for `The Seeds of Doom' and `Terror of the Zygons'. As I'm also a fan of the 1970s BBC adaptations of M.R. James' ghost stories (which I highly recommend), I was pleased they highlighted the superb, unsettling music he wrote for `The Treasure of Abbot Thomas'.
`So What Do You Do Exactly?' (6 min) - a very good short feature with Graeme Harper, then the First Assistant Director to Douglas Camfield, talking about the production. Of course he became a well-known director himself, including in the world of `Doctor Who' for the riveting `The Caves of Androzani' and the later `Revelation of the Daleks'.
`Stripped For Action - The Fourth Doctor' (20 min) - if you are a fan of the `Doctor Who' comic strips this will be enjoyably nostalgic, it's quite interesting even if like me you've never read any.
The Photo Gallery (5 min) is very good, with some familiar pictures that will leap out at any fan my age who owned the 1976 edition of Target's `The Making of Doctor Who'. Now I can see them in colour!
`Radio Times' Listings in PDF format, also Douglas Camfield's paper edit for the (unmade) 90 minute omnibus edition, which I found interesting. No doubt the `Bonsai' version would have been good, but the full luxuriant growth of the six-parter is much better!
Two fun Easter Eggs, both thanks to contributions by John Challis.
on 28 May 2001
This is definitely one of the best DW adventures. Tom Baker is absolutely wonderful as the Doctor and here, he gives one of his best performances. He and Elisabeth Sladen are so natural together and they make a wonderful team. There are some great supporting performances, most notably from Tony Beckley as Harrison Chase an insane megalomanic millionaire. John Challis is also really good as Chase's No1 heavy, Scorby. Great plot Get it.
on 31 August 2007
The above is just one of the memorable lines uttered by Tom Baker's Doctor in this, what is regarded by many as the start of the so-called 'golden era' of Doctor Who. First broadcast in 1975 at the end of the fourth Doctor's second season, the serial sees Baker really hit his stride whilst Elisabeth Sladen exudes confidence; the resulting chemistry cementing the series' greatest double-act until Lalla Ward's Romana came along.
Not really one of the much-vaunted 'gothic' stories, this is more of a 'Boy's Own' romp, the action switching from Antarctic wastes to the mansion belonging to the sinister Harrison Chase, an unhinged billionaire botanist. Featuring green slimy monsters, ingenious methods of disposing of one's enemies and a host of 1970s TV stalwarts (plus the aforementioned John Challis), the story romps along at a cracking pace.
Whilst it is easy to mock the (clearly) polystyrene snow, rubbery aliens and fake locations, these are exactly what gave 1970s (and to a lesser degree) 1980s 'Who' its charm and great appeal. I have watched this story more than any other and it never fails to remind me of why I am such a fan of the show.
"Mr Stevenson, what you have done could very well result in the destruction of the entire human race..."
on 30 April 2001
It is generally perceived that Tom Bakers first two seasons as the Doctor were his best, and possibly the best ever. There are one of two stories which do stand above the rest. The brilliant Seeds of Doom being one of these.
I always felt that some of the earlier 6+ parters had too much padding causing boring repetiveness. Not so here. This story has the depth to be worthy of a six parter. Tom and Elizabeth really shine here and there are some terrific supporting performances too. Notably Harrisson Chase the meglomanic Millionaire who grows steadily madder by the second and thinks he is part of the plant world. Great Production, Great Costume Design and Direction. What more can you ask for in a Who story?. (Except Leighbridge-Stewart, Benton and co. as the UNIT team brought in). Nevertheless, TERRIFIC STUFF!
on 3 June 2003
This story is the highlight of the Tom Baker era and one of the best Dr.Who stories of them all. The Antarctica scenes are well done and the story never sags across six episodes. The transformation scenes are almost painful to watch and the large Krynoid at the end is surprisingly effective.
Scorby (played by John Challis- Boycie from Only Fools and Horses) undergoes genuine character development over the course of the story so that we're almost saddened by his (somewhat gratuitous) demise.
Evoking memories of The Thing From Outer Space this was one of the last truly creepy Doctor Who stories - sublime.
on 13 March 2001
Marvellous! Oh I could watch this video over and over and must've seen it 50 times already. This is probably the finest script ever written for a Who story and the performances of Elizabeth Sladen and Tom Baker must make them a TV classic coupling. A very adventurous story, taking us to the wilds of Antarctica and back, a mad genius bent on creating a new order on the earth and an early appearance from Boycy from "Folls and Horses" fame. Without doubt, the best Tom Baker and probably the best Who story EVER!
on 18 November 2010
It's taken a while for 'The Seeds of Doom' to be released on DVD, but the reputation of this six-part finale to Tom Baker's second season as the Doctor precedes it and it's a welcome addition to the range. The story itself is practically the stuff of Doctor Who legend, owing a great deal to Quatermass and the Day of the Triffids, but with a couple of modern-day twists so that the action begins in Antarctica before moving to the Home Counties for the last four episodes. It's a dark, horrific tale well suited to an autumn or winter night, although Douglas Camfield's direction is atypical for the series at the time- it's more physical than the "Gothic" style of Philip Hinchcliffe's producership generally tended to be, and this brings out a bit more edge in Tom Baker's Doctor. Similarly, Geoffrey Burgon's incidental music is a departure from the series' norm and adds to the strange atmosphere although the acting is uniformly good, with Tony Beckley turning in a distinctive performance as the deranged Harrison Chase and "Boycie" John Challis as a particularly nasty heavy.
The package of extras is as good as can be expected given that several important people connected with the production are no longer alive and composer Geoffrey Burgon passed away several months after recording his contributions. A large number of the supporting cast and behind-the-scenes staff contribute their memories, while there are also features on how the story was made and a return to the stately home where the story was filmed. A good package all round, although in spite of the story's reputation, it probably won't be to everybody's taste as it concentrates on action and horror at the expense of wit and charm.
on 17 January 2003
One of the best Tom Baker stories. It's got atmosphere, and for John Carpenter fans, it has a director who know's his stuff, who know's how the series works. Douglas Camfield who directed this has always reminded me of Carpenter, but by tv standards. He know's what his budget is, but he pushes it to it's limitations and is creative with it. Apart from just 'one' scene in Antarctica, where fake snow is evident, the scenes there are brilliantly filmed, that even John Carpenter himself would admire the work of a director, who like himself had to use his creative talent as opposed to huge budgets to bring a film in on time and to a high standard.