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4.7 out of 5 stars
114
Doctor Who The Seeds of Doom [VHS] [1976] [1963]
Format: VHS Tape|Change
Price:£12.33+ £2.80 shipping


TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 March 2015
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.
3 people found this helpful
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on 15 August 2017
A classic story set in the Arctic then the action moves to England set in the present day and an alien seed pod is determined to destroy all human life on Earth. Boysey (john challis) from Only Fools and Horses plays an excellent villain filmed on location in an English Manor House a worthy addition to your also this is a two disc set the second disc is for Doctor Who anoraks showing how the special effects were done and other interviews
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on 1 August 2016
The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are asked by UNIT to investigate when two ancient seed pods are discovered buried in the ice in Antarctica. When one is thawed out, it breaks open and latches onto a scientist transforming him into an intelligent carnivorous walking alien plant. They manage to destroy it, but during the fight the second seed pod is stolen by a mad plant collector and taken to England, intent on letting it grow. The Doctor and Sarah must stop him before the plant creature grows to full size and spread more seed pods.
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on 1 May 2017
Another excellent offering from Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. Who at it's best. I love the Baker UNIT stories and though UNIT plays only a very small role, and there is no brigadier, this definitely has the feel of other stories.
One person found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2015
This is quite possibly the quintessential Tom Baker / Elizabeth Sladen episode from the mid 70's. A terrific science fiction story, top notch supporting cast and great snowy settings. It is beautifully shot, in fact the sharpness and clarity of the picture looks more like 2012 than 1975. It is a first class piece of restoration. Most satisfying of all is Tom and the much missed Liz Sladen, both look in their prime here. I'd forgotten quite what a lovely looking lady Liz was. I can't recommend this enough, a signature Dr Who classic!
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on 2 December 2011
I won't pretend to be a life-long fan of Doctor Who. In fact, before the start of this year, my only real experience with the series was the parts of the 1996 TV movie I saw way back in the day. Despite this, in true geek form, when I develop an interest in something, it tends to get a little obsessive. Therefore, once getting up to date on the new series, I decided to go back to the roots (in regards to this serial, no pun intended!).

I have not yet seen all of the available classic stories, but I have seen a couple dozen of them, and this is easily one of my favourites. I feel that this one makes the most out of the small budget it had, and while it still clearly does not have the top of the range effects for its time, unlike some of the other classic stories, it very rarely feels cheesy or silly.

The concept of evil trees may seem a bit silly, but the combination of great writing, great acting and a genuine sense of tension leads this to being one of the most effectively riveting stories of the classic era that I've seen. Filled with moments where you wonder "how the heck is the Doctor going to get out of this one?," the six episodes fly by and provide a great adventure for The Doctor and his fantastic companion Sarah Jane Smith, who, unlike many of the classic female companions, manages to not be completely useless and actually offers a lot more to the story than eye candy.

With the great monsters (with their cries that almost rank up their with the likes of Xenomorphs and Predators) and the great use of various locations, I found myself thinking that this would have almost been worthy of a cinematic adventure for the Doctor. It was one of those stories that didn't allow itself to be limited by being a small screen serial. I honestly feel it would have made a great movie.

All in all, this serial is a must see for fans, and a story that I would even call accessible to people not yet familiar with Doctor Who. It's a tense, effective adventure that I enjoyed the heck out of watching.
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on 25 June 2016
This is the one with the alien pods first found in the Antarctic then bought to London to Harrison Chase (mad botanist) played by Tony Beckley. John Challis plays the heavy Scorbie and its a delight from start to finish. Tom Baker at his impish best. The extras are good; I especially enjoyed John Challis' voice over commenting on the scenes. With the Pyramids of Mars this is one of the best Tom Baker Dr Who adventures.
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on 11 August 2014
The other reviews indicate what a great story this was, and still is. It's quite possibly the best who ever. Tom Baker brings a new edge to the role and Elisabeth sladen is at her best as Sarah Jane. The star of the show though is tony Beckley as harrison chase. You know from the moment you hear his strange synthesised music for the plants that he is ever so ever so unhinged and will make a worthy adversary. He is the classic villain, coldly polite and a total psychopath. The story predated alien but the idea of a murderous plant pod has reminiscences in the 79 film. It works very well and you won' t want to serialise it. The dvd has some interesting extras too.
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on 26 July 2012
Every Doctor Who story can be read as a cautionary tale, and this superb adventure involving alien pods that germinate to release creatures that can convert all animals to plant, is no exception. Behind all its chilling (not only because the pods were found in Antarctic permafrost) story of suspense and parasitic 'take-over' by aliens lie a very basic morale: money, monomania and muscle mostly lead to misery, for everybody concerned. The acting is superb, the story (based on numerous science-fiction stories of the post, and acting as template for future ones) is very good, and events move rapidly. If only they could do something about the appearance of the Krynoids..... Highly recommended.
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on 8 October 2017
Love everything about this. The old familiar music and actual cliffhangers. You don’t really get these with the modern era. Sarah Jane screaming and pointing, the Doc being properly wacky and him from Only Fools and Horses as a baddie. When ecology bites back!
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