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In the Arctic scientists discover two vegetable pods of alien origin. Unaware of the danger they represent they retrieve them only for one of the scientists to become infected and start to metamorphose into a Krinoid, a plant life deadly to animals. When the Doctor sees a picture of the pods, he leaves London immediately, but the doctor isn’t the only one and he finds himself in a race against the henchmen of Harrison Chase, a wealthy eccentric, who wants the pods for his collection. Chase, like the Krinoid, also hates all animal life...
Doctor Who: Seeds of Doom is a six part story originally broadcast between 31 January and 6 March 1976. The story was written by Robert Banks Stewart and directed by Douglas Camfield. The dream team was completed with Robert Holmes as script editor and Philip Hinchcliffe a producer.
The story is a mixed bag. On the plus side is Tony Beckley as Chase, who plays the role with all the panache of a Bond villain. His desire for the plant to complete his collection is at the same time mad, considering that the Doctor keeps reminding him that the thing will kill the whole planet, given half a chance, but in an age where eco warriors have gone to illegal extremes in the name or righteousness, it seems disturbingly prophetic.
Both Tom Baker (the Doctor) and Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) are well settled in their roles and there is a real feel that the two have character, their relationship is affectionate, but also allows the opportunity for some light hearted ribbing. Baker is slightly at odds to his usual portrayal, refusing to directly help humanity, instead insisting that they help themselves, which is a little unusual, as is the amount of shouting that the Doctor gets to do.
The show has more than its fair share of padding, with whole sequences, including the throwaway side story of the Doctor and Sarah Jane being kidnapped, which could easily have been lost, with no detriment to the story. It’s not one of the best Who stories, but neither is it the worst.
There are another good slew of extra goodies for this release including a full length commentary, on the first disc, with actors Tom Baker, John Challis, Kenneth Gilbert and Michael McStay, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart, replacement designer Roger Murray-Leach and Joggs Camfield (son of the director, the late Douglas Camfield). It’s a bit dry, with Baker trying to jolly along his fellow contributors. As per normal you have the option of watching the show with the Isolated Music, not sure who does this, but it’s there every time. The rest of the extras on disc one consists of the Programme Subtitles and Subtitle Production Notes.
Disc two is where the bulk of the extras hide, which starts with PodShock (37 min, 17 sec), wherein the cast and crew look back at the making of the story. With actors John Challis, Kenneth Gilbert and Ian Fairbairn, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, writer Robert Banks Stewart, production assistant Graeme Harper, original designer Jeremy Bear, design assistant Jan Spoczynski, visual effects designer Richard Conway and composer Geoffrey Burgon. It’s another good documentary, in a series of good historical looks at individual stories.
Now and Then (8 min, 48 sec) and its another the segment where the show returns to the original location to see how it looks now. This time the crew pop down to Athelhampton House, which stood in for Chase’s mansion, as well as the inevitable quarry and BBC Television Centre.
Playing in the Green Cathedral (10 min, 06 sec) has a look at the work of composer Geoffrey Burgon, who discusses his general work and how he came to write for the show.
So What Do You Do Exactly? (6 min, 25 sec) is a new feature, this time with Graeme Harper who explains just what role a Production Assistant or a Production Unit Manager entails on a show like Who.
Stripped for Action - The Fourth Doctor (20 min, 20 sec) is the continuing story of Who, as represented in comics. This time it covers the strip's transition from low quality serial to the move to its new home in Dr Who Weekly and its renaissance under the talents of former DWM editors Dez Skinn, Gary Russell and Alan Barnes, writer Pat Mills, artist Dave Gibbons and consultant Jeremy Bentham.
The disc is wrapped up with the usual Trail and Continuity (1 min, 26 sec): an off-air trail for the story’s first episode and continuity announcements for its fifth. A Photo Gallery and the Coming Soon (1 min, 08 sec) for Meglos. Last but not least is the Radio Times Listings and Douglas Camfield’s paper edit for a compilation version of the story in Adobe PDF format.