The Seeds of Doom
|085 – The Seeds of Doom|
|Doctor Who serial|
Infected by an alien seed, Winlett is transformed into a Krynoid.
|Writer||Robert Banks Stewart|
|Script editor||Robert Holmes|
|Incidental music composer||Geoffrey Burgon|
|Length||6 episodes, 25 minutes each|
|Originally broadcast||31 January – 6 March 1976|
The Seeds of Doom is the sixth and final serial of the 13th season of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in six weekly parts from 31 January to 6 March 1976. It placed the serial squarely within the Gothic Horror-influenced era of producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes. The serial comprised the culmination of Tom Baker's second series as the Doctor.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2011)|
In Antarctica, British scientists Charles Winlett and Derek Moberley discover a pod buried in the permafrost, and take it back to their camp. John Stevenson, the base botanist identifies it as vegetable-based and estimates it has been buried in the ice for some twenty thousand years.
Back in London, Richard Dunbar of the World Ecology Bureau shows the Doctor photographs of the pod. Although he feels that the Doctor cannot help them, his superior Sir Colin Thackeray insisted. The Doctor examines the pictures and believes it to be extraterrestrial. He tells Dunbar to contact the expedition by their regular video link, and tell them not to touch it until he arrives.
Back at the base, Stevenson discovers that the pod is growing larger and he believes it is absorbing ultraviolet radiation. In England, Dunbar visits the estate of millionaire Harrison Chase. Chase's estate is filled with thousands of plants, and he considers it his mission to protect the plant life of Mother Earth. Dunbar has come to show him pictures of the pod, its possible extraterrestrial origin and hints that such a valuable specimen could easily disappear.... for a price. Dunbar gives Chase the location of the pod. Chase calls for one of his men, Scorby, telling him to take Keeler along.
At the base, Winlett is half asleep near the pod when it opens up. A frond-like tentacle whips out and stings his arm, causing Winlett to collapse in pain. When Stevenson and Moberley find him, Winlett's face is covered with green hives. The Doctor and Sarah arrive at the base. In the sickbay, Winlett's body temperature and pulse are dropping rapidly. His face and body are now covered with a green fungus, and its growth is accelerating. The Doctor asks for a blood test on Winlett, who is growing increasingly monstrous, and examines the now-empty pod. Stevenson acknowledges that it may be his fault; convinced that the pod was alive, he placed it under a lamp. Outside the base, the Doctor digs at the ice, uncovering another pod. Noting that the pods travel in pairs, the Doctors transfers it to the base freezer. On analysis, Winlett's blood is found to contain no blood platelets, but instead has schizophytes – microscopic organisms akin to plant bacteria.
The sound of engines is heard, and Moberley and Stevenson go meet what they presume is the medical team. The Doctor tells Sarah that Winlett is turning into a Krynoid, a kind of galactic weed that settles on planets and eats the animal life. Stevenson and Moberley escort two men – Scorby and Keeler – into the base. The new arrivals claim that their private plane got lost and wound up at the base. The Doctor leaves to check on Winlett, taking the others and leaving Scorby and Keeler alone.
Moberly is killed by the now mutated Winlett. Transformed into a Krynoid, Winlett flees the base and shelters in the outside generator hut. Scorby and Keeler – who are revealed to be employees of Chase – hold the Doctor and others at gunpoint as they steal the remaining pod. Scorby and Keeler set up a bomb in the generator and escape in their plane. The Doctor and the others get free, but are attacked by the Krynoid, which kills Stevenson. The Doctor and Sarah flee the base as the bomb creates a chain reaction and destroys the whole area.
Regaining consciousness in the snow, the Doctor and Sarah are picked up by a team from South Bend in their Snow Cat vehicle. Meanwhile, Scorby and Keeler return to Chase in England with the second pod. Dunbar is angered at how far Chase had gone to secure the pod, but warns Chase that the Doctor and Sarah are still alive, and are scheduled to meet with him and Sir Colin in two hours.
At the meeting, the Doctor and Sarah describe how well planned the theft of the pod was, but the Doctor believes that the two men were stooges. The discovery of the pod had only been reported to the Ecology Bureau, so the leak must have come from them. He tells Dunbar to arrange for him to go to the Botanic Institute. As they leave the building, a driver meets them claiming to be their ride. However, the limousine stops in the countryside, and the driver orders them out at gunpoint. With a bit of teamwork, the Doctor manages to jump the driver and punch him out. The Doctor and Sarah search the car, and find a painting by Amelia Ducat, one of the world's leading flower artists. When they visit her, Ducat tells them that the owner of the painting is Harrison Chase, and that he never paid her for the painting.
Keeler, who is a botanist himself, unsuccessfully tries to convince Chase to stop the experiments on the pod. Chase orders him to inject the pod with fixed nitrogen. Dunbar calls Chase and tells him that his driver is in the hospital, so when the Doctor and Sarah try to sneak into the mansion, they are spotted by some guards and Scorby, who capture them.
The Doctor and Sarah are brought before Chase and despite having Scorby's gun at his head, the Doctor asks Chase grimly to hand over the pod. Chase politely refuses: He has the greatest collection of plants in the world, and when the pod flowers, it will be his crowning achievement. Before he executes them, Chase decides to show the Doctor and Sarah around the mansion, and his plant laboratory.
Keeler notes that the pod is growing, and tells Hargreaves, the butler, to summon Chase to the annex. There, Chase tells Keeler to inject more nitrogen into the pod. Scorby escorts the Doctor and Sarah into the gardens to kill them, but the two manage to overpower Scorby. The Doctor uses rope to lower Sarah down the wall so she can go and warn Sir Colin while he returns to the house to examine the pod. However, Sarah gets captured again.
The Doctor makes his way back into the mansion while Sarah is escorted by Scorby back to Chase. The Doctor watches through the skylight, horrified as Chase orders Sarah forced down to a chair, grabbing her arm and pinning it next to the pod. He wants to know what happens when the Krynoid touches human flesh. The Doctor rescues Sarah and in the confusion, a frond from the pod stings Keeler's arm. Keeler begs Chase to get him to a hospital, but Chase is more fascinated with the transformative process than saving Keeler's life. Chase and Hargreaves take Keeler to the nearby cottage.
When the Doctor returns to the empty laboratory, he is captured by Scorby and a guard, who take him to the compost room. Scorby activates the crusher, remarking that Chase recycles everything. The main gate calls the house: Amelia Ducat is here demanding her money. To avoid a fuss, Chase agrees to see her. Meanwhile, Sarah has entered the cottage, and sees Keeler, who is still lucid, although covered with the Krynoid growth. She escapes back to the house and while in hiding, attracts Ducat's attention and asks her to take a message to Sir Colin. Outside, Ducat enters a car with Sir Colin and Dunbar inside, and tells them what Sarah said. Dunbar, realising he has made a terrible mistake, says he will go in and get the Doctor. He tells Sir Colin that, if he does not return in half an hour, to return to London and call UNIT.
Sarah finds her way into the compost room and turns off the crusher just in time to save the Doctor. Hargreaves finds that Keeler has now almost completed his transformation, and runs in a panic as the creature frees itself. In the mansion, Dunbar pleads with Chase to abandon the experiment as Hargreaves reports Keeler's transformation to Chase. Dunbar says that this has gone far enough, and he is going to get help. Chase tells Scorby to stop him.
Scorby pursues Dunbar through the grounds as the Doctor and Sarah find Keeler missing from the cottage. The Doctor takes a sword from over the fireplace and they leave to search for the Krynoid. Dunbar runs into the monster, which is far larger than the Winlett creature was, and no longer even humanoid. He shoots at it uselessly, and is held fast by the surrounding plant life as the Krynoid kills him. Dunbar's screams attract the attention of Scorby and the guards as well as the Doctor and Sarah. The latter get there first, the Doctor drawing the sword above Dunbar's body as the Krynoid lurches towards them. They manage to escape to a cottage and barricade themselves in. The Krynoid speaks using Keeler’s voice, demanding that the Doctor come out and join it and it will spare the others. Scorby is more than willing to give up the Doctor until Sarah Jane points out that without the Doctor they have no chance. The Doctor suggests Scorby rig up a bomb so they can all escape while the Krynoid is distracted.
Sir Colin gets through to Major Beresford for assistance and sends Amelia home.
Scorby throws his improvised bomb out an upstairs window and the Doctor makes a run for it. The Krynoid goes in pursuit, but the Doctor escapes in the limousine, leaving the Krynoid behind. Scorby tries to find Chase at the greenhouse and discovers where he is from Hargreaves. They begin barricading the windows in preparation for the Krynoid’s attack. Chase makes his way through the grounds and confronts the Krynoid. It notices him and he approaches, taking photographs. It moves toward him as Chase claims he doesn’t mean it harm.
The Doctor arrives at the Bureau as Major Beresford warns he can’t do anything without evidence. The Doctor warns the Krynoid can channel its power through other plants, turning vegetation against humans. He shows them a series of reports of deaths of people near Chase’s estates being killed by plants. He then calls Sarah Jane and tells them Beresford is preparing to attack the Krynoid with a laser gun, but the Krynoid cuts the phone wires. Chase arrives and tells them that it’s the plants’ world, and humans are only parasites. He goes to the manor to develop his photographs then begins speaking to the plants in his greenhouse.
Scorby, Sarah Jane, and Hargreaves go in to confront Chase and he speaks of how the world will be made perfect. They can’t get through to him as he talks about how he is one with the plants and animals are the enemy. Sarah Jane notices that the plants are closing in on them. The Doctor and a UNIT soldier drive onto the grounds while the plants overwhelm Sarah Jane and the others and start to strangle them.
The Doctor and the UNIT soldier, Sgt. Henderson, arrive and brought chemical plant-killer. They dispose of the plants, saving Scorby and Sarah Jane while the older Hargreaves is dead. Chase runs away and the Doctor and the others make their way into the lab and start removing the plants. But once they're outside Chase locks the door behind them and they can only gaze in horror as the now enormous Krynoid towers over them. UNIT soldiers arrive and open fire with their laser gun, distracting the Krynoid so that the Doctor and his group can get to another door. The Doctor believes that Chase is possessed by the Krynoid and determines to find him and eliminate the threat he poses to them from within.
After they leave, Chase slips back into the laboratory and destroys the loudspeaker system. Unable to find the millionaire, the others return to the laboratory and the Krynoid tries to break its way in. Scorby starts to panic and wants to run, but the Doctor warns him that every plant on the grounds is under the Krynoid’s control. Meanwhile, Chase puts Henderson in the compost machine and activates it, killing the unconscious soldier.
The Doctor works to repair the loudspeaker system as the Krynoid renews its attack and Scorby panics and runs for it. He tries to make his way across the grounds through fields of hostile plants and makes his way across a shallow pond, but the plants grab and pull him underwater, killing him.
The Doctor and Sarah Jane realize that Henderson is gone and Sarah Jane goes to look for the soldier. She makes her way to the compost machine room and Chase confronts her, telling him he’s become part of the plant world thanks to the Krynoid. Chase plans to support the Krynoid and refers to humanity as parasites, then attacks Sarah Jane and knocks her unconscious.
Beresford contacts the Doctor, who warns they have 15 minutes until the Krynoid germinates, spreading its seeds across England. The Doctor tells them to launch an air strike before it’s too late, and regardless of the fact he and Sarah Jane are at ground zero.
Chase has tied up the unconscious Sarah Jane and starts feeding her into the compost machine. The Doctor arrives, sends Chase flying, and shuts off the machine to untie Sarah Jane. He gets her out but Chase turns the machine back on and throws himself at the Doctor, and the two struggle inside the machine’s bin. The Doctor manages to climb out as Chase is pulled into the machine despite the Doctor’s efforts to save him.
The RAF launches a sighting run as Beresford and Sir Colin look for any signs of the Doctor. Sarah Jane and the Doctor can’t get out through the plant life covering the house but the Doctor rigs a steam pipe and they blast their way out. They make their way through the hostile plant life and take refuge in a clearing filled with cut-down trees, as the RAF opens fire and destroys the Krynoid along with the mansion.
The serial marks the final regular appearance of UNIT. UNIT would not reappear until a brief appearance in The Five Doctors. None of the established UNIT characters are seen in this story, as Nicholas Courtney was unavailable to reprise the role of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Cuttings of the Krynoid from this story are kept, leading to the events in the Eighth Doctor audio story for Big Finish entitled Hothouse.
The serial was written by established television writer Robert Banks Stewart, who was influenced in the writing of this ecological tale of rampant flora by his then residential location abutting Kew Gardens as well as his familial connection to botanist Joseph Banks. After a long association with Doctor Who this story was director Douglas Camfield's last involvement with the show.
Location shooting at Chase's estate took place at Athelhampton House in Athelhampton, Dorset. This is the third serial of the programme to shoot exterior location scenes on Outside Broadcast (OB) videotape rather than film; the previous two were Robot and The Sontaran Experiment. On 7 December 1975, whilst location filming the closing scene outside the TARDIS at Buckland, the TARDIS prop collapsed on Elisabeth Sladen; it was the original prop used since 1963.
A few weeks before the serial was due to begin its original transmission, the master tape for the first episode was found to be missing. A brief panic ensued and producer Philip Hinchcliffe began planning a re-edit of the second episode allowing the story to begin at this point, but the tape of the opening episode was eventually located, having been misplaced in the tape storage system (apparently due to having been incorrectly numbered.)
An Omnibus repeat of The Seeds of Doom for Christmas time 1976 was scheduled, however for unknown reasons this did not take place, and was instead replaced by a showing of the Gerry Anderson produced Into Infinity, although unmade the notes for the compilation version were included as a PDF extra on the DVD of The Seeds of Doom.
This story has parallels with The Quatermass Experiment in which an alien invader from another planet transforms a human and the giant form of the monster swamps a building; The Thing from Another World where a research base is terrorized by a plant-humanoid and the short story on which the film was based, Who Goes There? (the Antarctic setting); The Day of the Triffids (more killer plants);and The Avengers 1965 episode "Man-Eater of Surrey Green" (rich eccentric English killer; male and female investigators of the paranormal; an extraterrestrial killer plant). The Doctor's dialogue with Amelia Ducat about the car boot and model homages Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
Paul Cornell, a writer of later "Doctor Who" episodes, named the characters "Arnold Keeler" and "Derek Moberley" in the "Casualty" episode "An Accident Waiting To Happen" as a homage to the characters of the same name in "The Seeds of Doom".
Broadcast and reception
|Episode||Broadcast date||Run time||Viewers
|"Part One"||31 January 1976||24:10||11.4|
|"Part Two"||7 February 1976||24:09||11.4|
|"Part Three"||14 February 1976||24:51||10.3|
|"Part Four"||21 February 1976||24:26||11.1|
|"Part Five"||28 February 1976||25:06||9.9|
|"Part Six"||6 March 1976||21:51||11.5|
The Seeds of Doom was one of the Doctor Who serials which drew criticism from Mary Whitehouse for violent imagery. She wrote, "Strangulation — by hand, by claw, by obscene vegetable matter — is the latest gimmick ... it contains some of the sickest, most horrible material". In reply, the BBC stated that Doctor Who was aimed at families, not just children.
In The Discontinuity Guide, Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping described the serial as "an Avengers episode in disguise" and called it "Another gem, and one much befitting from an excellent performance from Tony Beckley as Harrison Chase". In The Television Companion (1998), David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker praised how the story was split between two settings and the monster in general, though they felt some aspects of the Krynoid were "rubbish". They wrote that the only real disappointment was UNIT, which contained none of the old characters and as a result "[came] across as a faceless and characterless bunch whose sole function in the story is to resolve the situation". In 2010, Mark Braxton of Radio Times described The Seeds of Doom as "a rich, classy serving, with plenty of meat accompanying the vegetables". He praised Baker and the guest actors and their characters. However, he noted that the plot contained a "giant crevasse" in that " it takes a ridiculous amount of time for the Doctor et al to know how to tackle the Keeler-Krynoid, having seemingly forgotten that the Winlett-Krynoid was killed by an explosion". The A.V. Club reviewer Christopher Bahn said that the serial was "one of the greats" of the era, particularly praising the pacing and Baker's performance. DVD Talk's Ian Jane gave The Seeds of Doom four out of five stars, calling the script "a good one". Ian Berriman of SFX gave the story five out of five stars, writing, "Often bleakly grotesque, blessed with an eerie, mournful score and shot with real brio, this is a rare Who six-parter that you can consume in one sitting, with nary a moment of boredom." He also was positive towards the performances of Beckley and Baker.
|Doctor Who book|
|Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom|
|Cover artist||Chris Achilleos|
|Release date||17 February 1977|
A novelisation of this serial, written by Philip Hinchcliffe, was published by Target Books in February 1977. A slightly "Americanized" version of Hinchcliffe's novel was released as #10 in the Pinnacle Books series in March 1980 with a foreword by Harlan Ellison and a cover illustration by David Mann.
The Seeds of Doom was released on a double VHS in 1994 in the United Kingdom. In North America it was released as a single VHS. The story was released on DVD on 25 October 2010 in the United Kingdom, and on 8 March 2011 in the United States. Music from this serial was released on the CD Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 120 on 7 August 2013.
- Commentary on Seeds of Doom DVD
- Sullivan, Shannon (2007-08-07). "The Seeds of Doom". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Cornell, Paul, Martin Day and Keith Topping, Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide, Virgin Books, 1995, pp. 191–192.
- Shaun Lyon et al. (2007-03-31). "The Seeds of Doom". Outpost Gallifrey. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- "The Seeds of Doom". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- Levy, Geoffrey (9 November 2012). "Who's mocking Mary Whitehouse now? Book of her wonderfully forthright letters reveals the tireless anti-smut crusader was usually right". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Cornell, Paul; Day, Martin; Topping, Keith (1995). "The Seeds of Doom". The Discontinuity Guide. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-426-20442-5.
- Howe, David J & Walker, Stephen James (1998). Doctor Who: The Television Companion (1st ed. ed.). London: BBC Books. ISBN 978-0-563-40588-7.
- Braxton, Mark (7 August 2010). "Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom". Radio Times. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Bahn, Christopher (16 September 2012). "The Seeds of Doom". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Jane, Ian (17 March 2011). "Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom". Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Berriman, Ian (22 October 2010). "DVD Review Doctor Who - The Seeds of Doom". Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- The Seeds of Doom at BBC Online
- The Seeds of Doom at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- The Seeds of Doom at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- BBC Assistant Floor Manager Susan Shearman talks about working on The Seeds of Doom
- The Seeds of Doom reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- The Seeds of Doom reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- Target novelisation
- Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- On Target — Doctor Who and the Seeds of Doom
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