Entertainment Magazine

Review #3352: Classic Doctor Who: “The Seeds of Doom”

Posted on the 09 March 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

Written by Robert Banks Stewert
Directed by Douglas Camfield

Rounding out the oft-praised Season 13 of Classic Who, “The Seeds of Doom” is a particularly odd serial for the Fourth Doctor. While there have already been a few holdovers from the Jon Pertwee era in the early Tom Baker days, those were obviously scripts that had been retooled. This was written well after the switch, but it has all the hallmarks of the Third Doctor conceits.

Review #3352: Classic Doctor Who: “The Seeds of Doom”

The Doctor is far more active and even aggressive in this serial than he has been since “Robot”, and I would argue that Sarah Jane regains a bit of that Season 11 fire that was part and parcel of her introduction. Had this script arrived in that period, it would have been seen as a return to form from the storied Season 7 days. It’s only the occasional bit of madcap humor that definitively marks this as Fourth Doctor material.

There’s also the appearance of UNIT, and the unexplained involvement of The Doctor in their affairs. Granted, this is a threat to then-contemporary Earth, and UNIT was supposed to be the fighting force designed to handle such threats. But this casual inclusion of The Doctor, right down to his call for air strikes and invocation of markers to be called to get his way, smacks of the Third Doctor during his exile and appointment as UNIT’s scientific advisor.

Granted, this is not a problem, per se. It’s a fair point that the writers never explicitly had The Doctor inform the Brigadier or anyone else with UNIT that he was resigning his position. So the door was open for them to bring the association back. It just seems awfully out of place by this point in The Doctor’s journey.

Everything else is very much in the vein of the period: the body horror, the play on “Day of the Triffids” and “The Quatermass Experiment”, and so on. A more modern audience might see this as an early version of “The Happening”, if they were so foolish as to admit to seeing that waste of film. But the idea at the core is very similar: plants gaining a degree of sentience, thanks to an invasive alien intelligence, and the efforts to survive and strike back before it spreads.

I’d say there’s even a callback to “The Thing From Another Planet”, given the Antarctic confines of the first two episodes. In many ways, this feels like two stories stitched together to form a 6-part epic, since the first two and second four episodes are a tonal shift. But there is a steady progression in terms of the extent of “possession” and how much the audience gets to see, and that makes it work as a whole.

The dissonance between the somewhat outdated, pseudo-“Avengers” elements and the more contemporary gothic horror elements is really the only issue, and it all depends on how much one cares about that sort of thing. Taken on its own, it’s perfectly fine, if a bit long, so those who can parse the various bits of “Doctor Who” relatively well ought to enjoy this without much reservation. It’s a solid ending to Season 13.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 7/10

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