Home : Archive : TSV 41-50 : TSV 49 : Review

The Seeds of Doom

Reviewed by Paul Scoones


'Remember, no touch pod. Could be dangerous.'

Belonging to an era of the show abundant with the widely recognised all-time great classics of Doctor Who, The Seeds of Doom stands in its own right as a fine example of the series at its prime. The script, performances and direction are all of an exceptional standard, and it would take someone with an unsympathetic disposition to the series to find significant fault. Even the most challenging of all the effects, the giant Krynoid dwarfing Harrison Chase's mansion in Part Six, is impressive by 1976 standards.

The first two episodes, set for the most part in and around an isolated Antarctic base, make for compelling viewing and would have stood up as a quite credible two-parter. This first third serves as an effective prelude for the larger story set in and around an English countryside estate. The threat of becoming the victim of the second Krynoid pod is all the more terrifying for having seen the results of exposure to the first pod. The possession of Winlett and later Keeler remains compellingly terrifying; to a child of eleven (as I was when I first saw this story in 1979), it was the stuff of nightmares.

Without a doubt it is the performances which carry the story. Much has been written in articles and reviews about the understated menace of the highly eccentric lead villain, Harrison Chase, but mention must be made of Chase's hired man, Scorby, played by John Challis with compelling conviction as an all too human thug who looks out only for himself but exhibits a cowardly side when he loses his position of strength. His scenes with Sarah towards the end when she challenges his attitudes are a joy to watch. Tom Baker's Doctor is abnormally aggressive, hitting people, carrying guns (but not actually firing them), and losing his temper quite dramatically on several occasions. I have no great fondness for Sarah Jane, but in this story she is gutsy, resourceful and gets to rescue the Doctor almost as often as he does her.

The closing scene, in which the TARDIS lands the Doctor and Sarah back in Antarctica is the only real let-down of the entire story. The delivery of the last line is simply cringe-worthy. This moment aside, the story is a moody thriller dealing with such weighty issues as bureaucratic corruption and the ethics of experimentation with subtlety and style. Great viewing for a twenty-year-old story.

This item appeared in TSV 49 (November 1996).

Index nodes: The Seeds of Doom