Doctor Who #428: The Seeds of Doom Part 5

"Yes, aggressive rhubarb." "What about homicidal gooseberries?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.28 1976.

IN THIS ONE... The Krynoid assaults the shed and starts turning other plants into killers and Chase into an ally.

REVIEW: Even if it grows to immense size over the course of the episode, the Krynoid continues to look like an elephant with lipstick on the end of its trunk to me, so I'm happy not to see it too much. In its place, we get the plants it's started to animate, thick bunches of vines that are rather more effective. But more interesting are the human villains. Even though the Krynoid has a voice, Chase is anointed High Priest, communing with the plant world and unsurprisingly siding with them. His "green cathedral" provides a grandiose and creepy temple, and there's something transcendent about the dissolve to his face when he lies on a grass carpet, the music evoking rapture at that moment. More a willing participant than under alien control, the process nevertheless seems to have driven him mad, or at the very least, distracted by his telepathic(?) connection to the Krynoid.

At this point, even Scorby abandons him, building an uneasy alliance with the Doctor and Sarah Jane. He's motivated by self-preservation, of course, but there is a question as to whether Sarah can really "turn" him, or indeed, shame him into doing the right thing. The track record for guest characters isn't great though, with Dunbar, Hargreaves and the guards dead already. The henchman makes a strange partner for Sarah, but a good target for her morality. Lis Sladen somehow manages not to make her character too grating despite her speeches, and for once, her pluck serves a very real purpose, forcing Scorby to put his money where his mouth is. The Doctor, for his part, is ferocious. Growling and shouting at friends as much as foes - are they trying to create a plant/animal contrast? At least the Brigadier is in Geneva, so he doesn't have to bear any abuse. While I've accepted that perhaps this script isn't the most Doctorish, I'm surprised Tom Baker hasn't made any demands upon it. Where are his usual witty adlibs? He's so perpetually angry in this, it may be that he's just trying to bark himself awake at the end of a long schedule.

Bob Holmes does seem to have slipped a few witticisms in there, but they're given to Miss Ducat and Sir Colin. Or am I misreading the gentle ribbing at civil servants as Holmes' bureaucracy take-down fetish? The violence is once more under control, however, and so is the Gothic atmosphere this season's tried to create. One need only look at The Ark in Space from the previous season to see how far the show has come. Very effective use of shadows and lighting here. I wonder how many kids insisted on putting the house plants out that night?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Though the Doctor is more angry than funny, we're back on track as each villain chooses a side and creates a different dynamic in time for the finale.



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