Doctor Who #425: The Seeds of Doom Part 2

"I understand policemen are few and far between in the Antarctic."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.7 1976.

IN THIS ONE... The Krynoid runs around the Antarctic camp and Chase's henchmen steal the second pod.

REVIEW: As it turns out, the "transition" phase of the vegetable Krynoid looks a lot like an Axon tendril monster painted green. Because that's exactly what it is. And as a creature running around camp, killing off unnecessary guest artists and threatening Sarah Jane, it's fine. The real villains are humans, however, highly memorable ones. The hard-nosed Scorby and the nervous Keeler make a great, and darkly comical, double act (Holmes' influence?), the former getting clever threatening lines, and the latter conveying much more than the script gives him through performance. You need Scorby to push people around (his partner included), to break things just for fun, and construct highly-improbable explosive devices, but it's Keeler who becomes the main focus of the episode. He's the one that's uncomfortable with guns and violence, the one Sarah Jane might just be able to sway. It's just that he's too much of a coward to really make a difference in the end.

And of course, there's Mr. Chase, back in the UK. He gets a single scene, paying off crooked functionary Dunbar (the attempt at a motivation beyond money for Dunbar is appreciated, but unnecessary), but it's a good one. Veteran director Douglas Camfield, in this, his final serial, lets us hear the ticking grandfather clock in Chase's office, creating a sense of unease and foreshadowing the cliffhanger. Camfield also lets the Doctor's exposition about the Krynoid turn into voice-over as we follow the monster's steps through the snow. He's been a thoughtful and interesting director on Who for more than 10 years, and he's still finding ways to improve on the script. Even his choice of stock footage, a fearsome shot of a plane taking off in blizzard conditions, creates a cool moment.

But of course he's got Baker and Sladen at the height of their powers to work with, so that doesn't hurt. I love Sarah's shame when she is used to strongarm the Doctor into giving up the second pod. For his part, the Doctor shows anger at friends for not taking the threat as seriously as he does, then smiles at the bad guys, since they represent a chance for his trademark insolence. Turning around 360 degrees, starting to talk about Mozart, and his many witty retorts are a highlight of the episode. And as he started doing in The Ark in Space, the Doctor physically works out how to escape, using his environment and the props available, making it a satisfying affair rather than a cheap, sonic-assisted cop-out.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - You know, I'm going to miss the Antarctic base. It really had a great feel. At least it went out in a blaze of glory. Please don't install that new experimental fuel cell system in my home. At least all the best characters are still alive by the end!



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