30 Cool Things about
“The Seeds of Doom”
(And 20 Stupid Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)
By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore
(With thanks to Martin J. Wiggins)
Previously published in Celestial Toyroom issue 431/432
1. The last story prior to this one to feature homicidal vegetation was “The Screaming Jungle.” Which goes some way towards explaining one of the chapter titles in the Target novelisation of “The Seeds of Doom,” “Cottage under Siege.”
2. Ice Warriors Recyclingwatch: something stuck in the ice for thousands of years, being thawed by scientists looking for something else, and (later) associated with space-borne seed pods. Plus stately-home bases under siege, run by lunatic closet homosexuals.
3. Quatermass Recyclingwatch: Plant from outer space that gruesomely takes over someone, turning him into a gestalt entity, and then climbs up a building to spore. There’s even a reference in Episode Five to it being the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The scratching sound you hear isn’t the Krynoid, is Nigel Kneale chalking up another grievance.
4. The live-action ice sequences are less convincing than those in “The Ice Warriors” eight years earlier, even though this is done on location.
5. However, it’s still a shedload better than "Dragonfire," which was made eleven years later, and the model shots are movie-quality.
6. One of the writers of this feature continually confuses “The Seeds of Doom” with “The Seeds of Death.” This is also the same writer who habitually confuses “The Web Planet” and “Planet of the Spiders.” For shame.
7. Robert Banks-Stewart says that the story has nothing to do with “Day of the Triffids.” This is completely true. However, it has everything to do with “The Thing From Another World” and “The Avengers: Man-Eater of Surrey Green.”
8. Harrison Chase’s first line: “I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure.” Seriously, the double-entendres just write themselves.
9. What is it with the Hinchcliffe era and glove-wearing villains?
10.Also, what is it with the Hinchliffe era and alien gestalt creatures?
11.Although we have yet to see a film or TV serial which has an accurate depiction of what people really wear in the Antarctic (as little exposed skin as possible, guys, it’s cold out there), this one is closer than about 99% of them. Sarah’s faux-leopardskin parka aside, of course.
12. The Doctor speculates that the Krynoids’ home planet is so turbulent it throws pods off into space. Considering it would have to throw them at the velocity of a rocket, that’s one hell of a lot of turbulence.
13. How can Krynoid pods travel in pairs? it’s nicely dramatic, but it doesn’t actually make any sense.
14. “You must help yourselves”-- because it’s a battle between the Krynoid and the humans, and the Doctor can’t get involved beyond advising.
15. And yet, by the end of the episode, he’s committed to the point of resolving to destroy the Krynoid.
16. Ten years later, they came up with the Vervoids. Talk about history repeating itself as farce.
17. The Antarctic base is apparently powered by a new fuel cell system. The fact that the same fuel cell system allows the base to be blown up spectacularly by a single bomb placed at the generator plant goes some way towards explaining why it was subsequently abandoned.
18. Continuing on this subject, we counted twelve massive explosions in the blowing-up-the-base sequence.
19. Harrison Chase’s reaction to the destruction of the base and all the people in it: “What a pity. I could have had two pods.”
20. Amateur psychology 101: having Chase played by an actor best known for playing camp, gay or transgender characters provides the implication that Chase is a repressed homosexual, channelling his feelings into his love for plants instead. Well, stranger things have happened.
21. Keeler is actually scarier than both Chase and Scorby, in that he’s horrified by the actions of the others but keeps on working for them anyway. Chase is a nutcase, Scorby’s a thug, but the real horror is people motivated by greed.
22.“Money-- hired thieves and murderers don’t usually work for love.”
23. Episode Three: two men, one dressed as a chauffeur, have a brutal fight in a quarry. As Douglas Camfield channels the ending of Get Carter. Minus the shotgun and the whiskey, of course.
24. And Tony Beckley also appeared in Get Carter. As a thug.
25. According to the DVD info-text: “Robert Holmes did not see the Krynoid as the villain of the piece, but a being whose inexorable life process happens to conflict with that of human beings. It cannot be judged in terms of intentional good or evil: it is simply an alien form of life doing what comes naturally.”
26. “The car is immaterial!”
27. The question has to be asked: why has a rather valuable painting been left in the boot of a car?
28. Once you’ve seen Sylvia Coleridge’s performance as the Croupier in the Blake’s 7 episode “Gambit,” it makes watching her in this (and as Archaeology Professor Freda Garner, in The Tomorrow People story “A Rift in Time”) a lot funnier.
29. Considering the way the Doctor keeps having digs at Scorby’s expense throughout Episode Three, you can sort of see why Scorby is so keen to beat him up later.
30. Separated at birth, the statue of Queen Victoria in the gardens of Chase’s mansion, and the Nemesis statue?
31.Also, Sarah descends a wall using a rope, similar to Ace in “The Curse of Fenric.” The Cartmel Era team were clearly watching this and taking notes.
32. And of course, “Must be that rice pudding you had for lunch.” Clearly, the rice pudding was unlimited.
33. Although the (deleted) sequence where the Doctor crosses a stream in order to throw off the dogs wasn’t essential, it did provide context for the scene where Scorby crosses the same stream later.
34. An alien pod which splits open, emitting a fleshy tentacle and infecting the person next to it. Three years later, Alien is released.
35. How come Chase is allowed to have a security force armed with machine guns and pistols? Yes, this is set in the future, but it’s one in which you can make a phone call for 2p., so it can’t be that far off 1976.
36. Scorby comes into Chase's lab and says “How predictable, the criminal returns to the scene of the crime.” Well, actually, Scorby’s the criminal here, and he was an accomplice to the crime in question.
37. Franklin Adams: 1881-1960. It’s worth noting that one reason why 1950s and early 1960s films reference the Victorian era a lot is because there were still quite a few people around who remembered it.
38. The bit where the Doctor misattributes a Voltaire quote to Franklin Adams is predicated on the idea that there will be people in the viewing audience who would know who Voltaire is, know who Franklin Adams is, and appreciate that the quote is misattributed. Could you imagine any television programme made these days doing something like that?
39. “She’s mentioned something about lawyers, sir.” This doesn’t often get listed as a quotable line from this story, but it ought to be.
40. As does the butler’s reaction to Chase’s “Why am I surrounded by idiots?” (Go ahead, check the DVD-- it’s 9 minutes and 50 seconds into Episode Four).
41. Chase keeps trying to throw the Doctor in the mulcher, doesn’t care about Keeler, and is generally pretty nasty to everyone human in the story.... except Miss Ducat, to whom he is very gracious, and whom he pays the extortionate fee she demands. Presumably this is because she paints plants.
42. Why has Dunbar decided to do the decent thing in Episode Four, when he was all right with conspiracy and murder before this? Presumably, the implications of the Krynoid bursting forth have occurred to him, but it’s still a bit abstract.
43. Miss Ducat was a sergeant in an ATS brigade, operating ack-ack guns, in WWII.
44. Scorby mentions that he worked as a mercenary in Africa and the Middle East. Just to add to his bastard credentials there.
45. “Just like a bunch of women,” says Scorby contemptuously, when he hears that the other guards have run. Considering the behaviour, and past history, of both female characters in this serial, that's not much of a signifier for cowardice.
46. According to the info-text, Nick Courtney was contacted about his availability, but turned the role down as he was playing a Nazi in The Dame of Sark, touring Britain and Canada. Interestingly, in a 1987 interview with Alan Stevens, Courtney said that he watched “The Seeds of Doom” on transmission, and, when he saw that this was a UNIT story neither he or any of the UNIT regulars were in, thought to himself “Oh, well.”
47. People often compare Tom Baker’s Doctor to Harpo Marx. However, the bit where he picks up a ringing phone, announces “He’s busy!” and slams it down, is straight from one of Chico Marx’s routines in Duck Soup.
48. The sequence with the list of the mysterious deaths of gardeners and agricultural workers is a direct steal from “Spearhead from Space.”
49. Although plants do move, it is almost entirely through cellular growth. Meaning that the rapidly-moving plants in “The Screaming Jungle” (which had been subject to a growth accelerator) make a lot more sense than the random shrubbery attacks here.
50. At the end of the story, if the Doctor and Sarah have arrived in Antarctica in the past, why don’t they hotfoot it over to the base and tell Winlett not to touch the pod rather than simply laughing? OK, it would probably cause a massive time paradox, but neither of them so much as floats it as a possibility. Heartless.