The Seeds of Doom

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(Doctor Who Story No. 85, starring Tom Baker)
  • written by Robert Banks Stewart
  • directed by Douglas Camfield
  • produced by Philip Hinchcliffe
  • music by Geoffrey Burgon
  • 6 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: When a dormant alien plant pod is discovered in the Antarctic, it attracts both the Doctor and Sarah from UNIT, and agents of the plant-fanatic millionaire Harrison Chase. What unknown creature will be awakened from the pod in more human temperatures? Will the Doctor be too late to save the planet from the age of the plant?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by Tom Baker (The Doctor), John Challis (Scorby), Kenneth Gilbert (Dunbar), Michael McStay (Derek Moberley),
    writer Robert Banks Stewart, designer Roger Murray-Leach, producer Philip Hinchcliffe, and the late director's son Joggs Camfield.
  • "Podshock" making of featurette (37 min.), with Challis, Gilbert, Banks Stewart, Hinchcliffe, production assistant Graeme Harper,
    composer Geoffrey Burgon, actor Ian Fairbairn (Dr. Chester), designer Jeremy Bear, design assistant Jan Spoczynski, and
    visual effects designer Richard Conway.
  • "Now and Then" location featurette (9 min.)
  • Production Assistant / Unit Manager featurette with Graeme Harper (14 min.)
  • Interview of composer Geoffrey Burgon (10 min.)
  • Isolated music score by Geoffrey Burgon
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery (5 min.)
  • Comic strip featurette for the fourth Doctor (20 min.)
  • Director Douglas Camfield's notes for a compilation edit of the story in DVD ROM .PDF format

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.


Once more, we find the Hinchcliffe era team doing a UNIT story half-heartedly, with their focus too much in the horror department yet again. The monster of the week this time is a plant from space. It sounds unique at first, but it ends up acting so much like the Wirrn and the Axons that the plot becomes a predictable re-run. But on the plus side, Douglas Camfield leads a great crew as the director, and works his magic in bringing this extended re-run to life.


Front-Loaded Excellence

I do enjoy the opening episodes in particular. Every character and setting is expertly introduced, with deliciously atmospheric establishing shots where necessary. The Doctor is somewhat reduced to the eccentric scientific advisor of UNIT, introduced only on those grounds, without Sarah or the TARDIS even slightly mentioned. It isn't terribly important to know anything else about him, until the question comes up of how he knows so much about alien plants like the Krynoid.

The Antarctic segments work well, as the setting is realised very believably, and the Doctor and Sarah are occupied by joining forces with an investigative team at the base, resulting in an intelligent plot. Hubert Rees of "Fury From the Deep" (story no. 42) and "The War Games" (story no. 50) also returns to bless the solid cast with a familiar, likeable face. And at this point in the story, there are enough unknowns surrounding the Krynoid to keep the creature fresh.

Episode three remains interesting while gradually following a string of logic back from Antarctica to England, making the Doctor and Sarah work through some intrigue to find the country house of lead human villain Harrison Chase. The pair never do get anything worthwhile to do at the house though. The plot there is far too primitive, alternating between either making the Doctor and Sarah run and hide from guards and monster, or forcing them to play prisoner. Yawn and snore. Episode Four is particularly stagnant for the Doctor, who has to spend nearly the whole episode tied up and having a staring contest with a compost shredder, occasionally trading polite threats and insults with the villains. It goes on for way too long. Literally, all of the interest is on the villains, and during the fourth episode particularly on Keeler's transformation. Mark Jones does some excellent acting work to make the event as disturbing as possible.


Do some people really consider this the most violent Doctor Who story ever? It hasn't got anywhere near the huge body-count of many later 1980's stories, but perhaps the few there are here are particularly tense and gruesome. After all, Douglas Camfield does have another future suspense-master director as his production assistant: Graeme Harper. I don't want to complain that the action in this story is too violent, rather it gets too repetitively primitive and thus boring before it's all over. The script isn't delivering challenges that the Doctor and UNIT can sink their teeth into. Instead the solutions are simple, and wouldn't require much interaction with the villains, therefore the story is padded to keep the Doctor and Sarah trapped on the scene, while UNIT is kept off the scene until the end.

No Brigadier, no Benton, no Harry. Just the influence of the organization, and a few replacements today. UNIT gets more action here than in "The Android Invasion" (story no. 83), which is one improvement at least. The laser gun is an obviously disappointing effect, with a silly blob of light replacing a decent line-of-fire beam. That said, Camfield directs the laser gun sequence clearly and gets a maximum of energy out of it, making it emotionally satisfying at least.


Saving Sergeant Henderson

Near the end, the Doctor nearly explodes in a panic of anger when he suspects that Sarah is in danger and he rushes off to do something about it. Well big deal for the audience, most of whom don't expect that the producers will allow Sarah to get bumped off. It would have been far more gripping to see the Doctor care as much to set himself the task of saving Sergeant Henderson instead, as it is far easier to keep the audience guessing his fate until the end. Alas, such wisdom does not occur in this script. The conclusion of the story is somewhat anti-climactic, without any real surprises or even possible surprises to sustain the tension. Even "The Invasion" (story no. 46) fared better through a similar flaw.

Acting performances are superb by all. John Challis and Tony Beckley have to carry most of the weight to make the rather outlandishly written villains Scorby and millionaire Harrison Chase work believably off the page, and both do about as good as one could hope for. Even though the villains do depart somewhat, all the characters are solidly based in reality, rendering them easily understandable to the audience.


Geoffrey Burgon returns once more to give the Doctor Who audience some variety from the usual Dudley Simpson fare. The score is quite good, but sounds a little too much like "Terror of the Zygons" (story no. 80) without being quite as interesting. By far, the best new bit is Amelia Ducat's theme, and as such, it's a great pity that Camfield's team didn't have the foresight to cue the pure version of it during her first scene and thus make all the variations on it during later cues more appreciable. As it stands, without the pure version heard anywhere in the story in its entirety, the Ducat theme can be very easily overlooked.
Music by Geoffrey Burgon
The original score features on:
Audio CD - Terror of the Zygons

More info & buying options


In the end, I think "Pyramids of Mars" (story no. 82) still fares slightly better than this story. It really is chiefly the country house portions that drag this story down. The characters in this story are a little better than those of "Pyramids of Mars" but not enough to shift the balance into their favour. It is a well-told tale of a horrific and not terribly interesting event.



Season Thirteen Rankings:

Best Story:

  1. Terror of the Zygons
  2. Planet of Evil
  3. Pyramids of Mars
  4. The Seeds of Doom
  5. The Android Invasion
  6. The Brain of Morbius

Best Writer:

  • Robert Banks Stewart
  • Louis Marks
  • Robert Holmes & Lewis Greifer
  • Terry Nation
  • "Robin Bland"

Best Director:

  • Douglas Camfield
  • David Maloney
  • Paddy Russell
  • Barry Letts
  • Christopher Barry

Best Music:

  • Dudley Simpson - Planet of Evil
  • Geoffrey Burgon - Terror of the Zygons
  • Dudley Simpson - Pyramids of Mars
  • Dudley Simpson - The Brain of Morbius
  • Geoffrey Burgon - The Seeds of Doom
  • Dudley Simpson - The Android Invasion

This story is available on DVD and VHS video:
DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A in the U.S.
NTSC B in the U.S.
NTSC in Canada
PAL for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Masque of Mandragora"



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