50 for 50 — The Greatest Stories in Doctor Who History — #29

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Aliens frozen in the permafrost. Plants that kill. Alien parasite infecting scientist. An evil sociopath who plays music to flowers. And Sarah Jane Smith getting all Mrs Peel.

The Seeds of Doom, our Number 29, owes everything to the stories that it shamelessly borrows from. The Thing From Another World gives us the brilliantly realised Antarctic setting. The Krynoid and it’s pods is a direct nod to The Day of the Triffids. The infection of scientists by the very alien organism they are studying is pure The Quatermass Experiment. And the Doctor and “Miss Smith” are excessively violent in this one, and it comes across more like an episode of The Avengers at times (it should be noted that the author Robert Banks Stewart wrote an eerily similar episode of the Avengers called Man-Eater of Surrey Green  –DW). And Prince Charles was busy singing to plants at this time, so is Harrison Chase a parody of our future king? (Another debate for another time!)

The story is well constructed, with exciting locations like the Antarctic base and also gives us Tom Baker at his larconic best:

Harrison Chase: “What do you do for an encore, Doctor?”

The Doctor : “I win.”

Sarah Jane is in her best plucky companion mode here with, as mentioned, some very Emma Peel moments.

And it has a wonderfully eccentric villain in Harrison Chase. Apart from having a name that sounds like a setting for an American soap opera, he prefers the company of plants to humans and believes he needs to experiment on us and give us the best of all things fauna. He is wonderfully underplayed all the more chilling for it. And he plays a mean Hammond Organ.

The only real let down of The Seeds of Doom is the the fact that it features the last time we see UNIT for a very long time and it doesn’t feel quite right. No regulars are present and it makes you wonder why they even used UNIT at all.

But apart from this, The Seeds of Doom is a wonderful homage to all the great Science Fiction classics and does it with style and panache. Douglas Camfield’s direction is superb. The giant Krynoid enveloping the house is one that will remain with me forever.

The Day of the Thing From Another Experiment. What’s not to like?  — Steve

Alan’s #29 — The Enemy Within
Andy’s #29 — Logopolis
David’s #29 — The Ribos Operation

The Doctor may have a name, but the name of our game is #28, which comes next week.