Release Date: Oct 25
I say “always”, the first time I watched it was on its VHS release back in ’94, some 18 years after its initial transmission. It was a story that I knew very little about and had only seen a handful of pics from and it was also one of the few Target novelisations from the Tom Baker~era that I hadn’t read. But it topped DWM’s “Most Wanted DVD” polls so I was more than curious…
Six~parters often get labeled with being overlong – even Genesis of the Daleks suffers from upanddowncorridor~itus (I believe that’s the correct terminology) in a few episodes – but Seeds, for me, fills every installment tightly. Having the first two episodes set in Antarctic was an astute move as it not only gives a geographical depth to the tale but it also colours the story somewhat beautifully too.
But the main thrust of Seeds is the undoubtable unpleasantness of the human race. Us humans are real nasty in this one, displaying a fatal greed for knowledge, money and power. Not to mention the unhealthy amount of gun~work on display. Maybe this is why The Doctor gets so shockingly violent – he smashes through a window, bops someone on the face and brandishes a gun too.
The “heavies” in Seeds are scary; properly frightening and you can see The Doctor thinks this too. He’s on edge and out of his depth knowing he can’t reason with these people. (I mean, you can even talk a Dalek out of killing you!) It’s a very gritty Sweeney~esque turn of events at the old manor belonging to villain of the piece, Harrison Chase – one of the campest, yet utterly threatening bad guys The Doc has faced.
Ducat is another in a long line of delightful older women who pop up and enthrall with their eccentricities, and The Doctor takes them close to his heart. She performs the Lady Bracknell role in an homage to Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest “handbag” scene (a scene which Talons of Weng~Chiang also cited). Whereas stories like Talons and Androzani feature terrific double~acts, Seeds is all about the solo performances.
The only downside about The Seeds of Doom is that I would’ve liked to have seen the lurvely Sir Colin travel with The Doctor and Sarah. But last word goes to little Rosemary Matthews regarding the death of Harrison Chase. In Whose Doctor Who? she said, “He did deserve it because he was trying to kill Sarah and the Doctor. He wasn’t very nice, he was horrible. The baddies have got to be got rid of anyway.”
From the mouths of babes an’ all that!
As always, and greatly appreciated, are a barrow~load of VAMs. The main doc, Podshock, is stylish but, it has to be said, a tad dull. It suffers from too much technical and factual interviews with little anecdotal fun to bump up proceedings. But the main problem, for me, is the total absence of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. I’ll assume there were logistical reasons for this but it goes to show just how much actors bring to a documentary.
Tommy B does, gladly, turn up on the commentary and his revelation that he doesn’t watch The Sarah Jane Adventures (tsk~tsk) because he’s usually retired for the night certainly raised a titter. Also staking a claim in smirksville was hearing Robert Banks Stewart say the word “blog” and the claim that Seeds directly influenced Ridley Scott’s Alien – really? I seem to recall Scott saying it was Star Wars. Never mind…
There’s a timely feature on Geoffrey Burgon, the late composer of the incredible soundtrack for The Seeds of Doom. As a musician, and a a fan of his work in Doctor Who (his other contribution being the similarly brilliant score for Terror of the Zygons), I found this a wonderful study of his work. But, I wonder, is it going to be of interest to non~music types?
The ongoing series Now and Then makes an appearance but fails to inform as it’s solely concentrated on the mansion featured in the six~parter. The building has barely changed since filming which renders this extra rather redundant. Likewise, the extra with Graeme Harper, So What Do You Do Exactly? (looking at the job of a Production Assistant and Production Unit Manager), fails to interest. And, as a final negative remark, the Photo Gallery wasn’t up to its normal standard – limited in range. But I guess I’m one of the few who actually watches that particular VAM.
Stripped For Action returns with its always informative and entertaining look at the comic strip adventures of the Fourth Doctor. Though, as we learn here, some stories and artwork from previous Doctor’s were recycled – how eco~friendly! Most amusingly they demonstrate how a Pertwee tale was reconfigured for the Baker~era, simply by slightly changing his face! I’d like to see them do that these days with Chris Eccleston and Matt Smith…
Wrapping up proceedings are the insightful Production Notes (now I know what a “postiche” is*) and a couple of hilarious Easter Eggs starring actor John Challis (Scorby in Seeds).
Oddly, this is one of the very few times when the main feature greatly exceeds the special features. More involvement from the cast in the features would have been most welcome (though I understand it was probably not an artistic choice) and there’s a lack of archival materials too (though again this may have been out~with the production team’s hands).
Still, it’s got The Seeds of Doom on it and that’s enough for me.
Thanks to 2|entertain
* That’s “postiche” NOT “pastiche”!