Friday, 20 January 2012

424 The Seeds of Doom Part Three

EPISODE: The Seeds of Doom Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 14 February 1976
WRITER: Robert Banks-Stewart
DIRECTOR: Douglas Camfield
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Seeds of Doom

The Doctor & Sarah are rescued from the ruins of the Antarctic base and flown to London. Scorby and Keeler deliver the seed pod to Harrison Chase. Dunbar arrives angry at the destruction Chase has caused and tells them that the Doctor & Sarah are still alive. The Doctor meets with Dunbar and his superior Sir Colin Thackery at the World Ecology Bureau. The Doctor worries information has leaked from the bureau and warns them of the danger the pod causes. The Doctor & Sarah leave in a car for the Botanic Institute but are instead driven to a quarry where their driver tries to kill them. The Doctor beats him unconscious. Examining the boot they find a painting by famed painter Amelia Ducat who identifies it as one she sold to Harrison Chase. Keeler has qualms about experimenting on the pod. The Doctor & Sarah drive to Chase's country mansion and are chased by guards but caught by Scorby then taken to Chase. He tells them he has the greatest collection of plants in the world and the plant that will hatch from the pod will be the centrepiece. The pod starts to activate & Chase is summoned allowing the Doctor & Sarah to escape from Scorby. Sarah is sent to summon help but is swiftly recaptured. The Doctor tries to get back into the house to get the pod. Sarah is taken to the seed pod and held down as it starts to open.....

The thing that stands out for me from this episode is how violent the Doctor is. we're used to see the Third Doctor throw people about and defend himself with Venusian Akido but here the Doctor is physically violent in a way we've not seen before striking the Chauffeur with his fist and punching Scorby in the stomach then twisting his neck to render him unconscious. It stands out from what we've seen before and doesn't feel right. In times to come the later piece of action would probably been accomplished by tripping him up with the scarf! My feeling is that this is the script as Robert Banks-Stewart wrote it and script editor Robert Holmes who was pushed for time (30 days between the script's commission & location filming) didn't have time to rewrite the scenes. It feels quite out of character for the Doctor and spoils the episode for me which has some great stuff in it with Chase's madness in his devotion to his plants and the wonderful exchange between the Doctor & Amelia Ducat about the painting standing out:[blockquote] The Doctor: We found it in a car boot
Amelia Ducat: A car boot?
The Doctor: A Daimler car boot
Amelia Ducat: The car is immaterial.[/blockquote]But I'm a little wary of one of the Doctor's other lines where he describes Sarah-Jane Smith as his "best friend". It's an odd turn of phrase for the Doctor who hasn't really described anyone as a friend before. Companion, assistant yes. But friend? Again I wonder if given a little more time to script edit the episode this line might have been tweaked.

Cast: Ian Fairbairn appears briefly as Doctor Chester. He was first in The Macra Terror as Questa, then became a Camfield regular appearing in The Invasion as Gregory and Inferno as Bromley & the Penetration Announcer before this. Camfield keeps using him as he appears in a Camfield episode of The Onedin Line, the first broadcast episode of The Professionals, Private Madness, Public Danger, that Camfield directed and also in one of Camfield's Shoestring episodes Link Up. The same episode also features Doctor who actors Stewart Bevan (Professor Clifford Jones from Green Death), John Woodnutt (most recently in the Camfield directed Terror of the Zygons), Camfield's wife Sheila Dunn (Dalek Masterplan, The Invasion & Inferno) plus Sylvia Coleridge - Amelia Ducat who's Amelia Ducat in this story (as well as appearing in Blake's 7: Gambit as the Croupier). Alan Chuntz, the Chauffeur was a regular member of the HAVOK stunt team and has been in the background of many a Doctor Who story either hitting someone or falling down.

We're back at Buckland Sand and Silica Co Ltd, this time serving as the quarry where the chauffeur tries to kill the Doctor & Sarah. The exterior of the World Ecology Bureau is probably the shortest distance Doctor Who ever travelled to film: it's the entrance to BBC Television Centre! Meanwhile Harrison Chase's estate is filmed at House in Dorset.

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