Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Doctor Who-The Seeds Of Doom

                             In the Antarctic,the doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are dispatched by a Sir Colin Thackery to investigate an biological seed pod found under the permafrost by a scientific team led by a John Stevenson. Whereas all of the other scientists  believe they are dealing with an extinct plant species, the doctor has a hunch the pod is extra terrestrial in origin.One of the scientists working for him named Winlett has been penetrated by the germinated pod (whose growth had been accelerated) and has begun to mutate. After observing him,the doctor confirms his original hypothesis- announcing that they are dealing with a life form called a Krynoid-a parasitic form of flora that consumes animal lifeforms for energy. In the meantime an English millionaire named Harrison Chase dispatches one of his scientists Arnold Keeler and his lackey Scorby,with the help of of the head of the local department of ecology named Dunbar,to travel to Antarctica to retrieve the artifact by any means necessary. When the pair arrive,the find Winlett already in the advanced stages of transformation. 

             When the doctor determines his arm must be amputated in order to stop the parasite from spreading further,the partially transformed Winlett attacks and kills Morberly-the zoologist to have performed the operation. Scorby grows impatient and,despite Keeler's warning takes the doctor and Sarah Jane hostage after they return from searching for the escaped Winlett. When Stevenson returns,the doctor tells them that a second pod that was discovered by Stevenson is in the freezer. Once they retrieve it,Scorby insists on using an explosive to destroy the expedition and their laboratory with all hands so that there will be no witnesses to their crime. The doctor and Sarah Jane escape along with Scorby and Keeler when the expedition building explodes. Another expedition discovers Sarah Jane and the doctor and returns them to England to consult with Dunbar,who attempts to drive them to an isolated area to stay out of the way. They pair escape the driver and make their way for Harrison Chase's mansion-where they now know Scorby and Keeler will be with the Krynoid seedpod.

              After covertly sneaking into Chases' mansion,they discover Chase demanding that Keeler inject the Krynoid pod with extra nitrogen to stimulate its growth. Keeler of course mutates into another Kyrnoid while Chase himself observes his reactions and growth while doing nothing at all to treat him. The doctor and Sarah meanwhile enlist the help of a local artist named Amelia Ducat-to whom Chase owes money. When the doctor and Sarah Jane become trapped in Chase's mansion after their discovery by Scorby,Ducat returns to do reconnaissance work for Thackery and Dunbar,who decides to redeem himself realizing how far Chase has gone. The expanding Krynoid life form has now become a central nucleus-transforming all plant life in the vicinity into autonomous Krynoid life forms as well. 

               With the carnivorous plans encroaching on the facility,Scorby makes an uneasy alliance with the Doctor and Sarah before ending up being drowned by such carnivorous flora. Finding Chase himself in a trance like state with his menagerie of plant life,the doctor realizes that Chase has become connected to the Krynoids mentally. With UNIT soldiers finally having arrived,and Sarah and the doctor having survived two of Chase's attempts to turn them into living compost,Chase ends up being thrown into the compost machine before UNIT air bombers destroy the Krynoid and Chase's mansion. After Thackery denies a journey with the doctor,Sarah Jane and the doctor depart-again not quite ending up where they were supposed to be.

                One of the most emotionally charged and powerfully written stories of even this particularly strong era of Doctor Who,the main quality that thrusts this story forward is the characters and their motivations. Harrison Chase is not as clearly defined a villain as one might imagine. Every bit as cool and collected in manner as Roger Delgado's Master,this is a character who holds all animal life-humans included as being nothing more than an infestation to the plant life he obsesses upon. Dunbar and the survivalist Scorby are economically motivated by the eccentric millionaire's requests,which grow more extreme every time. Its Chase's character who provides this intense science fiction thriller with some of its most disturbing imagery-namely observing his own scientist Keeler,a noviolent man too cowardly to act on his ideals,as he suffers terribly while
transforming slowly and brutally into a Krynoid. 

           Though menacing,the Krynoid is presented only as advanced flora acting mostly on instinct-even acting on Chase in a manner similar to a picture plant. Therefore Harrison Chase becomes a character who has merely lost touch with all morality for the sake of his own obsession-as opposed to the stereotypical megalomaniac-type Doctor Who villain. For his part,Tom Baker portrays an unusually frightened and uncertain doctor-desperately attempting to keep the Krynoid's from infesting Earth and destroy all its animal life. He even resorts to bluffing with a firearm-one of the few times the character ever uses a gun at all. In presenting a "what if" story regarding humans often adversarial relationship with plant life,the superb writing and characters more than have the effect of allowing this story to live up to it's implied ideals.
               
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