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Recap / Doctor Who S13 E6 "The Seeds of Doom"

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Run! CABBAGE! (By the way, does anyone have any Weed Killer for a Killer Weed?)

"You and your kind are nothing but parasites. You're dependent upon us for the air you breathe and the food you eat. We have only one use for you..."
The Krynoid, speaking through Harrison Chase

The one where the Doctor suddenly decides to play James Bond for a day.

Written by Robert Banks Stewart. This six-episode serial first aired from January 31 to March 6, 1976.

The TARDIS arrives in England as two large alien seed-pods are found in the Antarctic permafrost. Helicoptered out to the Antarctic base to see for himself, the Doctor identifies them as Krynoids: a particularly rapacious plant that will, if allowed to germinate, consume all life on Earth.

One of the scientists, Winlett, is infected by the pod and begins to turn into a Krynoid himself. But he's destroyed by a bomb set by a mercenary, Scorby, and a rather confused botanist, Keeler, who steal the other pod on behalf of their employer, plant collector (and nutjob) Harrison Chase. Chase takes Sarah hostage and plans to open the pod in her presence, which will infect her. The Doctor, who we should mention is more pissed off than we've ever seen him to this point, rescues Sarah, and Keeler, who genuinely never wanted to get caught up in a murder case, ends up infected. This doesn't bother Chase much, and he begins to feed Keeler raw meat to accelerate the transformation. At this point, people start calling UNIT, but the Brig is in Geneva and his replacement isn't really the quick type.

The Keelernoid grows bigger and bigger, eventually beginning to take over Chase's mansion, while the mad collector decides to turn the Doctor into compost to feed it. But he ends up falling into the crusher himself, while the Krynoid is bombed by the RAF.

Not to be confused with "The Seeds of Death".


  • Alien Kudzu: The Krynoids, which can possess Earth plants.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: After Winlett is infected by the Krynoid, the team plans to amputate his arm in the hope that it would maybe slow the infection while they think of something else to try. However, the Krynoid takes him over and he escapes before they can do so.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The first thing Chase says is how making bonsai is plant mutilation. He spends the rest of the serial not caring for human life at all, and eventually decides to help the Krynoid Take Over the World.
  • Art Shift: Third of four Tom Baker serials which use video rather than film for location shooting; as with "Robot", this was to accommodate the visual effects used in Parts 5 and 6.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Military-grade weed killer. The Doctor used it to get Sarah Jane and Scorby out of a jam...and then ran out of it.
  • Asshole Victim: Scorby ultimately ends up getting drowned by the Krynoid while trying to escape Chase Mansion. Considering Scorby was something of a jerkass throughout the story (even his alliance with the Doctor was more out of a selfish need to survive as opposed to a genuine Heel-Face Turn), it's unlikely anyone felt especially sorry for him.
    • Inverted in Keeler's case. Despite being one of Chase's henchmen, he was one of the more sympathetic characters and it's hard not to pity him when he eventually ends up getting transformed into a Krynoid. See Minion with an F in Evil, below.
  • Badass Boast: After the Doctor dramatically leaps through a skylight to rescue Sarah:
    Chase: What do you do for an encore, Doctor?
    (The Doctor grins that shit-eating grin of his.)
    The Doctor: I win!
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: For once the Doctor advises a military solution.
    • Also literally at one point as he swipes Scorby's handgun, but never actually uses it, intending just to threaten with it.
  • BBC Quarry: As Antarctica with a white paint job. A different part of the same quarry was then used as an actual quarry for the fight scene between the Doctor and Chase's chauffeur.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Folks, we're used to Four smiling a goofy smile, all teeth and curls. We have never truly seen him PISSED. THE FUCK. OFF. Until now. While The Sontaran Experiment gave us only a glimpse of it, this is the first of at least two times in Four's tenure where we see what happens when you set him off. And if you can piss off the Fourth Doctor, you're a rare breed. Or a moron. Or both.
  • Big Bad: Harrison Chase, although by the last episode he's basically become The Dragon for the Krynoid.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Despite Chase being being chewed up into compost mulch for his own garden with his own machine, no blood or viscerae is seen on the grinding wheels.
  • Body Horror: There's no other way to describe the Krynoid transformation. It starts with the skin turning green and mottled, then thick vegetable growths covering the whole body, with the victim remaining conscious during this whole part of the process. It then progresses to what the Doctor describes as "a grotesque parody of the human form" and the complete elimination of the victim's original personality, before losing all vestiges of humanity.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • Committed by Scorby early on, who just leaves the people at the Antarctic base to be blown up by a bomb rather than actually bothering to make sure they're dead. There is a small explanation in that he doesn't want to dig any graves, so planeting a bomb is just him killing two birds with one stone.
    • Turned up to eleven by Chase later on, when he not only doesn't stick around to make sure the Doctor is mulched by his machine, he even sends out a guard who could have made sure the Doctor was actually killed. Ironically, Chase actually seems to become smarter after the Krynoid starts mind controlling him, and starts sticking around to make sure his machine finishes the job.
  • Botanical Abomination: The Krynoid seeds infect humans and transform them into monsters, ones that rapidly grow to the size of houses, with a rabid hunger for flesh. Left unchecked, they will continue to grew and take over all of the plant life on a planet.
  • Brandishment Bluff: The Doctor pilfers Scorby's gun. When Sarah points out he'd never actually use it, the Doctor replies, "They don't know that."
  • Break the Badass: The Doctor is genuinely afraid of the Krynoid. This was not part of the original script - Tom Baker insisted upon playing the Doctor in this way because the serial was unusually violent and he felt it was required as justification.
  • Changed My Jumper: At the end of the story, Sarah Jane Smith ends up walking out into Antarctica in a swimsuit due to a TARDIS error.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: The Winlett Krynoid, between being in a frozen climate and not having any access to any food apart from the nutrients in Winlett's own body, transforms very slowly and doesn't progress beyond its initial stage. The Keeler Krynoid, on the other hand, being created in a much more temperate climate and being given food by Chase, ends up fully transformed and towering over Chase's mansion within the space of a day, if even that.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and two scientists are stranded at an Antarctic research station with a colleague who's been infected by a deadly alien parasite, and his only chance is an emergency amputation. The scientist the Doctor tells this to is shocked because he's a zoologist, but he agrees to try after Sarah Jane points out that everyone present - a journalist, a botanist and... whatever the Doctor is - are even less qualified than him.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Chase almost always wears black leather gloves, except when meditating in his greenhouse.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Leading into Chase's compost machine. The Doctor, Sarah Jane, Sergeant Henderson and finally Chase all end up on it at one time or another.
  • Cool Old Lady: Amelia is thrilled by the idea of infiltrating a maniac's mansion. She even asks UNIT to call her again in future on her way out.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Scorby just happens to have the highly specific type of bomb he needs to cause the Antarctic base's experimental fuel cell system to explode catastrophically, even though he didn't know the base had such a system until Stevenson told him.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: When Sarah Jane sees the Doctor packing a pistol, she points out he'd never actually use it and he agrees.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Doctor gains entry to Chase's mansion by stealing the hat and coat of the limo driver who tried to kill him and just driving through the front gate. Once he actually gets out of the car and the guards realize he's not the regular driver, the disguise fails. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Enemy Mine:
    The Doctor: Can I rely on you, Scorby?
    Scorby: For the moment, Doctor.
  • Energy Weapon: UNIT now has rather clunky and homemade-looking laser guns. It still does little more than annoy the Krynoid.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: The Doctor has to spell it out to Scroby and his boss, Chase that the Krynoid is, "*dang-erous*".
  • Evil Is Petty: In addition to being an insane, plant-themed supervillain, Chase also takes a painting from a local artist without paying for it, even though he's incredibly wealthy and could easily afford it.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Scorby suggests bombing the Krynoid at one point but the Doctor shoots him down, saying that nothing they have to hand would create a powerful enough explosion. Cut to the climax, and the RAF provides just such an explosion.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The Doctor threatens people with a gun and makes a Molotov cocktail. He even appears to try snapping Scorby's neck at one point, but just knocks him down instead.
  • Fashion Dissonance: Harrison Chase's clothes, which at the time were being worn by an actor known for his excellent and trendsetting fashion sense and indicated to viewers that Chase was Wicked Cultured and the height of chic. Nowadays the costume's good for little else other than being mocked relentlessly in the DVD commentaries by Tom Baker ("his tie is as big as the whole of the rest of his suit!"). (To be fair, it is pretty good-looking other than the flares and the tie.)
  • Fate Worse than Death: "It's more serious than death, Mr. Stevenson. He's changing form."
  • For Science!: Chase's original motivation until the Krynoid possessed him.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Scorby mentions touring in Africa and the Middle East and became Chase's chief mercenary by this episode.
  • Garden of Evil: Chase's estate is turned into one of these as all the flora falls under the control of the Krynoid.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Chase is composted, all we get to see is the Doctor looking away in disgust. Despite that, no blood or viscerae is seen on the grinding wheels when shown.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Well, one-thirdway at least. We get a two-part story in the Antarctic base, followed by a four-parter in Chase's mansion.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Chase falls victim to the compost machine, which he'd used earlier as a murder weapon.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Averted by the first Krynoid, as the Doctor makes it clear that Winlett's consciousness was destroyed at a relatively early stage of the infection. Subverted by the second Krynoid, as it's revealed that the Krynoid did keep some of Keeler's personality... but only enough to enable it to speak English.
  • Immune to Bullets: Averted; for once the Doctor recommends dealing with a menace via military means... and the Brigadier isn't there to see it. But played straight in that any weapon, short of missiles, doesn't affect the Krynoid.
  • Insistent Terminology: After Winlett fully transforms into an early-stage Krynoid, the Doctor flips out whenever anyone refers to it as "Winlett" rather than "the Krynoid," likely because of the danger of someone hesitating to kill the Krynoid in the vain hope that Winlett can somehow be restored.
    • Hypocritically, he keeps calling Keeler by his name, even when he transformed into an eight foot tall plant that no longer even resembled a human. Granted, nobody present is in the mood to hesitate taking the second Krynoid out, so the Doctor has less to risk being on a name-bases.
  • Irony: A double example. 1. Chase is turned into plant compost, and 2. it's done by his own machine.
  • It Can Think: At first we believe the Krynoid to be an instinctual, mindless creature. But then it tries to bargain with the Doctor in Keeler's voice...
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: The Doctor disguises himself as a chauffeur to sneak into a mansion, an odd moment since his usual bluffing tactic is being commanding and having charisma for miles. It convinces no-one - perhaps because of this, or perhaps because he was clearly still wearing his scarf under his coat.
  • Karmic Death: Chase ends up shredded in his own human compost machine, after trying to drag the Doctor in. While the Doctor was trying to save him.
  • Kill Us Both: The Doctor ends the story by calling in an air strike on a building he's trapped in, due to the danger of the Krynoid releasing its seeds all over the planet. He gets out in time.
  • Literal-Minded:
    Scorby: Get your hands up. Turn around, Doctor.
    (The Doctor does a full 360 turn.)
    Scorby: Facing this way.
    The Doctor: Have we annoyed you or something?
    Scorby: Shut up. Okay, start talking.
    The Doctor: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had perfect pitch—
    Scorby: What happened to him?
    The Doctor: Who, Wolfgang Amadeus? (looks at the corpse next to him) ...Oh, him! Oh, he died of a pod.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Amelia Ducat, quite awesomely so.
  • Man-Eating Plant: As the Doctor notes in the first episode, on planets where the Krynoid gets established, the vegetation eats the animals.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Keeler is only a botanist, sure, but you'd think Chase would've sent someone more ruthless to assist Scorby in Antarctica. Keeler objects to everything Scorby does and even initially refuses to use a gun. When he finally accepts a gun the poor guy is such a nervous wreck it's amazing he doesn't accidentally shoot himself.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Chase is already half-way there at the start of the serial. By the end, he's enthusiastically sided with the Krynoid against all animal life on Earth, and the Krynoid weirdly seems to acknowledge it and leave him alone while he feeds his former workers and servants to it. Tellingly, when he and the Doctor are struggling outside of his compost grinder, the Doctor tries to save Chase when he falls in... and Chase prioritizes trying to pull the Doctor into the grinder over his own survival.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Scorby makes one to fight the Krynoid. This scene earned the wrath of the Moral Guardians (see below).
  • Moral Guardians: One of a number of Who stories from the era to be specifically attacked by Mary Whitehouse. In this case, she complained about "strangulation by obscene vegetable matter" and the possibility of children imitating the scene where Scorby makes a petrol bomb.
  • Mysterious Antarctica
  • Neck Snap: The Doctor notoriously appears to do this to Scorby at one point, although it was non-fatal because Scorby gets up with the only side-effect being he has a sore neck and is really pissed off. As opposed to actually breaking his neck it appears the Doctor just twisted it enough to momentarily stun him.
  • Never Say "Die": Four manages to explain the Krynoid in this way while making it sound even more terrifying than saying it in a way that wouldn't fit this trope.
    "On any planet where the Krynoid gets established, all animal life is EXTINGUISHED!"
  • Not My Driver
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Scorby sabotages Stevenson's rifle by removing the firing pin.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Doctor unleashes a brief one on Scorby when jumping into the window when Sarah is about to be used as a subject for the Krynoid.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Doctor demonstrates how to get their co-operation.
    "If that pod germinates it will mean the end of everything, EVERYTHING you understand? Even your pension!"
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: You know it's a dicey prospect when Four not only starts screaming, but actually starts punching people.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: When one of the staff of the Antarctic research station needs an alien-Virus-infected limb amputated, a zoologist is tasked to perform the emergency surgery because he's a better choice than the geologist or botanist: at least he's held a scalpel before, if only for dissections.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The Fourth Doctor is noticeably more Tuxedo and Martini-like than he is normally, even in his stories which were originally written with the very Spy Fiction-influenced Third Doctor still in the writer's minds (like "Robot"). For instance, he is very much an Action Hero in it, and willing to use fists at first opportunity, the same thing the Leela era (when he has a warrior as a companion) makes a very big thing out of him not doing. He also uses Wig, Dress, Accent to infiltrate a mansion, even though the Fourth Doctor had very little skill at disguises and tended to prefer force of personality and charm (one of the things that separated him from Three, who used secret identities, and Two, who was a chameleon). This is all because the script was adapted from a script for The Avengers (1960s) by an Avengers writer.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The story feels more like an action spy thriller akin to James Bond or The Avengers (1960s) than Doctor Who. We have the Doctor as a violent action hero and a diabolical mastermind bent on world domination.
  • Plant Aliens: The Krynoid, a large, carnivorous alien plants that can be thought of as galactic weeds and turns people into plants.
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: Miss Ducat insists her name be pronounced Du-cah.
  • Put on a Bus: This serial marked the last appearance of UNIT in the series for a long time. Except for a minor appearance in The Five Doctors, there wouldn't be another UNIT story until Battlefield 13 years later.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: When Amelia, who Chase tried to welsh on earlier, comes around demanding her money for the painting she did, Chase not only pays what he owes, but doubles it in order to get her out of his house as quickly as possible. See also Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves below.
  • Private Military Contractors: Scorby. Chase's house is also guarded by his private security force armed with Uzis.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The whole studio recording schedule had to be heavily reworked when one of the principal guest actors came down with chicken pox.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dunbar.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Completely averted. Chase actually pays Dunbar, his spy in the World Ecology Bureau, the briefcase full of money he promised him rather than killing him.
  • Save the Villain: The Doctor tries to save Chase, who responds by trying to pull him into the compost machine with him. Big mistake, as it's difficult to hold onto someone while your legs are being crushed.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Most of Chase's guards wisely bail offscreen when things start getting rough, except for one who apparently wasn't fast enough and gets killed by some vines.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Krynoid pods.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: See the Save The Villain example above.
  • Shout-Out: One first seeing a Krynoid pod, a researcher asks "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?"
  • Sissy Villain: Chase: "I could play all day in my green cathedral!"
  • Smug Snake: Chase is unbelievably punchable. Unfortunately, though we can see he is incredibly tempted, the Doctor never actually punches him.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Apart from Sarah, Amelia is the only female character in the story.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Yet another grand old British manor bites the dust in the last episode.
    • And the Antarctic base at the end of Part 2.
  • Stylistic Suck: Chase's music.
  • Super Window Jump: The Doctor diving through the skylight to rescue Sarah.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Two this time: Sergeant Henderson for Benton and Major Beresford for The Brigadier.
  • Tap on the Head: Chase knocks Henderson out by bopping him lightly with a big wrench.
  • Talking to Plants: Well he plays his Ominous Pipe Organ for them. When Chase does start talking to his plants it's because he's gone crazy (though in fairness it turns out the Krynoid can talk back).
  • Tested on Humans
    Chase: Fetch some clamps, Keeler.
    Keeler: You can't! It's inhuman!
    Chase: I don't care. I must know what happens when a Krynoid touches human flesh.
  • Transflormation: Anyone infected by the Krynoid will be transformed into a murderous plant monster.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Stevenson activated the pod by putting it under a light.
    The Doctor: Mister Stevenson, what you have done could result in the total destruction of all life on this planet.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Krynoid seems to have this as an instinct. Chase likewise feels this way when it comes to plants.
  • Viral Transformation: What the Krynoid does to its human host.
  • Was Once a Man: Winlett, then Keeler.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Keeler gives one of these speeches to Sarah Jane after she refuses to help him, knowing full well that Keeler's transformation is near the end of its initial stage, and his personality will soon be eliminated. Sadly her decision is proven right, as the next time we see "Keeler", there's nothing left of the man he once was.
  • When Trees Attack
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To The Thing from Another World.
  • Wrench Whack
  • The X of Y