Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Seeds of Doom

Tony Beckley as Chase
Now THIS story also is inspired, shall we say, by another popular tale – ‘Day of the Triffids’. I again was blown away by a story. I loved it so much, and much was to do with two things – the casting and the atmosphere. So kudos to Mr Douglas Camfield in both instances! And of course, some credit to the writer, Robert Banks Stewart, for this tale which I felt was much stronger than ‘Terror of the Zygons’, and perhaps simpler. A form of plant-life called a Krynoid is found in Antarctica, mad-man steals it, it goes crazy, controls all plant life, wants to take over the world. It’s not convoluted or full of the sort of plotholes of ‘Terror of the Zygons’.
We have an author doing two stories in one season, which is unusual, owing mainly to ‘Terror of the Zygons’ being held over though, and nice to have a full 26 episode season. Hinchcliffe decided to go with 5 four parters and a big six parter to end the season in epic fashion, and it’s works well. Six-part stories probably needed a lot more work in development to make sure they had the legs for the number of episodes, four-parters are much neater and easier to structure. This formula would continue for a number of years I am told.
Tony Beckley was so perfectly cast as Harrison Chase, the plant-loving millionaire man who begins the story already totally bonkers and just got crazier. I would say that for all the human-adversaries and similar parts in the history of the show, Chase is the scariest and most perfect villain of them all. I’d even take it a step further and say he is more evil than the Master, more bonkers than Davros and more brutal than Solon and Morbius combined.
The Doctor and Scorby.

He’s backed up by the thug Scorby, the archetype stooge with no brains who likes guns and fists to do the talking. Tom Baker works well with him in both serious and comedic moments. John Challis does a wonderful job too. Tom Baker is wonderful throughout it should be mentioned, using anger and seriousness when required, for the bulk of the story in fact. When there’s a little chance for light humour – like introducing Chase to his own thugs, it is well placed.

Amelia Ducat. Could have been a companion????

The Krynoid creature as a man, before it gets huge, was the old Axon costumes with some slight alterations and a green paint job. The make-up job before Keilor had reached this state of transformation was particularly well done. Some shots of the Krynoid maybe weren’t as good as they could have been, the model stuff is great by when it moves in composite/CSO shots, it’s not so convincing. It was always going to be difficult to achieve. The snow at times is pretty poor in episodes one and two, which are principally set in Antarctica, but the budget must have been really strained having the first two episodes sort of separate from the final four needing their own location.
Narratively though, it helps. It’s almost a prelude, a mini-story before the main one kicks off. In a story which is so long, it’s helps to disguise the real length and is used particularly effectively here, a technique which I can’t remember the production team using before.
The score is wonderful, perfect, by who else but Dudley Simpson? It adds to the atmosphere which is apocalyptic as the story dictates. We have some wonderful deaths, especially Scorby who is dragged under water by vines, however it does suffer a little as we can see the actor pulling the vines over
himself. Surely a backwards scene would have worked better? BUT exterior shooting was done on video. Which again is a little disappointing, I think film would have added to the atmosphere. Video is a little bright and matte for my liking when used outdoors.
Nevertheless, it’s right up there with my favourites. Special note to Sylvia Coleridge who plays Amelia Ducat (I think she might have been an extra in ‘The Chase’ too....) An elderly lady, a famous painter of flowers. It’s excellently played by Coleridge, funny, clever, the scenes with Sir Colin are a delight. Bravo!

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