By Roy Mathur, on 2020-12-21, at 23:50:54--00:30:06 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen
Last time I said I'd call this item at the top of the show, the Journal. Like Google, I'm changing my mind and pulling the rug out from under your feet and not doing that. Instead, I'm calling it whatever is appropriate for the given topic, or just not doing it at all if I have nothing to say, which is what I used to do. Why in god's name did I change that? Why?
I'm taking a very short break from DW after this pod, to do a lot more generic geek podcasting (news of that in next pod), but I'll return to revisiting DW later in January.
Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker
Companion: Sarah Jane Smith: Elisabeth Sladen
Director: Douglas Camfield
Writer: Robert Banks Stewart
Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe
Locations: Additional on-location filming at Athelhampton House, Athelhampton, Dorset (Chase's mansion) and Buckland Sand and Silica Co. Ltd., Surrey (Antarctica and Cassiopeia(?))
Sixth and final story of season 13, following The Brain of Morbius (covered in 350), 6 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from 31 January November to 6 March 1976.
I'm no longer calling this bit "On this Day in the UK", because very often there is nothing of interest going on in the UK when the Doctor Who story was originally broadcast.
Also because it makes this podcast sound annoyingly overly parochial, with my pod already called "...The UK Geek Podcast". Besides, anything that stinks of empire, in the light of Brexit xenophobia, gets right on my wick.
This week we instead set our sights just a little further afield and on this day elsewhere in the universe and, and, and... still I could not find a thing.
In the Antarctic, two alien seed pods are found.
In London, Dunbar of the World Ecology Bureau, under the orders of his boss, Thackeray, who has asked UNIT for scientific consultation, shows the Doctor a photograph of the pod. The Doctor says the pod should not be touched and leaves to examine it.
Dunbar tells sinister Chase, whose raison d'etre is to protect plant life on Earth, the pods' location. Chase sends his minions to retrieve them.
In Antarctica, one of the men is stung by a tendril that explodes from the pod.
The Doctor arrives and recognises one of the empty germinated pods as belonging to the virulent Krynoid plant species which kills and infects all animal life on a planet.
The man stung by the pod is badly infected, transforms into a humanoid plant, and goes on a murderous rampage.
Chase's minions steal the remaining pod and sabotage the experimental fuel cell generator. It explodes, destroying the base.
The Doctor and Sarah escape, are rescued, bring news of the pod's theft to the Bureau in London, are about to visit the Botanic Institute, but are instead kidnapped by a chauffeur working for Chase. They escape and find a painting leading them to Chase's mansion in the car.
At the mansion, they are captured and pre-execution, are treated to Chase's horrendous musical composition, Requiem Floriana.
They escape again only for Sarah to be captured and exposed to the alien pod by Chase who wants to see its effect on human flesh first-hand. The Doctor crashes through the skylight and the pair temporarily escape, while Chase's botanist Keeler is stung.
This time the Doctor is captured. In a very Bond villain-like move Chase leaves the Doctor to be ground up in his mulching machine, but Sarah escapes, passes a message to the artist whose painting led them to Chase, finds the Doctor, and hits the stop button at the last moment.
Krynoid-Keeler attacks the house and begins a plant revolution, encouraging Earth plants to attack humans, while Chase is possessed by the Krynoid and reveals the master plan of ridding the Earth of animal "parasites" to Sarah, Scorby, and Hargreaves the butler.
UNIT attacks with weed killer and lasers, the Doctor stops Chase from mulching Sarah; screaming in agony, Chase is mulched alive.
Finally a bombing run by jets stops the Krynoid.
Returning to London, the Doctor and Sarah take their leave of Thackeray, set on a holiday jaunt to Cassiopeia, but arrive back in Antarctica.
The Thing from Another World is clearly a great influence and the exploding pods with their aggressively questing tentacular stinging tendrils are suspiciously reminiscent of the facehugger eggs from Alien. Swamp Thing! That's what I thought of when I saw the frond waving Antarctic Krynoid. Keeler-Krynoid, however, quickly mutates into a giant shambling green mound of lashing tentacle-like creepers.
The scene of the Krynoid swarming over and destroying the mansion is a land-based version of that famous artwork of the Kraken attacking a ship.
I appreciated that plant supremacist Chase is an organ playing madman, a black gloved bad guy, and a proper Bond villain with henchmen, and uniformed guards with submachine guns; although, sadly, there are only two. Ahhh... BBC production budgets.
There's a lot of escaping, though it does give the Doctor the opportunity to duff up the bad guys, particularly Chase's chief henchman, Scorby. Tom Baker's style is more dirty street fighting than Jon Pertwee's Venusian Aikido.
Cabbage man! This is another Hinchcliffe episode I remember seeing the first time around. The shambling cabbage man scared me to death. I see a pattern forming here. We can zero in on the Hinchcliffe body-horror--- such as The Ark in Space, Morbius, and The Seeds of Doom---as the stories which gave me the most nightmares as a child.
The TARDIS finally brought them back to Earth, but we don't see them arriving. We just see the Doctor talking to Dunbar in his office.
According to the BBC's Classic Episode Guide, the humanoid Krynoid costume used an Axon outfit painted green (The Claws of Axos covered in 246).
Happy Winter Solstice! It is the longest night of the year when the Sun at its lowest daily maximum elevation, which is appropriate for this chilly Doctor Who story.
Winter Solstice is celebrated by many pre-Christian cultures, and the reason some Christians, in areas where Solstice-type festivals previously presided---like, for example, the Roman's Saturnalia or the Germanic Yule---hold Christmas around this time. (Jesus may actually have been born around February). Extant religions like Hinduism still celebrate it as Ayan Parivartan.
The double whammy this year is that the Solstice coincides with a rare astronomical event--the Great Conjunction---that was last scene four hundred years ago. This phenomenon is when the two largest planets of the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn, line up and form one big bright ball.
Except light pollution from our local council's new, blinding, very ugly lamp posts, and a blustery day wiped out visibility. I did, however, go out with my Sky Map app, so at least I could look in the right direction and participate in that way.