Log in

No account? Create an account
parrot_knight [userpic]

Doctor Who XIII.21-26: The Seeds of Doom

November 20th, 2012 (01:19 am)

I rewatched The Seeds of Doom earlier and am evidently not going to get to bed before I've written down some observations, so:

  • Possession and transformation disturb me as much as they did when I was five (watching fragments of the story on television) or six (reading Philip Hinchcliffe's pared-down novelisation), and the change in form suffered by first Winlett and then Keeler remains terrifying in its relentlessness. This is accentuated by the establishment of Winlett as one of a team with human failings of curiosity, greed, selfishness and despite their qualifications difficulty in grasping the cosmic scale of the crisis. The Doctor's dispassionate insistence that the crew of Camp Five have to help themselves coldly parallels the lack of sympathy for human identity shown by the Krynoid in the Antarctic setting. Yet this is not Olympian detachment on the Doctor's part, but scientific caution, carefully-managed anger at human stupidity, and fear of consequences directed by strength of will into clear-sighted rationality. Much of the apparent consistency of the Doctor's approach to the problem relies on Tom Baker's performance: there is a remote but real kindness in his "You have to help yourselves" which not all the actors who have played the Doctor would have managed.

  • The success of mid-1970s Doctor Who relies heavily on the utter conviction with which the script is performed. This is helped by the writing: Robert Banks Stewart was an old hand at television adventure stories, though this was his second (and last completed and televised) script for Doctor Who, and the actors are given more to build upon than mere types. The famed military discipline which Douglas Camfield brought to the set can't have been a bad thing either. Mark Jones as Keeler impresses particularly in part two. Keeler can barely cope when unable to avoid the murderous implications of his criminal expedition, and is unable to summon the strength of character to turn away from a path he knows is wrong. In contrast Scorby's morality is uncomplicatedly blinkered, but a blinkered horse is surely lost when off the racecourse.

  • UNIT are about to disappear from the scene, and Major Beresford and Sergeant Henderson are particularly uncharismatic and even unconvincing, Ray Barron in particular seeming to have wandered on unprepared. However, Sir Colin Thackeray and his frustrated deputy Dunbar recognisably come from the same 1970s officialdom as the civil servants of The Guardians or The Sandbaggers, though despite the chimes of Big Ben playing into Thackeray's office its confined space suggests (as the exteriors confirm) that the World Ecology Bureau are renting offices in an unwanted wing of Television Centre. Thackeray and Dunbar are allowed proactivity and the latter the chance to repent of his corruption. Amelia Ducat provides welcome light relief, though I like to imagine the dottiness covers a more extensive wartime career than being an ATS sergeant in charge of an ack-ack battery.
Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/559027.html.