Yes, it’s time to catch up on the classic Doctor Who DVDs. This one’s been sitting on my desk waiting for me to mutter about it since, oooooh, some time last year, and with more coming soon, it’s well past time I talked about it.
This one stars Tom Baker as the Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith – one of the best teams in the long history of Doctor Who. It was first shown between January and March 1976, and is a six-parter with a lot going on. First of all, a couple of strange seed pods are found in the Antarctic, which leads the Doctor and Sarah Jane to investigate (for reasons that aren’t altogether clear, they take a plane rather than the TARDIS, which would have been a bit quicker, but never mind). One of the pods opens, infects a scientist and makes him transform into a rather nasty vegetation monster.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a completely bonkers botanist sends some thugs to collect the other pod, and allows it to infect someone else. The Doctor has recognised the plant thingy as a Krynoid, a carnivorous plant that likes to take over entire planets, wiping out all animal life in the process. The bonkers botanist, Harrison Chase, shows that he’s really bonkers, as he’s quite keen on this idea.
Lots of fun follows, with the Doctor acting as if he’s secretly in an episode of The Avengers (introducing Sarah as his “best friend”, thumping people more than normal, dropping through windows, that kind of thing), and the traditional comedy bit at the end, where the TARDIS “accidentally” takes the Doctor and Sarah to a slightly unexpected destination.
This was a story I remembered moderately well from its original showing (and possibly a repeat on UK Gold, but even that would have been in the 90s…), and it still stands up as nicely entertaining.
In addition to the usual commentary, production subtitles, photo galleries, trailers, PDF bits from the Radio Times, there’s a nice set of extras:
- Podshock – the usual cast and crew reminiscence thingy
- Now and then – a look at the locations used, and how they’ve changed
- Playing in the Green Cathedral – Geoffrey Burgon, the composer of this story’s music, talks about his work
- So what do you do exactly? Graeme Harper, now a much-respected director, talks about being a production assistant on this story
- Stripped for Action – the Fourth Doctor – another in the ongoing series about the Doctor Who comic strips.
 I don’t have a sufficiently accurate dust level to time calculating device