I haven’t seen this serial in close to twenty years, but I recall enjoying it a lot and thinking it’s basically Doctor Who’s take on WHO GOES THERE?

Episode 1:

Icebergs crash about an icy sea. Snow blasts the land in a wintry blizzard. Several people in snow gear chip away at ice; one of them pulls some artifact out of the ice and they take it back to camp.

Camp is a compound of four or five buildings in the snow. Inside, a bearded man pokes at the artifact. The two men who found it enter the room, asking his conclusion – he says it’s vegetable matter, which confirms their suspicions.

From its location in the permafrost, they estimate it’s been there 20,000 years. One of the men postulates that it’s tropical, but the other argues the logic of that, saying it’s been millions of years since Antarctica was a rain forest.

John, the man they brought it to (and the resident botanist, it seems) ignores their good natured banter. When they ask him what’s troubling him, he asks if they can feel it. They can’t and he says it’s alive. They find this hard to believe.

John says he’ll transmit photos to London, but the two men drag him off for a game of cards and some coffee.

Later, presumably in London, a Mr. Dunbar shows The Doctor some photos from his expedition in Antarctica; he seems reluctant to do so, thinking that The Doctor won’t be able to help. The Doctor tells Dunbar that “it still might be ticking, a time bomb…” He instructs Dunbar to tell the men not to touch the pod but keep it under a watchful eye until he gets there.

John takes measurements of the pod and asks one of the others in. He tells Charles that it is growing, has grown 5mm since that morning. Charles argues it, but John says the evidence speaks for itself. When Charles reminds John that The Doctor is due in the following day, but John seems very possessive about the pod.

In a large manor/castle/estate, Mr Dunbar (of the World Ecology Bureau) is introduced to the master of the estate, Mr. Chase. Chase demands to know what the WEB is doing about bonsai, but Dunbar is caught off guard. Chase proclaims his mission is to protect plant life. Dunbar says he knows this and this is why he’s come to call upon him, to show him evidence of new plant life.

Dunbar shows him the photos from the expedition. Chase demands to know where it was found; Dunbar tells him and then suggests that anything could happen, the pod could disappear… for the right price. He hands Chase a piece of paper with the location of the find on it.

Forethought and initiative, Mr. Dunbar. Two excellent attributes. We shall meet again, very soon, to discuss your remuneration.” – Chase

Chase’s men, Hargreaves and Scorby arrive, the former to show out Dunbar, the latter to go on an errand.

At the base, Charles is watching the pod, but despite drinking coffee, he drifts off to sleep. The pod opens and tendrils extend from it, grabbing him. He cries out, falling to the ground.

John and the other man, in their bunk, hear the noise and come to check on him. They find him on the floor, his face turning green.

In London, Dunbar and another man discuss the telex from John – “Pod carries infection, Charles seriously ill, need medical aid”. A medical team has been sent, but with the bad weather, it will be at least a day. Dunbar remarks that the UNIT team should be getting there soon.

A helicopter approaches the camp. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are greeted by Derek, the third man. He explains that the camp houses up to a dozen but there are only three at the time. He brings them indoors. The Doctor asks to see the sick man right away, not wanting to make small talk.

Charles body is changing, his skin covered in plant growth. John tells The Doctor that the medical team is expected tomorrow, but he says that may not be soon enough. The growth is accelerating.

Derek helps Sarah warm up with some coffee, but has to leave when the signal for the radio starts beeping.

The Doctor asks to see the lab. John leads him there, where Derek tells them that the medical team has radioed in to report having to turn back. The Doctor says that Charles is changing and some tests will have to be run. Derek, being a zoologist, offers to prepare a slide.

John shows The Doctor the remnants of the pod. John explains that it might be his fault that the pod opened – he had placed it under a lamp to warm it up and it had begun to expand. The Doctor tells him his action might have resulted in the extinction of all life on the planet. (Wow, melodramatic, much? Even if true, damn.)

Derek takes a blood sample from Charles and talks to him, trying to reassure his friend that help is on the way.

Outside, in the snow, The Doctor (wearing not additional protection) chips away at the ice while John and Sarah (wearing protective gear) ask him what they’re doing there. The Doctor finds another pod. The Doctor says there will be no more pods – they travel in pairs. It is brought to the camp and placed in a freezer.

When they examine Charles’ blood sample, it’s not made of platelets but plant bacteria. They hear a plane outside and Derek and John go out to greet the arrivals, believing them to be the medical team.

The Doctor tells Sarah that Charles is halfway to becoming a “Krynoid”, which he likens to a “galactic weed”. He says that on planets where the Krynoid gets established, the plants eat the animals instead of the other way around.

The new arrivals are brought in. They’re not the medical team, but a private plane that got lost… supposedly. It turns out to be Scorby and another man named Keeler, Chase’s operatives.

Checking on Charles with everyone else (except for the new arrivals), The Doctor suggests the only chance they have is to amputate Charles’ arm. When they leave to prepare, Charles sits up and looks around. He leaves the sick bay and when Derek encounters him, Charles attacks him, strangling him… and the credits roll.

Oh, this is fun so far. Corrupt government types, a powerful private man with a fanatic calling, a man being change, a hostile environment. Oh, yes, I see why this has stuck with me through the years.


Episode 2:

Charles leaves Derek (dead? Unconscious?) and exits the camp into the blasting snow.

Scorby takes one of the camp’s rifles, telling Keeler to keep watch. He proceeds to take it apart, saying he doesn’t like guns… in the wrong hands. Keeler seems to think they’re just there to confirm the existence of the pod and is upset when Scorby makes it clear they’re going to be taking it with them. He explains they’re going to kill everyone. Keeler says Scorby is mad and he won’t have anything to do with it. Scorby threatens him saying he’ll do it.

Sarah sees Derek’s body. She rushes back to tell The Doctor and John, who investigate. They see that Charles is gone. The Doctor says that Charles is gone, now he is just the Krynoid.

John and Sarah return to the bunk room, fetching the rifle that Scorby was messing with and their outdoor gear. They depart with The Doctor, leaving Keeler and Scorby to speculate what is going on. Scorby says this is their chance to find the pod.

Dunbar reports to Chase about the infection. Chase informs Dunbar that he’s sent his “best man” to fetch the pod for him. Dunbar reveals his motivations for selling the information to Chase – he’s tired of being passed over and not getting his rightful due.

The Krynoid moves through the snow, more plant than human now. The Doctor, John and Sarah wander through the snow, looking for the creature.

Scorby and Keeler search the camp, making quite the mess. Keeler is a nervous wreck, while Scorby is a bull in a china shop. The radio comes to life as South Bend calls in to inform them the weather is clearing. Scorby tries to pass himself off as Derek and tells them not to bother, but the South Bend man seems a bit suspicious. Scorby pulls the plug on the radio.

The Doctor, John and Sarah investigate the generator building.

Keeler finds the pod, but says it has germinated. Scorby realises that it’s not any good to Chase without the plant inside and says they must find the plant.

The Doctor chastises John for continuing to refer to the creature as ‘Winlet’ (Charles’ last name), saying it is no longer human. The Doctor is getting very snippy – I guess he’s very worried. He snaps at Sarah and John both, repeatedly, before leaving.

Scorby and Keeler find Derek’s body in the lab, recognising him as one of the men who greeted them.

The Krynoid enters the generator building.

The Doctor and Sarah return to the main building, John saying he wanted to check on something first. Keeler and Scorby take them at gun point and demand to know what’s going on. After some shenanigans, The Doctor tells them, though leaving some details out.

Scorby and Keeler tie them up in the bunk room; Scorby demands to know where the plant from the pod is. The Doctor explains that the man “who went mad” (the earlier explanation) is now an alien creature. Scorby finds this hard to believe, but John returns just then and tries to use his rifle to make Scorby give up his pistol, quickly discovering that his rifle won’t fire.

John blabs, revealing there’s a second pod. Scorby puts his gun to Sarah Jane’s head, demanding to know where the pod is and The Doctor tells him. Scorby gives Keeler a gun to watch over The Doctor and Sarah, taking John to show him where the pod is. (Keeler is very, very reluctant to take the gun.)

Scorby makes John get a thermal container to transport the pod. They talk and Scorby posits that the Krynoid might be hiding there, but John says they already checked it.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane do their best to rattle Keeler, but Scorby returns with John before they can get in his head too much. John is tied up and Scorby seems about to shoot them, but then takes Sarah Jane, leaving The Doctor and John behind.

As they take her, The Doctor shouts, “Scorby!” several times. There’s a pitch to Baker’s voice that just really carries a lot of emotion in it. I have always liked that scene.

The Krynoid is seen wandering through the snow.

Scorby tells Sarah to take them to the generator building. There, he sets an explosive device. Keeler is obviously upset at the idea of blowing the entire facility. Scorby bullies him into doing as he instructs, but after the bomb has been set, he tries to fight Scorby, who subdues him and they leave Sarah tied up in the generator building.

The Doctor and John cut their bonds; The Doctor tells John to get on the radio, while he goes out looking for Sarah. In the radio room, the Krynoid has entered the compound and attacks John.

The Doctor watches the plane take off.

The timer on the bomb counts down; there’s less than a minute.

The Krynoid moves through the snow.

The Doctor frees Sarah, but with seconds left, the Krynoid enters. It chases them around the building but they slip back out the door and lock the creature inside.

They run for their lives, and when the timer reaches zero, the bomb goes off, taking the entire complex with it…. and the credits roll.

That’s an excellently done cliffhanger there. I’m surprised that the Antarctic base blew up so early – I thought about half the serial took place there.

Episode 3:

A vehicle on treads pulls up to the location, finding Sarah Jane in the snow. They tell her they’re from South Bend, but she’s worried about The Doctor. She finds him buried in the snow and they uncover him to discover he’s alive.

Scorby and Keeler return to Chase’s manse, to report their mission has been accomplished. Scorby opens the case but cautions Chase not to touch it, explaining what happened with the other pod. Hargreaves brings in Dunbar, who is upset at the destruction of the facility and the deaths.

Dunbar informs them that The Doctor and his assistant survived and are meeting with him and Sir Colin in several hours.

At the meeting, The Doctor says the uniqueness of the pod makes it something to covet. He and Sarah Jane say the theft was so well planned, and they must have been privy to inside information from the bureau. Dunbar plays it all off as preposterous.

The Doctor demands to be taken to the Botanical Institute and they are taken in a car. Dunbar calls in to Chase, assuring him that The Doctor has been taken care of, but insists that he is extremely cautious with the pod.

The driver of the car drives them out into the middle of nowhere and parks, turning a gun on his passengers. The Doctor overpowers the driver and they run off. He pursues and they draw him into a trap, defeating him. In the boot of the car (that’s trunk to my fellow Americans) they find a framed piece of artwork.

Going to the artist’s residence, they speak to her, Amelia Ducat, a little old lady. She confirms that she painted the piece, and then recalls that it was bought by “Harrison Chase, the millionaire… good lord, he never paid me!”

Keeler reports to Chase that there are no signs of activity; he pleads for any experiments with the pod be ceased. A call comes in and they learn that the car driver is in the hospital.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane pull up to a gate in the car. The Doctor dons the chauffeur’s cap and toots the hor and the guard at the gate lets them in without even checking to ensure who is in the car.

He and Sarah Jane slip the car and find the large manor. Two guards spot them and fire on them as they dash for the house. There’s a running scene (it is Doctor Who, after all) until they end up face to face with Scorby and his gun. The other guards arrive and help bring them inside to meet Chase.

Chase explains he has the greatest collection of rare plants in the world and the pod, once it flowers, with be the crown jewel. He informs them that they’re to be executed, but first they’ll get to see his plants and takes them on a tour of his manor.

Keeler informs Hargreaves that the pod is growing and instructs him to inform Chase.

Chase plays some electronic sounds (calling it “music”) for his plants. He talks all the while, as megalomaniacs are prone to do. Hargreaves arrives to inform him that he’s needed in the annex.

Upon examining the pod, Chase tells Keeler to inject more nitrogen into the pod. Keeler argues with him but Chase says he gives the orders.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane overpower Scorby and make a run for it. The Doctor tells Sarah she has to get out and make a call, but he plans to stay behind and examine the pod. Sarah makes it over the wall but is recaptured by the guards and brought before Scorby.

The Doctor skulks through the mansion, gaining rooftop access and looking down into the annex via a skylight. Sarah Jane is brought there and Chase questions her, demanding to know where The Doctor is. Chase says Sarah Jane can help with his experiment, saying he wants to know what will happen when the Krynoid touches human flesh.

They sit her down at the table and extend her arm. As The Doctor watches from above, the pod begins to open… and the credits roll.

Now THAT, my friends, is a cliffhanger. Wow, I love it. And one we’ll be leaving you on… see you Friday for the second half!

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