The Seeds of War is one of those Doctor Who stories that serve as a sequel to an adventure that we’ve yet to have with the Doctor. Still with us? Good.
There’s been mention recently of a being called the Eminence, a mysterious figure that is in no way, shape or form a friend of the Doctors. Their first encounter, in the Doctor’s Fourth incarnation and something that will be brought to us from Big Finish in the near future, is shrouded in secrecy but from Colin Baker’s performance in The Seeds of War, the being known as the Eminence scares the Doctor incredibly.
Arriving at the Great Tower of Kalsos, the Doctor and Mel are soon split up and on a race against time to escape the building before it’s blown up. Where Mel finds help, the Doctor finds a message telling him that the Eminence is coming. We’re used to the Doctor staring danger straight in the face and smiling but here, he’s clearly terrified. Something about this being and the encounter that the Doctor has had with it in his past hassled his to not only be anxious but to be fearful as well. It’s a credit to Colin Baker that he can turn his Doctor from bloated bluster to helpless anxiety in just a few moments, when your hero is scared, that’s generally the time when it’s safe for you to get scared as well, it’s a great technique employed by writers Fitton and Briggs to draw the audience in.
What follows from Kelsos is a race across the ten systems for the Doctor, Mel and the Tevelers, a family only recently reunited. But just as this family are getting to know one another again, the Doctor may well have unwittingly guided them to their deaths. He’s playing a game of chase with the Eminence that could have disastrous consequences. Arriving at the Reliquaries of Earth, the Doctor discovers the plans for the eponymous seeds of the title and with a little trickery gets Mel to help him save the day.
While Colin Baker delivers a wonderful struggle for his Doctor, trying to force the Eminence out of his mind and succumb to his will, Mel and the family Teveler provide more of the emotional characterisation that Big Finish are so good at delivering. There’s reconciliation and loss in such a short space of time that this story can be described as a full on rollercoaster ride of emotion with some genuinely tearful moments.
There’s also a fantastic first performance from David Sibley as the Eminence, his velvet voice whispers eerily throughout this story and his threat level suitably rises as the adventure continues. His army of soldiers, The Infinite Warriors, are also very well realised, hooded figures with burnt orange eyes, they’re the stuff of nightmares and considering that they’re all beings that are possessed by the Eminence rather than recruited by him makes them all the more scary.
The Seeds of War is a great way for Melanie Bush to end her latest set of stories for Doctor Who and hopefully she’ll be back sooner rather than later as her chemistry with Colin Baker’s Doctor is simply beautiful. There’s also more to be heard from the Eminence, there’s no doubt of that, he’s too juicy a villain to have just a few stories, but even thought this is technically his second story, it’s a great starting point.
The Seeds of War is available from www.big finish.com now.