2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
The Seeds Of Doom is a story that still remains in the highest league of Doctor Who stories to this day. Hothouse, however, most certainly isn't, however. Which is odd, considering that it is written by Jonathan Morris, who is usually so reliable, especially with regards to sequels to past stories. It just seems like Morris pulled every element that made Seeds Of Doom good, and then twisted it to make it, well, let's be frank, bad. Hothouse may not be the worst Doctor Who story ever, but it's not got a lot going for it.
The story attempts to condense the plot of Seeds down for six episodes into two, which is, frankly, ludicrous. The two episodes are absolutely bloated full of different ideas that could spin off and make their own story. It's clear that, were this a four-parter, this would be an excellent story. However, because it's over so quickly, it just feels rushed. Certainly, Morris bats around some good ideas (the Doctor's anger after Orbis, the political layers, the idea of Lucie going undercover), but these ideas are pushed for room in what should have been a simple story. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a bit of complex plotting, but a hour simply isn't long enough for the kind of story that Morris is trying to tell. The situation in the future is only painted in broad brush strokes, despite the fact that those ideas are prehaps the most interesting. It certainly seems that the script has been rushed through production, so that the third season could have a Krynoid story. The packed script isn't the only problem that the story has. It's pacing is all over the place, prehaps a problem of the plot's condensing. It's simply too slow, even in comparison to the original six-part story. The story moves along at a snail's pace, barely moving along at all. This is odd, because the orginal has a lot of pace, and I would have expected this sequel to have some of that in spates. However, it's plodding and unimaginative, and this just means that the story Morris is trying to tell is just lots amongst floundering and uninteresting plot lines. The cliches that are re-hashed here are simply wasted, because Morris says nothing new about them. There's a madman, some capture and escape, a cliffhanger that involves the Doctor's companion being threatened with infection etc, etc. which simply ruins the potential this story has.
The characters are also a pretty uninspiring bunch too. Not one of them is remotely likeable, even in some small way. Alex Marlow is nowhere near as interesting as Harrison Chase, instead coming out like a cut price bargain version, with all the charm of the original stripped away. The rest of them also feel like the typical treacherous characters that you would expect in these kind of stories, Morris not really using them to explore any orginal ideas about human nature. Instead they just feel like the sort of characters that populated the worst scripts in the mid 1980's: evil and treacherous for evil and treacheries sake. Not one of them deserves to live, and, fortunately, they all meet a horrible and grizzly fate at the hands of the Krynoid. And that's another problem: apart from an accelerated mutation (to get around the problem with the shorter running time), no new aspects of the Krynoids are developed. They just seem to be there to provide threat and indulge the old Doctor Who fans, rather than to actually say anything new about the species. This bargain-basement feel isn't helped by the guest cast, who are, frankly, terrible. Nigel Planer is the worst: he never seems to take the material seriously. The Eighth Doctor Adventures range has pulled in some big guest stars (Anita Dobson, Una Stubbs, Bernard Cribbins, Art Malik & Samuel West being some notable names). However, they always gave there all to the material, even if the characters themselves weren't exceptional. Nigel Planer, on the other hand, gives the audio equivalent of Graeme Crowden's Horns Of Nimon performance, just taking it into melodrama. He isn't even funny like Crowden, just frustrating. I certainly wasn't impressed with Lysette Anthony either. She sounded very wooden, despite the fact that she's already appeared in one Big Finish before. Adna Sablyich and Stuart Crossman weren't very impressive either, not really bringing anything new to there characters. This really only leaves Sheridan Smith and Paul McGann, who gamely try to salvage something from the material (although McGann does show flashes of the boredom that punctuated his Divergent Universe stories). However, Lucie and the Doctor sadly aren't written well and in fact, they could be any Doctor/companion team. The Doctor's post-Orbis melancholy is slightly fudged, because it's only brought up when it's convinent to have the Doctor moan about the destructive power of the human race. Even Barnaby Edwards' direction is pretty poor in comparison to usual. He normally gets some strong performances out of his actors, but here, everything just seems so much looser. Martin Johnson does his best with the music and sound design, but he is fighting a loosing battle.
Unfortunately, Hothouse is a bit of a damp squib. The plot is merely a rehash of The Seeds Of Doom, the characters are dull and uninteresting and the acting is wooden and over-the-top. Hothouse is, unfortunately, an extremely disappointing return for the Krynoids, with very little to recommend it. I was expecting something rather special from this writer with this director and this monster. However, it's better to summarise this as one of Big Finish's all time biggest disappointments.