Hothouse (2009)

The second story of this third series of Eighth Doctor & Lucie stories follows on from a very strange Orbis. Hothouse in my mind is the proper start of the third series for the Eighth Doctor & Lucie. Hothouse has a very strong environmental message and which is evident but doesn’t smother you and distract from the story. This story is written by Jonathan Morris who has contributed several stories to Doctor Who especially the second series story Max Warp. The Krynoids made their only appearance in Doctor Who in the 1976 story The Seeds of Doom. This story isn’t my favourite one and I don’t see why its so popular with everyone, that said the Krynoids are an interesting creation and I was really excited when it was announced that they were going to be returning.

The beginning of this story starts off with a realistic news report which has a barrage of clippings from other reports and at the end we are left with the surprising statement from Lucie Miller which then leads into the theme tune. We don’t know whether the Doctor is involved with Lucie who seems to have gone on the wild side and become an eco-demonstrator. As the story starts its obvious that Lucie is working as a mole and is to try and bring down the whole operation. It isn’t long before it becomes clear that the Bono style attitude that Marlow has isn’t reality and that he is breeding they Krynoids. One thing that I liked was the cliffhanger was really good and the best for quite sometime. The thought that Lucie could be turned into a Krynoid was quite a scary one and the question that entered my mind as I heard the ending was if Lucie did get turned into a Krynoid then how would the Doctor be able to save things? The inclusion of Alex Marlow is very similar to Harrison Chace and by that I mean someone who is quite wealthy putting their power and wealth to the wrong use.

I was dreading part two because I felt that the resolution of the story wouldn’t live up to the expectations that I had made on the ending of part one. When the story resumed it didn’t disappoint and my worries were unfounded as the story progressed the pace and enjoyment didn’t go down and didn’t disappoint. If I do have a niggling problem with Hothouse it is that the Krynoids don’t seem menacing enough. When they appeared in The Seeds of Doom they had the visual image to rely on but without that it was always necessary that they either don’t use as the main baddies or use them in a more creative way that the way that they were used.

Paul McGann put in a good performance as his reset Doctor was trying to figure out Lucie and this new version of the eighth Doctor gave a nice refreshing feel to the story. The addition of UNIT enabled McGann to put the Doctor in that role the Doctor was in back in the Jon Pertwee days. McGann seemed to enjoy this role and made it count. Sheridan Smith is really developing as a companion as she continues to remind the Doctor of what their relationship used to be like before the events with Morbius. This story sees Miller in a position that we haven’t seen her before and this is largely because it seems that she wants to prove to the Doctor that she is someone he needs.

Nigel Planer is very good in this story. He comes to my mind as playing the Hippie Neil in the BBC comedy The Young Ones. In this he plays a musician who has green credentials which is not unlike many popstars and people in the music industry today. Planer was very good in this story as his character was a good adversary for the Doctor. The character he plays is Alex Marlowe and his lifestyle is quite similar to events of The Seeds of Doom. As the story shifts into the second half it seems that Planner steps it up a gear and he becomes that much more of a threat to the Doctor, Lucie and everyone on Earth. Adna Sablyich is also good in this story as Christina Ondrak. I don’t know how much she had to exaggerate her accent but I think that it was dangerously close to being over the top. Also Lysette Anthony is a very good ‘one-off companion’ in Hazel Bright. Anthony previously appeared in Assassin in the Limelight and was good in that so it was no real surprise that she performed well in this one. With the absence of Lucie from the Doctor’s side it was good at how Bright was able to seem to fit in so well.

Jonathan Morris has been a very good writer in this story and he continues to do the same with Hothouse. It is a simple story that uses a monster which had potential for future stories to its fullest effect. Morris has become a dependable writer and it was only possible to give an established writer the responsibility of writing for a classic monster. Barnaby Edwards is a very good director and can always be relied upon to direct a story to make seem so enjoyable that you forget how long the story has been going on for and gets a shock when it comes to an end. Since Gary Russell left the range in early 2007, Edwards has taken over the role of lead director and it is easy to see why. He kept the action going at a nice steady pace and built it up towards the cliffhanger and then kept the same pace in the second half of the story.

Overall this is a story that gets back to business with an enjoyable story with strong characters and a pace that never stops. Hopefully we will see a return of the Krynoids to Doctor Who and this story shows what can be done with a classic monster that has tended to work on visual images but then has to work on audio images rather that visual.

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