CD#3.2 (ISBN 1-84435-


 APRIL 2009.



 Somewhere in the

 south of England

 stands the Hothouse.

 Five vast, state-of-

 the-art biodomes,

 all steel and glass.


 Inside, rock star

 turned activist Alex

 Marlow has a plan

 to save the world

 from climate change.

 Save the world By

 any means necessary.


 There's something

 growing inside the

 Hothouse. Something

 that could turn back

 humanity's tide. A

 voracious Krynoid.

 The Doctor's going to

 have to stop it. Stop

 Marlow. Stop HIS

 fanatical acolyte,

 Lucie Miller...


 Save the world By

 any means necessary.


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21ST MARCH 2009 - 28TH MARCH 2009







Hothouse continues what is fast becoming a trend for the eighth Doctor and

Lucie in that it sees the return of a foe from the popular Philip Hinchliffe / Robert Holmes

era of the series – this time, the Triffid-like Krynoid from Robert Bank Stewart’s popular 1976 serial Seeds of Doom.


The first episode of the story adheres to the style and the spirit of The Seeds of Doom quite exactingly, right down to Jonathan Morris having the Doctor working for the ‘World Ecology Bureau’ and gallivant about in cars as opposed to TARDISes. However, despite the dearth of many of the series’ conventional elements, the plot still feels resplendently traditional.


What does set Hothouse apart from the television serial that spawned it is that Morris’s human antagonist is a much more rounded and altogether more credible character than Harrison Chase ever was. Far less chilling, I think it’s fair to say, but all the more credible nonetheless. Rocker turned eco-warrior Alex Marlowe and his ‘League of Nature’ are not lunatics who want to see plants take over Earth because they love them; they are fanatics that want to neuter the Krynoid and use it as a tool to help combat climate change. To give nature the power to fight back, as it were.


Former Young One Nigel Planer is terrific as Marlowe; he plays the part with such allure that at times it’s not hard to see how he and his followers could believe that what they’re doing is right. Marlowe’s dialogue is furnished with some delightfully macabre Bond-villain quips too - there are plenty of sniggers to be had as he presides over his callous experiments on human beings, talking about people “going green” or instructing them to “wait while she changes.”


Sheridan Smith’s vivacious Lucie

Miller also impresses again here.

Working undercover for almost half

of the story, Lucie most definitely

enjoys more than her fair share of

the action. The first episode’s pre-

title sequence is very memorable –

I actually found it more effective a hook than the actual cliffhanger!


However, I was a bit concerned initially as it appeared that the ramifications of Orbis had been quietly forgotten about, but in the second episode Morris does start to deal with these, and rather nicely too. And I’m not just talking about the practical upshot for Lucie (though this is dealt well brilliantly in the final scene) - I’m talking about the marked change in the Doctor’s personality; his perceptible sway away from humanity. His derision becomes almost ninth-Doctorish at times in this story. It seems that Paul McGann’s Doctor is certainly becoming more interesting by the minute, and I’m looking forward to hearing what else Big Finish will do with his character as the series progresses.


© Big Finish Productions 2009. No copyright infringement is intended.


Turning to the Krynoid, not being the most obvious candidate for an appearance in the audio medium, its role in this two-parter is for the most part limited to the second episode. Even then, the horror comes more from the plight of the human characters than it does from the impact of the voracious plants themselves. The gruesome fate of Lysette Anthony’s Hazel

is extremely harrowing, for instance, especially once it has become evident that she is a far more sympathetic character than she appeared to be at the end of the first episode.


On a final note, as Hothouse is the first story of the season that I’ve downloaded (my Orbis CD arrived very swiftly indeed, quashing my need to download the story), I have to say that the service continues to get the thumbs-up from me; I didn’t experienced any of the technical difficulties that I understand beleaguered the Orbis downloads. I was also impressed to see that the CD Extras were included in the zip file as well as the two episodes, although I was a little let down (particularly after all Nicholas Briggs’ hype in recent podcasts!) to find that the trailer for The Beast of Orlok had just been tacked on to the end of the extras, as it might be on any standard CD release. I’d assumed that it’d be integrated into the second episode’s closing music, a bit like on The Reaping and The Gathering in 2006, or something similarly special.


“You mentalist! You enviro-mentalist!”


Overall then, Hothouse is an appealing two-parter and a worthwhile sequel to The Seeds of Doom. There’s nothing that really makes it stand out from the crowd though, but then again, given the overall high standard of ‘the crowd’ at the moment this is hardly anything to fret about. So long as you don’t go into this one expecting something like Orbis again, I don’t think that you can go far wrong.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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