Doctor Who: HothouseThe Doctor and Lucie are undercover, having arrived on a drought-stricken future Earth where former music star Alex Marlowe is using his wealth and influence to lead a radical environmentalist movement that has increasingly become associated with violent protests and acts. Lucie has wormed her way into Marlowe’s organization, while the Doctor poses as a member of the World Ecology Bureau for a surprise inspection. What the Doctor discovers at Marlowe’s facility is horrifying: Krynoid seed pods have been acquired and genetically re-engineered. Marlowe is aware of the Krynoid’s killer instincts to consume all nearby life, and hopes that the Doctor will help him continue his experiments to create, among other things, a rainforest that can “fight back.” To ensure the Doctor’s cooperation, Marlowe decides that Lucie should be the next human to “volunteer” to be infected by one of his genetically altered Krynoid seed pods. Unfortunately for Earth, however, Marlowe’s attempts to change the Krynoids becomes a battle against nature that he can’t win.

Order this CDwritten by Jonathan Morris
directed by Barnaby Edwards
music by Martin Johnson

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Nigel Planer (Alex Marlowe), Lysette Anthony (Hazel Bright), Adna Sablyich (Christina Ondrak), Stuart Crossman (Stefan Radek), Barnaby Edwards (Newsreader)

Notes: The Krynoids were last encountered in The Seeds Of Doom (1976), which is where the Doctor – in his fourth incarnation – encountered both the World Ecology Bureau and Sir Colin Thackeray, both of whom get a mention in Hothouse.

Timeline: after Orbis and before The Beast Of Orlok

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: It seems that there are two kinds of classic series references in the eighth Doctor/Lucie audios: those that use old adversaries in interesting new ways, and those that use them as “name dropper” baddies and don’t really make the most of their established mythology. Alas, Hothouse is in the latter category.

The sad thing, it really could’ve been much more interesting; there are hints aplenty that the story might deal with the thorny (and now hopelessly politicized) issue of climate change, repopulating the rainforest, and so on; the main villain of the piece warns that Lucie is about to “go green” when she is threatened by a Krynoid seed pod. But Hothouse fails to innovate, instead essentially taking the major plot beats of The Seeds Of Doom and replaying them in a much more compressed sequence of events in a modern setting. You can comfortably assign Harrison Chase’s motives to Alex Marlowe, Lucie steps into Sarah Jane’s shoes as the companion threatened with Krynoid infection to force the Doctor to cooperate, Marlowe’s hired thug turns against him in the end (but still pays the price for her past misdeeds on his behalf) and we even get to know the hapless soul who unwittingly becomes the leader of the Krynoid pack. Hothouse is The Seeds Of Doom, in fast-forward.

The Doctor is still, irritatingly, slightly amnesiac where Lucie is concerned, and while the cast does the best job possible with the recycled script (see? Maybe it really is an environmentally-conscious story after all!), but there just isn’t much to work with – even the Doctor-rediscovering-Lucie plot strand isn’t serviced very well. It’s bad enough that the new TV series sees fit to crib entire stories from the books and audios; Big Finish doesn’t need to return the favor by poaching stuff from the original series. Hothouse is a very disposable adventure for the eighth Doctor – especially if you’ve already seen The Seeds Of Doom.