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Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death

“Run!”

The Patrick Troughton years were the beginning of the monster boom on Doctor Who. The historical episodes, a regular fixture of the previous era, had been phase out and replaced by numerous ‘base under siege’ stories as the Doctor frequently battled Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti, Macra, Quarks, Krotons, Cybermen again and the Ice Warriors.

Coming from the planet Mars the Ice Warriors made their debut the previous season in, incidentally, ‘The Ice Warriors’. Alas, like so many of the Second Doctor’s best adventures, that story no longer exists in its entirety with two out of its six episodes currently missing. Luckily their next appearance in ‘The Seeds of Death’ has managed to survive intact. Alas, again, like many sequels it’s just not up to the same standard as the original.

While its predecessor featured some impressive sets and funky costumes ‘The Seeds of Death’ is the exact opposite with drab, identical costumes and cheap, dull-looking sets. It isn’t a terrible story just a rather drawn out and uninspired one. One thing that clearly separates classic and modern Doctor Who from each other is pace. Modern Who can move along at such a rapid pace you can sometimes struggle to keep up. On the other hand classic Who could often be so languid you’d struggle just to maintain interest, not to mention consciousness.

Nothing really happens for the first two episodes. The Ice Warriors show up, kill a bunch of extras then everyone dithers on about space rockets for what seems like forever. That’s one of the problems with six-parters, they tend to feature only four episodes worth of actually story and about two episodes of obvious padding. Things do pick up once our Police Box based heroes get to the moonbase and the plot gets some much need forward momentum, no doubt as the result of Terrance Dicks doing an uncredited rewrite of Hayles original script.

Unlike the angry pepper pots and the cyber dullards, I’ve always liked the Ice Warriors. They’ve always been one of the more three dimensional of the Doctor’s classic foes, equally adept at being ally and adversary, but that don’t change the fact they often lumber around the set like a bunch of drunken Frankensteins in turtle costumes. How anyone can fail to escape them is beyond me. This being classic Doctor Who there is the requisite running up and down of lots of corridors but director Ferguson has a bit of fun with it in episode three, turning the chase into a delightful farce with some nifty visual tricks concluding with one of the Doctor’s finest punch-lines.

Notes and Quotes

--The dreaded seeds of the title look about as apocalyptic as a bottle of Fairy Liquid. Death by soap suds does not make for the most gripping cliff-hanger. On the bright side at least now we know that if Martian warriors ever did invade we won’t have to worry about having any dirty dishes.

--In the future all forms of transport have been made obsolete by T-Mat. Does this mean people use T-Mat just to nip to the corner shop for some milk? The lazy buggers!

--The Ice Warriors are evidently useless at hide and seek.

--Much like ‘The Ice Warriors’ this story features a distinctive mini-credit sequences with the atmospheric shots of the Earth and Moon.

--Although this is the second appearance of the Ice Warriors this is the first time we see an Ice Lord, their officer class.

The Doctor: “Your leader will be angry if you kill me! I’m a genius.”

Eldred: “T-Mat, the ultimate in travel, with as much sense of adventure as a synthetic carbohydrates factory.”

Slaar: “You did this.”
The Doctor: “Yes. That signal has been going no further than this control room.”
Slaar: “But they were receiving my signal.”
The Doctor: “Not yours - ours.”

Two hands that feel as soft as your face out of four.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

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