Thursday, 14 July 2011

234 The Seeds of Death: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Seeds of Death: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 08 February 1969
WRITER: Brian Hayles (and Terrance Dicks)
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Peter Bryant
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who Revisitations Box Set - Volume 2 (Seeds of Death, Carnival of Monsters & Resurrection of the Daleks)

Phipps accidentally makes contact with Doctor's rocket. Once the T-Mat is reactivated, the Ice Warriors reveal themselves. The technicians from earth killed and Miss Kelly taken prisoner. The Doctor & Jamie realise from Phipps description that the invaders are Ice Warriors. Phipps reconnects the transmitter to guide them in to land. The Doctor goes to rescue Phipps while Jamie & Zoe refuel the rocket. The Doctor finds Phipps who tells him what has happened and goes to deactivate the T-Mat. Zoe finds the rocket is damaged and can't take off so she and Jamie search for the Doctor. Phipps & The Doctor free Miss Kelly but the Doctor is captured and pleads
Don't kill me, I'm a genius
The Ice Warriors instruct Fewsham to dispatch their cargo to Earth. The Doctor is interrogated by Slaar. The Ice Warriors bring a casket of white seed pods to the T-Mat to be sent to Earth. Jamie & Zoe find Phipps & Miss Kelly. They plan to turn Moonbase's heating up to hinder the Ice Warriors. Fewsham distracts their guard so the Doctor can examine the seed pods. Slaar catches him and gets the Doctor to pick one of the pods up which explodes gassing him. An Ice Warrior find Jamie, Zoe, Miss Kelly & Phipps in the Power Room but they kill it using the solar energy supply. The Martians have the first seed pod T-Mated to T-Mat control in London where it starts to grow...

Ah that's a bit more like it. The Tardis crew are finally in the centre of the action getting to interact with what's left of the moonbase crew and the Martians. Poor Michael Fergusson, who previously directed one of my favourite Hartnell's The War Machines, has been trying his best with clever shots and some decent model work but he's not had anything decent to work with until now. However in this episode he does produce a Doctor Who cliche for the first time that we've seen: The Doctor repetitively runs up and down the same corridor set, but filmed from different angles, to make us think he's running down different corridors. This trick may have been used previously but lost: This is the first time I can recall seeing it.

Part of the reason my opinion has jumped up this episode might be to do with who actually wrote it. Brian Hayles, the credited writer, has a mixed record for the show so in my opinion. We'll ignore the Celestial Toymaker as at least two people rewrote it after he finished it, and the Smugglers is one of my favourite historical stories. The Ice Warriors was a little variable, but the first two episodes of this story were horribly slow. As of this episode Terrance Dicks steps in and redrafts all the remaining episodes. These days a TV script goes through myriad revisions by the writer, a lot easier when they're word processed. Terrance Dicks has said his preferred method for working was to give the author one, maybe two, stabs at the script and then if it wasn't working take away the script and sort it out him self.

Some inspiration for this serial must be drawn from the US Apollo space program which would out a man on the moon during the year that Seeds of Death was transmitted. Lots of elements of the journey to the moon and landing have the hint of a basis in real life. Doctor Who had already been to the Moon in 1967's the Moonbase.

Episode 3 of the Seeds of Death is the only episode of this story that was missing from the BBC Film & Video library in 1978. A copy was recovered from BBC Enterprises, along with duplicate 16mm prints of the rest of the episodes a short while later.

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