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Feb 27, 2007

When Foam Attacks!

Warning: this episode starts with so much retching that you’ll be convinced Hartnell’s back for one week.

The Seeds of Death 4

We last left things with the Ice Warriors - militaristic, green-shelled aliens who are generally pissed off at the lack of a decent name - beginning their plot to take over the Earth by sending snooker balls to the major cities of the world via T-Mat. And when one arrives at the control centre, poor old Brett is so taken by surprise that he sticks his face John Hurt-like right into the middle of it and finds himself covered with more angel-dust than a Robbie Williams prescription chitty. Pretty soon he’s dead, but at least we found out his name first.

So, the plot’s afoot - by sending each of these balls of death (‘seeds of doom’ sounds so seventies…) to every global capital, pretty soon every last human on Earth will have the same breathing difficulties as a room-full of encephelatics on a particular balmy summer’s day. Which of course will allow the Ice Warriors to pass unheard as their excessive hissing will fade into just so much background noise. As grand schemes go it might not have the epic scale of the Zygons’ attempts to wipe out the Earth’s population and leave it barren just for the six of them, but at least it makes some sort of logical sense.

Dudley lets rips again with a crash-bang-wallop score that has Murray Gold weeping into his synthesiser

Which is more than the reaction of the Parisian branch of T-Mat would be. ‘Zut alors, what ees zis leetle pod zing’, the head of department was last heard saying before imbibing more Bolivian marching powder than an entire back-stage party at the Brits. Aaaanyroad, before you can start fantasising about the potential slash porn of Zoe and Miss Kelly getting together for some logical exercises (sic.), Dudley lets rips again with a crash-bang-wallop score that has Murray Gold weeping into his synthesiser. As the tension ramps up and the carnage escalates in time-honoured tradition off-screen, millions start dropping from oxygen starvation as their cue-balls of doom drop through the T-Mat letterbox. How this happens after just a few seconds of exposure we’re never told; but I reckon it’s got something to do with an off-screen Maureen O’Brien sucking the air out of the room again.

Then suddenly somebody finds some budget left in the kitty after ‘The Mind Robber’ and we’re treated to some rare sixties location filming. As footage of some poor old dolt trying to keep the creeping foam at bay reminds us of local news footage of remote locations struggling to cope with sudden snow flurries, one of the Ice Warriors beams in - showing up the T-Mat cubicle for the flimsy, flat-pack furniture it is - and proceeds to mirrorlon the environmental workers into next week. Having first taken so long to decide who to zap first that even Radnor and Eldred have time to make a senior citizen-style exit.

But what of the Doctor? Having last been seen taking in more Charlie than a catwalk full of supermodels, someone lying around in Troughton’s costume has now been dumped in the T-Mat cubicle and faces one trip into space that even he’s never managed. As the Ice Lord orders the feverishly feeble Fewsham to eject him into limbo between the Earth and the moon - and I for one would like to see him regenerate his arse out of that one - the penny finally drops for the turncoat engineer. And he’s left to bemoan his lot as the Ice Lord and one of his lackeys converse in such sibilant tones that you’re convinced the Restoration Team did a piss-poor job remastering the soundtrack for once.

If only Tegan had had such gifts when trying to get out of that sodding Cloister room, eh?

Back with the resistance, and Phipps and Zoe have somehow found the heating controls for the base - no mean feet as even the blind from birth might have found it tricky. Having bonded with Miss Kelly through some mutual Girl Logic power-type shite, there’s more death by mirrorlon before Phipps finally loses it and goes postal with Zoe in an ventilator shaft (which, having typed it, sounds like one of the more bizarre solutions to a game of Cluedo). Zoe in turn impresses no-one with her utterly irritating photographic memory which allows her to backtrack through three whole episodes of corridors. If only Tegan had had such gifts when trying to get out of that sodding Cloister room, eh?

As cliff-hanger time looms, Jamie and Miss Kelly find time for a spot of charades as their Ice Warrior pursuant singularly fails to see anything in front of his eyes (though to be fair, anyone would struggle with that fibreglass face). And Zoe and Phipps finally break into the control room - thanks to an uncharacteristically selfless act of bravado by Fewsham - only for Zoe to be pinned down by an Ice Warrior right in front of a Coldplay performance.

Tune in next time to see if Dudley Simpson can find any more inappropriate moments to bang a cymbal.

(The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about The Seeds of Death 4: the cost of cleaning up the Essex countryside following this story took half of Season 7’s budget)


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