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Mar 02, 2007

Disaster Area

The Seeds Of Death, episode 6

Oh dear, this isn't particularly inspiring is it? Damon announces the schedule change, and at the first chance most of the blog immediately scarpers to take advantage of the rest of the week off.

Dcups And no wonder. The Seeds Of Death concludes with the most bog-standard of six-part episodes, played out in painting-by-numbers fashion where the only colours available are Foam White and Martian Green. It's certainly not a patch on any part of The Ice Warriors; that one may be riddled with bollocks plant and cryogenic science, but it has more interesting and better defined characters, superior pacing, and a plot which plays to the strengths of the Ice Warriors and doesn't call upon them to do things they aren't equipped for (like running around).

Count your blessings too if you get narked at the way David Tennant frequently pulls a magic solution out of his arsehole in the last couple of scenes, as The Seeds Of Death is very typical of how often in old Who all the setup and plot explanation would be firmly established before the closing twenty-five minutes, with only the (literal) mopping-up remaining to be done. Solar energy to nobble the Warriors, rain for the fungus, satellite to mislead the fleet; the resolution obediently trogs along from A to B to the dismay of viewers waiting for some kind of twist in the tale that doesn't happen; adequately watchable but an absolute chore to actually review. Just like the episode, that was an awful lot of padding just now to tell you what you already know.

"Out in space, Nomad chirps away "ERROR! ERROR! ANALYSE!" at all the holes in the plot"

It's all gone a bit Crackerjack on everyone as well as Pat hammers on the weather station door - still no handles, note - desperate to escape the tidal wave of phlegm being brought up by exposure to Robert Holmes' pipe. Since even Casey Kasem in a cunning highlander disguise can outwit a lumbering Martian, Jamie volunteers to play red bucket/blue bucket with Eccles the Ice Warrior and hide behind a thin post and disappear, while Zoe unscrews the door, barely stifling the giggles as Peter Glaze tumbles in, covered in custard-pie fallout. More guards are on the way, but the funds for competent SECURITY and DEFENCE personnel has all but run out, leaving half a dozen dullards with STAND THERE AND GET SHOT marked on their helmets. So tediously drawn-out is the story's second comedy chase that there's enough time for the Three Stooges to amusingly press all the controls in the power room before the one nearest the door marked 'shut', before the Warrior is upon them. I'm not kidding you know; by the time the marauding Martian has finally been dispatched by the Doctor's portable tit-dish lashup, and everything made well in the station again, half the programme is already over. It'll be jolly smiles and jokes to the camera before the episode is done.

Satellite Out in space, Nomad chirps away "ERROR! ERROR! ANALYSE!" at all the holes in the plot.

With the fungus being washed away by anguished tears at the announcement of Timelash on DVD, the Doctor, sunlamps in hand, nips back to the moon for the final time to sort out Dudley Simpson's bloody timpani drum once and for all. And while he disconnects Dusty Bin, Brian Hayles and Terrance Dicks swap the red and blue buckets for red and blue wires in a feeble attempt to wring out a bit of 'will he, won't he' suspence as the Martian snooker triangle lines itself up on the screen for the opening break. All the armchair Grades who complain about Colin Baker's use of weapons and violence in Season 22 should be paying attention, as the Second Doctor has no qualms whatsoever about the hands-on dispatch of an opponent for what he perceives to be the greater good. None of this self-indulgant namby-pamby guilt complex that Doctors three and five would wrap themselves in either. McCoy and Tennant? Wimps, the pair of 'em. Pat had his own moral agenda, and the ends really did justify the means with whatever possible sacrifices - wiring up the tombs on Telos to zap any poorly-placed interloper rather than risk the Cybermen going out again, for instance - might be necessary to keep evil at bay. All except Jamie at least, who was needed to pull Pat's fat from the fire every adventure.

"Use the retroactive rockets! Wind back to episode one and do it properly!"

Let's face it though, there wasn't much of an armada here anyway with crap spaceships that couldn't go any further from Mars than the moon without conking out, and crap tacticians that didn't think that maybe fewer ships with more fuel to spare between them in case of error might have been a more sensible plan. Use the retroactive rockets! Wind back to episode one and do it properly! But it's no good. The skies open up and a weedy, farty whoopie-cushion noise echoes round the plains of Kakrafoon as the Martian fleet plunges into the sun, and Dark Helmet, urged by Michael Fergusson to die less quickly because there's still time to fill, is hoist veeeeeery slooooooowly by his own mirrorlon petard. Good triumphs once again because evil is dumb.

Soaked Oh man, writing this up feels like it's taken forever. The TARDIS crew must have the same feeling, the way they whizz off through the torrential rain and straight out of the adventure. Or maybe it's the way T-MAT control so stubbornly refuses to learn from the mistakes that got all of humanity nearly blown up, starved to death or asphyxiated in the first place; the status-quo has changed so little that the deja-vu has the Doctor scurrying away to escape before Meglos' timeloop can carry them all the way back to the start again. Can I come too?

They wouldn't be in such a mad dash to be off though if they knew it was The Space Pirates next...

The Bumper Book Of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about The Seeds Of Death, episode 6: Poor research for Mission To Magnus was responsible for the cancellation of the original Season 23, as Phillip Martin made the grevious error of writing in Ice Warriors who weren't stupidly vulnerable to their own weapons, thus upsetting the balance of all the remaining scripts.

Comments

"Count your blessings too if you get narked at the way David Tennant frequently pulls a magic solution out of his arsehole in the last couple of scenes, as The Seeds Of Death is very typical of how often in old Who all the setup and plot explanation would be firmly established before the closing twenty-five minutes, with only the (literal) mopping-up remaining to be done."

Yeah, but at least in old Who you had 3-5 episodes of (hopefully) decent story before the contrived ending, whereas today we get 30 minutes of build-up and then it's out with the magic wand AND we have to put up with it every bloody episode. It's hard not to feel a bit cheated.

What in tar-nation is wrong with The Space Pirates?

The Train Spotters, I call it. It's one great big long lecture on the practicalities of interstellar travel, the design and funtionaility of spaceships, how much better it is than the old pioneer days and blah blah blah blah blah. Great big chunks of each episode demonstrate how long it would take to get from planet to planet, by having Hermack and Warne waffle on incessantly about how long it takes to get from planet to planet. It's very very very very talky indeed.

Set course for Beacon Alpha Snore!

This excuse wasn't good *enough*? :)

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