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Mar 06, 2007

Foam Party

Better late than never, here is my review of the second half of The Seeds of Death.

The Seeds of Death Episodes 4 to 6

By the time you have got to part 4 you begin to get a basic idea of what the plan of the Ice Warriors actually is and for the most part of the fourth episode that is about as much as you will continue to find out. This episode contains a great deal of running around, apart from the Doctor, who is out cold for the entire episode whilst Patrick Troughton is off on a much-deserved break. The episode is rather tense though as a lot of the scenes are filmed in tight corridors and it was fairly a tense situation with Zoë, Jamie and Phipps all trying to reach the central control of the moon base to turn to the heat up and thus, destroy the Ice Warriors.

Now, whilst this is a pretty obvious solution to the audience who were already aware of who and what the Ice Warriors were, but it would have been a very short story if they crew of the moon base had been aware of this face a couple of episodes early.

Of course being a 1960’s story it takes them at least four episodes before the main threat of the plot becomes apparent, thus leaving with them the final two episodes to finish of the story. Therefore the middle couple of episodes of any 1960’s six-parters are pretty much padding and little else. There was however a rather exciting cliffhanger where the lovely Zoë is almost killed by mirrorlon whilst attempting to turn up the heating on the moon base. Of course is could never be as easy as that and poor Zoë only being short can only just about reach the dial to turn the heat up, just be thank full that she wasn’t a couple of inches shorter then they would have been stuffed.

At the opening of part 5, the Doctor reawakens and we can get on with the little thing of the plot of the story and the main reason for the Ice Warriors plans and what they intend to do etc. This is also the episode where Fewsham grows a backbone and actually does something to help the people back on Earth, only to be killed for his trouble. We sort of got the idea in the previous episode that he was about to do a u-turn and try and do something that would help the people on Earth when he disobeyed a direct order by Slaar and decided not to t-mat the Doctor into space, rather than just end being remembered as a quisling by the Earth crew of T-Mat. It is only a shame for Fewsham that the entire complement of the moon crew of T-Mat were already dead before he grew his backbone.

This episode also has one of the funniest pieces of Doctor Who ever at the end of the fifth episode where Troughton gets covered in foam, I am not sure why that is such as funny scene, as it is not meant to be funny in the slightest. I am sure at the time it would have been quite a scary scene at the time and worked really well as a cliffhanger, but I have never been able to watch the end of episode five with a straight face since the first time I saw the story way back in the late 80’s. This episode is quite pacey in fact and zips along, and it really did seem to happen a lot quicker than the previous four episodes.

Luckily, in the previous episode, the Doctor had managed to discover that water; plain and simple water was enough to get rid of the foam so all that he had to do was to get the weather centre to make it rain. In the end he managed to get there and also managed to overcome the single Ice Warrior who was stationed there. I wonder whose idea it was to just post a single Ice Warrior at the weather centre. Were they that sure that just one of them would be enough to destroy the entire weather centre? I am pretty sure that future Ice Warrior fleets will probably be a bit more cautious than Slaar and send a few more warriors out on these missions.

Part six is where is all happens and the entire plan is foiled by the Doctor. As I said earlier all of this could have been sorted out a lot of sooner and the story could have been a four parter rather than a six parter. Not that I am complaining as any padding in a Troughton episode is just very watchable and does not seem to drag as much as padding did in a Hartnell story and how quite a lot of padding does in a Pertwee adventure.

When you look at Slaar he really isn’t that much cop at his job, I mean he didn’t even notice that his own signal had stopped and just assumed that the single they were hearing was their own signal rather than the one that Miss Kelly had sent to the Ice Warriors. No wonder the Grand Marshall was a bit pissed off with him, well that and being about to be engulfed by the heat of the sun, which would piss off most people, not just cold blooded reptiles.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Seeds of Death even though it was a thinly veiled rewrite of the The Ice Warriors (not that other writers of the time were not averse to doing this, step forward Mr Terry Nation), but it was a well directed, and acted story and despite taking a while to get going, and having at least two more episodes than was absolutely necessary, it was highly enjoyable piece of television, mainly due to the performance of Patrick Troughton who is quite simply superb as the Doctor.

I just cannot fault Patrick Troughton as the Doctor; he makes even the most banal stories highly enjoyable, apart from The Space Pirates perhaps. Even The War Games seems highly watchable, despite its length, due to the brilliance of Troughton!

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