The BBC revisits another classic Doctor
Who story, this time from the second
Doctor, Patrick Troughton. Previously
released on DVD, this special edition of The
Seeds of Death isn't a huge improvement on the original disc,
because the bar was set so high originally.
This six-part adventure has a lot going for it:
it features the Ice Warriors who launch an
ambitious, if slightly odd, invasion of Earth, The Doctor travels to
via rocket, and soap suds bury part of London. How
cool is that? With three new bonus
features and an image
that has been improved only slightly, this SE isn't worth a double dip,
it is worth picking up if you don't have it already.
In the latter 21st Century humans have perfected
the T-Mat, a matter teleportation system that has made all other forms
travel obsolete. With a single station
on the moon acting as a relay station and running everything, people
move instantly from one part of the globe to the other.
Why would you need cars? Everything
is running smoothly under the
watchful eye of Gia Kelly and her boss Commander Radnor until... the moon
goes silent and transportation ceases.
There's world-wide panic and food quickly becomes scarce in the
The trouble is that the Earth is being invaded; people just
don't realize it yet. On the moon Ice
Warriors, soldiers from the dying planet of Mars, have taken over the
station and killed everyone there with the single exception of Fewsham,
cowardly collaborator. Luckily one of
his colleges managed to damage the T-Mat system before being killed,
Martians demand that he fix it or he'll end up like his colleges.
Back on Earth the TARDIS materializes inside of a museum
dedicated to the nearly lost science of space travel.
It's run by Professor Eldred, an engineer who
was developing a new, powerful rocket when his funding was abruptly
to the invention of the T-Mat. The
Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe soon run into the professor, and he and The
it off, talking about the fine points of rocket design and space travel.
That's when Kelly and Radnor arrive. They
need to get to the moon to see what's
happening, the Earth is starting to panic, and they know that Eldred
secretly building his improved rocket.
It's not ready to fly, but The Doctor assures him that it can
made operational. Once it is, The Doctor
and his two companions take it to the moon so they can sort out the
While The Doctor is in space, Fewsham fixes the emergency
T-Mat system but sets the controls so that travel is one-way from the
the moon. When Kelly sees that the moon
base is receiving, she and a pair of technicians travel to the
satellite. When she arrives she fixes the
system, and is abducted by the Ice Warriors.
With a working system, the invaders now send seed pods to Earth. Once there, they expand and blow up,
releasing spores that turn into an oxygen-eating fungus.
The Ice Warriors are going to turn the Earth
into a copy of Mars. But with the Doctor
and his companions on the moon, their plan might not unfold as easily
This story is pretty good, but not great. Viewers
have to swallow a lot at the
beginning: that the new T-Mat system is
so ubiquitous that cars are obsolete, if one particular T-Mat station
the whole system stops and the world goes into a panic, and that the
weapon the Ice Warriors could have sent to Earth has a weakness that is
amazingly dumb. If you can just accept
that at the beginning (and the fact that everyone seems to accept The
after a few minutes) the rest of the story is decent.
The plot if fairly complex for a kids program, which is nice
and the twists and turns make keep the six episodes fresh.
Usually six parters drag in the middle, but
with all of the traveling between the Earth and the moon (both
through the narrative) as well as the dual menaces of the fungus and
Warriors, the story keeps hopping.
One of the things that sets this story apart from others
from this era is the fairly impressive directing. Michael
Ferguson was at the helm of this adventure
and he did a very good job. Not only did
he tell the story well, but he managed to include some interesting
count down numbers from the rocket launch shining on Kelly's face from
monitor comes to mind, which only happens rarely given the tight
most Doctor Who episodes are recorded
The three main characters all do a nice job here. By
this time they had been working together
for a while (this was the sixth story with all three) and they are
with each other. Watch for Wendy Padbury
to laugh when Patrick Troughon slips and falls in a bunch of 'fungus'
soap suds) after she rescues him from certain death.
The group has a good report and it comes
through in their performances.
The supporting actors were also very good. Terry
Scully was particularly good as the
craven Fewsham, and Ronald Leigh-Hunt was authoritative as Commander
Radnor. I also really liked the fact that
they cast a
female as the most knowledgeable person when it came to T-Mat
technology, and Louise
Pajo came across as a very competent woman who didn't let her good
shadow her brains. I'm just sorry that
they couldn't get Ms. Pajo (who now lives in Australia
apparently) to appear on
a commentary track or in one of the extras.
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
The full frame B&W image is very good, but then again, so did the
release. I don't have that earlier disc
at hand to do a side-by-side comparison, but I can't see a lot that has
improved. Looking around the web it
appears that on the first release some of the film-based sequences
Vidfire restoration when they shouldn't have.
This has been corrected now. In
any case the show looks fine. The
Restoration Team did their usual fine job and this story, really making
most of what they had to work with. The image is nicely balanced
definition and level of detail is very good. The contrast has
adjusted too to create a very pleasing image.
This disc two-disc set has some okay extras, but not anything too
outstanding. I was expecting a bit more
since this story has already been released.
Luckily, everything from the earlier release is ported over with
exception of two short bits available elsewhere (The Last
Dalek home movie is now on the Resurrection of the
Daleks SE and the New Zealand Censor Clips can be
found in the Lost in Time boxed set).
original bonus material includes a nice commentary track with actors
Hines and Wendy Padbury, director Michael Ferguson and script editor
Dicks. There is also Sssowing
the Ssseedsss, a 24-minute
interview with two actors (and audio clips from a third) who appeared
Warriors and a costume designer who worked on the outfits (though not
person who originally designed the monsters) and TARDIS Cam No.6 (a
CGI animation of the Tardis on a snowy mountain).
This SE includes a trio of new video featurettes.
First up is a 28-minute behind the scenes
look at the serial, Lords of the Red
Planet. I especially enjoyed hearing
the plot to an unfilmed Ice Warriors story that was to take place on
eventually morphed into this adventure.
Next up is Monster Masterclass
where director Michael Ferguson discusses what makes a Doctor
Who monster successful and why. The
last new feature is Monsters Who Came Back for More.
This 16-minute short examines the creatures who were evil enough
repeat appearances on the show.
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
with, a couple of photo galleries, and the listings from the Radio
If you already have this adventure, it's hard to recommend it. The video upgrade is limited to only the
film-based footage and seems pretty minor based on my recollection of
original release. The three new extras
are alright, but nothing that's really astounding or worth buying on
own. If you haven't picked up this
serial yet however, it's worth getting.
While the story isn't as good as Tomb of the Cybermen, it's
it does feature Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and that's always a