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The Seeds of Death

Production Code: XX

First Transmitted

1 - 25/01/1969 17:15

2 - 01/02/1969 17:15

3 - 08/02/1969 17:15

4 - 15/02/1969 17:15

5 - 22/02/1969 17:15

6 - 01/03/1969 17:15

Plot

The TARDIS brings the time travellers to Earth in the 21st Century, where they learn that human society is now reliant on T-Mat - a matter transmitting device that beams people and freight instantly to destinations all around the globe. The system, overseen by a Commander Radnor and his assistant Gia Kelly, is currently malfunctioning and the travellers agree to pilot an obsolete rocket, designed by an old-timer, Professor Daniel Eldred, to the Moon relay station to investigate.

They find the place overrun by Ice Warriors, who are preparing for an invasion attempt. To weaken Earth's resistance, the Warriors are using the T-Mat to send Martian seed pods to selected points on the planet's surface. These emit a fungus that draws oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere, making it lethal to humans but ideal for the Martians themselves.

The travellers manage to use the T-Mat to get back to Earth, where the Doctor discovers that the only thing effective in destroying the pods is water. At the local weather control bureau, having disposed of a Warrior left on guard there, he adjusts the instruments so as to cause a downpour, thus ending the threat of the pods.

He then returns to the Moon where, by a ruse, he is able to misdirect the Martian invasion fleet into orbit around the Sun, where it will be destroyed. The remaining Warriors are all killed.

Episode Endings

A technician, Locke, reports to Radnor from the Moon station, telling him that his colleague Osgood has been killed. He is able to say no more as the alien Slaar appears and destroys the video link device. Slaar summons his guard - an Ice Warrior - and orders him to kill Locke. The Ice Warrior fires and Locke dies.

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are approaching the Moon in Eldred's rocket when the homing beacon is deactivated. The Doctor tries frantically to reactivate it, while Jamie worriedly contemplates the fact that if he fails they will either crash or drift on endlessly through space.

A Martian seed pod arrives in the T-Mat cubicle on Earth and a technician, Brent, draws it to the attention of Radnor and Eldred. They go to examine the pod and, when Brent touches it, it starts to expand like a balloon being inflated...

With the help of a technician named Phipps, Zoe manages to slip unseen into the Moon station control room and turn up the heating thermostat to 'full on'. She is making her escape when an Ice Warrior turns and sees her. Phipps shouts a warning and is killed by the Ice Warrior, which then advances on Zoe...

The Doctor tries in vain to gain entry to the weather control bureau as the foam-like Martian fungus threatens to engulf the building. One of the seed pods starts to expand right in front of him and he desperately shields his face from its potentially lethal effects...

The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe enter the TARDIS and it dematerialises.

Roots

Apollo TV coverage.

Chaplin (the chase scene).

Dan Dare.

Captain Scarlet (Lunaville 7, Crater 101).

Star Trek.

The 1962 film of Day of the Triffids.

The Fly.

Marshall McLuhan.

Dialogue Triumphs

The Doctor : "You can't kill me... I'm a genius!"

Grand Marshal : "You have failed us, Slaar. We shall all die. We are being pulled into the orbit of the Sun..."

Slaar : "This is impossible..."

Ice Warrior : "The signal - there is no power."

Slaar : [To the Doctor] "You did this."

The Doctor : "Yes. That signal has been going no further than this control room."

Slaar : "But they were receiving my signal."

The Doctor : "Not yours - ours."

Continuity

The TARDIS controls aren't accurate enough for a trip from Earth to the moon. The Doctor and Zoe are expert enough at space flight to pilot a rocket. Zoe has total recall, and has never heard of the Ice Warriors.

The Ice Warriors carry sonic wrist mounted guns, which can melt as well as kill, and can withstand a vacuum (they walk across the moon's surface unaided). They're from Mars, a dying planet, and, the Doctor speculates, may be trying to colonise Earth as a new home. The Ice Warriors adapted to cold. They don't recognise the Doctor, and humans are unaware of them. They're bulletproof, and seem sadistic rather than noble.

Slaar, not named as an Ice Lord, is commanded by a Grand Marshal, with a spangly helmet, who doesn't hiss in his own spaceship. He leads an invasion fleet of ten ships in v-formation that requires a radio homing beam.

The seed pods are white and sperical, expanding and exploding at random to release a dust which becomes a foam. The active component is a molecule of five atoms that absorbs Oxygen. The fungus will make Earth's atmosphere similar to that of Mars [and is specially made. However, since it's vulnerable to rainfall, the fungus could be based on native Martian flora].

Location

Britain, the moon, and between, 21st century [probably some time after 2070, cf. The Moonbase].

Future History

Earth has given up rocket travel for the Travelmat Relay, which is relayed from the moon and is responsible for all travel, including public cubicles [after a period of exploration, Earth has only retained an interest in the moon], despite Eldred's development of ion jet rockets. His father was responsible for the first lunar passenger module.

Features of 21st century life are synthetic carbohydrates, speaking computers, weather control (based on Earth, see The Moonbase), satellite communications (which they still launch rockets for) and videophones. However, such things as ordinary guns, British knighthoods, and the UN Security Council remain. Petrol cars are only found in museums.

Trivia

Model sequences of the Earth and the Moon are used as a backdrop to the story title, writer and episode number captions at the start of each episode.

A prop previously seen as the TARDIS astral map, as introduced in season two's The Web Planet, appears as one of the exhibits in Eldred's museum of space flight.

Patrick Troughton makes no appearance in Episode Four as he was on holiday during the week when it was recorded. Tommy Laird doubled for him in shots where the Doctor's unconscious form is seen.

Zoe's leather outfit was primrose yellow in colour. Actress Wendy Padbury was allowed to keep it as an addition to her own wardrobe after recording of the story was completed.

Myth

Slaar is an Ice Lord. (He is never referred to as an 'Ice Lord' or even as a 'Lord', but is presented simply as the commander of the Martian forces. His superior is however identified as a Grand Marshal (misspelt 'Grand Marshall') on the closing credits.)

Technobabble

Slaar to the Grand Marshal: 'Use your retroactive rockets to change course.'

Goofs

In episode one, the Doctor leaves the TARDIS with his braces unclipped.

There are boom mike shadows several times in the museum in the first two episodes.

In episode four, why does Slaar insist on killing the Doctor by T-matting him into space, even though this will take ages to do?

His Ice Warrior helper does a bizarre dance when leaving the T-mat on Earth.

Patrick Troughton's sideburns appear and disappear depending on whether he is seen in a pre-filmed sequence or a studio scene.

In episode five, Eldred points to the Weather Control Bureau on the map, but it's clearly marked in the opposite corner.

We see Ice Warriors fainting at heat between 40-50° Centigrade, which would also have killed the humans present.

Zoe refers to Slaar as Slaar but nobody else knows or mentions his name.

Fashion Victim

The nappy uniforms of the T-mat staff.

The guards' silly helmets.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Patrick Troughton

Jamie - Frazer Hines

Zoe - Wendy Padbury

Brent - Ric Felgate

Computer Voice - John Witty

Eldred - Philip Ray

Fewsham - Terry Scully

Gia Kelly - Louise Pajo

Grand Marshall - Graham Leaman

Ice Warrior - Steve Peters Steve Peters was billed as 'Alien' in the Radio Times listing for Episode One so as not to spoil the surprise of the Ice Warriors being in the story.

Ice Warrior - Tony Harwood

Ice Warrior - Sonny Caldinez

Locke - Martin Cort

Osgood - Harry Towb

Phipps - Christopher Coll

Radnor - Ronald Leigh-Hunt

Security Guard - Derrick Slater

Sir James Gregson - Hugh Morton

Slaar - Alan Bennion

Crew

Director - Michael Ferguson

Assistant Floor Manager - Trina Cornwell

Costumes - Bobi Bartlett

Designer - Paul Allen

Film Cameraman - Peter Hall

Film Editor - Martyn Day

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Sylvia James

Producer - Peter Bryant

Production Assistant - Fiona Cumming

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Brian Hodgson

Studio Lighting - Howard King Fred Wright was incorrectly credited for lighting in the on-screen credits at the end of Episode Six. Wright was in fact the story's TM2, i.e. technical co-ordinator.

Studio Sound - Bryan Forgham

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Bill King Trading Post

Writer - Brian Hayles

Writer - Terrance Dicks Terrance Dicks wrote the final version of the scripts for these episodes but was uncredited for this on screen.

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Some interesting direction, but horribly edited. Plod, plod, how many episodes left to the end of the season, lads?

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

In some respects The Seeds of Death can be considered a relatively straightforward sequel to The Ice Warriors, with the T-Mat system providing the same sort of technological backdrop as did the ioniser equipment - and its controlling computer - in that earlier story. The main supporting characters are also similar - for Clent, Penley and Miss Garrett in The Ice Warriors read Radnor, Eldred and Miss Kelly in The Seeds of Death. There are a admittedly a number of additional elements this time, but even these tend to bring a sense of deja vu - the base on the Moon and the weather control station on Earth, for example, both evoke memories of the fourth season story The Moonbase.

'The Seeds of Death is the sort of story that leaves you with very little new after you have finished watching it,' observed Philip Packer in Star Begotten Vol. 4 No. 2, dated October 1990. 'It is basically an adventure romp with a happy ending. Enjoyable, certainly, but nothing really lasting comes out of it except... the concept of the [different "classes" amongst the Martians]. The regulars are wonderful, but they always were!'

'The real beauty of The Seeds of Death,' wrote John Connors in Shada 14, dated March/April 1983, 'was its plot and pace. Brian Hayles knew how to write material that was fast, but well thought through... Where [it] was drawn out, it was important that it was... Where the script did go awry was the idea of man having no alternative transport other than T-Mat. It seems to be stretching the imagination to its elastic limit to propose that we'd drop everything for something which, despite being called "ultimate", looked more likely to go wrong than the average TV set.'

While this criticism is certainly valid, the concept of T-Mat is at least quite thoughtfully presented, as Tim Westmacott observed in Star Begotten Issue One, dated winter 1986:

'Famine has been eliminated [by T-Mat], but so evidently has the concept of storage, since even minor delays lead to serious food shortages between countries of differing ideology. Thus... the system - which ideally seems a marvellous innovation - is shown to cause far greater problems by ceasing to work than it cured when introduced. The fact that things are not always as they first appear is a theme which recurs throughout the story.'

Michael Ferguson's direction is excellent, and contributes much to the brisk pace of the action. 'The Moon sequences really worked best,' thought Connors, 'and the narrow corridors were a perfect setting for the Ice Warriors to stalk in. These aliens looked magnificent here...'

The BBC's Audience Research Report on the story's concluding instalment indicated that two in five of the contemporary viewers in the sample considered the episode 'an exciting end' to the story, while the rest were 'rather less enthusiastic'. The Ice Warriors attracted particular comment, some likening their appeal to that of the Daleks. 'I loved the wheezy Warriors!' enthused 'a student', who had found the story 'way-out but fascinating and comic'. Several amongst the sample had apparently considered the creatures unsuitable for children - 'When I saw crusty skin showing below the helmet,' said one, 'it quite made my flesh creep' - while others 'had feared initially that the young ones might be scared by the monster but apart from a toddler here and there, this was apparently not the case - "my kids thrived on the horror"'.

'Whilst it would be incorrect to say that [The Seeds of Death] is a multi-layered story,' concluded Packer, 'its one layer is a very whole and rewarding one... The acting and music are at all times spellbinding, and [Michael] Ferguson's direction imbues even the most banal of scenes with a wonderfully slick and purposeful flavour.'

Perhaps the most serious criticism that can be made of the story is that, Slaar notwithstanding, the Ice Warriors themselves are rather less well characterised and presented here than in their debut outing. The Seeds of Death nevertheless helps to confirm their status as one of the 'big four' monsters of the second Doctor's era - the others being, of course, the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Yeti - and paves the way for further return appearances in later years.

< The KrotonsSecond DoctorThe Space Pirates >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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