Doctor Who Story Number 048 – The Seeds of Death

Written by Brian Hayles
Directed by Michael Ferguson

From the back: In the late 21st century, the human race has become totally dependent on T-Mat, a revolutionary form of instant travel. The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe arrive on Earth just as T-Mat is suffering a malfunction. Sinister Ice Warriors from Mars have seized the lunar T-Mat station to launch an invasion of Earth.

“Your leader will be angry if you kill me!  I’m a genius.”

Here we have our second meeting with The Ice Warriors, only this time the Martians are operating from a stronger position. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this story as engaging as The Ice Warriors, which, if you recall, I was conflicted over.  In the original story, the Earth was slowly being covered in glaciers and a band of scientists were attempting to find a way to push the ice back.  In The Seeds of Death, humanity is somewhat better off, merely having food supply issues–as if that is a minor problem in comparison. More so than previous Doctor Who stories, I had difficulty with the chronological placement of this conflict Ice Warrior history. Was this after The Ice Warriors? Before? If the former, has it been long enough that humanity has forgotten about the previous Ice Warrior encounter? These questions continually popped up as I watched this story, which means I wasn’t entirely engaged.  Following the tight pacing of The Invasion, this story drags quite a bit. It would have been interesting to see what Camfield would have done with it. Not that Michael Ferguson does a bad job. His camera-work is quite inventive in a number of scenes.

The performances, however, work quite well. I enjoyed the bickering between Radnor and Eldred. Many of the secondary characters were interesting in their own way, Fewsham being standout because he comes across as a fully-conflicted human.  He wants to do the right thing, but is afraid of death. It also helps that he looks a bit like Robert Carlyle. Even Slaar comes across as a chilling villain in this piece, the make-up being quite effective in particular. The only problems I had with characters, and this surprised me, is that Jamie is starting to feel a bit old and tired. It would be nice to see a bit of growth from him as the performance is becoming a bit rote. Gone is the character that challenged The Doctor with regard to rescuing Victoria from The Daleks. This Jamie almost comes across as an intellectual child in the presence of The Doctor and Zoe. He doesn’t connect as he once did.

In all, this is a good enough story. It is a straight-forward adventure without too much depth. It certainly isn’t one of my favorites, but it is still enjoyable.

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2 thoughts on “Doctor Who Story Number 048 – The Seeds of Death

  1. “Your leader will be angry if you kill me! I’m a genius.”

    Patrick Troughton was an invited guest at the British Film Institute, on London’s South Bank, at a special screening of this episode of ‘Seeds of Death’, in c.1982; and when, on screen, he delivered this particular line, the packed audience errupted with cheers and thunderous applause, and it proved a real show-stopper.

    This was one of a number of personal appearances Patrick did, connected with Dr Who, after Jon Pertwee convinced him that being a famous celebrity was great fun.

    This particular event was part of a special weekend of screenings of rarely seen episodes from Dr Who held by the BFI – made possible as all of the surviving b/w episodes were on film, of course, not videotape.

    The event took place long before any of the 1960s serials were eventually released on video.

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