The Seeds of Death

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The Seeds of Death
It’s time for ‘Now That’s What I Call 1960s Doctor Who…’ with returning monsters! A base under siege! Foam! A holiday for the Doctor! More foam! Silly trousers! Did I mention the foam?
 

Episode One

Sue: It’s just the two of us again; just the way it should be.

Me: You should probably tell Gary to avoid any Doctor Who conventions for a while. Just until the fuss dies down.

The Seeds of Death takes place in the future. You can tell it’s the future because people seem to be wearing their underpants on top of their plastic jumpsuits. When Ronald Leigh-Hunt strides into the T-Mat base as Commander Radnor, Sue recognises him immediately.

Sue: It’s a very tall Ernie Wise. And he’s clearly shagging his colleague in the catsuit. Maybe I should start going to work in a catsuit.

Me: What is it with you and catsuits all of a sudden?

The Seeds of DeathSue loves the concept of T-Mat technology.

Sue: One of those would be handy when we go to Los Angeles next year. It would save on all the jet lag.

Conflict immediately rears its ugly head on the Moonbase when Osgood gives Fewsham a good dressing down for pressing the wrong button on his giant console, or something.

Sue: If they get any closer to each other, they’ll end up snogging. Is this guy conducting an office romance, too? Is everyone permanently horny in the future?

Me: I bloody hope so.

Sue: I’m not sure about the direction. That looked like a focus pull without the pull. But at least some effort is being made to come up with some interesting compositions. The print looks gorgeous as well.

The Moonbase is quickly taken over by some returning monsters. I feel certain that Sue will work out who they are, despite the clever camera angles employed by Michael Ferguson to keep them obscured.

Me: So which monster is it?

Sue: Is it the Silence?

Me: No. And besides, the Silence aren’t a species (although you try telling that to Character Options).

Sue: Is it the Master?

Me: Try again.

Sue: Is it the Yeti?

Me: The Yeti?! The Yeti don’t even talk!

Sue: They may have evolved between stories. I’m still waiting for the final part in the Yeti trilogy.

Me: I am very disappointed that you haven’t recognised the aliens yet.

Sue: Good.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and his companions have arrived at a deserted exhibit full of rockets and robots.

Sue: Oh, it’s a Space Museum. Haven’t we already been to a Space Museum? Didn’t the Moff have a Space Museum once? What is it with this programme and ***ing Space Museums?

The Seeds of DeathAnd then the alien marauders are finally revealed to us.

Sue: Oh look – it’s the Ice Warriors!

Me: It’s too late now!

Sue: That one looks a bit different. See, maybe they have evolved after all.

When the Ice Warriors murder another poor member of the Moonbase’s staff, Sue laps it up.

Sue: That was pretty good. Stick the next one on.

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Episode Two

As planet Earth slides into chaos, Gia hopefully suggests that the T-Mat fault might correct itself.

Sue: Has anyone tried turning it off and back on again? That usually works.

Jamie is keen to point out that the TARDIS can’t help them out of this mess.

Sue: I like the way they keep dissing the TARDIS in this one. The script is going to great lengths to explain how xxxx-ing useless it is.

But, as luck would have it, the museum’s crotchety curator has a rocket up his sleeve.

Sue: So this bloke has been secretly building a rocket? A rocket that can carry people, not a tiny one that he can fit in his pocket? Hmmmm. That seems a little unlikely to me. Where has he been building it? His back garden?

Thankfully, Professor Eldred’s ZA-685 is almost primed and ready to go.

Sue: He really needs to work on the name.

However, as Eldred and Radnor continue to bicker over the rocket like children, the Ice Warriors are up on the Moon kicking arse. With their big arses.

Sue: The Ice Warriors definitely have the biggest arses in Doctor Who. It’s probably a toss-up between them and the Yeti. I’m surprised they can even get through half the doors on this base.

Incredibly, one of the Warriors manages to negotiate its way into a room where a resourceful Moonbase staffer, Phipps, is hiding. Phipps miraculously manages to avoid detection, even though the Ice Warrior is staring right at him.

Sue: How can he not see him?! It’s not even bad peripheral vision – it’s bad vision full stop! I’m sorry but that was really badly directed. The high-angle shot may have looked great but it also highlights just how impossible it was for Peter Purves’ brother to hide in there.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Sue is convinced that Phipps is played by Peter’s brother and his character may be a distant relation to Steven Taylor. Seriously.

Sue: I don’t like the music in this one at all. It’s a bit of a racket. Is it that Dudley bloke again? He needs to tone it down a bit.

The Seeds of DeathAs the rocket countdown begins, Michael Ferguson employs some clever visual flourishes to heighten the tension.

Sue: It’s turned into a Pink Floyd concert film. And now she’s got one on those bar code things on her face that you can scan with your iPhone. I wonder what it would say. Oppps, too late.

And then Eldred’s rocket with the silly name takes off for the Moon, with the Doctor and his companions on board. The model shots are very impressive.

Me: It’s very Thunderbirds.

Sue: Yes, they do look like puppets, especially with their hands flailing around in the air like that. Is that supposed to be zero gravity or are they just mucking about?

As the rocket heads for the Moon, the homing beacon is accidentally shut off by Phipps when he unplugs it in an attempt to contact Earth. In this version of the future a single fault can result in utter catastrophe, and the episode ends with the threat of the Doctor and his companions ending their lives floating aimlessly around in space.

Sue: Business as usual, then.

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Episode Three

Sue: Stop chatting with them on the radio and put the bloody homing device back on! I mean, come on!

In the end, Phipps goes the long way round and the Doctor’s uses his radio signal as a homing signal and they begin their descent.

Sue: They are really starting to drag this out now. This is suffering from typical episode three-itus.

As soon as they arrive on the Moon, the Doctor and his companions find themselves in trouble.

Sue: The Doctor is jinxed in this story. Every time he tells someone they’ll be OK as long as X doesn’t happen, X happens almost immediately. He should probably keep his mouth shut for the rest of the episode.

The Doctor and his companions split up to avoid being captured by the Ice Warriors.

Sue: I really hate monsters that you can run rings around. It doesn’t matter how good they look if they can’t move properly.

The Seeds of DeathThe Doctor starts running up and down corridors, although Ferguson does his best to make sure they don’t all look the same.

Sue: It’s very slapstick now. It’s turned into Benny Hill.

And then the 2nd Doctor delivers one of his most famous lines – “Your leader will be angry if you kill me! I’m a genius!”.

Sue: He can’t be that much of a genius if these lumbering idiots managed to catch him.

As Jamie becomes more and more agitated with the Doctor’s absence, Sue’s patience with Jamie snaps too.

Sue: Jamie is a big moaning kid. Every single week he has a childish strop about something. When is he going to leave?

When the Doctor is brought before Slaar, Sue is surprised to discover that the Ice Warriors don’t know how the Doctor got there in the first place.

Sue: How did the Ice Warriors fail to notice the large rocket landing right next to them? What kind of invasion force is this? Are they all completely blind?

The Ice Warriors reveal their secret weapon – the seed pods. Of death. The Doctor can’t help but take a look and, to Slaar’s delight, one of them expands and then explodes in his face. The Doctor is overtaken by fumes and he falls to the floor.

Sue: These seed pod bombs seem to have a range of about two feet. How long is it going to take the Ice Warriors to send a seed to every human on the planet? It’ll take years!

Fewsham is forced to T-Mat a seed pod to Earth. It starts to expand.

Sue: It’s all gone a bit ssssilly now.

Me: Stop it.

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Episode Four

Sue: Like I said, it’s going to take them forever to invade the planet like this. Please tell me this isn’t the plan.

Another seed pod bursts and another poor sod buys the farm.

Sue: Only another seven billion people to go.

Sue suddenly realises that the Moonbase has been turned into a large Amazon Depot. A large Amazon Depot of Death.

Sue: Do they get an email receipt when they send a pod? Your deadly order has just been dispatched.

When someone who looks a bit like Patrick Troughton is taken to a bed to recover, Sue already knows the drill.

Sue: I wonder where Troughton went for a holiday this week. I do hope it was somewhere nice.

Back in London, the seeds pod’s fumes have reached the outer atmosphere and they begin to germinate.

Sue: You know, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before.

Me: Yes, I know. It was called Fury from the Deep and we watched it about a month ago.

Sue: Oh, yeah.

The Seeds of DeathAnd yet, despite the increasing sense of deja vu, Sue seems to be thoroughly enjoying the story.

Sue: This has a lot going for it. The guy playing Fewsham is great – he’s very intense and believable – and the direction is, on the whole, very good; bar the odd mistake here and there. But he’s really trying. There’s a definite sense of scale and some wonderful shots. Does Michael Ferguson direct many more?

Me: Not nearly enough, sadly.

Sue: That should have been the cliffhanger when they transported the Doctor into space. That would have been a great place to end the episode.

Meanwhile, Zoe and Phipps have made their way to the Moonbase’s control room.

Sue: They may as well have a setting on that thermostat wheel that says “Kill Ice Warriors”, it’s so obvious. Still, I’ll give them one thing – the future really does have excellent signage.

An Ice Warrior invades Earth itself in an amazing scene where it manages to lumber around aimlessly as the base’s computer spells out the end of the world. Just when you think he’s drunk, he starts butchering people left, right and center, although he miraculously avoids injuring the main guest cast.

Sue: I’ve just realised that Eldred looks a like a turtle with that body warmer of his. Maybe he is secretly working for the Ice Warriors after all.

The Ice Warrior wanders off, killing even more personnel off-screen.

Sue: Clump, clump, clump. Bloody hard board floors.

The Earth is now covered in the fungus that has been spread by the Martians’ deadly seeds of death.

Sue: Are they are trying to turn the planet into one big foam party?

Me: They are trying to terraform London into Ibiza.

Sue: This is great stuff but the music ruins it. It obviously hasn’t been scored to the visuals and it doesn’t fit the action at all. I wish we could turn it off. It’s the only thing that spoils it.

Me: You know, I think there’s something really scary about putting an alien monster in the middle of a park.

And then, as Zoe turns up the heat, Phipps gets caught in the crossfire.

Sue: They’ve killed Peter Purves’ brother! Noooooo!

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Episode Five

Sue: Why doesn’t Zoe just move? Is she rooted to the spot with glue? Just run away! You know how rubbish they are when it comes to lumbering after you.

Meanwhile, the Doctor appears to be waking up from a dream.

Sue: Ooooh, the Doctor just called out for Victoria in his sleep. I wonder how Zoe would feel about that? It’s like David Tennant mooning after Rose in front of Martha all over again.

Me: Except this happened first.

Sue: I know!

The Seeds of DeathZoe is thrilled to see the Doctor back in action.

Sue: (as Zoe) Hello, Doctor! How are you? Did you go anywhere nice? Oh my! You do look nice and brown. And you’ve let your hair grow, too. Look at your sideburns – they’re MASSIVE!

The Doctor, Zoe, Jamie and Gia manage to T-Mat back to London but Fewsham decides to stay.

Sue: He’s worried about his next annual appraisal. Suggested room for improvement: stop selling out planet Earth. And grow some balls.

The Doctor attempts to fine the cure for the foamy fungus by throwing test tube samples over an expanding seed pod. The very last beaker seems to do the trick.

Sue: It would be great if that one contained Eldred’s urine sample. He’d have to spend the rest of the episode drinking lots of water and pissing into a cup.

Meanwhile, an Ice Warrior has made its way to a Weather Control Station (“the series is obsessed with changing the weather, but given that it’s made in England I suppose that makes sense”). It swiftly gains entrance and heads for the weather controls (which employ exemplary signage and usability).

Sue: Why is it that all the important bases are run by a skeleton staff?

Me: It’s the cutbacks. This future is ruled by a conservative government; you can tell that by the way things have gone tits up so fast.

It doesn’t take long for the lone Ice Warrior to take over the Weather Control Station, especially when its sole occupant is practically begging to be killed.

Sue: Please stand still while I kill you. Thanks.

And then Fewsham redeems himself by broadcasting the next phase of the Ice Warriors’ plan back to Earth.

Sue: Yay! Fewsham came good in the end! I knew he would.

And he is promptly killed for his troubles.

Sue: Awwww, that was a bit sad.

The Doctor heads for the Weather Control Station, hot on the tail of his companions who have come to the same conclusion that the Martians would use it to stop London’s weather from raining on their parade.

Sue: The director is really pushing the boat out again but sometimes he over-reaches himself. That scene of the Doctor running on the spot looked terrible.

The Doctor makes it to the station but he is overwhelmed by fungus/foam and the episode concludes with Troughton gurning at an expanding seed pod.

Sue: That was a great cliffhanger; funny and scary at the same time.

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Episode Six

Sue: They are so proud of the last five minutes of episode five, they are playing it all over again. Oh, wait, hang on, wait a minute, this is interesting.

Sue has noticed that the same scene is now being played out with Jamie and Zoe’s escapades intercut into the same action we saw unfold last week/about 5 minutes ago.

Sue: Have we ever seen that before? The same scene played out from another character’s perspective? That’s very clever. It makes the whole thing feel fresh.

When Zoe nearly slips on the station’s metal floor (an omen for things to come), Sue tuts.

Sue: Didn’t the BBC have Health and Safety Compliance back in 1968?

Me: What do you think?

And then we are treated the show’s second best example of unintentional laughter in the middle of what is supposed to be a moment of high drama.

Me: Look at that! Wendy Padbury has completely lost it!

Sue: Bless her.

As the Doctor tries to make it rain in England, Sue can’t help worrying about the rest of the world.

Sue: Who is sorting out the mess in Oslo? Maybe there’s another version of the Doctor over there fixing things for them. That would be nice.

And then we get into a big argument about whether the Doctor is carrying around a device that, according to Sue, includes one of K9′s ears. And, unlike Terresa May, I really am not making this up!

Sue: Troughton is on top form this week. He gets all the best lines. He really seems to be enjoying himself. He must be happy that he’s working his notice.

Me: Actually, if I’m not mistaken, it was during the transmission of this story that the public were told that Troughton was going to hang up his flute and leave.

Yes, Sue does know that we are nearing the end now. You try avoiding the question “How many are left?” every single night.

Sue: Well at least he chose to leave. It was his decision and they didn’t do a Hartnell on him. I’m happy about that.

The Doctor arrives on the Moon to foil the Ice Warriors’ plans but he is (apparently) captured instead.

Sue: Do the Ice Warriors need the Doctor to work the T-Mat because their stupid hands can’t flip the switches? They haven’t though this through, have they?

The Seeds of DeathAs Slaar communicates with the Grand Marshal on a monitor, Sue has to shield her eyes from the glare.

Sue: Why is that Ice Warrior covered in glitter? Is he taking this call in the middle of a girlie slumber party?

Eventually the Doctor’s plan bears fruit and the Martian fleet is sent on a detour to the Sun. As the Marshal starts to give Slaar a right earful (mirroring Osgood and Fewsham’s sexual tension in episode one) Sue can’t help but laugh.

Sue: And by the way – you’re fired!

The Doctor and Jamie manage to overcome the remaining Ice Warrior in an action-packed finale.

Sue: Why does Jamie shout “Brigadoon!” when he attacks something?

Me: He doesn’t. He is actually crying “Creag an tuire!”.

Sue: Oh, well that makes perfect sense.

The Ice Warriors defeated, the Doctor and his companions return to London as things quickly get back to normal. They do a runner before someone can arrange a ticker-tape parade for them.

Sue: (as the voice of the base’s computer) And they all lived happily ever after.

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The Final Score: 7/10

Sue: The music spoilt it. The rest was very good. Good plot, great acting, interesting direction and Troughton was on top form. I think they’ve got this Base Under Siege thing down pat, now.

The experiment continues… although there will be an unavoidable delay. Believe it or not, by the time you read this update Sue will be working on Michael Buble’s ITV Christmas Special in London. No, I am not making this up. She is currently beside herself with excitement – it would be like me going to Cardiff to watch them make Doctor Who – like that will ever happen! Anyway, I just hope she comes back home again. She’ll miss our very last recon if she doesn’t.

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