Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death (part one)

Back to Doctor Who and a six-part serial called “The Seeds of Death” that was originally shown from January to March 1969. Compared to the rest of this troubled season, “Seeds” was a pain in the neck but possibly the least problematic of the year’s seven stories. They’d always planned for Brian Hayles to write another six-part story with the Ice Warriors this year because the costumes had been so expensive. Nailing what that story would be took a while, and in the end, Terrance Dicks ended up writing most of the serial himself without a screen credit.

It seems to be set some years after Zoe’s time of 2068, during a brief period where Earth is no longer exploring space, but sinking funds into improving a transmat system that ships food and cargo around the planet, and which is controlled from the moon. A lot of this is going to get sped up, sacrificing the suspension of disbelief for drama. The Ice Warriors take over the moonbase, and in almost no time at all, the entire planet is panicking and rioting for a lack of food, and, in part two, they will compact the weeks it would take to get a prototype rocket ready for launch into twenty minutes of screen time and maybe the better part of the afternoon in TV-time. It’s also badly dated by its views of the future. Nobody thinks in terms of reusable travel in space, but the rockets of the Apollo program. Apollo 9 was launched just two days after this serial concluded; the actual landing on the moon would come in four months’ time.

The serial is directed by Michael Ferguson, who had helmed “The War Machines” in 1966 and would direct another serial in each of the next two seasons. Guest stars include Harry Towb, making the first of two Who appearances where his character would meet a grisly death in the first episode of the adventure, along with Louise Pajo and Ronald Leigh-Hunt.

Our son was not completely thrilled with this one. The revelation that there are Ice Warriors on the moon was met with much discussion of the Warriors’ square eyes and scaly skin, but this does have an awful lot of people talking about complex problems, and old men being fuddy-duddies. It will improve, and I think he’ll enjoy it more, especially when we get some more opportunities for Patrick Troughton to run around, be a genius, and hide from waves of foam.

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