...with a look at The Seeds of Death, a six part Troughton-era story originally transmitted January-March 1969.
The adventure returns the Ice Warriors (from Mars), originally introduced in another Troughton-era serial called, appropriately enough, The Ice Warriors (Story #39). Both tales were scripted by Brian Hayles, who also wrote The Celestial Toymaker (Hartnell, Story #24) and The Curse of Peladon (Pertwee, Story #61).
REACTIONS TO LAST SATURDAY’S DRAGONFIRE SCREENING IN AUSTIN!!
May 26’s screening of Dragonfire (McCoy, Story #147) went wonderfully - playing to a SOLD OUT house at the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane here in Austin.
Aint It Cool’s John Ary spoke to some of the folks who joined us, and here’s what they had to say!
THE RECIPIENT OF THAT DOCTOR WHO: THE ETERNITY CLOCK DOWNLOAD CODE IS...
Last week we offered a DOCTOR WHO: THE ETERNITY CLOCK PlayStation network download to one (1) lucky Aint It Cool Reader. The name of the game? Send me an e-mail at, or closest to, a pre-selected mystery time.
My pre-selected mystery time was 1:37 PM CST USA Saturday May 26. The reader whose e-mail arrived closest to that time? Is Rich! His e-mail arrived at 1:38 PM CST USA on the correct date.
Rich has now received his code and we truly hope he enjoys his adventures with ETERNITY CLOCK. A huge thanks to the folks at BBC Worldwide for the code, and stay tuned! More opportunities are coming your way...
The Seeds of Death
“A squad of security guards armed with flamethrowers are on their way here now. And as soon as they get here we’ll T-Mat them to the moon!” - Commander Radnor (Ronald Leigh-Hunt), The Seeds of Death Episode Six
On a future Earth, mankind has become inescapability dependent on ‘T-Mat’ (TravelMat) technology, which “provides an instantaneous means of public travel, and transports raw materials and vital food supplies to all parts of the world” per a nifty demonstration video featured early on.
Said technology is brought to a standstill (thus transportation, commerce, and the movement of critical supplies are generally hamstrung) when Ice Warrior Slaar (Alan Bennion) and his band of lumbering lackeys show up and cause problems on the Lunar T-Mat relay station - whose crew scuttles the facility to prevent T-Mat technology from falling into Slaar’s scaly, villainous hands.
Unable to access the Lunar complex due to the technology’s now-crippled status, T-Mat operatives back on Earth turn to marginalized rocket designer Daniel Eldred (Philip Ray), the Doctor, and companions Zoe (Wendy Padbury) and the ever-kilted Jamie (Frazer Hines) to save the day. Their mission becomes all the more critical once the dimension of the Ice Warrors’ plans are fully understood...
Seeds of Death is, quite often, just plain old silly. In fact, it’s often so dopey that it sometimes makes fun of itself (example below). However, when all is said and done, Seeds is the DOCTOR WHO equivalent of that rambunctious, ADD child most of us have encountered at some point in our lives: frustrating, undiciplined, and not entirely sensible...but beneath such external ‘static’ lies greatness, promise, and above all, intelligence. ‘Silliness’ does not necessarily denote ‘stupidity’ - an axiom about which we should constantly be reminded.
Hot, humorless, ponytailed, AUSTIN POWERSy T-MAT controller Gia Kelly (Louise Pajo) Earth force mobilikze to meet a multi-pronged invasion of ICe Warriros in Seeds' fional episode. The "5" represents spill light from her rocket launch console.
Regardless of its often cheese ball execution, Seeds of Death is both carried and emboldened by a number of clever and sharply-spun conceits. If one can work past the roundly absurd notion of a government financed space program launching three complete and aggravatingly vague strangers (the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie) into space on a mission of global impact, there’s nearly an episode’s worth of interesting transit time devoted to the processes and mechanics of our heroes actually getting to the moon. This journey is, of course, highly Science Fictionalized and simplified - but the verynotion that Hayles took the time to even hint at the minutia involved with space travel lends the gag a much needed, and very unexpected, air of ‘truth.’ It’s one thing for a bunch of strangers (the Doctor and his cohorts) to be piled into a rocket and launched to the moon to service the plot...but having the same mission be jeopardized by the a sudden silencing of Lunar landing beacons, for example? That’s, really, kinda cool...
In another example of Seeds’ delicately counterbalanced high-wire act, the very title of this story almost certainly represents far more than one might sense at face value. In the obvious context of this serial, the ‘seeds’ are egg-like objects used by Ice Warriors to do very bad things. But, as alluded above, Hayles’ thought process runs far deeper than this. The undercurrent of Seeds...and many of the challenges laid down by its narrative...pertain to how we (as individuals and society) are defined by our civilization’s infrastructure. How blind allegiance and adherence to said infrastructure can, and might, invariably damage our ability to adapt and compensate should that infrastructure collapse.
So much so that, when our technologically driven ability to move ourselves, our goods, or our services ceases in this story, humanity’s inconvenience quickly becomes an Extinction Level Event. Seeds, it turns out, is a well-disguised cautionary tale about the the dangers which exist when a civilization is not prepared with a quick, functional, rational fallback should the tools it utilizes spin apart. In this regard, it resembles 2007’s LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (DIE HARD 4.0) - whose original script was much more sprawling and apocalyptic than the film which made it to cinemas. That picture took a pointed and often horrifying look at what happens when America’s technological infrastructure fails due to terrorist intervention. In both DIE HARD and Seeds, the deprivation of the capabilities we rely on becomes an ultimate, and very, very, effective weapon against us.
Such tales warn us that, in our current state, we are only as good as the tools at our convenient disposal...instead of free-functioning, resourceful individuals who are in touch with our broader world. And once these tools are taken away? Who are we? What do we do? And how do we come back?
The Seeds of Death, suggests Hayles, have already been planted all around us. And we’re nurturing those seeds every time we rely upon good or services over whose ultimate delivery we have no influence. These are heady concepts to be sure, and Seeds may well represent early DOCTOR WHO’s most pointed social examination up to this juncture in the show’s chronology. And clearly these are concerns which prey on some people’s minds even today. In a sense, Seeds of Death might be seen as television’s earliest, backdoor iteration of DOOMSDAY PREPPERS.
Earth forces mobilize to meet a multi-pronged Ice Warrior assault in Seeds' final episode.
Regardless of such high-minded thematics, and despite their relatively ingenious master plan, the Ice Warriors themselves aren’t spun as particularly fearsome opponents - with the caveat that this is my first and only exposure to them thus far. Their asthmatic, Sleestakian hissing portends their arrival (thus relinquishes any element of surprise), their geriatric movement isn’t exactly predatory, and their weapons take a really, really long time to kill people with a house of mirrors blurring effect. All of these truths are cleverly acknowledged in a hilarious (and quick) sequence in which Troughton’s Doctor literally runs rings around one of the cumbersome foes...like a rambunctious five year old outwitting a tired grandparent. TheSeeds of Death, it seems, knows what it is and doesn’t seem to mind having a little fun with itself.
Which may well explain why the whole of Seeds works relatively well at the end of the day: there are many moments throughout the piece which feel like a modern show has been forged in a retro way - a testament to the earnestness and vision of director Michael Ferguson, designer Paul Allen, photographer Peter Hall, and their respective teams. All were smart enough to not only recognize Seeds’ weaknesses and acknowledge that they were there, but play to the story’s numerous strengths. Resulting in an adventure which is never quite as fully realized as it should have been, but is often much more compelling, thoughtful and memorable than it night otherwise been. An uneven, goofy, nifty and sometimes provocative success.
The newly restored Seeds of Death releases 12 June 2012 here in the U.S. and is available HERE for preorder. It is already available in the U.K via THIS boxed set.
Special features include...
Coming Soon (1:37)
A trailer for “Death to the Daleks,” the restored version of which will soon be released on DVD stateside (preorder), and is already available HERE in the U.K.
Lords of the Red Planet (28:25)
-- Richard Bignell (TV Historian)
-- Terrance Dicks (Script Editor)
-- Wendy Padbury (companion Zoe)
-- Frazer Hines (companion Jamie)
-- Bobi Bartlett (Costume Designer)
-- Michael Ferguson (Director)
** Discusses the origination and development of the Ice Warriors, who were originally conceived as “a sort of cyborg Viking” (like that guy Matt Smith plays chess with in The Wedding of River Song?)
Discusses how The Seeds of Death grew out of a very different Hayles conceived Mars-based concept called Lords of the Red Planet, which featured maneuverings and politicking between two alien species on Mars. The concept was ultimately scrapped due to its size/budget, and Hayles was re-commissioned to forge a new Mars-themed tale, The Seeds of Death...which itself was ultimately re-worked by Terrance Dicks.
Sssowing the Ssseedsss (24:05)
-- Alan Benion (Ice Warrior Slaar)
-- Sonny Caldinez (Ice Warrior)
-- voice of Bernard Bresslaw (Varga)
-- Sylvia James (Make-Up Supervisor)
...remember their time as Ice Warriors.
Monster Masterclass (3:44)
Seeds director Michael Ferguson on the ‘monsters’ of DOCTOR WHO.
Monsters Who Came Back For More (16:26)
-- Nicholas Briggs (Big Finish Executive Producer and Dalek Voice) and Peter Ware (Assistant Editor, DOCTOR WHO Magazine) discuss DW monsters and aliens. The ones which work, the one’s that don’t, which ones made return appearances, which ones should still come back, which ones shouldn’t, and why.
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc.)...
2) matters of SPOILAGE should be handled with thoughtful consideration and sensitivity. Posts containing SPOILERS should clearly state that a SPOILER exists in its topic/headline and should never state the spoiler itself . "** SPOILER ** Regarding Rory" is OK, for example. "** SPOILER ** Battle of Zarathustra" is fine as well. " **SPOILER** Why did everyone die?" Is NOT good.
And, above all...
3) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way. Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning. Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated. Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning. One word posts intended to bump-up any Docback's figures on AICN's "Top Talkbacks" sidebar will be considered actionable Spam - they not only complicate efforts to access Docback from mobile devices, but impede readers' abilities to follow or engage in flowing conversation.
In short, it's easy. Be excellent to each other. Now party on...
It's a nice little romp, where DW can indeed have fun with itself. You got that right.
It's not the best representation of the Ice Warriors. In my mind, the two Peladon stories represent this (to date). What is nice about them is that there is room for all kinds of room for more stories with them. Big Finish has done some here -- but they could be done really well with new Who. Even if they are slower in some ways in movement -- that can be just how they are..
Troughton's last season has many clunkers, so that has elevated fan opinion of Seeds -- it isn't as bad as the bad ones. There are three "good" stories complete for this season:
Seeds of Death
The Invasion is near complete..
But Troughton's best are in his first two seasons, even though War Games is good it still is not as good as his best.
Here the Doctor and companions are in danger when the landing beacon goes out. We've had several other stories (I believe it's more notable with Cybermen) that the alien invasion force gets defeated by disrupting their homing beacon. Why is is suddenly impossible for all of these races to not find their target if there's not a homing beacon. More importantly, if they absolutely need the homing beacon in order to find the planet (or the moon), how do they get someone to the planet (or the moon) in the first place in order to plant the homing beacon in order to find the planet (or the moon)? It's not like it's that much harder to guide a fleet in than a single ship, it's just a scaling up of the numbers coming in. Presumably the ships would have some stellar maps and/or have a computer set up (ESPECIALLY the Cybermen) that could make the orbital calculations in order to get to the planets. Heck, at the worst, even without the beacon there would be plenty of other radio and television broadcast waves coming from the Earth to help direct them toward the planet.
What we shoujld get is a scene something like this:
2nd DOCTOR: We have destroyed your homing beacon, so you will never find the Earth now. You might as well give up and leave.
CYBERLEADER: You are in error, Doctor. We have detected a broadcast of something called Teletubbies, which is guiding us toward Earth even now. Earth will be converted to expand the Cyber race. We have finally defeated you, Doctor.
2nd DOCTOR: Oh, rabbits.
(CUE END OF EPISODE MUSIC)
Fury from the Deep had deadly foam in it also. It puts the like to the joke in Dead Ringers that all of Troughton's foes were made from aluminum foil (just most of them ;) ).
You know, it's been quite a while since we've had deadly soap suds of one type or another, it seems to be one of the types of special effects that have been abandoned in Doctor Who. Maybe we'll see their return soon. Maybe we'll get a retro-Troughton shout out for the 50th anniversary - Yeti and deadly soap suds in the same episode.
However, I think I can accept it working this way with the Cybermen. I assume they have someone go to someplace, and then have computers set on auto-pilot, following navigation commands. I expect there is more on this commands than we know... but include where to go... and so if modified... the computer follows...
Over on Herc's 'article', I was merely questioning his choice of words in reporting the story, not his decision to report on it at all. If he wants to write a story about Jenna-Louise's character then there's nothing wrong with that, but to state something as fact that is currently only speculation isn't very professional.
Herc claims to have made a living as a journalist 'for decades' (see his Fox News article), so I'd expect something better from him if this is actually the case.
Hope that clears things up.
As you rightly pointed out, they do have a history of being accurate, but I also have to point out that they also have a history of being totally wrong too. Jenna-Louise's character *might* be called Clara, but she could also turn out to have a totally different name too.
Time will tell...
First time around, I found Seeds dull and aggravatingly cheesy. On repeat viewing, however, my attitude completely changed. I think this was definitely a case where watching the episodes spread out over a few days, rather than all in one go, brings about a huge improvement. The pulpy feel of it all plays much better when the episodes are treated as episodes, when the cliffhangers and the re-caps are allowed to serve their intended purpose. Because, really, as a pulpy serial, this one is a ton of fun.
I think he's trying to go in a Jules Verne direction with his look in the next series (although it also looks a little Paul '8th Doctor' McGann to me).
Matt said he wants to evolve the costume over time, mainly because he has a passion for fashion, and also because he gets bored very easily, so it keeps things fresh for him.
It looks like the post-Christmas episodes will see yet another change in direction for the show in 2013.
I can see that. His version of the Doctor is like a kid in a candy store, if he see's something that strikes his eyes, it has to be his....Fez, Bowtie, etc. He never did state why he started to wear his green overcoat, but I guess he saw it somewhere, thought it was cool, then tried it out for a spin.
No worries mate. And how did you like acts 1 and 2 of "hat of bollocks" last docback?
I have a small idea about what comes down in the third act ... but there's no knowing what my inner 10-year-old will come up with ...
DOCTOR: That's just what I thought you'd say. Oh, Rory? Roooryyy!
RORY DRESSED IN ROMAN GEAR STEPS HALF OUT OF NOWHERE.
RORY: Yes Doctor?
DOCTOR: Rory would you do the honours, please?
DAVROS, ALARMED: Dalek Thay! Exterminate! Exterminate them all!
RORY: Not today, mate.
RORY PULLS DAVROS'S EYEBALL OUT OF HIS HEAD. THERE IS A FUNNY POPPING SOUND. RORY THROWS IT TO THE DOCTOR.
THE DOCTOR CATCHES IT, STICKS IT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS OWN FOREHEAD. SAME POPPING SOUND. HE CLOSES HIS NORMAL EYES AND LOOKS THROUGH IT.
RORY, GRINNING: Amy, Doctor, you two never looked better. I mean ... I'd wink if you could wink back.
DOCTOR: Yes, all right, just a moment - Rory, look out behind you!
RORY TURNS AROUND, SEES THE SILENT APPROACHING FROM INSIDE THE TARDIS, CUTS ITS HEAD OFF WITH HIS SHORTSWORD.
DAVROS: Aaargh! Blind! I'm blind! Dalek Thay! Exterminaaate!
DALEK THAY: I. Obey!
BLUE LIGHT FLASHES OUT FROM THE DALEK GUN. RORY FALLS TO THE FLOOR, DEAD.
THE TESSELECTA BRIDGE. AMY LIES DEAD ON THE FLOOR, A DAGGER PROTRUDING FROM HER BACK (HA-HA!). MADAME KOVARIAN AT THE CONTROLS SPEAKS INTO ITS MICROPHONE.
KOVARIAN: Ooh, er, Doctor you are so very brave and smart, I am sooo impressed. Just like all your pretty, pretty companions. We all think you are the bravest, smartest, sexiest man ever ... and the most conceited. The most arrogant. Most hypocritical ...
THE DOCTOR'S FACE LOOMS LARGE AND QUIZZICAL ON THE TESSELECTA VIEW SCREEN.
THE DOCTOR LOOKING DIRECTLY INTO DALEK THAY'S EYESTALK. HE TAPS ON ITS EYE.
DOCTOR: Amy? Amy, are you all right in there? Look, I know there's a lot to do, two sets of controls, easy to get mixed up, but I have to tell you if you haven't noticed you seem to have accidentally exterminated Rory -
DAVROS CHUCKLING TO HIMSELF AS ICHOR DRIPS FROM HIS EMPTY EYE SOCKET: None so blind as those who will not see ...
DOCTOR: Look, will you shut up? I'm talking to Amy.
DAVROS: Are you quite certain of that? Or is the deed done, my dear? Is she?
THE TESSELECTA MORPHS INTO A PERFECT SIMULACRUM OF KOVARIAN.
KOVARIAN: Dead. And there's not a thing you [FINGERNAIL MORPHS INTO A STILLETO POKING THE DOCTOR IN THE CHEST] can do about it.
DOCTOR, PUTTING HANDS UP: Oh heavens no, not me. I certainly am at a loss now. I surrender. You've got me. And I expect you're going to try to kill me now. All right. I can stand it. Go ahead.
KOVARIAN [SMILING]: Kill you? Kill the man who cannot die? We all know what happens when we try that.
DAVROS: The universe will tie itself into a knot to free you. Doppelgangers, paradoxes, loops and twists. Regenerations. Another big bang ... we know how it works, you see, Doctor. You cannot be killed or trapped or broken. The Tardis will not permit it. The machine that controls this universe will not let you come to harm. You can only be ... shamed.
KOVARIAN: It was clever of you though. Programming the Tardis to extend its protection to your companions. Your famous ~time head~.
DOCTOR: All right. So you know that's not Amy dead in there. Can't be. It's a ganger. Or it's the tesselecta travelled through time inside itself, or an Amy from an alternate timeline or -
DAVROS: And this thing on the floor ... that might be an auton. Or a chameleon arch. Or perhaps everything around us is just a dream today. Deus Ex Machina - that is your true name, is it not, Doctor?
KOVARIAN: God from the Machinery, the mad man in the magic box. But you are hoist by that machina, Doctor. However you attack us, Doctor, we are blessed. You cannot harm us. You cannot trap us. And you cannot break us ...
DOCTOR: Say what you like. Do what you like. You cannot win. If you had any sense you wouldn't even try.
DAVROS: What is the one thing a god can never do?
DOCTOR: I am the time king. I can do anything.
DAVROS: You cannot change your own timeline, Doctor, no matter how hard you try. And that's how we have won. Isn't that right - Amy?
KOVARIAN, GLOATING: Oh yes, Rory, oh yes!
DAVROS: The ultimate reason there were no ducks on the duck pond, Doctor, is because *this* was parked there. Our Tardis. A type 41.
A FLASHBACK SHOWS THE PSEUDO-TARDIS SEMI-TRANSPARENTLY PARKED ON THE LEADWORTH COMMON, ITS HIND END IN THE DUCK POND, FADING TO INVISIBILITY.
DOCTOR: That'll never fly, Davros old boy, not without a helluvalot more temporal engineering knowledge than you have.
KOVARIAN: He still doesn't get it, Rory.
DAVROS: He will, Amy. All those nights, Doctor, when you were out and about entertaining our so-called daughter. Did you really think we were asleep in our bunk beds?
KOVARIAN: We were studying in your library. Such an excellent library. A little soggy but nonetheless excellent.
DAVROS: And if there was ever a point we got stuck on you were so helpful in showing me how it all really worked ...
DOCTOR: Poppycock. Tardises aren't just machines. They're alive. You would have needed something that could grok the naked schism and hold a stable vortex. You don't get that just anywhere.
DAVROS: We didn't get it just anywhere. We got it in a pocket universe you found for us. And its name is -
HOUSE: House. Hello Doctor. So delightful to meet you again.
KOVARIAN & DAVROS TOGETHER: Surprise!
DOCTOR: I've got just one thing to say to you lot.
THROWS HIMSELF INTO THE INVISIBLE TARDIS.
THE TARDIS. THE DOCTOR HUNCHED OVER A WORKBENCH, A GLORIOUS ARRAY OF NON-TECHNOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGY SPREAD BEFORE HIM - GASKETS, BIKE CHAINS, SHOWER KNOBS, CRYSTAL RADIOS, ANTIQUE GARDEN TOOLS ... THE TARDIS CONTINUES TO MAKE ITS HANDBRAKE SOUND.
DOCTOR: No, no, no! I will not have it! I will not!
RIVER COMES UP BEHIND HIM, RESTS HER HANDS ON HIS SHOULDERS.
RIVER: It's late, my love, and you are tired and sad. Let them go.
DOCTOR: They're my friends. They're your parents.
RIVER: And they're trapped inside monsters like flies in amber. You cannot save them.
DOCTOR: I have to try. Go to bed, River, and I'll join you later. I have another idea.
RIVER SIGHS AND STANDS WITH HER HANDS ON HIS SHOULDERS. HE DOESN"T NOTICE. CAMERA PULLS BACK SLOWLY. THE TAPE RECORDER IS SPINNING AND THE DIGITAL CLOCK IS COUNTING DOWN ...
Reading Caractuspotts' posts with Davros and mentioning the Teselecta made me realize something.
Given that the Teselecta are hopping around time trying to get the big mass murderers, at some point shouldn't the crew be going after Davros at some point? Possibly even taking his place after they capture him? It would be hilarious to see the Doctor seemingly run into Davros in the future:
DOCTOR: So, Davros, we meet again.
DAVROS (with voice of Teselecta Captain) Er, not exactly, Doctor. Mind you, when we caught him, he kept going on about naming you Destroyer of Worlds. We should talk about this...
For my part of it, I have just not been feeling well lately. Better today than the last few. But overall, just feeling down as I am witnessing my mom's suffering for several days now and it gets you down when you can't get doctors to respond quickly, and pharmacists have sudden aneurisms, etc.
I remember the hiatus between Season 22 and Season 23. The difference between then and now though is that we are getting same day broadcast in the US, along with other methods of seeing it shortly after broadcast. Back then you had to wait for the local PBS station to pick up the broadcast.
Also, it's nothing like the wait between 2003 when it was announced that Doctor Who was first coming back, and finally getting to see the story in 2005.
And I got to meet Silas Carson who voices the Ood. Very, very nice guy, and he is very tall. My wife was wearing her Doctor Who Exploding Tardis Painting shirt not even knowing Silas was a Ood. Was pretty funny. I also got to meet Jake Lloyd while there, and he is a weird cat. While with Jake, I was explaining to my son that he played the kid version of Darth Vader/Anikin Skywalker in the first movie, and that he couldn't play in the other two movies the older Anikin due to his age at the time. That is when my 8 year old daughter jumped in and said, "Even when Jake grew up, he still wouldn't be tall enough to play Vader". As soon as she said that, I turned to Jake, and he had the last one picked in kickball look on his face. I didn't even know what to say.
Dr Who owes much of its tone and form to the paradigm created by Bradbury. The last of the golden age Science Fiction authors, it's difficult to imagine what DW would be without the memes created in The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Burning Man, and so many more.
And so it is suitably ironic that in this modern world there can be no more fitting tribute than this: http://tinyurl.com/fmrbfmrb
It could even be funnier if Richard E Grant says he's the Doctor, but can't remember if he's the 9th Doctor (Scream of the Shalka) or the tenth Doctor (Curse of Fatal Death). Or, Grant insisting he knows he's the ninth Doctor while Atkinson insists that he knows that Grant will be the regeneration after him so therefore he's the tenth Doctor, whereupon David Tennant pops in to ask if he has any say in who the tenth Doctor is.
Chris Eccleston gets caught in a time vortex and Tennant makes a reference to "Ears and nose".
They could grab the footage from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXRGN8MbNIc and then use a swirly show drain as the vortex ...
Tradition, that's what makes a great show!