“The Seeds of Death” is an adventure of the sixth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired in 1969. It follows “The Krotons” and it’s a six parts adventure written by Brian Hayles and directed by Michael Ferguson.
A mysterious failure at the lunar station has blocked the T-Mat system at the end of the twenty-first century allows to teleport people and goods from one place to another. In reality the Ice Warriors invaded the Moon base taking control of the T-Mat relay station. With the communications disrupted, on Earth there’s no way to know what happened on the Moon.
The managers of the T-Mat system can only contact Professor Eldred, the only person who’s still dedicated to space rockets, an obsolete means of transport. They will also find the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), who along with Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) has just arrived at the museum run by Professor Eldred. The travelers volunteer to go to the Moon to try to find out what’s happening.
Both the original edition and the Special Edition contain a good amount of extras. In both editions there are typical contents such as production subtitles and a gallery of pictures from this adventure. The Special Edition also contains the Radio Times Billings.
There are various comments in the adventure alternative audio track of both editions by protagonists Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, director Michael Ferguson and script editor Terrance Dicks.
The original edition contains:
The Last Dalek. A clip showing the production of one of the most important scenes of the adventure “The Evil of the Daleks”. It’s also included on the “Lost in Time” box set and in the “Resurrection of the Daleks” Special Edition.
New Zealand Censor Clips. A few short clips censored in New Zealand from “The Web of Fear” and “The Wheel in Space”.
Both editions contain:
Sssowing the Ssseedsss. A documentary about 24 minutes long about the production of this adventure and about the Ice Warriors.
TARDIS-Cam No. 5. One of the animations created for the BBC website that show the potential of CGI effects. The flyer in the Special Edition indicates it as TARDIS-Cam No. 6 but the clip is the same in both editions.
The Special Edition also contains:
Lords of the Red Planet. A new documentary about the creation of the Ice Warriors and their re-appearance in this adventure.
Monsters Who Came Back for More! A short documentary about the monsters appeared in “Doctor Who” who have returned after their debut.
Both editions contain a “Easter egg” which shows the protagonists of the comments to the adventure in a short clip shot in the course of their work.
The success of “The Ice Warriors” had convinced producer Peter Bryant to ask their creator Bryan Hayles to write a new adventure with those aliens. The author had a little difficulty in developing his new idea and eventually script editor Terrance Dicks brought major changes to the script, in particular from the third episode.
The result is “The Seeds of Death”, a story whose plot has more holes than a Swiss cheese but stands up thanks to the moments of tension created also by good performances by most of the cast and directed with competence.
In “The Seeds of Death” the Ice Warriors attack humans exploiting the weakest link of the T-Mat system, the Moon station. Apparently, the T-Mat network is a really vulnerable because any failure or other kinds of damage can easily put in crisis the whole transport system of the end of the twenty-first century. Despite this weakness, it seems that there’s no contingency plan in case the T-Mat relay on the Moon doesn’t work anymore and the only person who seems to have a complete knowledge of the system is on Earth.
In their attack on the Moon base, the Ice Warriors also take advantage of the human weakest link. Fewsham, one of the T-Mat operators on the Moon, is the wrong person at the wrong place at the wrong time. When the Martians take control of the base, Fewsham has a very human reaction, first of all trying to survive even if he realizes that collaborating with the invaders will certainly not do good for humanity.
At the end of the twenty-first century, rockets are obsolete because of the success of the T-Mat and only Professor Eldred keep son developing that old technology on his own. Apparently, his rocket can be prepared for a launch in a very short time and the crew doesn’t need a long training because not only the Doctor and Zoe but even Jamie can play the astronaut.
The Ice Warriors seem very comfident with their plan and eventually the Doctor exploits some of its flaws. However, during the adventure there’s a strong sense of threat, often personal towards the people in the Moon base but also more generally in the attack to Earth that’s being carried out in a number of phases over the course of “The Seeds of Death”. Under this point of view, the Ice Warriors prove that they’re successful monsters, also with the introduction of the Ice Lord.
Overall, “The Seeds of Death” is an adventure that has its faults but if you don’t analyze them and you just enjoy the story you can find it really funny. The plot isn’t exactly the most brilliant ever seen in “Doctor Who” but given the limited resources of the time its production is done really well. Unfortunately, there are few complete Second Doctor adventures so in my opinion you should get the existing ones.
Previously, the Special Editions had something more than the original editions, in this case it was decided to replace some extras with others. The original edition had a few little extras that had nothing to do with this adventure and for this reason “The Last Dalek” has been moved to another DVD. It was still a good product with extras overall interesting.
In the Special Edition the episodes of “The Seeds of Death” have been reprocessed so the video quality is a bit better. A couple of new extras improve its quality and if you get the Region 2 “Revisitations 2” box set you lack only the short scenes censored in New Zealand from the original edition. In the end, this new double DVD is an excellent product though in nations where the Special Edition is sold on its own it’s not much better than the original edition.
In Region 2 nations, the Special Edition is part of the “Revisitations 2” box set – available on Amazon UK – so a global judgement of that box set must necessarily be given only at the end of the reviews of the adventures it contains.