Written by Brian Hayles and Terrance Dicks
Directed by Michael Ferguson
A few weeks ago a man called Chris Hadfield released a video of himself singing a version of Bowie’s Space Oddity. As far as covers went it was pretty good, but probably would have gone unnoticed if it were not for the fact that he had recorded it in outer fucking space. I have no idea how much the international community has spent in order to put people on the international space station. If you include the budgets for the American and Soviet space programs in the 50s and 60s it must run into countless billions. I’m pretty sure that every single penny was worth it just for that one video though.
Clearly, The Seeds of Death exists in some sort of hellish parallel twilight world where Captain Hadfield had never gone beyond posting the epic pictures that first drew the attention of us internet addicts back on earth, and the notion of people hanging around in space because its fucking awesome did not exist. Instead, people could simply travel about wherever they wanted, even as far as the moon itself, using the efficient, if dull, process of T-Mat, all of which is run from a base on the moon. Having any sort of base in this era of Doctor Who is probably a bad idea, because pretty soon its going to end up under siege, and before too long some aliens, this time in the form of Ice Warriors, turn up to kill and capture everyone.
Hayles’ story has a rather odd feel to it, in that it is nostalgic for a time that hadn’t even happened yet. The moon landing was still some six months off when this story started to air, but Hayles presents going about in actual rockets as a daring and exciting endeavour that gallant folks did once in the past, but is now outmoded and dated.
As for the story itself, well, its nothing even remotely new. Base. On the moon. Aliens invade it causing all manner of of chaos on earth. Enter the Doctor. Some running around. All is well. The Ice warriors are in this story, to be perfectly frank, shit. Without Bernard Bresslaw under the mask they don’t really have any appeal at all. Jamie and Zoe are, as always, phenomenal, as is Troughton, when he’s actually there – he went off on holiday for a week somewhere in the middle. All of the guest actors are good as well, but the star turn really has to go to Terry Scully for his performance as the cowardly, but ultimately heroic Fewsham.
The base under siege is a perfectly good structure to hang a story around, and on many occasions in Doctor Who was done with great skill. While not a bad story, the Seeds of Death is not one of those occasions. It is, however, the last of Troughton’s base under sieges, and as such I would like to take a moment to mark the end of that particular era. Right, moment done, that’ll do. Next up, The only thing that could make pirates cooler – sticking them in space. As discussed earlier everything’s cooler in outer fucking space*.
*I may have just hyped The Space Pirates too much. Don’t get your hopes up for anything too spectacular.