The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe arrive in the late 21st century,
at a time when mankind has become dependent on T-Mat, a revolutionary
form of instantaneous travel. They discover that the Ice Warriors
plan to invade Earth, using T-Mat to transport deadly fungal
Seeds of Death is not a classic of the same stature as
The Tomb of the Cybermen, the previous Troughton story
to be released on DVD. Indeed, as a sprawling six-parter,
its pace is not as tight as any of the four-part tales thus
far issued in this format. However, the padding is not as
apparent as it is during many other Season Six serials, such
as The Space Pirates and The War Games.
In its favour, this 1969 story brings back the monstrous Martians
following the success of their first appearance in the previous
season's The Ice Warriors. There aren't many of them
in evidence - we only ever see three regular warriors on set
at any one time - but they look superb, with none of the ill-matching
headpieces that were seen during their previous serial. The
troops are joined by a new rank of Martian, in the guise of
the Ice Lord Slaar (Alan Bennion), who looks sleeker but,
complete with Judge Dredd helmet, no less formidable than
human cast fare less well in the costume department. By the
end of the 21st century, according to this story, humans will
be donning outfits that give the unfortunate appearance of
wearing underpants on the outside of their trousers. Trust
Frazer Hines to raise this point during the audio commentary!
Another less than successful design element is the Martian
seed pods, which are clearly nothing more than balloons.
Hayles' script, like the subsequent The Space Pirates
(which has just been released on audio CD) cashes in on the
then extremely topical subject of manned space flight. The
TARDIS crew materialise in a space museum, and later on they
go to the moon in a rocket - something that humans had yet
to achieve at the time of transmission. Watch out for Troughton,
Hines and Wendy Padbury stretching their faces to simulate
the effects of G-force!
One factor that makes this DVD release extra-special is that
this story has never before been issued in episodic form.
The VHS release, way back in 1985, was edited into a single
136-minute feature, which omitted the re-enacted reprises
and opening model shots of the Earth and moon from Parts Two
usual, the Restoration Team have done a splendid job of optimising
the sound and picture quality. Those of you who have seen
the VHS version of this story may recall the dramatic variations
in quality between the un-restored film recordings, with Part
Five (which was edited on 35mm film for production reasons)
putting the fuzzy first episode to shame. These variations
have now been ironed out and the other episodes brought almost
up to the standard of Part Five. It would have been nice to
have had a little feature illustrating some "before and after"
stages of the restoration process, as we got on the Tomb
and Aztecs DVDs, but such a feature is strangely absent
we do get are the, as ever, informative on-screen production
notes (did you know that Jamie wasn't included in the original
draft?), a newly recorded interview featurette with Ice Warrior
actors Alan Bennion and Sonny Caldinez, and an audio commentary
featuring Frazer Hines, Wendy Padbury, director Michael Ferguson
and script editor Terrance Dicks. The commentary livens up
considerably when Dicks enters the fray for discussion of
the final four episodes. As with the Tomb disc, one
featurette, The Last Dalek, comprises home-movie footage
from the production of the special effects in the last episode
of The Evil of the Daleks, this time in its raw format.
But as intriguing as this is, The Last Dalek might
have seemed less out of place on the Tomb DVD.
its flaws, The Seeds of Death has plenty going for
it - including, of course, another excellent performance by
Patrick Troughton. This is an attractive package and, since
the presence of a second disc adds nothing to the cost, it
is great value for money.
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