Doctor Who #236: The Seeds of Death Part 3

"Your leader will be angry if you kill me. I'm a genius."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.8 1969.

IN THIS ONE... Our heroes land on the moon, the Doctor is captured, and the Ice Warriors send Earth some nice balloons.

REVIEW: Ferguson continues to intrigue me through his very visual story telling, using zoom-outs to reveal places and things (like the eponymous seeds) and staging the chase inside the Moonbase as a Marx Bros. routine in a dark hall of mirrors. Someone would be within his or her rights to say the sequence is highly silly (compare it to the one in Love & Monsters), but even so, it uses visuals to create the sense of a chase inside a maze. A symbol for what is actually happening but can't easily be filmed under the show's production limits. Sadly, it also creates the sense that the Ice Warriors are blind, clumsy creatures, as do other such scenes throughout the episode. The Doctor's line about being a genius is highly amusing, like the chase before it, but it's the Ice Warriors that pay the toll, farcical villains where they should be dangerous. After all, they ARE planning to attack Earth with a biological agent using the planet's own delivery service. Somebody turn up the heating, quick!

The script does manage to keep the tension relatively high despite these comic interludes, thanks I think to its many reversals. The only way to the moon is by rocket ship, but its coms fail. Meanwhile, Fewsham gets T Mat back up and Miss Kelly is lured up. The beacon fails, but Phipps' mayday will do as well. It fails too, but he gets it back up. The Doctor wants to destroy T Mat and return to Earth with the rocket, and Jamie's refueled it like a big boy and everything, but Zoe evaluates its take-off capabilities as nil (these two are quite fun as testy siblings). You know, this era seems to have little or no faith in actual PILOTING. Every space story seems to hinge on the idea that without a beacon at the destination, ships would just go flying into the sun. (About that...)

While the companions, Phipps and Miss Kelly reenact the melting of an Ice Warrior using heat lamps (really, they should just lure them in there one at a time until they're all dead), the Doctor must convince Fewsham to help him. With Fewsham, scare tactics are the only way to go, apparently. At least he's a consistent character, and well played too. I mean, that's who most of us would be, wouldn't it? Not sure what the Doctor's plan was though. While Fewsham diverts the Warrior's attention, he simply gets up and inspects the seeds and even asks questions about them. One blows up in his face and he drops. Probably not dead. Is it about time to introduce the Time Lords' respiratory bypass? But hopefully, these things are more dangerous in Earth's atmosphere, because killing one person at a time, well... that's strictly Phipps' thing.

THEORIES: They mentioned Toronto in Part 1, and here they mention Ottawa. Specifically, it is one of four of the Ice Warriors' primary targets along with Oslo, Stockholm, Hamburg and London. Two Scandinavian cities? And Ottawa, REALLY? Strange places to stage your invasion. What they have in common is that they are Northern capitals. So they're destroying governments in countries where they could sensibly live. I'm sure Moscow is on their list too. But the question that must be asked SOMEtime is... What the hell happened to the U.S. in the future? While Americans were on the forefront of space technology, the Whoniverse has relegated them to an occasional posting on some base or other. As we'll see in the next season, Britain's got its own space program, and I would surmise, using my special powers of 20/20 hindsight, that the U.K. of this world has had access to alien technology recovered by UNIT and Torchwood that has bolstered that program, creating an important divergence from our own history. Even by this point, which must be around a century in the future, the Americans have been left in the dust. T Mat is a British development and Ottawa is more important than New York or Washington D.C.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - While there's much to like here, the comic interludes are tonally dissonant with the rest of the story, and there is some repetition of beats (the killing of an Ice Warrior, much of the rocket action).

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