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Sows 'The Seeds of Death'!! DOCTOR WHO #48, And More!!



Merrick here...
...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).  
But first...
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!  
Our next screening?  Resurrection of the Daleks (Davison, Story #134) on June 30.  Details and RSVP links forthcoming - soon...
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 very notion 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 a rambunctious five year old outwitting a tired grandparent.  The Seeds 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) 
Insight from...
-- 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.
Photo Gallery (4:28) 
TARDIS Cam #6 (:59) ????????

An effects shot of the TARDIS in a snowy environ. 
Radio Times Listings 

IN THE COMING WEEKS - Jumping Continuity With: 
DOCTOR WHO: THE MOVIE  (McGann, Story #48) 
The Five Doctors  (Davison, Stroy #129) 
Kinda (Davison, Story #118) 
Snakedance (Davison, Story #124) 
???? (by vote of Docbackers - vote next week!) 
-- titles definite but sequence may flux slightly due to the arrival of upcoming DVD releases --




Glen Oliver




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"The Impossible Astronaut"

"Day of the Moon"

"The Curse of the Black Spot"

"The Doctor's Wife"

"The Rebel Flesh"

"The Almost People"

"A Good Man Goes To War"

"Let's Kill Hitler"

"Night Terrors"


"The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011 Christmas Special)  





"An Unearthly Child" (Story #1)

"The Daleks" (Story #2)

"The Edge of Destruction" (Story #3)

"Marco Polo" (Story #4)

"The Keys of Marinus(Story #5)

"The Aztecs" (Story #6)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7)

"The Sensorites" (Story #7 - full DVD release) 

"The Reign of Terror" (Story #8)

"Planet of Giants" (Story #9) 

"The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (Story #10)

"The Rescue" (Story #11) 

"The Romans"  (Story #12) 

"The Web Planet" (Story #13) / SHERLOCK - "A Scandal in Belgravia" (Story #4)

"The Crusade" (Story #14) 

"The Space Museum" (Story #15) 

"The Chase" (Story #16) 

"The Time Meddler" (Story #17) 

"Galaxy 4" (Story #18) 

Mission to the Unkonwn (Story #19) 

"The Myth Makers" (Story #20) 

"The Gunfighters" (Story #25)

"The Tomb of the Cybermen" (Story #37) 

"The Colony in Space" (Story #58) 

"The Daemons" (Story #59) 

"Day of the Daleks" (Story #60) + Preview of the DotD Special Edition

"The Three Doctors" (Story #65) 

"Carnival of Monsters" (Story #66) 

"Invasion of the Dinosaurs" (Story #71) and SHERLOCK: "The Reichenbach Fall" (Story #6) 

"The Android Invasion" (Story #83) and SHERLOCK: "The Hounds of Baskerville" (Story #5) 

"The Face of Evil" (Story #89) 

"The Robots of Death" (Story #90) 

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" (Story #91)

"The Sun Makers(Story #95)

"Nightmare of Eden" (Story #107) 

"The Awakening" (Story #131)

"Frontios(Story #132)

"Resurrection of the Daleks" (Story #134) 

"The Caves of Androzani" (Story #136) 

"Time and the Rani" (Story #144)

"Paradise Towers" (Story #145) + New WHOvian Documentary / Newsbits

"Dragonfire" (Story #147) 

"The Happiness Patrol" (Story #149) 


Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)

DOCTOR WHO Title Sequences & DW At Comic-Con 2011

"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)

Why Eccleston Left, Here Comes Caroline Skinner, And Season/Series Six Part 1 on Blu-Ray And DVD

New Trailer For Season/Series Six Part 2





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