Review By Paul Mount, 3.5 out of 5 He’s back ?and it’s about thirty-four years old. There are two great tragedies in DOCTOR WHO; firstly, it’s not being made any more (boo hoo) and second, so little of the show’s trail-blazing black-and-white episodes remain in the BBC archive having been stupidly purged in the early 1970s (shame). Second Doctor Patrick Troughton is particularly poorly represented with only a handful of his memorable yarns surviving in their entirety. TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN has already been released on disc and here comes THE SEEDS OF DOOM, hailing from Troughton’s third and final season, way back in 1969.
Sadly, SEEDS is neither classic DOCTOR WHO or classic Troughton. The show’s wit and imagination were running out a bit in 1969 and whilst SEEDS OF DEATH is entertaining and rather fun, it’s all a bit bland and tacky. The story is typical of the base-under-seige story which DOCTOR WHO did so well (and so often) in the 1960s. Here it’s the future and Mankind’s transport problems have been solved by the invention of T-Mat, an instant teleportation system which enables people and goods to be moved around the planet in the twinkling of an eye. But the Earth is at risk when the system’s Moonbase control centre is attacked by a squad of Ice Warriors from Mars who plan to use the T-Mat technology for their own invasive ends. The fortuitous arrival of the Doctor and his pals Jamie and Zoe offers the human race a chance to save itself from a lot of foam and some baddies with fibre-glass chests.
Troughton is, as always, brilliant. His effervescent performance lifts the sometimes flagging story and gives the serial a momentum it would otherwise lack. Michael Ferguson directs creatively, avoiding the show’s legendary budgetary limitations by employing some neat visual flourishes unusual for TV now let alone in the monochrome 1960s. The all-hissing, all-lumbering Ice Warriors are one of the Big Four DOCTOR WHO baddies and whilst they are quite threatening and fairly effective, their shortcomings as costumes are rather obvious. But it’s a harmless six episodes and it’s always a treat to see good quality archive DOCTOR WHO.
THE DISCS: Good (Time) Lord. The BBC Restoration Team have excelled themselves here. SEEDS OF DEATH (only previous available in a grubby compilation form on video) has been scrubbed up to within an inch of its life. The picture is sharp and bright, so clear you feel you could step into the black-and-white action. Extras are limited but acceptable. ‘Ssowing the Sseeds’ is a lightweight 25 minute interview feature starring the actors who played the Ice Warriors who reveal such gems as ‘the costumes were uncomfortable’ and ‘Patrick Troughton was great to work with.’ Still, nice to see these old thesps are still around and it’s good that the BBC can be bothered with these specially-filmed features. You’ll also find some random Troughton story footage ?a few clips from earlier stories recovered from Australian TV vaults and edited out of the broadcast episodes because of entirely innocuous scenes of violence. Most of the clips hail from 1967’s ‘The Web of Fear’ and their presence here only serves to make the whole story’s absence from the Archive even more painful. There’s some cheerful behind-the-scenes footage of model filming for ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, photos, information text and a chummy commentary featuring Hines, Padbury, Ferguson and Terrance Dicks in varying order. Good stuff.