Friday, May 23, 2014

The Seeds of Death - "I never thought I'd see that again. A rocket rising in flight."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Seeds of Death - Details

Season 6, Episode 5 (Overall Series Story #48) | Previous - Next | Index

Pulling gs the old-fashioned way.
The Troughton era is winding down at this point. Doctor Who is teetering on the brink of cancellation. Despite the fine cast and their chemistry, there's something not quite right about the whole enterprise. Change is coming. Pertwee and the new format are a few stories off yet, but there's still more than enough here to enjoy of the old regime. If nothing else, it's at least a complete story with no missing episodes. The Ice Warriors are back in all their scaly, whispery menace and the Earth is in grave peril from the fungus among us.

In 1969 the space race was at its zenith, so the neat twist pulled here is this story features a rocket scientist and all that current tech, but the story is set in the future so all that exciting Rocket Ship to the Moon Future is Now! stuff is passé. T-Mat is all the rage here. The future turned out a little differently then optimists back then might have expected. The US, at least, is largely out of the space shuttle to orbit business and uncomfortably hitching rides with Putin's cosmonauts aboard Soyuz rockets for the time being. We didn't advance beyond rockets, we just decided it was more important to focus our efforts on concentrating wealth in the hands of oligarchs while dismantling the Great Society than to be bold explorers and committed scientists.

If we let Doctor Who down by putting our energy into more mundane matters, then Doctor Who is letting us down a bit here as well in a couple of ways. It's a bit stodgy to make the rocket scientist the saving grace of humanity after he's been superseded. After the neat twist, the show comes back to a conservative position on technology, not just arguing for not putting all your eggs in one basket and not having a back-up plan, but -- in my opinion -- taking a chastising tone against the proponents of the new technology. Sandifer, as usual, does a brilliant job peeling back the layers and revealing the source of the tension we feel while watching this:
And so it comes to this, in which the Doctor praises neo-Victorian adventuring imperialism with one hand while gunning down imperialists with the other, the only difference seeming to be that one set of imperialists is human and British and the other is green. The Troughton era’s one catastrophic blind spot stands revealed – for all of its anarchic and psychedelic charm, it could never bring itself to hurl the brick through its own window. And as the psychedelic spaceship crashes back to Earth, this contradiction becomes fatal. There is no way past it without completely altering the entire structure of the show.
So, even though it's great fun to watch Troughton's Doctor wade through the foamy fungus the Ice Warriors have started to cover the Earth with as stage one of the terraforming -- well, 'mars'forming might be closer to appropriate -- plan, the fun can't raise the story too far above its underlying dissonance. We chuckle when Troughton slips and falls due to the foam all over the set, leaving Wendy Padbury unable to keep a straight face, before she slips on the foam herself. But it's a short-lived chuckle.

This story is definitely worth a watch due to the classic monster, it's rare-for-the-era completeness, and some strong supporting performances along with top rate main cast -- Two, Zoe, and Jamie is a one of the all-time best TARDIS crews.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...