Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death (s06e05 pts. 1 – 6)

2 out of 5

Directed by: Michael Ferguson

Hot cats, this gets the award for ‘most obnoxious Who so far.’  Prior to that development, the serial starts off rather promising, with some good core ideas and an interesting range of characters, and a new way of showing death-by-raygun that’s cheap, but looks cool.

The Who Crew lands in a space museum (moving past the ‘I can’t believe how dumb these people are sometimes’ moments where the TARDIS’ exterior cameras are focused on exhibits, convincing the team that they’re stuck in space…), and learns via some helpful exposition that space travel is now a thing of the past, thanks to new teleportation technology called ‘T-Mat.’  The episodes take some time to explore this development, and how it’s positively affected things like food distribution, suggesting that there will be some type of thematic tie-in of ‘old school rockets vs. new school transportation’ to come, which there is, but only until it gets sucked under the general slide into idiocy the episodes take.

That tie-in: a moon base has gone out of commission, and T-Mat has stopped working, so Doc and his companions discuss jury-rigging onea’ them fangdangled rockets back to working state and to go exploring.  A false cliffhanger (We’re going to crash on the moon!  …No, we’re fine!) precedes the discovery that Ice Warriors have taken over the moon base… for reasons.

This is all mostly charming at this point.  The Ice Warriors are a sort of classically goofy Who villain, and it’s fun, for those watching the show, to have a non-Cybermen / Dalek returning baddie.  The Zoe / Jamie setup continues to shine, with the former able to help out, and the latter just a “duh, throw rock” dullard, nicely reversing all of the previous companion setups with the shrieking female, and the Earth scientists with which we interact are nice varied in personality, and they take to the rocket idea without much fuss, because it’s logical (y’know, within context.)  Even when the Ice Warriors start upon their evil taking-over-the-world plans, they’re pretty interesting, sending these egg spore things down to the surface – all over the planet – which explode and release oxygen-eating gasses.  Cool.

And then… we’re done being intelligent and goofy fun.  I don’t recall the Ice Warriors all having asthma before, but all of their dialogue is accompanied by the most annoying heavy breathing, and they have a lot of damn talking scenes that kept making me turn down the volume.  The Doctor gets a face full of egg spore, which knocks him out, and then his super-smart Doctor plan thereafter is to run headfirst in to egg spores and scream about it.  On top of this, there’s a discovery of how to kill these spores, which is super straight forward (and would be portable, for a one-off kill), and yet… headfirst in to spores.  In the final episode, we’re focused on a satellite signal, which pings atonally, and compounds with the pant-pant Warriors to merit that ‘most obnoxious’ award.  Our conversation regarding rockets vs. T-Mat turns out to just be filler for the first couple of episodes, meaning there was really no point to the whole T-Mat affair except to create a method by which we can zap people to the moon and then make them stuck there, except for key moments when T-Mat is fixed again.

The B-Movie charm of Who serials can only feed entertainment value so far, and Seeds of Death, despite a strong start, pushes it past that limit.