28 August 2013

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 240: The Seeds of Death, Episode Two

Dear diary,

I'm starting to feel a little bit sorry for Jamie. I've not been all that kind to him of late, and I've shifted very quickly from considering him to be a vital member of the TARDIS team and thinking that it's really about time that he should be off. Worse than that, though, is that the Doctor and Zoe almost seem to be thinking the same thing! There's a look the Doctor gives his companion when they're preparing for the rocket to take off in this episode that I think I can only describe as 'disdain'.

Add to that the way that the Doctor and Zoe are said to have been invaluable during a meeting about getting the rocket off the ground, and a comment that they seem to know more than our resident expert on the subject. It's not long before the same crew members are wondering if Jamie has the same kind of expertise, and the Doctor's not sure that he wants Jamie to come along with him when he blasts off for the Moon.

In some ways, it almost feels as though this could be Jamie's final story in the programme, and that he's being set up for a departure before we're finished. Having spent much of The Krotons separated from his companions, he's not being left out again, or at least he's only being included somewhat grudgingly. It's like they're trying to set up an on-going narrative thread, but I'm fairly sure it's not going to actually go anywhere.

Steven Moffat has said before in interviews that he likes the Doctor to be travelling with two (or more) companions, as this gives him characters who can go off together and talk about the Doctor, rather than simply being there to talk to him. I think this point can be clearly seen in this episode, when Jamie and Zoe spend some time together discussing their options for helping a group of people we've only just met. They discuss the idea of using the TARDIS to get up to the Moon, but decide that they'll probable overshoot their destination in either space or time. Or both, for that matter. The Doctor does go on to join them in the conversation, peering through a hole in the wall as he chips in.

It's just one example of the great direction we're seeing in this story. Lately, it feels as though I'm constantly praising the work of the directors in the series. I'm not sure if it's just a side effect of suddenly having so many existing episodes to watch, meaning that I've got a stronger connection to the visual aspects of the series, or if the direction has genuinely gotten better since we could last see it regularly. I'm pleased to say that I think it's the latter - it feels like they've got some real professionals in at the moment.

There's some lovely shots of an Ice Warrior searching the Moonbase's solar energy room for an escaped crew member, and it's shot from a high angle which really does show off the scope of the set. There's also some interesting choices being made with the music, too, switching from loud, bombastic noise while the Ice Warriors invade the base to absolute silence as we prepare for the rocket's take off.

It really helps to up the tension as our heroes strap themselves in, unsure what to expect when (or if) they reach their destination. I'm not entirely sure why they're so keen to dive in and help these people, as they've only met a few minutes before, and although there's hints that the whole world could come into some kind of trouble with the downfall of T-Mat, it all feels a bit quick to volunteer themselves for the first rocket launch in decades.

It's very topical, though. I always thought it was odd that the programme returned to the setting of a Moonbase so soon after the last visit (we're only about two years on from, er… The Moonbase), but actually it's quite topical at the moment. As this story went out, we were only a few months from that first small step for man as Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the Moon for real, and the fever for this kind of science fiction was ripe.

I'm finding it interesting that while we've known there's Ice Warriors pulling the strings for some time now, many of our major characters still don't. Our three regulars don't have a clue, and Miss Kelly, now up on the Moon herself, doesn't have a clue either. It's making for an interesting dynamic, as we don't always get to be this far ahead of the Doctor, and I'm looking forward to seeing his reaction, which I'd imagine will come pretty quickly once they've made it to the Moon.

One thing, though… how annoyed would you be to find out that after all that fuss, all the risk of the first rocket launch in all those years, the trouble with the systems crashing and the danger of drifting on forever through space, Miss Kelly has made it to the Moon in a matter of seconds anyway, 'cos they've fixed their teleport! It's typical, that!

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