Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 241: The Seeds of Death, Episode Three
Increasingly, it seems as though Doctor Who's Sixth Season has a very definite visual style, and it seems to be right at home with no end of other stuff that was being broadcast on TV at around the same time. The Mind Robber is obviously the famous one with a bit of a 'weird' vibe to it, what with the big white void, the exploding TARDIS, a companion being turned into a cardboard cutout, and a forest of letters, but since then, we're seeing more an more examples.
The Krotons was littered with them during the scenes of our heroes being subjected to the Krotons' machine, featuring shots distorted by a fisheye and cuts to bubbling tanks of liquid and images of our heroes in pain. Today, we get the Doctor picking up a seed pod and watching it expand until it breaks, showering him in a powder. We also get lots of sequences of him running through what appears to be a hall of mirrors (every Moonbase needs one!) creating some pretty unusual results.
None of this imagery would be out of place in something like The Avengers or The Prisoner, and it's making for an interesting experience. It's almost as if they knew the stories from this period would survive, so decided to do something a bit different with them.
And yet, despite all of this, I'm a little disappointed today. I was really excited to see the Doctor's reaction to discovering the Ice Warriors taking control on the Moon (indeed, the first time that he turns a corner and sees a pair of the creatures, he pulls a fantastic face as he scurries away to hide), but it happens off screen! We cut to the Doctor and his friends still in the rocket as Zoe sets up a good old exchange of exposition; 'Doctor, these creatures he described…' followed by 'Yes, Ice Warriors. Jamie and I have encountered them before…'.
The only positive to come out of it is that I know the Ice Warrior's motives nice and clearly - Mars is a dying world, so they want to colonise the Earth. Good-o, that's fine by be. The Ice Warriors left be a bit confused as to exactly what their plan was (Even now, I'm only pretty sure that it was about trying to get their ship out of the ice and go home), so it's nice to have it spelled out for me this time around! It does deprive us of seeing the actual reaction, though, and I'd have loved it to have taken place after we'd reached the Moon.
I also have to take issue with the entire T-Mat system. I can understand why it's become so vital to the world (heck, if you can send things from place to place right across the world almost instantaneously, of course it's going to have an impact), but we've seen it stated a few times over the last couple of episodes that the system isn't quite there yet. Oh, sure, they boast about it being infallible, but even the Professor mocks this fact when the problems occur.
Why then, in a system with no back up plan, and no way to keep things on the move when the Moon control goes down, is the entire planet so dependant on it? We're told towards the end of today's episode that all major cities are experiencing major food shortages! Does no one stock up anymore? The implication seems to be that all transmissions have to be relayed via the Moon, so surely people don't have food T-Matted to them for every meal? I could understand supermarkets perhaps not receiving deliveries (and, yes, I can stretch to believing that they might be running short on stock. If you've ever seen the way people panic buy in the shops when they know they're going to be closed for a single day over Easter, then I can imagine some pretty serious panic buying occurring when rumours leak out that the entire system has gone down!), but it seems a little far-fetched to think that we're on the brink of starvation so soon!
I can't complain too much, though, because the Doctor does get to take part today in one of my favourite moments from the entire series, as a pair of Ice Warriors bear down on him. 'Your leader will be angry if you kill me!' he declares, desperately grasping for something to save him before adding 'I'm a genius!' It's actually the moment after this that I love, as the Ice Warriors hiss 'Geeenniiuussss…' back at him. It's one of those odd scenes that always seems to be stuck in my head, and I find myself thinking about from time-to-time, completely out of the blue.