1 September 2013

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

Day 244: The Seeds of Death, Episode Six

Dear diary,

As has often been the case with stories like this, I've been making a note for several days now to mention the titles for the episodes. In The Seeds of Death, the title captions for sac episode are shown against a backdrop of the Earth and the Moon, hanging in space as the camera moves slowly across the scene to show us this view from a few angles. It's a lovely little shot, but it's the music that accompanies it which I've really liked.

The music to the entire serial is quite good, on the whole, although on occasion it feels a little out of place. There's a moment today when Troughton is creeping around with his new solar weapon and something causes him to jump. You assume that the (loud!) music will follow the same cue and perk up at this moment, but it's actually going through a more subdues phase at that precise moment.

It's only a minor niggle, though, as on the whole the work being down on this story has been rather good. I've already called out Michael Ferguson's direction for praise a few times, but I have to add that today he produces one of my absolute favourite shots, as Troughton stares down the Ice Lord (they're not actually called this on screen in this story. I'm assuming that it gets brought up in one of the Pertwee stories, or I've just made it up…) during their final confrontation. 'You have destroyed our entire fleet!' the Ice Lord (I'm sticking with it) hisses, to which the Doctor's reply is simple - 'You tried to destroy an entire world'.

In a story that's given Troughton a fair amount of chances to play his more comical side of the Doctor, this is a great moment, and it's one that I'm surprised doesn't get mentioned all that often. Maybe it's because his sideburns are still trying to take control of the programme?

Despite me just assigning names to the Ice Warriors that seem to sit right in my head, I'm rather impressed with the way that they're treated on screen in this story. The title 'Ice Warrior' was given to them by one of the humans back in, er, The Ice Warriors, and I worried that by this stage that's simply what everyone would be calling them. They actually only seem to gain this title amongst our new guest cast after the Doctor or Jamie has already used it, which is a lovely touch. I'm not sure if it's entirely intentional (Brian Hayles did create the creatures, after all, so you'd think if anyone would remember that the name was simply assigned to them, it would be him), but it works really well. Another one of those little things which makes me smile.

Speaking of which - Jamie manages to redeem himself with this episode! Hooray! Since somewhere around the start of The Krotons, Jamie has been the subject of a fair amount of abuse (yeah, yeah, including from me). His intelligence keeps being called into question, and he doesn't even seem to be the Doctor's favourite companion anymore. In Episode Five, the Doctor video conferences with his two companions at one point, but specifically only addresses Zoe. He doesn't even seem to notice Jamie stood there with him.

Much as I've started tiring of Jamie lately, I found it to be something of a 'punch the air' moment when he took Zoe to one side and asked her to send him up to the Moon to save the Doctor. Jamie may not be the smartest person currently travelling in the TARDIS, but he'd never let anything happen to the Doctor, and that's where his real strength lies. Fair enough, I guess he can stick around for now.

Right then! The next story should be interesting. The Space Pirates is the last Doctor Who tale with episodes missing, and was rated the worst of the 1960s stories during the Doctor Who Magazine 'Mighty 200' poll. To say that I'm not exactly thrilled to be synching the audio to my phone is putting it mildly…

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