Customer Review

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An undeniable classic, 8 Mar. 2003
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
This is Doctor Who at its best: imaginative, resourceful and lovingly made by all concerned. First on a long list of things to praise is the tautly written script. The first episode in particular is terse and cogent, a contrast to the careless sloppiness of quite a few other Doctor Who stories. With so many four-part stories you get the sense that there is enough material for six parts, just not the money, but here you get to see just how good the series could be when invested in with enough money to do its ideas justice. It therefore lacks the rushed tendencies of many four-part stories, but also lacks the feeling that it's been stretched to six. This is Doctor Who in the hands of a confident writer and a confident director. You can easily forget the exceedingly dodgy science.
The acting is also worthy of praise. Doctor Who has had its fair share of cheap extras in its time, going over the top and giving the series a reputation for being a pantomime. That can't be said for this particular story. The extras aren't merely people to be killed by the monsters or help the Doctor defeat them, they are people in their own right, and we get the impression that they have a history and motivations, even when they're only in minor roles. Of particular merit is the old gentleman who designed the last rocket ship before space travel was replaced by the revolutionary T-Mat transportation technology, and Miss Kelly, the feisty chief technician for T-Mat on Earth who actually manages to appear authoritative and isn't patronisingly put into a mini skirt.
Patrick Troughton, nearing the end of his tenure, looks comfortable and assured in the role. He gets to do a bit of his usual clowning, but as with the best Doctor Who stories, we are left to wonder by his performance if perhaps the Doctor isn't quite as ahead of the game as he likes to think he is. In a particularly welcome twist, it is the Doctor who gets captured by the Ice Warriors, not Jamie and Zoe, even though it looks like they're wandering into that particular clichéd plot device, as so often happens in inferior stories when they're running out of steam.
If there's one niggle, it's the Ice Warriors, who do tend to lumber about in their baggy rubber suits. Beyond that, though, the production values are far better than the original series of Star Trek, which was being made at the same time. As villains, the Ice Warriors are hardly Daleks or Cybermen, though they do manage to get a lot closer to conquering Earth here than their more popular franchise mates do on occasion. Their plan is not only quite crafty but also particular evidence of this story's resourcefulness. By sending a fungal virus to wipe us out first, the story can be restricted to sets for the moonbase, T-Mat control, a space rocket cockpit, a few exterior locations and a weather control centre. Yet it retains the feel of being an epic.
This is a two DVD set, with the six-part story on the first disc and a small mountain of extras on the second, the most interesting of which was the lost footage from The Evil of the Daleks. This is a much longer edit of some footage featured on the Tomb of the Cybermen DVD, this time with a commentary as well.
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