Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Mars versus the Moon

No Doctor had greater capacity for panic than the Second Doctor. Sometimes Five came kind of close but Two uniquely gives me that sense of someone about to melt down completely in utter terror. Here he nearly succumbs to the horror of deadly soap suds from the good 1969 serial The Seeds of Death--not to be confused with the Fourth Doctor serial, The Seeds of Doom.

These seeds come courtesy of the Ice Warriors, most of this serial having been written by Brian Hayles, who wrote the first Ice Warrior serial. This is the second and features the lumbering saddle-bagged menace exploiting Earth's dependence on T-Mat and the technology's relay system on the moon. This was the first story to feature Doctor Who's answer to Star Trek's transporter beam, the Transmat or T-Mat, a device still commonly mentioned by name in Doctor Who media to-day.

The Seeds of Death begins with the TARDIS appearing in a private museum to rocket technology owned by Earth's pre-eminent rocket engineer, Professor Eldred (Philip Ray), who's grown bitter about his life's work having been rendered irrelevant by the T-Mat. In fact, he's so bitter that the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) has to pitch in on coaxing Eldred to go back to work when a sudden disruption of the T-Mat creates a need for a rocket.

The first episode spends so much time on Eldred (not to be confused with Eldrad from The Hand of Fear) it's a little odd he's shuffled into an inconspicuous support role for most of the remaining five episodes. More important is the pretty know-it-all named Gia Kelly (Louise Pajo) who seems to hold in her head the sum total of Earth's expertise in Transmat. A scene where she and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) rig up a trap for the Ice Warriors made me contemplate a series starring the two where they go about solving problems and losing patience because no-one can keep up with them.

This serial was also the first appearance of one of the Ice Warrior commanders (Alan Bennion). This one doesn't have the cape seen on the commanders in the two Peladon serials, making his head look a bit oversized and, in comparison to the foot soldier variety, his body exceptionally slender.

I like how often actors are placed in front of this pulsating background, there's a sort of groovy 60s concert quality to it.

I also like that it didn't take much convincing for Earth's authorities to assign Jamie (Frazer Hines) to the rocket team. No-one questions the wisdom of going into space in a kilt. Zoe was sensible enough not to wear a skirt.

Aside from the fourth episode in which Patrick Troughton is conspicuously absent (he was on holiday) it's a solid serial in which the Doctor plays a nice, active role in the end.
Tags: doctor who, patrick troughton, television, the seeds of death, tv show
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