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Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death (Special Edition)

Patrick Troughton , Frazer Hines , Michael Ferguson    Unrated   DVD

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An excellent script, top-notch supporting performances, and a vivid villain make The Seeds of Death an above-average Doctor Who story from the 1960s. The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions, the headstrong Jamie (Frazer Hines) and the intrepid Zoe (Wendy Padbury), arrive in a future Earth where all travel is done by teleportation, a system called T-Mat--but the Ice Warriors have taken over the T-Mat station on the Moon and threaten to conquer Earth. Over the course of six episodes, the Doctor infiltrates the moon base, is nearly killed by toxic bubble bath (as usual, the special effects are fairly primitive), and saves the day. The first two episodes of The Seeds of Death really zip along; the crisp writing (by Brian Hayles) lays out the plot skillfully and the characters actually behave like intelligent human beings. After that, when long-time script editor Terrance Dicks rewrote the story (as discussed in one of the extras), the material takes a turn for the generic and the pace grows sluggish, but there's still fun to be had. While most of the Ice Warriors are a bit laughable, Ice Lord Slaar (Alan Bennion), with his sibilant whisper of a voice, is marvelously creepy. Not only does this story feature the hyper-intelligent Zoe, one of the leading T-Mat managers is the highly competent Gia Kelly (the excellent Louise Pajo), whose skill and authority are treated with respect throughout. A second disk of extra features includes a solid making-of doc and several featurettes about the monsters of Doctor Who, from the Daleks to the Weeping Angels. All in all, good fare from the early years of this classic science fiction series. --Bret Fetzer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to Hissss About May 10 2012
By Phil Rosenbach - Published on Amazon.com
As I am writing this in mid May, 2012, I have to state that this one almost got by me, thinking this "Special Edition" was an older product. But then I realized that this has not yet been released in the US. I got this last year as part of the U.K. Revisitations Box Set - Volume 2, which became available in March 2011. So this is a genuine review, unlike many of the other phonies who post "reviews" before the product is made available to them simply for the sake of making them.

As always, I'm not gong to give a synopsis of the story itself. If you don't know the story by now, there are plenty of other reviewers who will tell you all about it ad nauseam. Rather, I'm going to focus on what I believe will help you decide if this product is worthy of your hard earned wages by reviewing the extras which, in my opinion, can make or break a purchase.

DVD Audio Commentary - With Wendy Padburry, Frazer Hines, director Michael Ferguson, and Terrance Dicks. I actually listen to each and every one of these, and usually enjoy them, especially when Toby Hadoke is NOT a part of it, and fortunately he did not take part of this one.

Text Commentary - This is different from the 2003 version. While I'm glad then when a new a audio commentary may be included, as well as the older one from the previous release, I get irritated that they don't include the old text commentary along with the new one.

Lords of the Red Planet - Is a documentary on the making of "The Seeds of Death. It covers the history of the creation of the Ice Warriors and their creator, Brian Hayes. Frazer Hines, Wendy Padburry, and costume designer Bobbi Bartlet are just a few contributors to this piece. I found this to be interesting and entertaining.

Sssowing the Ssseedsss - Interviews actors Alan Bennion / Slaar, Sonny Caldinez / Ice Warrior, and Make-up supervisor Sylvia James. A previously recorded interview with actor Bernard Bresslaw / Varga is used as well. All four discuss their roles in the program and insight into its production. Not exactly entertaining, but interesting to me none the less.

Monster Masterclass - This is a short interview with director Michael Ferguson who talks about Doctor Who monsters, what makes them credible, and why the fans love them. Not very insightful in my opinion.

Monsters Who Came Back For More! - Nick Briggs and Doctor Who Magazine's assistant editor Peter Ware go over some of their favorite returning monsters as well as those that were only used once on the program. Personally, there's enough similarity between this feature and "Monster Masterclass" that I see no reason they couldn't have been combined into one single feature. This one with Nick and Peter was more enjoyable for me to watch than the previous one with Michael Ferguson.

TARDIS CAM #6 - A short computer generated scene of the TARDIS in a snowy wasteland which in my opinion was not interesting in the slightest.

Photo gallery - Self explanatory.

Some may wonder what makes this different from the 2003 version. This "Special Edition" has an improved picture. Besides that, the following extras on the 2003 version are NOT included for the 2012 release.

* New Zealand Censor Clips
* The Last Dalek
These first two have nothing to do with the actual story in any way, so by not including them, you're not missing out on anything relevant to the story.
* Previous Text Commentary - As stated, is different from the 2012 version.
* The TARDIS Cam 5 in the 2003 version is the same thing as the TARDIS Cam 6 in the 2012 release. So no real difference, just a typo.

Putting my disdain for 2|enterain's recent releases aside, I would rate this re-release at 4 Ssstarsss." MY BOTTOM LINE is that this is A MUST HAVE to anyone of the classic Doctor Who series, and since there are only six Patrick Troughton stories that are complete, it would be a shame not to own all of the ones which are whole.

I hope that this review was helpful to you, and please feel free to express your opinion(s) on my review so that I can hopefully improve upon my future ones. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully, consider my humble opinion(s).
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ice Warriors are back! Who needs the "Special Edition"? Sept. 27 2012
By buckbooks - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the most visually striking, compelling stories of Doctor Who's black-and-white era. After comparing the "Special Edition" with the original DVD release from 2004, I'm not sure the added features you get with the newer version warrant buying it again. (Amazon is, as of this writing, charging about the same for both versions, so if you're new to "The Seeds of Death," go for the new release by all means.)

As best as I can tell, the only thing new to the special edition are three good to middling new mini-documentaries that, respectively, trace the history of the Ice Warriors, look at the use of monsters on the show generally, and compare those iconic monsters that have made repeat appearances in the series. A fourth feature, which includes interviews with actors who played the Ice Warriors, is included with both versions.

In "The Seeds of Death," the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe land on a future Earth, which has given up traditional space travel with rocket ships and now relies on a matter-transmitting device centered on the Moon to ship freight and people all over the world. "T-Mat," as it is called, is hijacked by the Ice Warriors in a plot to alter Earth's climate. The Doctor must persuade Earth's foremost authority on rocket travel (now the curator of a space museum) to take one of Earth's rockets out of mothballs so that he and his companions can fly it to the Moon to sort out the trouble.

Louise Pajo is magnificent in the central female role of Gia Kelly, Commander Radnor's so-called "assistant" who singlehandedly keeps the global T-Mat system running smoothly. The use of lighting in this story is particularly effective, flashing numbers of a countdown, for instance, on Pajo's face to dramatize action that might otherwise be limited to model effects. "Seeds" recycles costumes from the earlier "Ice Warriors" but also introduces Slaar, an Ice Warrior commander with a goggled helmet and scaly skin design that allows him to speak his lines freely rather than have them voiced by another actor. Even Earth's "Security" forces wear cool, low-budget sci-fi costumes.

"The Seeds of Death" is the last story featuring the Second Doctor to survive intact before he, Jamie and Zoe would depart the series in "The War Games." It's a must-have for even the casual Doctor Who enthusiast.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Homerun!!! Sept. 11 2013
By Jim Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I don't usually include a synopsis but I noticed that the other 6 reviews did not include one. So here it is.

At the end of the twenty-first century, a "T-Mat" (Teleportation) has replaced all other forms of transport. Manned space exploration has ceased due to the quality of life on Earth. The Doctor, (Patrick Troughton) Jamie and Zo arrive on Earth at the Rocketry Museum run by Professor Daniel Eldred. When the T-Mat relay station on the moon breaks down the Doctor and his companions volunteer to help Commander Radnor and his assistant repair the relay station by crewing a rocket Professor Eldred has been privately building in hopes of re-igniting an interest in space travel
We cut to the moon where we find the relay station has been taken over in a military coup by unknown invaders. Controller Osgood has been killed while sabotaging the relay system in an attempt to thwart the takeover, and his deputy Fewsham has been pressed into assisting the invaders. Locke (another tech) actively tries to contact Earth and explain the situation, for which he is killed. While technician Phipps concentrates on survival and looking for an opportunity for reprisal. We come to find the Ice Warriors, a militant Martian race, have taken control of the moon base and are planning to use it as a staging point for an invasion of the Earth. Fewsham repairs the T-Mat link on receive mode and Gia Kelly the Commanders underpaid Assistant beams through and starts to work on repairing the full T-Mat system.
After a rather bumpy ride the Doctor and his companions arrive by rocket discovering the situation and make contact with Phipps, who has evaded the Ice Warriors and is hiding in the moon base. The Doctor accidentally reveals himself to the Ice Lord, Commander Slaar, we find true scope of the Ice Warriors plan. They have seeds of a fungus that after being sent to earth will multiply and suck all the oxygen from the atmosphere, making it more comfortable for the Martians but uninhabitable for humans. Once the T-Mat relay is fully repaired, one seed is sent to Earth Control and explodes, killing a technician called Brent and alerting Radnor and Eldred of the danger. The seed soon creates a foam which multiplies its effects and imperils more and more of the Earth. Other T-Mat terminals across the world receive more seeds with similar effects. Radnor takes a while to work out that the seeds seem to have been deposited in a pattern - all in the Northern zone, where the country is facing winter. The Ice Warriors also use T-Mat to dispatch an Ice Warrior to seize Earth's weather control systems in London and ensure good conditions for the growth of the fungus.
Back on the moon Miss Kelly and Phipps work with Zoe and Jamie to stage diversions and attacks against the Ice Warriors. During their main assault to free the Doctor, Phipps is killed. The Ice Warriors have now retreated to their spacecraft to plan the next stage of their invasion, leaving an opportunity for most of the captives to flee the moon base. Fewsham, however, remains behind, seemingly fearing an enquiry into his actions if he returns to Earth.
The Doctor's first action in T-Mat control on Earth is to deduce how to stop the seed pods exploding, and figures out they can be defeated using water. This explains why the Ice Warrior was beamed to the weather control system on Earth. He is to prevent any rain fall that would be deadly to the pods. The Doctor and his allies recapture the weather control system and summon rain, destroying the fungus which is used to the dry conditions on Mars.
Fewsham has meanwhile delivered a crushing blow to the Ice Warriors. He dupes Slaar into revealing in a live link with Earth that the main Martian invasion force is following a homing signal to the Moon, for which he is killed. But at least the Doctor now knows the full extent of the Ice Warrior plans. He decides to return to the moon base and set a new signal for the Martian fleet from there, but knows to do so will be very dangerous. The Doctor uses T-Mat to return to the Moon and confronts Slaar while cleverly substituting an alternative signal. This draws the Martian fleet away and lures it into the Sun. Slaar moves to kill the Doctor in revenge but the arrival of Jamie in a T-Mat cubicle causes chaos, and Slaar is killed in one of the sonic beams of the last of his warriors. Jamie then kills the surviving Martian and the invasion is over. The Doctor and Jamie return to Earth and then make their goodbyes before departing in the TARDIS with Zoe.
Included in this special edition are:

DVD Audio Commentary - With Wendy Padburry, Frazer Hines, director Michael Ferguson, and Terrance Dicks.
Text Commentary - This is different from the 2003 version.

Lords of the Red Planet - Is a documentary on the making of "The Seeds of Death. It covers the history and creation of the Ice Warriors as well as their creator, Brian Hayes. Frazer Hines, Wendy Padburry, and costume designer Bobbi Bartlet are just a few of the notable contributors.

Sssowing the Ssseedsss - Interviews actors Alan Bennion / Slaar, Sonny Caldinez / Ice Warrior, and Make-up supervisor Sylvia James. A previously recorded interview with actor Bernard Bresslaw / Varga is used as well. All four discuss their roles in the program and insight into its production.

Monster Masterclass - This is a short interview with director Michael Ferguson who talks about Doctor Who monsters, what makes them credible, and why the fans love them.

Monsters Who Came Back For More! - Nick Briggs and Doctor Who Magazine's assistant editor Peter Ware go over some of their favorite returning monsters as well as those that were only used once on the program.

TARDIS CAM #6 - A really cool computer generated scene of the TARDIS in a snowy wasteland. Don't know why it was included but I thought it looked neat.

Photo gallery - What's a Special Edition without photo's?

This "Special Edition" reportedly has an improved picture over the 2003 version. I don't own the previous version but with the strides in technology I am willing to grant that the picture quality is better than something released 10 years ago.
I really found this to be worth my hard earned cash. I am actually trying to purchase the Special Editions as they come out. So far I have not been disappointed
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ice Warriors Return to Invade the Earth! March 3 2014
By Keitheaux - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
In this serial, the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe, visit Earth in the late 21st Century, where they discover that a new matter transmitter technology (T-Mat) has revolutionized transportation. The Earth has become totally dependent on goods being teleported via the T-Mat network which has its main hub on a base on the Moon. All other means of transportation has been abandoned, including rocketry.

In this setting, the Ice Warriors make their appearance, taking control of the Moon base. They then institute their grand plan to send the Seeds of Death via T-Mat and make the earth ready for invasion. The Doctor must convince the Earth authorities to allow him to use the last rocket on earth to go to the Moon to thwart their plans.

Overall, the serial was enjoyable, if one overlooks several glaring issues. These include the Doctor convincing the authorities that he and his crew should go to the Moon on the only rocket on Earth (the TARDIS is ruled out as it isn't good at short hops). Another issue is no one seems to be able to reach a destination in space without a guiding beacon to direct them. And the most unlikely is that if one misses the Earth-Moon system, one falls right into the Sun (it is actually 93 million miles away after all). However, in spite off these flaws, there is a lot to like in the serial.

We get to see a Ice Lord for the first time (Slaar), who leads the invasion. The scenes of the Ice Warriors walking about on Earth are very well done. The Seeds of Death are an interesting concept, and are done as well as they can be on a Doctor Who budget. There are some good supporting roles in the production, and these characters add a lot to the dramatic scenes.

The DVD special features are better than average, focusing on the making of the serial itself, a feature about the Ice Warriors, and another about monsters who returned to the series over time.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seeds of Death Dr Who Patrick Troughton April 26 2013
By JKINSPECTOR - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
One of his best series in the 1960s he and his team along with future humands and aliens trying to take over the moon and the earth showed that he could do complex roles especially staged by a cheap budget and the technology the BBC had in those days. A must see if you like sci fi with time lords in the the 1960s!!!!
ARRAY(0xaf105d98)

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