Just when you thought the internet had shut up about Doctor Who (at least until Christmas), this: a little more chatter about the Second Doctor, because as I’ve mentioned before, he has been under-watched in my life until recently.
The Seeds of Death had, to be frank, a few silly moments; there is a chase scene which seems ridiculously Scooby-Doo-esque until you realise this episode actually pre-dates Scooby. Which doesn’t make it any less annoying for modern Who tastes, mind, but does alter the perspective slightly.
The story starts out with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe arriving at some kind of Space Museum – which allows for a surprisingly prescient aside about the demise of space travel from Earth, a potential problem for galactic continuity until the recent Kill The Moon episode gave humankind back its curiosity.
The absence of space travel also allows an exploration of how dependence on technology can be a very bad thing. The use of rockets has been superseded by the Travel-Mat or T-Mat (which will later be known as a transmat) – a beam me up Scotty sort of device for the Whoniverse – which is used for basically all transportation requirements around Earth, including food.
The dependence on a single form of technology in this way seems a little far-fetched, but it makes the point and I suppose that’s the important thing – when Martian Ice Warriors try to take over the Earth, their first stop is T-Mat central (on the moon), from where they can control the Earth’s food supply and within a couple of episodes have all but the most primitive tribes under siege and rioting among themselves. Silly, but depressingly feasible.
Weather control technology is also in use in this story, and could conceivably be used by Ice Warriors to make Earth more Mars-like; it’s also theoretically available as and when we outgrow our planet and look to terraform Mars, but stories such as Seeds of Death serve to remind us of mankind’s lack of regard for indigenous life in colonial times by turning the tables.
I did find the Doctor to be in turns melodramatic and whiney at points during this story, which is sort of a shame, but I’ll blame that on a sort of timey-wimey sense that the end for his current incarnation was near. Still, for a bit of Saturday tea-time TV fluff, plenty of sci-fi predictions, food for thought, and the big question which becomes bigger and more relevant day by day: Do we rely too much on technology?
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