Doctor Who-The Seeds of Death (1969)

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Released 2-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Informational Subtitles-Information Text
Featurette-New Zealand Censor Clips
Featurette-The Last Dalek
Featurette-Tardis Cam No.5
Featurette-Sssowing the Ssseedsss
Gallery-Photo
Easter Egg
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1969
Running Time 146:47 (Case: 175)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Ferguson
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Patrick Troughton
Frazer Hines
Wendy Padbury
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music Ron Grainer
Dudley Simpson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Originally broadcast in the UK in 1969, Seeds Of Death is the fifth story of Patrick Troughton's final season as the second Doctor. It also marked the return of the dreaded Ice Warriors, which had proved to be very popular villains in the previous season.

    The Doctor and his companions Zoe and Jamie materialise on Earth sometime in the 21st century, a world where the preferred mode of transport is T-Mat, a method of transmitting matter instantaneously to any intended destination. In it's success T-Mat has rendered all other forms of transportation obsolete, but the infallible T-Mat system starts playing up and a crew is needed to man a vintage rocket to T-Mat's moon control base. The Doctor and his two companions volunteer for the mission, but soon discover that the moon base has been taken over by Ice Warriors who plan to invade the Earth using the T-Mat system.

    Phase one of the Ice Warriors' sadistic plan is put into action, distributing oxygen consuming eggs via T-Mat in an attempt to weaken man's resistance to the imminent invasion. It's up to The Doctor to reverse the effects of the eggs and stop the maniacal Ice Warriors for the sake of all mankind. A Time Lord's work is never done!

    The plot here is so full of holes it resembles Swiss cheese, but that's all part of the fun. These aren't the kind of shows you'd want to be watching for continuity and flawless production. On first look the sets are cheap, the costumes are laughable and boom mike shadows are everywhere, but don't let these flaws put you off. I noted many examples of fantastically artistic camerawork from director Michael Ferguson, making this very rewarding viewing from a historical point of view.

    Patrick Troughton is a much too Chaplinesque and comical Doctor for my tastes - I guess these were the days when Doctor Who was aimed more at children. That's not to say I don't watch Doctor Who for a laugh, because it has cracked me up on many an occasion. I just find it hard to gain any real suspenseful moments when the lead actor is constantly hamming it up. Funnily, Troughton does not appear in episode four as he was on holiday during the week in which the episode was recorded. A stand-in was used for several brief shots of his unconscious body.

    Writer Brian Hayles scripted the previous Ice Warriors story, and is also known for penning Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing's classic thriller Nothing But The Night for the screen, widely considered a classic of British cinema.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The informational subtitles on this disc inform us that all episodes of this story were shot and edited on 2-inch videotape, except for episode five, which was for some reason shot and edited on 35mm film. The video masters were erased after broadcast in 1969, but thankfully all six episodes were transferred to 16mm film for overseas sales. What we have on DVD is a transfer restored from the 16mm archives, and from episode five's original 35mm print.

    Due to the significant frame rate reduction inherent in transferring 50 fps videotape to 25 fps film, quite a bit of fluidity was lost in the image. A restoration process called VidFIRE was used in an attempt to clean and restore the 50 fps appearance of the transfer, with surprising results.

    This transfer is presented in the show's intended aspect ratio of 1.33:1, full frame.

    The level of sharpness is good, with some degree of fine detail evident in the transfer. Shadow detail is not particularly impressive - in the darker scenes I found it hard to discern between some dark objects in the shadows. There was no low level noise.

    This feature is presented in black and white. I couldn't find any examples of solid blacks, I'm afraid.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen, although some slight grain is present throughout the transfer. Aliasing was noticeable on some occasions (138:40) but I didn't find it overly distracting. Minor film artefacts were present, particularly during the miniature and model footage, but as a whole this has been beautifully restored. I can't imagine this film would have had the best possible storage treatment over the years, so the transfer cleaned up surprisingly well, all things considered.

    The English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles appeared to accurately flow with the dialogue.

    Disc one is an RSDL disc, however I couldn't locate a layer change. There is actually a pause between each episode, so it is most likely the layer transition occurs between an episode at some point. Disc two is comprised of extras and is single layered, contrary to the packaging.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    All of the dialogue was relatively easy to understand. For episodes five and six the Ice Warriors' dialogue was noticeably pre-recorded, resulting in some minor lip sync issues.

    There have been many versions of Ron Grainer's brilliant main theme through the years, and this is one of my favourites. The suspenseful incidental music by Dudley Simpson mixes electronic and experimental sounds to great effect.

    I briefly sampled the English audio with Pro Logic II engaged, but this sounded very ordinary. The 2.0 soundtrack has no left or right panning; all dialogue and sound effects are centred. Considering its age, this fares quite well for a TV program.

    As you would expect, due to the very low fidelity of the source there was absolutely no subwoofer response.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menus are animated with scenes from the story and accompanied by audio clips.

    All extras are presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Disc One

Audio Commentary - Frazer Hines (Actor), Wendy Padbury (Actor), Michael Ferguson (Director) and Terrance Dicks (Script Editor)

    This a very interesting and entertaining commentary, and the four seem to get along very well. Terrance Dicks joins the group from episode three onwards, and episode four has only Dicks and Ferguson together. We are given many great anecdotes and insights into the production process, from script to rehearsals and filming. This commentary track is also subtitled.

Informational Subtitles

    Researched by Richard Molesworth, these double up on some information that is offered in the Audio Commentary, but also offer behind the scenes info, bizarre trivia, alternate plot lines and dialogue, even cut scenes. One of the better informational tracks I've read.

Disc Two

Featurette - New Zealand Censor Clips (1:12) 

    From the lost stories The Web Of Fear and The Wheel In Space, a few snippets of violence and action that were cut by the censors, including a hilariously lame head smashing scene.

Featurette - The Last Dalek (9:36) 

    This is simple 8mm home movie footage taken on the set of the lost story The Evil Of the Daleks. Accompanied by a nostalgic commentary by visual effects staff Peter Day and Michaeljohn Harris with some interesting insights into how simple effects were accomplished in the days before CG.

Featurette - Tardis Cam No.5 (1:00) 

    A newly produced clip of the TARDIS sitting in a snowstorm, with some wind effects. I don't really understand the significance, but according to the website these are a series, showing the TARDIS in various locations. Whatever.

Featurette - Sssowing the Ssseedsss (24:06) 

    Features interviews with some of the crew and cast about their experiences during the production. Generally interesting and informative.

Gallery - Photo (5:16) 

    Some behind the scenes and production stills, accompanied by some bizarre, eerie electronic music from composer Dudley Simpson.

Easter Egg (0:59) 

    I came across a hidden bonus on the main menu of disc two. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) If you highlight the 'TARDIS Cam' button, then press the left arrow, a Doctor Who logo is highlighted. Press enter for a short clip of the commentary team cracking up at some dodgy on-screen action.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title is not available in Region 1. The Region 2 and 4 versions seem identical, so I suggest you buy it wherever you can find it cheapest. I have seen this release packaged in a sexy fortieth anniversary sleeve, so collectors should look out for that version.

Summary

    Seeds of Death has been magnificently restored, and will delight any fan of this era of the series. The two discs include a comprehensive and interesting mixture of extras, some of them not related to this story. A must for Doctor Who fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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