Featuring the third incarnation of the Doctor--Jon Pertwee's patriarchal renaissance man--The Green Death
is a solid addition to the Doctor Who
canon. Originally broadcast in May 1973, it may now have dated a little, with its vegetarian hippies and "boyo" Welshmen, but it has all the elements of classic Who
, the Doctor encountering green-glowing dead bodies, a shadowy mastermind, a global conspiracy, brainwashing, a megalomaniacal supercomputer and, of course, giant maggots.
This story, the final sequence of Pertwee's penultimate season, reached the TV ratings Top 10, and fittingly, met high production standards. The environmental message, while facilitating Who's ongoing individual-freedom motif, also proved prophetic in its warnings of globalisation and pollution. The special effects, though admittedly dated now, were good for their time and budget--the stop-motion photography of the maggots and the front-axial projection used for the pulsating green skin are particularly effective. The well-crafted script manages to combine monsters, punch-ups and cliffhanger endings with cerebral concepts, human drama and erudite references to Beethoven and Oscar Wilde--the single tear of the reformed villain as he destroys his paymaster is just one of the subtle touches distinguishing this work. The Green Death's six filler-free episodes belong to the Golden Age of Doctor Who, and their denouement is one of the most poignant in the series' long history.
On the DVD: the Beeb, as always, have gone to town on the picture, with the images and colours scrubbing up nicely for their age. Sadly there are none of the usual nostalgia-inducing contemporaneous news features, but there is an amusing mockumentary starring The League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss. The interviews with writer Robert Sloman and actor Stewart Bevan will also give fans some extra insights--particularly Bevan's revelation that the actors were discouraged from rehearsing the final scene so as to give it genuine emotional intensity. --Paul Eisinger
UNIT is called in after a miner from the Welsh village of Llanfairfach is found dead, his skin glowing bright green. Jo joins forces with a local environment group, led by Professor Clifford Jones, while the Doctor investigates the nearby plant of a company called Global Chemicals. They discover that the mine workings are full of giant maggots and green slime - both lethal to touch - that have been produced by chemical waste pumped from the Global plant. Stevens, the Director of Global has been taken over by the BOSS - Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor - a computer with a will of its own. The BOSS plans to seize power by linking itself to every other major computer in the world, but the Doctor uses a blue crystal - a souvenir from a brief visit to the planet Metebelis 3 - to break its hold over Stevens, who then programs it to self destruct. The maggots, on the point of pupating into giant insects, are destroyed with a type of fungus. Jo falls in love with Professor Jones and decides to leave UNIT in order to accompany him on an expedition up the Amazon - and to marry him. The Doctor gives her the blue crystal as an early wedding present.