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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Green Death [DVD]  (DVD)
Being one of the very few Doctor Who stories I have never actually seen all the way through, I sat down to watch this in delicious anticipation. I had read the Target novelisation many times over as a lad and knew it was `the one with the giant maggots'. The tale opens in classic Doctor Who fashion with a clearly fated miner trying to escape from an (admittedly clumsy blue-screen) abandoned mine. The miner turns to the camera and his entire face is suffused with a green glow - cut to the mine head where the oily executive in charge of the company is trying to persuade a mob of angry miners that their jobs are safe.
One of the hallmarks of this particular story is its somewhat frustrated ambition. As a novel, the amazing scenes of The Doctor being beset on all sides on the blue planet Metebelis 3 are simply fantastic. On the small screen in 1973 they are almost laughable, but as a Doctor Who fan I remain steadfastly loyal and can recognise this as a brave attempt to bring a magnificent idea to life with very limited resources. The opening episode ends with Jo and a miner hurtling down the mineshaft in a cage that can't be stopped; is this the end for our plucky heroine..? Of course it isn't and episode two sees The Doctor saving the day once more.
The remainder of episode two focuses on the mysterious Global Chemicals and its sinister BOSS - Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor - a computer with a will of its own that is brainwashing those who attempt to investigate, and controlling events through the aforementioned director of the company - Jerome Willis' calculating Stevens. The infamous maggots are introduced in episode three as the body-count rises, and The Doctor, UNIT and dashing young professor, Clifford Jones, seek to combat the growing menace that is BOSS. This is in many ways The Brigadier's episode. He battles with Stevens and is defeated when the Global man brings his powerful government connections to bear. The Brig then defends Jo and rather incongruously joins Dr Jones at the `Nut Hatch' for a dinner of funghi and bizarre entertainment! There is also a ghoulish scene where the brainwashed Global employee Fell is ordered by the computer to kill himself, and Jo and The Doctor watch horrified as he hurls himself from the roof.
A more light-hearted scene sees The Doctor become a little jealous, as Jo's blossoming romance with Professor Jones becomes more obvious to the Timelord. In a poignant scene he tells her that he finally made it to Metebelis 3 and proudly shows her the blue crystal he brought back. Her mind clearly on other things, she dismisses him dreamily, and you see the pained realisation that he has lost yet another companion.
The fourth episode sees the grotesque grubs come into their own, multiplying a thousand-fold and attacking Global strong-arm man Elgin as he sneaks up on Jo - injecting the eponymous gene-altering infection into his arm. The episode is still more memorable for The Doctor's comedy turns as a milkman and then a charlady; disguises he adopts in order to infiltrate the Global Chemicals compound. Pertwee is clearly in his element here, and it is easy to see how he could have made The Third Doctor an overtly comedic figure (thank goodness the producer reined him in!)
Episodes five and six see Professor Jones become infected, much to Jo's distress, and the maggots begin to pupate...
Aside from some dodgy CSO when The Doctor is driving Bessie and a poorly realised giant fly, The Green Death deserves its place as a fan-favourite; it is rare that `classic' Who gives any insight into character and relationships but there is real pathos when The Doctor slips away as Jo and the Professor plan their new life, without him.