Doctor Who: The Green Death
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Another adventure for everyone's favourite Time Lord. UNIT is called to a sleepy mining town in South Wales to investigate the mysterious death of a miner in an inactive pit. The Wholeweal environmental community believe that a local chemical company has something to do with the death, and when the Doctor heads a mission down the mines he discovers thousands of maggots surrounded by poisonous slime. Further investigation at the chemical works reveals the owner to be under the malign influence of a sentient computer, BOSS.
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Jon Pertwee's performance as the Doctor is excellent throughout and Katy Manning gives one of her finest showings as departing companion Jo Grant. The scenes the two share throughout the story are very touching with Jo becoming increasingly independent of the Doctor and the Doctor becoming aware that she will soon leave him. The scene at the end where they say their farewells to each other is beautifully acted by both Pertwee and Manning and the final shot of the story, with the Doctor driving off in the sunset, is stunning. While Pertwee excels at the emotional stuff, he also provides some laughs when he does a hilarious impression of an aged Welsh milkman complete with glasses, a moustache and a Welsh accent.
The script handles Jo's departure very well, building up to it in a logical manner over the six episodes rather than simply rushing it at the end. Jo's relationship with Professor Jones actually gets to (gasp!) develop in a convincing manner.
Nicholas Courtney is, as ever, on form as the Brigadier. Although this is a UNIT story, Yates and Benton don't appear until the fourth episode, nonetheless Yates gets some really good material going undercover and showing a lot of courage. Benton, on the other hand, isn't much of a presence here. Jerome Willis gives a very strong performance as the misguided yet charming villain Stevens.
The story is impressively staged throughout. There is a vast amount of impressive location filming (a trademark of the Pertwee era if ever there was one) and its nice to see the production team going beyond the confines of home counties England for a change. There are some nice action sequences including the peculiar spectacle of the Doctor making a getaway from Global chemicals in a milk float.
The episode one sequences set on Metebelis 3 are very impressive (and far better than the Metebelis 3 scenes in 'Planet of the Spiders') with very effective blue lighting. The giant maggots, with their teeth and hissing noises, are terrifying and a masterpiece of design work. By the end you don't really remember that they are rarely seen to attack anyone.
The story is some distance from perfect; it would be difficult to imagine how its portrayal of the Welsh could have been any more patronising or caricatured. The Welsh characters have cliched accents and they say 'boyo' a lot. Additionally the Doctor demonstrates his (shudder) Venusian aikido, which looks feeble. And there's also the overly ambitious giant fly, which could (and should) have been omitted; it looks terrible. It's rather convenient that the fungus just happens to be both poisonous to the maggots and a cure for the virus. The plot strand with the BOSS computer is a bit daft.
Despite its flaws 'The Green Death' is still very good and one of the best Pertwee stories.
All the extras from the original 2004 DVD release have also been included on this special edition. These include 'Global Conspiracy?' a 10 minute spoof news report, hosted by Mark Gatiss (as Terry Scanlon), about maggots and the green death in Llanfairfach. It is quite funny.
There are also interviews with writer Robert Sloman and actor Stewart Bevan (who played Professor Jones) both of which are good. 'Visual Effects' is a very interesting interview with visual effects designer Colin Mapson. Mapson talks about the maggots, model work and the Metebelis 3 sequences among other things. He also demonstrates how to make a giant maggot.
The new extras for this release are actually rather good. By far the best new extra is 'Death of the Doctor' a two part story from 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' which features Elizabeth Sladen, Katy Manning and Matt Smith together. It's great to see Jo/Manning and Sarah Jane/Sladen together sharing their memories and Matt Smith is brilliant as usual.
'The One with the Maggots' is the usual 'making of' documentary. It clocks in at 26 minutes and is informative as these things always are.
'Doctor Forever- The Unquiet Dead' is a good 23 minute feature which explains how Doctor Who came to be resurrected in 2005. It features interview footage with Russell T Davies and Jane Tranter.
If you don't own the original 2004 DVD release then I would certainly recommend this special edition, some very nice new extras make purchasing this worth considering even if you do.
The Doctor after his little trip in the Tardis to Metebelis 3 joins Jo Grant and The Brigadier with the rest of UNIT in Wales and start to become suspicious of the Global Chemicals factory and who the real BOSS is and his intentions.
This is the first story to tackle ecological issues that have become even more relevant in todays society with the state of the planet and global warming which were in it's infancy back in 1973 when this story was first shown.
For people of a nervous disposition maybe look away when giant maggots appear on the screen, as usual the Brigadier orders UNIT at first to shoot them with bullets and then calls in air support to bomb them from above to try and kill them, the Doctor discovers that a certain type of fungus will kill them completley and calls in the help of some eco warriors ie Professor Clifford Jones who has a eureka moment whilst trying to find a way to stop the maggots.
This is the last story for Katy Manning as Jo Grant and it is perfect how she goes out fighting to protect the planet to make a difference with Professor Clifford Jones who asks her to marry him so they can go to the Amazon together.
We also get on Disc 2 The Sarah Jane Adventure - The Death Of The Doctor which sees Katy reprise her role along with Elisabeth Sladen for this 2 parter in which they know in their heart that the doctor is in no way dead and who is telling lies. We get commentary on this episode with Katy Manning and the man who brought the show back Russell T Davis.
The One with Maggots talks to the cast and crew about the making of this story.
We have commentary on all 6 six episodes with Russell T Davis sitting along with Katy Manning, Barry Letts Terrance Dicks Richard Franklin
Their are loads of other extra features and well worth the money.
The way the Doctor says goodbye to Jo is very poignant as this marks the end of an era as at the start of the new season would be Jon Pertwees last.