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Doctor Who: The Green Death - Special Edition [DVD]
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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.
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Watching "The Green Death" now comes as something of a surprise as the issues it deals with are still so current - industrial pollution, alternative energy sources, preserving the environment. There is even a reference to a "mushroom-based protein" - the writer (Robert Sloman) has predicted the invention of Quorn! This striking of a chord with a modern audience leads you to overlook shortcomings like the stereotypical Welshmen (who do actually say "boyo" and "isn't it" after most sentences)!
The shoestring-budget special effects have dated reasonably well, and the acting and script are strong throughtout. There is a genuine poiganancy as the story comes to a close - The Doctor's relationship with Jo Grant is obviously a bit ambivalent, and this creates a bittersweet tone as Jo becomes closer to the character of Professor Jones ("he reminds me of a younger you!"). The final scene where a downcast Jon Pertwee makes his quiet and solitary exit from the party may actually choke you up a bit (it did me).
I have to admit my almost complete ignorance of the two Doctors before Pertwee, and Tom Baker fans may find Pertwee's headmasterish version of the Doctor a bit jarring at first, but stick with it - this is one of the best of the earlier Doctor Who adventures I've ever seen, and well worthy of its five stars.
I enjoyed the recent series with Eccleston and the current doctor is very good but the original series will always hold a special place in my heart. Yes the effects are dodgy by today's hi-tech standards but it's amazing to see how resourceful the good old BBC production team could be on such a limited budget and the stories are, for the most part, excellent.
So recently I decided to cheat on good old Tom and try a Jon Pertwee story instead (how could I) and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. I've seen Jons doctor in clips of course but never watched one of his episodes all the way through until now.
The Green Death is a fantastic and enjoyable story and on the strength of this I will be buying more Pertwee stories in the future. Jon wherever you may be - you have a new fan.
As with pretty much all Jon Pertwee serials, this one is one of my personal favourites, having grown up watching the Pertwee years on endless amounts of UKTV Gold repeats. I loved this story back then for the giant maggots, but now some 10 years or more on, I like to think that the story appeals more to my intellectual side. Professor Clifford Jones is one of the main characters in this story and plays the love interest of Jo Grant, this story being one of the few occasions that Who did a love storyline. You do get a feeling that there is genuine affection between Jo and Jones, although I suppose it helped that Katy Manning was Stuart Bevan's real life squeeze.
Its nice to see all the UNIT gang back together for one last outing before the eventual break-up.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Goes on a bit, but worth the effort. Not one of my favourites, but well-worth it to see a doctor who is, alas, no longer with us. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Archie Brown
These BBC productions never fail to please. Bought to replace the VHS versions, the Dr Who chronology is a glimpse into the growth and development of the BBC broadcast.Published 3 months ago by cool as cats in shades
All you need to say about this story is...it's the one with the maggots!Published 10 months ago by Susan Foreman
The Green Death
I am not sure why this is acclaimed as a classic. I'd give the good episodes a 7, the others a 6, and average it 6. Read more