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on 1 March 2014
'The Green Death' is the finale of Doctor Who's 10th series and, thankfully, it's a vast improvement on the previous season finale, the unremittingly awful 'The Time Monster'. Over the years this story has fallen victim to what I like to call 'Friends' syndrome, meaning it has been labelled as 'The one with the maggots', there is a great deal more to the story than that.

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.
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on 22 December 2006
Like the previous reviewer, I grew up on Tom Baker and for me he will always be The Doctor (although I love the new stuff). I didn't know much about Jon Pertwee but something about this adventure grabbed my attention, and I'm very glad it did!

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.
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on 16 December 2006
I've always been a staunch Tom Baker fan, he was the doctor that I grew up with and and for me no one else comes close.

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.
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VINE VOICEon 29 November 2004
One of the all time great Doctor Who's, and one I had to buy because I have good memories of watching this when it was first broadcast in 1973. Sadly, it was also Katy Manning's last adventure as Jo Grant; although she had a lovely replacement in Elizabeth Sladen another of my favourite Doctor Who companions. Overall, its a wonderful production with some great locations in a mine and a Chemical Plant (shades of Quatermass 2). The Doctor becomes involved in sinister goings on at a coal mine, and discovers a nearby Chemical Plant may be up to no good. Men are disappearing, some discovered later looking very green indeed! Then its up to the Doctor and the Brigadier battling along with conservationists against giant maggots. Great fun! Good to see Unit involved again with the Doctor. I always thought the best years for the Doctor were between 1970 and 1975 which of course were mainly the Jon Pertwee years until Tom Baker arrived on the scene during 1974. Special effects look primitive of course, but do bear in mind BBC didnt have megabucks to splash around in those days. Picture and sound are very good indeed. The DVD is also enhanced with some extras which I am sure will delight many Doctor Who fans.
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on 24 August 2006
Story: 5/5 - Extras: 4/5

Most often and fondly remembered as "the one with the maggots", Robert Sloman's "The Green Death" is actually notable for a number of reasons, not least of which are a prescient and almost militant anti-globalisation message and, of course, the departure of long-time companion Jo Grant, as played by Katy Manning.

Whatever your political leanings, "The Green Death" is also six episodes of maggot-infested fun, featuring a large number of chronically entertaining Welsh stereotypes, a sinister but whimsical computer, a healthy dose of mind control and also a scientific research station / commune that has set out to end world hunger by developing a new form of high-protein fungus. In charge of this "nuthutch" is the long-haired Professor Clifford Jones, played by Katy Manning's then off-screen partner Stewart Bevan. There is real chemistry between the two characters as a result which, as it turns out, sets events up well for the story's remarkably bittersweet ending.

Back to the important stuff - the effects! As is often the case with 1970s Who, they vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, with some very well realised (and entirely repulsive) giant maggots combined with the all-to-frequent and entirely unconvincing use of CSO technology (also known as Chromakey) that so blights this particular season of the programme. There are some very nice explosions, but watch out for the giant fly in episode six.

Jon Pertwee is on excellent form here, and helps to redeem the show after the slightly dismal outings that were "The Three Doctors" and "Carnival of Monsters". Pertwee's lead, an intelligent script by Sloman and excellent performances from all the key players (particularly Jerome Willis as the sinister Stevens, director of Global Chemicals) combine to deliver the classic slice of Who that season ten so badly needed.

The special features on the DVD are more limited than usual, but an enjoyable commentary is led by a raucous Katy Manning along with producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, whilst the highlight among the featurettes is "Global Conspiracy" - an investigative report into the sinister goings-on in Llanfairfach, starring "The League of Gentlemen"'s Mark Gatiss as Terry Scanlon. Stick around and you'll even learn how to build your very own giant maggot.
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on 12 March 2004
My first professional acting role! I played a 'Unit Soldier' in this series, and had 2 lines and shot at giant maggots in the cold Welsh Hills! Needless to say, the bullets bounced off and the tension mounted until the Doctor solved the riddle of how to rid the earth of the maggots (who evolved, I understand into large and deadly flying insects!) Jon Pertwee (sadly missed) at his best, keeping the tension going with his young female protege and her 'young man', who steals her heart, to the chagrin of the Doctor....excellent 'goodies vs baddies' stuff, rebelling against 'authority' who keep the public in the dark and the lid on potential environmental disasters....sound familiar, Mr Blair? - Enjoy!
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1974's The Green Death is another typical Robert Sloman / Barry Letts "of the time" adventure that deals with a variety of pressing issues. In this his 3rd story for Doctor Who, Robert Sloman addresses the issue of Ecology and the environment. To this end the story is rather successful, it draws on concerns at the time and mixed with a few special effects and a love story and what you get is a brilliant departure for Katy Manning's Jo Grant. During the previous year, Roger "The Master" Delgado was tragically killed in a motor accident, this along with Katy Manning leaving the series and the gradual phasing out of UNIT and the Brigadier let to Jon Pertwee deciding that his time inside the police box was coming to its natural end. Thusly, The Green Death marks the end of the more familiar Third Doctor. When the series returned to BBC1 the following year, the title sequence, companion and overall style of the series had changed drastically.

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. Nick Courtney's Brigadier is always an added treat to any Doctor Who story and here he injects some much needed humour, the Brig always manages to cheer me up. Sergeant Benton and Captain Mike Yates are also here for this finale, Yates playing an undercover government spy. His scenes with Jon later in the adventure are some truly priceless moments.

As for the villains, Stevens is extremely well portrayed by Jerome Willis, his emotionless performance was inspiring and really added to the already brilliant storyline. And then we have BOSS as played / voiced by John Dearth, beautifully I might add, BOSS is one of the better one-time villains that Doctor pulled out of the bag and I hope that "he" makes a return at some point in the future series. And finally, whilst we're on the subject of villains and monsters, the giant green maggots, unfortunately the most remembered part of this classic tale. They are not as well realised as BOSS, but still, I suppose they work on a more deep routed sense of fear.

As for the production. The design work here is fantastic, BOSS is very well realised and as for the mines and tunnels, it took me a while to realise that it was a set it was so real. The other sets and model work are equally brilliant. The location work as shot here is fantastic, some of the best for the series, not a quarry in sight. The Maggots and the Fly are less successful but do their job in entertaining and frightening the wee ones. Robert Sloman's highly left wing opinions leaked in to Doctor Who through his scripts, especially his last two contributions "Green Death" and "Planet of the Spiders". Although I know Barry Letts had a lot to do with the political and social undertones, I feel sure that both Letts and Sloman were thinking on the same wave length.

On a final note, the ending to this story brakes my heart every time I watch it so be warned. Jon Pertwee quietly slipping away from the ensuing party into the cold and dark night in Bessie is one of the most emotional television moments in history for me. So sad. Poor Jon.

On a lighter note, the BBC DVD boasts this classic serial with wonderfully remastered episodes provided by the Doctor Who Restoration Team and it looks so much better than it did on the 1996 VHS release. The only disappointing thing about the DVD release was the insufficient bonus content, 3 mini documentaries with cast and crew. Not what I would call adequate, but at least they are fascinating and quite entertaining at times. What more can I ask for?

Overall, The Green Death in my opinion marks the end of the true Jon Pertwee era, Jo Grant's departure from Doctor Who was never expected to be such an emotional affair, but at least everybody goes out in style. Highly recommended. 10/10.

Many thanks for your time, its greatly appreciated.

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on 25 February 2005
The brilliant work by the Beeb's DVD restoration team is literally changing the way people view Who and shaking up received fan wisdom; this masterful release makes a case for the PERTWEE era as the show's best and THE GREEN DEATH as the dandy action man's finest outing. Buffed up to perfection and groaning with fine add-ons (LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN's Mark Gatiss in MAN ALIVE mode, anyone?) the star of the show (apart from the mighty 'Wee, of course, magisterial here) is the commentary track, where companion KATY MANNING, script ed. TERRANCE DICKS and producer BARRY LETTS quip, riff and blub through two-and-a-half hours of sci-fantasy magic (LETTS's groans when he suddenly remembers the giant fly 'special' effect is coming up are worth £13.75 of anyone's hard-earned). And then there's that into-the-sunset ending... it never got better than this, chaps.
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on 10 July 2008
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.
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2008
Get yer handkerchiefs out young fellows. This is the time for such escapades as you might dream of, yet nothing so enchanting as this.

It's all perfectly ridiculous. Maggots? Chemical waste? Miners? Welsh Hippies?

Don't believe a word of it. This is an utterly drippy love story, it's scarcely anything else and I tell you, either I'm getting far too old, or maybe I actually grew up some time in the waste of the last few decades and this was all what it was about to begin with.

It starts with Jon going off ostensibly to get something glittery and blue from some place or other and ends with him driving away, lost, forlorn and within earshot of the sounds of distant merriment, exiled and I will never speak to you nor buy you a pint if you don't admit right out that you aren't affected by that.

It's interesting, because it has taken this long to see how closely the new Doctor and his stories are based SPECIFICALLY on this story. It's uncanny; Professor Jones might seem a bit idealistic but witness it for Pete's sake - it's so fresh and original in these worn out and jaded times, it's virtually avant garde.

So it damn well should be. Biologists living in a commune in South Wales? Actualy, why not; I knew some characters like this a long time ago, bless you John, and Dave and the other characters (you know who you are) and ironically, it was only when that era had passed by ten whole years that I recognised the congruence and bitterly regretted the lost days. Despite this, don't think that this lot aren't aware of the silliness of it all - there are two "after the fact" productions here to have a giggle at, though there are some serious unanswered questions for any ambitious writers. Hint! Go on then!

And after all this, there is the BOSS. Oh, nothing compares with this - in the 1970's this really was a proper computer; And incidently, the piece you were wondering about is Beethovens violin concerto in D minor. Watch the final bit and all will be clear.

There's a moral conclusion here, though actually there are several, and I don't know which one I like best. You can select your own.

Katy Manning is so very, very good at this, and now seems to be aware of how much adoration she always engendered; She's kind of like a hybrid between one of the Liver Birds and a cuddly version of Emma Peel from the Avengers (She's going to beat the stuffing out of me the next time I see her at a convention for that); She has warmth and character in abundance and you would be amazed that she didn't get her own spin off series after this. But of course, there we were in the 1970's and we didn't DO that back then. More's the pity. She was wonderful, and incidently, please note, still is; appearing presently as a certain Wildethyme lady. Be sure to look her up. Unit are wonderful, and more than resemble the signals regiment I was in when I was in Perth all those years ago. As for Jon, and the Brig and the others, read them and weep.

They just don't make them like this any more.
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