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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 8 June 2017
very good
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on 13 November 2014
Filmed up the road from me so essential
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I always loved this story. First watched it as a kid in the 1970s.
The story has a great flow and does make a good point about the environment which is relevant today.
Jon Pertwee is my favorite Dr Who and I believe this series is really what Dr Who is all about.
The new series is very different and I'll leave it at that.
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on 4 March 2015
This is the DW story that gave me the horrors for months. An absolutely fantastic tale of ecological nightmare, meets mutating wildlife and modern day computers taking over the world. There are so many good things to say about The Green Death, that I'll sum it up and say splendidly nightmarish. Of course my nightmares occurred back in 1973, when I was a mere 7 years old. Fast forward, and those dying miners covered in green goo are still effective, the maggots, brilliantly done, the good Doctor in his Milkman and cleaning lady garb, are still hilarious. The extras are fab, and the Mark Gatiss stint is very funny. Well worth the money, and a great piece of TV nostalgia.
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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.

M.B.
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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 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 18 July 2007
My first review of The Green Death stems from 2007, two years after I bought the DVD and more than 30 years since I saw the story. Now, in 2013, I find reason to update it, mainly because this year marks 40 years since the story was originally screened on British television and that Dr Who as a series turns 50 this year.

In 1973 Dr Who's 10th season was highly anticipated and given high media attention via an eye-catching Radio Times front cover of the three Doctors together and a Radio Times Special devoted to the programme. Though the anniversary tale, The Three Doctors, did not live up to everyone's expectations, and the remaining stories were hit and miss, the season closed on a high note with The Green Death. Personally, no other story from the time I watched the Classic Series remained clear in my mind quite as much as this one: I came to forget Carnival of Monsters and Planet of the Daleks rather quickly, so The Green Death was also the first Dr Who story I bought on DVD, although I had not seen it since the edited compilation broadcast over Christmas 1973.

From Stevens Neville Chamberlain-style speech, through to the hatching of the maggot egg, to the final scene of the Doctor driving off in Bessie, silhoetted against the Welsh hillside at sunset, The Green Death is a great story in the Dr Who canon. Setting the story in Wales was quite inspiring, providing the series with probably its best location shoot since The Sea Devils just over 12 months before. Indeed following the recent "other world" based stories, The Green Death returned Dr Who to where the Pertwee era originally started: Earth and tackles themes as relevant today as they were then. Namely: umemployment, corruption in the boardrooms of big companies and environmental pollution. Not the sort of issues you would associate with the series, but that's also what makes it stand out. I could recall a few scenes before I even watched the disc, in particular Professor Jones telling Jo Grant to "shut the door!", the maggot crawling across the floor of the Nuthutch towards Jo as she reads by the glow of the firelight and the aforementioned final scene.

Episode 1 opens with an aerial view of Llanfairfach Colliery (in reality Ogilvie Colliery in Deri, Wales) before switching to a scene of veteran Dalek actor John Scott-Martin in the role of a miner making a monthly inspection of the redundant pit and becoming infected by something green. We then move to the laboratory at UNIT where news has reached them of the goings on in Wales. It is surprising how adamant the Doctor initially is about not getting involved with the affair, claiming he is not a policeman. By the end of the episode however he is starting to take control of the situation. His detour to Metebelis Three is a great scene (apparently filmed in Wales as well) with misty streams, giant reptiles and a large bird. Most significantly, blue crystals grow in abundance there and the Doctor manages to take one back as a souvenir.

Dr Who six-parters generally are criticised for "padding": I find this is kept to a minimum in The Green Death, the most coming in Episode 2 as Jo and Bert the miner attempt to escape from their being trapped. However, one of my favourite scenes is here as the Doctor edges his way around the chemical complex in search of the cutting equipment. Finally, he and Jo discover the effects of the green slime in the form of the maggots. Apart from some poor CSO effects at this point, it is here that the Doctor and Jo also find the vital link between the goings on in the mine and the chemical complex in the form of a shaft leading directly between the two. And they remove the maggot egg - the catalyst to the Episode 3 cliffhanger.

If viewers have watched Day of the Daleks, they will be aware of the discussions that arose as a result of the Doctor being shown enjoying a few glasses of wine. Well, here they are all at it as the UNIT team enjoy an evening meal at the Nuthutch. Personally I see no harm in it as none of the scenes show any negative effects of alcohol can have. With this mini celebration, it would appear all their troubles are over, but this is far from the truth: the gloom of the Nuthutch provides a suitable atmosphere for the Episode 3 cliffhanger.

Episode 4 brings UNIT to the scene in force and Jones the Milk's abusing of the UNIT troops with words about kicking the Prince of Wales up his wall bridges - very nice! The Doctor's powers of persuasions fail as he attempts to prevent the mine being blown up, although acts quite correctly in his capacity as the scientific advisor as he should do: "Mr Stevens, at the moment those maggots and their eggs are situated in a place where we can observe them."

I recall the flushed ooze on the observation hatch as being more disgusting in 1973 and this episode also provides some scientific explanation as to the cause of the events.

The Doctor disguised as a milkman and cleaning lady to get to the heart of the matter is surely included for Pertwee's own pleasure and brings some light comic relief to the procedings. The episode concludes with the Doctor finding out "who lives on the top floor" of Global Chemicals.

Episode 5 has the Professor infected with the slime and and a glaring casting error in the replacement of Elgin by Mr James (watch the production information text for the reasons for this).

Episode 6 features the much-cricised giant fly scene. Once again, it is heavily marred by obviously edited together location and studio footage. The fly itself is not too convincing (even with it's pea soup ejecting bicycle pump - again watch the prodution information subtitles for details) but how does Pertwee dispense with this menace? Forget the sonic screwdriver and even the blue crystal would be useless. Having made an emergency stop in Bessie, the Doctor removes his cloak and flings it over the creature, like a Spanish matador. Great stuff.

As to the cast, Jo Grant is quite determined here to literally put the world to rights , with or without help from the Doctor or UNIT. Her falling for the Profesor is understandable, though he also sees her as not much more than what the Doctor had seen her: an attractive but not very bright girl to hang around with.

The Brigadiers' script is a bit hit and miss: on the one hand selling the idea of the situation to the Doctor with the line "it's exactly your cup of tea. This fellow's glowing bright green apparently. And dead." On the other, he fails to convince Stevens or even the powers that be in Whitehall about the severity of the situation.

Professor Jones is an interesting character: a Nobel prize winning biologist on the one hand, yet still a flour-bag-flinging student on the other. Close behind him comes John Dearth for his portrayal (albeit in voice only) of The BOSS. This starts as a threatening boom in Stevens' office but sadly turns into a farcical speech at the end as he prepares for world domination. Dearth of course would take on a more significant role at the close of the following season as Lupton in Planet of the Spiders.

The prize for best supporting actor however goes to Jerome Willis as Stevens, following on in a long line of shadowy masterminds (Dr Lawrence in The Silurians, Dr Stahlmann in Inferno) here we have another power-hungry misguided individual.

At the top of the totem pole however, sits Jon Pertwee and through watching The Green Death, I am reminded of why he was my childhood hero. He is the very man to prevent world disasters: he positively radiates fatherly warmth and confidence as the horrific events unfold right under our feet. Here, dressed in suitably green velvet jacket, he is as charismatic as ever. As the action Doctor, he gets to prove his worth here: Venusian Akiado, driving a Hi-Mac truck from which he leaps(spot the join as stuntman Terry Walsh makes the actual jump!), stopping the cage as it plunges into the mine by jamming a metal bar into the mechanism, reversing the milk float through the barrier at Global Chemicals. He also uses his powers of persuasion as he delays the Brigadier's order to blow up the mine, as Stevens and BOSS attempt to brainwash him and breaking the hypnotic spell on Mike Yates using the blue crystal before he his about to shoot him. The only time his charm doesn't do the trick is in attempting to prevent the former.

On the subject of the mine blowing up, I have often wondered how events would have turned out if, as a result of this action, the maggots broke their way through to Global Chemicals so that Stevens would realise the true consequences of his actions.

All this is set against a background of Welsh laidbackness, rural countryside and a degree of technology that today could rather be improved by mobile phones and the internet, but nevertheless conveys the seriousness of the danger. The production made good use of the location, but it is a pity that it is intercut with studio shots pretending to be the latter. Lack of finances or time are poor excuses for such things.

As this was the first Dr Who story I purchased on DVD, I'd like to comment on the overall packaging. The cover pulls together important elements of the story - the maggots, the slag heap and the pit head. Like an ominous sunrise behind the pit head is an orange disc, superimposed with an oscilloscope pattern: this of course is The BOSS. And one gets the impression there's going to be trouble at t' mill. Looking over this scene are the Doctor and Jo with concerned looks on their faces. The opening titles to the disc are also impressive: the TARDIS zooming in and out before opening it's doors to the main menu which features a montage of notable scenes from the story. And one realises that Dr Who has really entered the digital age.

One thing that struck me in 2005 upon seeing the story again were the stunning opening titles: the diamond flames, glowing first red then green; the benign face of the series star swimming up before my eyes. They weren't as good as this before (possibly because of them being in black and white) and they were not as good afterwards. Significantly, The Green Death was the last time they were used.

The specials on the DVD range from interesting to not-so-serious. The interviews with writer Robert Sloman and actor Stewart Bevan are good as is model maker Colin Mapson's demonstration on how to make a maggot. The Global Conspiracy mockumentary rather shatters any serious questions raised by issues in the programme, personally I would have preferred a then and now feature of the locations used. The commentry by people involved with the production is good in that each provides their own thoughts about this era of Dr Who.

To conclude my review, I return to the story itself and the final scene of the Doctor driving Bessie along the skyline at sunset, having left the Nuthutch where the engagement party is in full swing. Watch how Pertwee produces the crystal from his pocket and cradles it in both hands as Jo says "it's beautiful". I thought on the initial broadcast that a maggot was going to crawl out of the gloom as the Doctor walked up the path! Most of the reviews here have rightly commented on the impact of this final scene: yes, it is rather touching and reminds me of the conclusion to a drama series rather than a Dr Who story. No review however has mentioned the second great loss to the series at this time. On Monday 18th June 1973, two days after the broadcast of Episode 5 of The Green Death, actor Roger Delgado was killed in a car crash whilst on his way to a location shoot in Turkey. Dr Who would never be the same again.

Through watching this DVD, I was reminded of a couple of other TV shows from the era in which The Green Death was originally broadcast. Firstly, The Brothers, a drama series shown between 1972 and 1976, concerning the trials and tribulations of a haulage company and featuring, coincidentally future Dr Who Colin Baker. Corruption at boardroom level was also a theme dealt with here. Secondly, Owen MD, which if I recall correctly was also filmed in Wales.

Generally a good one and well worth investing in. As I have written before, watch and enjoy.
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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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