‘THE GREEN DEATH’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The One with the Maggots
This is Jo Grant’s final regular appearance as a companion in ‘Doctor Who’!
‘The Green Death’ is a six-part adventure by Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts). It was the last story of Season 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. It is one of my Dad’s favourites and it’s a lovely swansong for Jo Grant.
I purchased the original DVD of this story on a trip to town in Cardiff in 2009. My parents and I enjoyed this story very much, as it is has some strong social messages and features giant maggots.
‘The Green Death’ was originally released on DVD back in 2004. It has now been re-released as a 2-disc Special Edition DVD in 2013. It has the story on Disc 1 and brand-new special features on Disc 2.
The inspiration for this story came when producer Barry Letts was concerned about pollution ruining the environment throughout the world in the 70s. Script editor Terrance Dicks suggested doing a ‘Doctor Who’ story about the ecology and Barry, with Robert Sloman, came with ‘The Green Death’.
The story takes place in the valleys of South Wales (another good aspect of the story) in Llanfairfach. Mysterious deaths occur at the disused mine in Llanfairfach, as people’s skin gets turned into green. It all connects to the nearby factory of Global Chemicals, run by the mysterious Mr. Joselyn Stevens.
Eco-warrior Professor Clifford Jones tries to stop the capitalism image run by Global Chemicals, and Jo leaves the Doctor to join the young professor in his campaign. But something serious goes on as the Doctor and U.N.I.T. are summoned to investigate and giant maggots crawl out of the slag heaps.
I liked the ideas running throughout this adventure. It was interesting how producer Barry Letts put his take on the ecological issues of the world in ‘Doctor Who’. Something like ecological issues doesn’t get tackled very often in ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s also unique how it’s depicted in a 70s setting.
I liked the contrast of who’s right and who’s the enemy. The methods of Clifford Jones’ eco-friendly methods seem very reassuring, compared to the methods of Global Chemicals which seem filthy and slimy. This is emphasised in the chemical wastes poured out and the giants maggots from that place.
The highlight of ‘The Green Death’ for me is of course Jo Grant. I love Jo as the Third Doctor’s companion in Jon Pertwee’s era of the show. Katy Manning delivers wonderful performances as Jo. It was interesting and lovely to see how well-handled Jo’s departure was in ‘Doctor Who’ in the 70s.
Jo clearly loves the Doctor, but her decision to leave him clearly demonstrates how grown up she is from her first appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. Jo leaves the Doctor to help Professor Clifford Jones in his campaign to protect the environment of the world and soon falls in love with the young professor.
Jon Pertwee is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure. I liked the action-packed style of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in this one, as well as his elegant nature and manner. The Doctor clearly loves Jo. I liked how Jon displays the emotions in the Doctor and how he reacts when she decides to leave him.
I liked the confrontation scenes he has when he opposes Stevens; the B.O.S.S. computer and their beliefs. I also liked it when he has scenes with Clifford Jones and how they work well as scientists. I also like the comedy moments when Jon’s Doctor dresses up as a milkman and as the cleaning lady.
This story has the Doctor visit the planet Metabellis III at last and for the first time. But it isn’t the planet he was hoping for, as it is a terrifying place as seen in ‘Episode One’. The Doctor manages to get a blue sapphire crystal from that planet. He puts it to good use when clearing any person’s mind.
Nicholas Courtney excels as the Brigadier in this tale. I like how he gets involved with the strange goings-on happening at Llanfairfach and Global Chemicals. His bewilderment of the unusual is very believable in this story and I liked the scenes he shares with the Doctor and Jo throughout this story.
I found it interesting to see him in normal civilian clothes compared to the standard Brigadier’s uniform he wears. I also found it amusing when he gets entranced by the glow of the Metabellis III crystal the Doctor has. There are nice scenes when the Brigadier’s interested in Clifford Jones’ work.
Richard Franklin returns as Captain Mike Yates. This is an interesting story for Mike, as he goes undercover at the Global Chemicals factory, acting as a government official. He’s sent there by the Brigadier to obtain information about the mysterious goings-on happening at Global Chemicals itself.
I liked the scenes when Mike discovers the Doctor and jokes about him in his cleaning lady’s clothes. Mike has a tough time as he gets taken over by the B.O.S.S. computer at some stage. He’s soon saved by the Doctor, who uses his Metabellis III crystal to clear his mind and free him of the control.
John Levene is great as Sergeant Benton. I liked the scenes he has with the Doctor when they both out in Bessie, the Doctor’s car, driving out on the slag heaps to rescue Jo and Clifford Jones and also to stop the maggots. Benton’s lines of giving the maggots their ‘yum-yums’ was pretty amusing here.
I also liked it when Benton shares more with the Brigadier, when there’s either tension between them or when they discuss a current situation about destroying the maggots on the slag heaps. I also liked Benton’s scenes when he meets Jo and Clifford Jones simultaneously when on the slag heaps.
Stewart Bevan guest stars as Professor Clifford Jones. Stewart was actually Katy Manning’s one-time boyfriend during the making of this story. It was nice to see both Katy and Stewart together. It suited the romantic atmosphere required between Jo and Cliff and Stewart also does a good Welsh accent.
I liked Clifford Jones’ enthusiasm about protecting the environment and when he shows concerns about the mysterious deaths happening at the disused coal mine and connecting it to Global Chemicals. I also liked Cliff’s concern for Jo when she’s in trouble and gradually has feelings for her.
Jerome Willis guest stars as Stevens, manager of Global Chemicals in Llanfairfach. I liked the suave performance Jerome gives as Stevens, making him seem not too obvious as a villain and is clearly a victim of being under the control of his real ‘boss’. It’s an interesting journey for Stevens’ character.
Stevens seems a normal person at first, and representing the image of capitalism at Global Chemicals. Despite his charm, he seems unwilling to help save people trapped down in the disused mine and he orders more waste to be disposed. Stevens is directly linked to the B.O.S.S. computer.
The guest cast also includes Tony Adams as Elgin; Mitzi McKenzie as Nancy (or Mum); Ben Howard as Hinks, Steven’s henchman; John Rolfe as Fell; Roy Skelton as James. There’s also Talfryn Thomas (who played Cheesman in ‘Dad’s Army’) as Dave; Roy Evans as Bert and Mostyn Evans as Dai Evans.
The monsters in this story are the giant maggots. These maggots are so impressive for their time. Even today, I find them scary-looking and they must have scared the living daylights out of children back in 1973. They’re not easy to kill and can easily kill you with one bite when they come in contact.
The ‘boss’ of Global Chemical is the B.O.S.S. computer itself (voiced by John Dearth). B.O.S.S. stands for Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor. The B.O.S.S. is a supercomputer that can control people’s mind including Stevens’. It is a very megalomaniac machine and loses the plot by the end.
Eventually the day is saved and Global Chemicals is no-more. But Jo decides to leave the Doctor and marry Cliff, as they go off to the Amazon to find a new fungus. Everybody is happy for Jo and Cliff as they announce they’re getting announcement. The Doctor is saddened despite him wishing Jo well.
I found that last scene very touching and heartbreaking to watch. It was very moving when the Doctor and Jo have their last scene together, establishing that Jo’s travels with the Doctor have come to an end. The Doctor clearly doesn’t want Jo to leave him, and he leaves in silence at the end.
I liked how Jo and Cliff fall in love with each other and get engaged to be married at the end. It’s a nice way to end a companion’s time in ‘Doctor Who’. I did wonder though whether their marriage would last and thankfully it has, as Jo is still married to Cliff by ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ in 2011.
The last shots of the Doctor driving off in Bessie as he leaves the Nut-Hutch in Wales were very moving to watch. The shots of the sun in the night-sky as the Doctor drives off in Bessie are inspirational by director Michael E. Briant. It establishes the end of a chapter in the Third Doctor era.
The original DVD special features are as follows. There’s an interview with Robert Sloman; an interview with Stewart Bevan and an information text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also ‘Global Conspiracy?’, an enjoyable special investigative report, starring Mark Gattis as Terry Scanlon.
There’s also ‘Visual Effects’, which is an interview with assistant visual effects designer Colin Mapson, talking about his work on ‘The Green Death’. There is also a photo gallery of the story.
There’s also a commentary with Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks on the story. There’s also a special Easter Egg to look out for on the main menu on this DVD disc.
On Disc 1 of the 2-disc special edition DVD, there are some bonus commentaries. There’s one with Richard Franklin and Mitzi McKenzie, moderated by Toby Hadoke on ‘Episodes Three-Five’. There’s also a one with Katy Manning and executive producer and writer Russell T. Davies on ‘Episode Six’.
On Disc 2 of the 2-disc special edition DVD, there’s a new making-of documentary called ‘The One with the Maggots’, featuring cast and crew interviews. There’s also a ‘Wales Today’ compilation of two pieces of the BBC Wales news programme. There’s a silent 1973 film and also a 1994 news item.
There’s also the ‘Doctor Forever – The Unquiet Dead’ documentary, focusing on the revival of ‘Doctor Who’ in 2005. There’s also ‘What Katy Did Next’ and ‘The Sarah Jane Adventure –Death of the Doctor’, which contains the story and two commentaries by Katy Manning and Russell T. Davies.
There’s also a ‘Radio Times Listing’ PDF of the story and a coming soon trailer for ‘The Ice Warriors’ with Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling. There are two Easter Eggs on this disc, including a new one for this DVD.
‘The Green Death’ is a wonderful, thrilling ‘Doctor Who’ story from the Third Doctor era. It features some great visual effects with the giant maggots and it is also very important for featuring the departure of the lovely Katy Manning as Jo Grant. This is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that will never be forgotten!
‘The Green Death’ rating – 10/10
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