‘The Green Death’ (TV)

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‘THE GREEN DEATH’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Giant Maggots with the Third Doctor, Jo and U.N.I.T.

And now we’ve come to the final story of Season 10 of ‘Doctor Who’. This happens to be one of my Dad’s favourite stories, especially since it deals with an ecological-environmental menace in the form of giant maggots. The story also features the regular last TV appearance of Jo Grant in ‘Doctor Who’!

‘The Green Death’ is a six-part adventure by Robert Sloman with producer Barry Letts. Robert Sloman had worked with Barry Letts before as they co-wrote ‘The Dæmons’, under the pseudonym of ‘Guy Leopold’ for Season 8 as well as ‘The Time Monster’ under Rob Sloman’s name for Season 9.

The inspiration for this story came about when Barry Letts became concerned about the way the world was working and how pollution was destroying the environment in the 1970s about that time. He wished to stop this pollution caused and he had the idea of doing a documentary or a book on it.

But script editor Terrance Dicks came up with a better idea for Barry Letts’ concerns. He suggested that they do a ‘Doctor Who’ story focusing on the ecology, the environment and pollution. Barry became keen on the idea and he with Robert Sloman came with ‘The Green Death’ which was great.

I like how Barry Letts approaches doing ‘Doctor Who’ stories with certain moral themes to them, especially when working on season finales like this one. ‘The Green Death’ also proved to be a lovely swansong for Jo Grant’s character. It did end up being a bittersweet story for Jo to leave the Doctor.

I first purchased the original DVD of ‘The Green Death’ when I was on a trip to Cardiff city centre back in 2009. My parents and I enjoyed the story very much, especially when it had strong social messages featured throughout as the giant maggots. The messages featured are still relevant today.

The original DVD for ‘The Green Death’ was released back in 2004. It was later re-released as a 2-disc Special Edition DVD in 2013 with the story on Disc 1 and brand-new special features on Disc 2. Now it’s contained in the Season 10 Blu-ray box set and seems to have more special features than before.

I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘The Green Death’ signed by Katy Manning at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event at the National Space Centre, Leicester, January 2019. Katy said during a Sunday Q&A that ‘The Green Death’ is one of her favourites. I’m very pleased Katy signed my DVD cover for it.

Anyway, the story takes place within the valleys of South Wales. That’s another aspect of this story that I like, considering I’m Welsh myself. There’s a mystery going on in a Welsh town called Llanfairfach. My Mum, who can speak Welsh, disagrees with the way the name gets pronounced. 😀

But as I indicated, there are mysterious deaths occurring at the disused mine in Llanfairfach. People’s skin gets turned into green and it all connects to the nearby factory of Global Chemicals. This is a company developing a technique for refining oil to make lives better for people in the world.

The company is run by the mysterious Jocelyn Stevens. It seems Global Chemicals is promising a brighter future with the jobs they’re offering to the locals in Llanfairfach. But the eco-warrior named Professor Clifford Jones tries to stop the capitalism image that is being run by Global Chemicals here.

Upon reading what’s going with Global Chemicals and Professor Jones in the newspaper, Jo decides to leave the Doctor and join the young professor in his campaign. Soon, something serious goes on. The Doctor and U.N.I.T. get summoned to investigate as giant maggots crawl out from the slag heaps.

I do like the ideas featured in this adventure. It was very interesting how producer Barry Letts puts his take on the ecological issues occurring in the world of the 1970s in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. Ecological issues don’t get tackled very often in ‘Doctor Who’ and I applaud it being addressed here.

It’s also unique in how it gets depicted for this 1970s setting throughout this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. Even today, we’re currently suffering ecological and environmental issues that don’t get tackled with; whether through blind ignorance or not enough resources or willpower to tackle them.

I do like the contrast of who’s right and who’s the enemy in this. Clifford Jones’ eco-friendly methods seem to be very reassuring compared to the methods of Global Chemicals which seem filthy and slimy. This is emphasised in the chemical wastes being poured out and the giants maggots produced.

Jo Grant is the highlight of this ‘Doctor Who’ story for me. Katy Manning delivers a wonderful performance as Jo and she’s the definite companion for Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor in this show. It was interesting and lovely to see how Jo’s departure from ‘Doctor Who’ gets handled in this TV story.

It’s clear that Jo loves the Doctor, yet her decision to leave him also demonstrates how she’s grown since her first appearance in the TV series. Jo leaves the Doctor to help Professor Clifford Jones in his campaign and protect the environment of the world. She soon falls in love with the young professor.

Jon Pertwee is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure. I enjoyed the action-packed style of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in this tale as well as his elegant nature and manner. The Doctor clearly loves Jo. I like how Jon displays the Doctor’s emotions when he’s reacting to her leaving him. It’s well-handled.

I also enjoyed the confrontation scenes Jon’s Doctor had with Stevens and the B.O.S.S. computer on their beliefs. I liked it when he had scenes with Clifford Jones and how they worked well as scientists. I did enjoy those comedic moments Jon’s Doctor had in dressing up as a milkman and as a cleaning lady.

You see! I was right! This is what Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor meant in ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’ when she said “It’s been a long time since I bought women’s clothes.” 😀 The exchange where Jon’s Doctor as the cleaning lady threatened to slosh Mike Yates with his empty ‘handbag’ was hilarious. 🙂

The story also has the Doctor visit the planet Metabellis III at last and for the first time. But it’s not the planet he hoped for. It’s a terrifying place as depicted in ‘Episode One’. The Doctor gets a blue sapphire crystal from that planet though and he puts it to good use when he clears anybody’s mind.

Nicholas Courtney excels as the Brigadier in this story. I like how he gets involved with the strange goings-on happening at Llanfairfach and at Global Chemicals. His bewilderment of the unusual is very believable in this tale. I do like the scenes he has with the Doctor and Jo throughout this TV tale.

I found it interesting to see the Brig in normal civilian clothes compared to his standard Brigadier uniform in the show.  I also found it amusing when he got entranced by the glow of the Metabellis III crystal the Doctor uses. There are nice scenes where the Brig showed interest in Clifford Jones’ work.

Richard Franklin returns as Captain Mike Yates here. This is the only story Mike Yates appears in for Season 10. It was interesting to see him go undercover at Global Chemicals, acting as a government official. He’s sent there by the Brigadier to obtain information about the mysterious goings-on there.

Mike does have a tough time in this adventure. After rescuing the Doctor and helping him to escape, he gets captured and taken over by the B.O.S.S. computer at some point. He’s soon saved by the Doctor. The Metabellis III crystal gets used on Mike to free his mind and he regains his state of mind.

John Levene is great as Sergeant Benton in this story. I like his scenes with the Doctor when they’re both out in Bessie, the Doctor’s car, driving on the slag heaps to rescue Jo and Clifford Jones. They also stop the maggots. Benton’s lines of giving them maggots their ‘din-dins’ was so amusing to hear.

I also enjoyed it when Benton had more scenes with the Brig, whether there’s either tension between them or when they discuss a situation about destroying the maggots on the slag heaps. I also liked Benton’s scenes when he meets Jo and Clifford Jones simultaneously upon the slag heaps.

Stewart Bevan guest stars as Professor Clifford Jones. During the making of this story, Stewart actually dated Katy Manning. It was nice to see Katy and Stewart together as Jo and Cliff. Their real-life relationship did suit the romantic atmosphere that was required between Jo and her Welsh man.

I also liked Clifford’s enthusiasm about protecting the environment and when he shows concerns about the mysterious deaths happening at the disused coal mine. He connects it to Global Chemicals and I liked Cliff’’s concern for Jo whenever she was in trouble since he gradually gains feelings for her.

Jerome Willis guest stars as Stevens, the manager of Global Chemicals in Llanfairfach. I liked the suave performance Jerome gives as Stevens. He makes Steven not too obviously the villain and clearly the victim of being under the control of his real ‘boss’. It’s an interesting journey for Stevens.

He starts off as a normal person at first, representing the image of capitalism at Global Chemicals. But despite his charm, Stevens seems unwilling to help save people who are trapped in the disused mine and he orders more waste to be disposed of. Stevens is directly linked to his B.O.S.S. computer.

There’s also Tony Adams as Mark Elgin, the public relations officer at Global Chemicals who questions Stevens after the mysterious deaths occur. There’s Mitzi McKenzie as Nancy; Ben Howard as Hinks, Steven’s chauffeur and bodyguard; John Rolfe as Fell and there’s also Roy Skelton as James.

The story also features three-speaking miners. There’s Talfryn Thomas, who would later go on to play Private Cheeseman in the ‘Dad’s Army’ TV series, as Dave; Roy Evans as Bert, who befriends Jo during a trip down the mines and there’s Mostyn Evans as Dai Evans who gets killed during the story.

The story’s monsters are of course the giant maggots. The 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.

I did wonder how the giant maggots were going to get killed in the story as they seemed impossible to defeat. Thankfully, it gets worked out as the maggots are allergic to some kind of fungus food produced at the ‘Nuthutch’ where Clifford Jones and Nancy live. I liked how the problem gets solved.

The ‘boss’ of Global Chemical is the B.O.S.S. computer itself. B.O.S.S. stands for Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor. John Dearth voices the B.O.S.S. computer in this adventure. This is his first association with ‘Doctor Who’ as he’d later go on to play Lupton in ‘Planet of the Spiders’.

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. I like how the Doctor defies the B.O.S.S. computer by saying it’s not more than a machine and presenting it with a problem that it can’t solve.

Eventually the day gets saved and Global Chemicals is no-more. But it’s not the usual return to U.N.I.T. as the Doctor anticipated. Jo decides to leave the Doctor and U.N.I.T. as she goes off with Cliff to the Amazon to find a new fungus. Jo also agrees to marry Cliff by the end, which is a surprise.

Everybody is happy for Jo and Cliff once they’ve announced they’re getting married. It’s clear that the Doctor is saddened about Jo leaving him, despite him wishing her well. In my opinion, the lines of dialogue written for Jo and the Doctor as they are saying goodbye to each are pretty well-written.

JO: “You don’t mind, do you?”
DOCTOR: “Mind? He might even be able to turn you into a scientist.”

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 by the end.

The last shots of the Doctor driving off in Bessie, as he leaves the ‘Nuthutch’ in Wales were very moving to watch. The shots of the sun in the night-sky as the Doctor drives off in Bessie were inspirational by the director Michael E. Briant. It establishes the end of a chapter in the Third Doctor era.

I like how Jo and Cliff fell in love with each other and got engaged to be married by the end. It’s a nice way to end a companion’s time in ‘Doctor Who’. I did wonder whether their marriage would last after I saw this story. The BBC Books stories featuring Jo did seem to present a bleak future regarding that.

But thankfully all is well in the end. It got confirmed that Jo was still married to Cliff in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story ‘Death of the Doctor’. I’ve been able to continue that confirmation with Jo still being married to Cliff when I wrote for her, the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Billy in my own story ‘City of Monsters’.

The original DVD special features were as follows. There was a stereo sound audio mix option for the story and there were three DVD audio commentaries. The first one was with Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks on all six episodes of the story. The second one was with Richard Franklin and Mitzi McKenzie, moderated by Toby Hadoke on ‘Episodes Three to Five’. And the third one was with Katy Manning and new series executive producer/writer Russell T. Davies on ‘Episode Six’. There was also an info-text commentary option to enjoy.

There was the making-of documentary called ‘The One with the Maggots’, featuring behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. There was also the enjoyable spoof report called ‘Global Conspiracy?’ starring Mark Gatiss as Terry Scanlon. There was also a visual effects featurette with assistant visual effects designer Colin Mapson talking about the visual effects work on ‘The Green Death’. There was an interview with Robert Sloman and an interview with Stewart Bevan. There was also a ‘Wales Today’ compilation from the BBC Wales news programme which includes a silent 1973 film and a 1994 news item. There was also the ‘Doctor Forever – The Unquiet Dead’ documentary that focused on the revival of ‘Doctor Who’ in 2005 and there was also the ‘What Katy Did Next’ clip show. There was ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story called ‘Death of the Doctor’ with a DVD audio commentary option with Katy Manning and new series executive producer/writer Russell T. Davies. There was also a photo gallery of the story; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story and a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘The Ice Warriors’ with Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling. There were also two Easter Eggs which happened to be BBC continuity announcements for the story and an outtake from the ‘Global Conspiracy?’ spoof report.

On Disc 5 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 10’ Blu-ray, the stereo sound audio mix option for the story; the three DVD audio commentaries; ‘The One with the Maggots’ making-of documentary; the ‘Global Conspiracy?’ spoof report; the visual effects featurette; the Robert Sloman interview; the Stewart Bevan interview; the ‘Wales Today’ compilation and the ‘What Katy Did Next’ clip show can be found on there. The info-text commentary option; the photo gallery and the BBC continuity announcements of the story have been updated for 2019 on the Blu-ray.

The new special features on Blu-ray include the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘The Green Death’ with Katy Manning (Jo Grant); Richard Franklin (Mike Yates) and John Levene (Sgt. Benton) as well as new series producer Phil Collinson; new series writer Joy Wilkinson and new series writer Pete McTighe. There’s also the ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ documentary featuring Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan. There’s also ‘The U.N.I.T. Family – Part Two’ documentary, taken from the ‘Day of the Daleks’ DVD. There’s also a ‘BBC News’ extract; a ‘Nationwide’ interview with Katy Manning and interviews with Tony Adams, Stewart Bevan and Jerome Willis, conducted by Mark Gatiss and taken from the making of ‘Global Conspiracy?’. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘The Time Warrior’ with Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen (taken from the ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’ DVDs).

On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents; scripts and studio floor plans of the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that. The ‘Doctor Forever – The Unquiet Dead’ documentary isn’t included for the Season 10 Blu-ray box set.

On Disc 6 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 10’ Blu-ray, there is the ‘Doctor Who and the Third Man’ documentary looking into the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’. The ‘Blue Peter’ item shown on 5/11/1973; the ‘Pebble Mill at One’ featurette and the ‘PanoptiCon 93’ convention panel interview with Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning and Nicholas Courtney (updated for ‘The Panopticon Archive’) from ‘The Three Doctors’ DVD is included. ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ story called ‘Death of the Doctor’ with the DVD audio commentary option from ‘The Green Death’ DVD is also included. There’s also ‘The Green Death’ omnibus; the ‘Hello Boys’ Season 10 Blu-ray trailer; an audio archive interview with Jon Pertwee and Jack Kline and an audio archive interview with Peter Brookes and David Driver on the ‘Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special of ‘Doctor Who’. There’s also the studio clocks compilation for Season 19.

There’s more PDF written archive including the 1974 ‘Doctor Who Annual’ and the ‘Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special of ‘Doctor Who’. The ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Sheets’ from the ‘Frontier In Space’ DVD is included.

‘The Green Death’ is a wonderful and thrilling ‘Doctor Who’ story from the Jon Pertwee era. It features some great visual effects with the giant maggots and is very important to feature the departure of the lovely Katy Manning as Jo Grant. It’s very emotional for a classic ‘Doctor Who’ tale.

This is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that will never be forgotten! It comes highly rated even in ‘Doctor Who’ fandom. The performances are great; the writing’s great and the direction’s great. Jon Pertwee also stands out well in the story, especially in how he makes his exit by driving Bessie off into the sunset.

As for Season 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ overall, it’s definitely one of my favourite seasons from Jon Pertwee’s era. Every story has something exciting to talk about. It’s a special season to celebrate 10 years of the show, especially with the opening tale to have the first three incarnations of the Doctor.

One of the stories inspired me to write a sequel to it in my own ‘Fifth Doctor’ series as well as influence my writing in other stories. At this point, ‘Doctor Who’ had become a widely-loved show and that’s all down to the production efforts of producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks.

As well as Jon Pertwee and the U.N.I.T. family, it’s Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks who saw to it that the show survived beyond its 10 years running. Even with changes in the air such as Roger Delgado’s tragic death and Katy Manning’s departure from the series, the show still goes even to this very day!

As of October 2019, I’ve had the Blu-ray booklet of Season 10 of ‘Doctor Who’ signed by the lovely Katy Manning at the ‘Film & Comic Con Glasgow’ in August 2019. I’m very pleased Katy Manning signed the Blu-ray booklet of Season 10 for me and she still retains her bubbly enthusiasm for the show whether it’d be in TV form, audio form or other. I’m glad to have revisited Season 10 on Blu-ray!

‘The Green Death’ rating – 10/10


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2 thoughts on “‘The Green Death’ (TV)

  1. Timelord007

    Fantastic review of one of my favourite Third Doctor storys, excellent synopsis on the DVD extras & you quite rightly given high praise to the story & it’s characters.

    I always get a tear in my eye at the end of this story as the Doctor rides off into the sunset alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Simon.

    Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘The Green Death’ and it’s one of your favourite Third Doctor stories.

    Glad you enjoyed my synopsis of the story and that you like how I’ve described the DVD extras. I certainly like the ‘Global Conspiracy?’ documentary with Mark Gatiss. I’m pleased you like the high praise I’ve given to the story and the characters in ‘The Green Death’.

    Yes the end of the story was very moving when Jo got engaged to the Doctor and the Doctor rode off into the sunset in Bessie. Very moving and heartfelt stuff that.

    Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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