Two words: giant maggots.
If you have an insect phobia, boy, are you going to hate this adventure. Even if you don’t, I’d advise you not to be eating your dinner while watching. Myself, I can’t stand insects at the best of times, so you can imagine how this story made me feel.
As a ‘special’ treat, I have written a short unreview and a normal unreview of The Green Death:
The Green Death is mostly icky.
The Green Death is a lot of things. Icky being just one of them. The others being funny, strange, sad and bittersweet. As I continue, I hope to focus on these latter things rather than the general ickiness of the giant insects.
Jo goes to Llanfairfach because of a dead miner only for her to see Clifford Jones in the flesh. His ravishing good looks (well, I say handsome but Cliff is no Zach Braff) has her rapt. Cupid’s arrow has been shot and Jo Grant has traded in her affections for the Doctor and opted for a younger, hippier and handsomer model. The operative word here being ‘younger’. Short of regenerating himself younger, what can the Doctor do? Not much. Rien à faire.
For some strange reason, I reckon that Jo Grant names all of her body parts after fictional 1970s TV detectives. Don’t ask me why.
The Brigadier also goes to Llanfairfach because of the dead miner but, thankfully, he doesn’t fall in love with Clifford Jones. Both he and Jo are led to Global Chemicals in their investigations.
The death of the aforementioned miner is because of Global Chemicals who have dumped toxic waste into the mines where it has turned itty bitty insects into giant face-flaying maggots (and one giant fly).
The Doctor is not in Llanfairfach or even on Earth. He has finally managed to get to Metebelis Three after turning left at Albuquerque instead of right. Planet Metebelis Three is blue and there is nothing the Doctor can do as the entire animal kingdom turns against him. As he exits through the gift shop, he picks up a blue gem and high-tails it back to Earth and then to sunny Wales and the giant maggots.
If the maggots were not enough, we also have a computer whom is bloomin’ off his chump. This computer is called BOSS and he, yeah, nuttier than a box full of squirrels although he claims that he is a stable genius. He is also the boss.
As you might expect from a lunatic computer, BOSS has a plan which is even crazier than he is. No, I tell a lie, it is not so much crazy as fairly pointless. His plan is as follows:
a) Turn humans into witless drones
b) Connect worldwide with other computers
c) Turn more humans into witless drones
d) Rinse and repeat until finished
e) Erm, that is it…
Ignoring the fact that the population of the world might have been slaughtered by the giant insects, what exactly is the point of this plan? What does BOSS want with a brainwashed workforce? Corporate takeovers are all very well, but this hostile takeover of the entire human race is absurd. BOSS thrives on profit and productivity but if everyone is working, who will buy their products? Will BOSS brainwash people to use the products he is brainwashing other people to make? And couldn’t BOSS just wait until the invention of the internet?
Plans aside, BOSS has to be the best megalomaniac computer ever featured on Doctor Who. This is mainly because he has a great sense of humour when he isn’t busy reprogramming and rebooting his Welsh workforce. A lot of computers hum but BOSS hums tunes. Actual music. Yes, I have to say that I am impressed. Pity that the Doctor destroys him in the end. BOSS would have made a better companion than K9 (and I say this in the full knowledge that my local branch of Whovians will probably kidnap me while I am sleeping and throw me into a fire for such heresies).
So, deep breath, the chemical factory is pumping toxic waste into the mines where it is mutating and super-sizing maggots. The maggots get bigger but Welsh miners merely get glowing green blotches which kill them. Why does it only make the maggots increase in size, why not the miners? Perhaps having fifty-foot tall Welsh miners tramping all over the place might have overtaxed the budget of Doctor Who…
The real heart of this maggoty adventure is the love affair between Jo and Cliff. You know what is going to happen as soon as Jo compares him to a younger version of the Doctor. The love deal is cemented when she cocks up his experiment in much the same way that she did when she first met the Doctor.
The last bittersweet moments of this story involve the Doctor making a quiet exit. He is clearly hurt by Jo’s leaving. Does he love her? Did she love him? We’ll never know. It is nice to think he does. He certainly feels deeply for her. You might want to listen to Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones at this point and think of Sarah-Jane Smith who will be turning up in the next adventure.
Jon Pertwee goes from one extreme to the another in this serial. One moment he is playing it for laughs while disguised as a Welsh milkman or as a Welsh charlady and the next he is silently keeping a straight face to mask his inner turmoil. This feels like a swansong for him as much as it is for Katy Manning as Jo Grant.
Manning is great in this. She always gives a great performance. She has a way of appearing innocent and naive. Part of her charm I suppose. At least she gets a good poignant send-off.
After her time on Doctor Who, Katy Manning would do that infamous photoshoot with Starsky and Hutch pressed against an unwilling Dalek. I won’t mention what was placed in front of Kojak.
Giant maggots aside, The Green Death is a wonderful story. Even if insects give you a serious case of the willies, this is an adventure which shouldn’t be missed.
Enjoy it and close your eyes when the maggots appear.