Doctor Who: The Green Death (1973) starring Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning
In The Green Death, The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) joins the Brigadier and Jo Grant in South Wales. They investigate the death of a miner whose fatal disease has left his skin bright green.
In Wales, a dead miner is found glowing green. UNIT investigates and Jo empathizes with the environmentalism of Cliff Jones. He’s opposing the pollution from Global Chemicals. Stevens, in charge of Global, insists that there’s no pollution at all. But something was chasing the Doctor …
Jo and the miner Bert are investigating the old mine. Sabotage of the lift traps them beneath the surface. Bert touches some green slime and becomes infected. Stevens mysterious “boss” is introduced, but unseen. They need cutting equipment to rescue the miners, which Stevens denies having. After some Venusian karate, the Doctor manages to get Stevens cooperation. The Doctor goes into the mine, hoping to rescue Jo and Bert. He finds her, shortly after she’s found … maggots in green slime?
The Doctor and Jo discover the mine’s terrible secret. Global Chemicals’ managing director, Stevens, determines that they won’t live long enough to reveal what they know. Something clearly has a mental influence over some of the Global Chemicals personnel. The Brigadier is on the verge of shutting down Global Chemicals. But Stevens counters with his political connections.
Meanwhile, while trying to escape, the Doctor and Jo find mysterious eggs. But as they’re escaping, the mind-controlled Ralph Fell is going to going to flood the pipe they’re in with waste. At the last moment, he’s able to free himself long enough to tell Elgin how to open the hatch.
Poor Ralph goes to Stevens for help. Stevens tries another dose of mind control, which doesn’t take. And poor Ralph is forced to kill himself. Which causes Stevens grief. In the meantime, the Brigadier, Doctor, and Jo are having dinner with Professor Cliff Jones. He’s talking about his plans about exploring the Amazon, to use a rare plant to feed the world. Without that icky meat we’ve been eating for millennia. And Stevens is planning on recovering the egg. Professor Jones comforts Jo after the death of Bert.And Jo’s clearly falling in love with him. And the egg hatches …
The maggot, hatched from the egg, kills one of Stevens’ men. The Brigadier prepares to blast the mine. The Doctor and Jones analyze the maggot’s slime. They discover that it’s venom infects human cells, changing them to maggot cells. The Doctor wants to postpone the sealing of the mine, in order to investigate further. But he fails. The Brigadier has brought Yates to act as an inside man.
Elgin discovers that the pipe is full of the giant maggots, and confronts Stevens. Which leads to his becoming mind-controlled as well. And maggots are breaking up from the ground to attack! The Doctor goes undercover to retrieve samples of Global Chemical’s waste. After a spat with her “boyfriend”, Jo runs off to capture a maggot. And the Doctor is forced to try a different disguise – as a washwoman! After a discussion with Yates, the Doctor goes to the top floor to meet the Boss. Which turns out to be a computer.
The supercomputer, BOSS takes over Captain Mike Yates. It orders him to kill the Doctor. Cliff Jones and Jo and trapped by the maggots as UNIT launches their attack. The Doctor and Benson rescue them …. But not before Jones is infected by the maggots.
Cliff Jones is infected, and the maggots are about to transform into giant flying insects. Time is running out for the Doctor as BOSS launches its plan for world domination.
- Jon Pertwee (Frontier in Space, The House that Dripped Blood) … Dr. Who
- Katy Manning (Planet of the Daleks) … Jo Grant
- Nicholas Courtney (Terror of the Autons) … Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart
- Jerome Willis (Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady) … Stevens
- Stewart Bevan … Clifford Jones
- John Dearth … Boss’s Voice. Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor.
- Mitzi McKenzie … Nancy
- Richard Franklin … Captain Yates
- John Levene … Sergeant Benton
Editorial review of Doctor Who: The Green Death courtesy of Amazon.com
Featuring the third incarnation of the Doctor–Jon Pertwee’s patriarchal renaissance man–The Green Death is a solid addition to the Doctor Who canon. Originally broadcast in May 1973, it may now have dated a little, with its vegetarian hippies and “boyo” Welshmen, but it has all the elements of classic Who, the Doctor encountering green-glowing dead bodies, a shadowy mastermind, a global conspiracy, brainwashing, a megalomaniacal supercomputer and, of course, giant maggots.
This story, the final sequence of Pertwee’s penultimate season, reached the TV ratings Top 10 and, fittingly, met high production standards. The environmental message, while facilitating Who‘s ongoing individual-freedom motif, also proved prophetic in its warnings of globalization and pollution. The special effects, though admittedly dated now, were good for their time and budget–the stop-motion photography of the maggots and the front-axial projection used for the pulsating green skin are particularly effective.
The well-crafted script manages to combine monsters, punch-ups, and cliffhanger endings with cerebral concepts, human drama, and erudite references to Beethoven and Oscar Wilde–the single tear of the reformed villain as he destroys his paymaster is just one of the subtle touches distinguishing this work. The Green Death‘s six filler-free episodes belong to the Golden Age of Doctor Who, and their denouement is one of the most poignant in the series’ long history. –Paul Eisinger