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Doctor Who: The Green Death

"So, the fledgling flies the coop."

The BBC’s alleged left-wing bias has never been more evident than in 'The Green Death'. If you're a conservative, hippie hating capitalist, then chances are you're not going to like this one.

Ecological issue have been a recurring theme throughout the Third Doctor era. ‘The Green Death’ tackles the issues of pollution and how bad it is in the least subtle manner possible. It all boils down to this: big corporations, with their careless polluting, rampant greed and evil supercomputers, are bad. Meanwhile hippies, with their organic food, free love and naff rock music, are good. Throw in some heroic Welsh miners, and you have a story that's unlikely to ever be part of Margaret Thatcher’s DVD collection. Then again, it is highly unlikely the evil bitch even has the foggiest idea what a DVD is.

'The Green Death' is most fondly remembered for the giant mutant maggots made out of condoms. Once you get past that novelty, they turn out to be rather crap monsters. They don't really do much besides loiter around before one of them mutates into an embarrassingly bad special effect. They also have the unfortunate side effect of overshadowing the story's actual villain, B.O.S.S. I rather like B.O.S.S. Unlike most supercomputers, he’s got a rather jovial personality, even if he does fall for the same old logic traps that have done in so many megalomaniac supercomputers before him.

After three years as the Doctor's companion, this story saw the departure of Katy Manning as Jo Grant. These days, companion exits tend to be big emotional events designed to get as many people crying as possible. At least, that's what they were when Russell T. Davies was in charge. But the 60s and 70s were a far simpler time for Doctor Who. Companion exits didn't have to be big emotional events. For many, traveling with the Doctor was like something you did for a gap year. When it came to leaving there were no tears, no regrets, you simply went forward with all your beliefs and took care that the TARDIS door didn't hit you on the way out. Yes, there could be waterworks, but most of the time a companion's departure was a brief affair that often felt tacked on.

Not so with Jo Grant. Right from the start, as the Doctor proudly watches her fly the coop, its pretty much signposted that she's leaving. Her romance and subsequent marriage to Clifford might a little too rushed to be entirely believable, but is worth it for that final goodbye scene. The Doctor deeply cares about Jo and vice versa. After all, she's leaving him to marry a man she describes as a younger version of the Doctor. So with a mixture of sadness and pride, the Doctor says goodbye to Jo. Then, in a move that is so him, quietly sneaks out of the party and drives off alone.

Notes and Quotes

--After all that moaning he did when he was first exiled on our little world, you'd think the Doctor would never want to set foot in UNIT HQ ever again. And yet here he is like nothing has changed, tinkering with the TARDIS at the Brigadier's expense.

--Katy Manning almost seems to be wearing Peter Davison's costume at the start of Episode 1.

--This is the only story where you are likely to see the Doctor in drag.

--The giant fly in Episode 6 is just awful.

--When the Doctor is making his big escape from Global Chemicals he appears to be driving the fastest milk cart in the west.

--The Doctor finally gets to go to Metabelis III (it's very blue) and even brings back with him a fancy blue crystal.

The Doctor: "Metabelis 3, Jo? Or where else would you like to go? You choose for yourself."
Jo Grant: "But I've only got ten minutes."
The Doctor: "Jo, you've got all the time in the world... and all the space. I'm offering them to you."

The Doctor: "Stevens, listen to me. You've seen where this efficiency of yours leads. Wholesale pollution of the countryside. Devilish creatures spawned by the filthy by-products of your technology. Men... men walking around like brainless vegetables. Death. Disease. Destruction."

Jo: “Giant maggots! What kind of insects are they going to turn into?”
--Err, giant ones. Do pay attention, Jo.

Boss: "Living dangerously? That's how you get your kicks like the good little Nietzschean you are."

Jo Grant: "You don't mind, do you?"
The Doctor: "Mind? He might even be able to turn you into a scientist."
Jo Grant: "Don't go too far away, will you. And if you do, come back and see us sometimes."

Three and a half out of four giant maggots made out of condoms.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

4 comments:

  1. I haven't seen a lot of these, but I always find your reviews very amusing and a great read, Mark.

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  2. Hippies & miners unite - defeat the BOSS!

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  3. The final image of the Doctor driving away is justifiably iconic, but it overshadows my favorite moment, a few minutes earlier, which actually is more representative of the story as a whole... Stevens's tear.

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  4. My family was living in London at the time this episode originally aired and one of my first memories is of the end of Episode 2, where Jo and the Doctor confront the chamber filled with the giant maggots. It might look like rubbish now, but it was a very memorable sight for a 4 year old. Jon Pertwee will always be my original Doctor.

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