Saturday 12 November 2011

344 The Green Death Episode Six

EPISODE: The Green Death Episode Six
TRANSMITTED: 23 June 1973
WRITER: Robert Sloman (and Barry Letts - Uncredited)
DIRECTOR: Michael Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - the Green Death
Episode Format: 625 video

The Doctor tries to find an antibiotic agent to attack the virus in Professor Jones' body, wondering what he meant by serendipity. Benton brings the Doctor a maggot chrysalis that he's found. Nancy finds the escaped Maggot dead, Benton wonders if what it ate killed him and the Doctor realises it's the fungus. The BOSS orders that Yates be subjected to total processing. Benton & the Doctor sprinkle the fungus on the hillside killing the maggots. Cliff is getting worse at the Wholeweal. Yates escapes from Global Chemicals. Benton & the Doctor are attacked by a giant fly, the metamorphosed form of the Maggot which the Doctor kills. Jo tells the Doctor of the accident she had with the fungus powder which enables the Doctor to produce a treatment. Yates tells the Doctor about BOSS's plans and the Doctor goes to Global Chemicals where BOSS prepares to link himself to seven other computers internationally. The Doctor goes to destroy the Boss ordering the Brigadier to attack the site if he's not finished by the deadline. As the plan draws near to fruition Stevens connects himself to the BOSS acting as BOSS's mouthpiece when the Doctor confronts him. The Doctor uses the blue crystal on Stevens to break his conditioning and released from BOSS's hold he destroys Global Chemicals and the BOSS. Jo & Professor Stevens decide to get married and go down the Amazon together to look for the fungus. The Brigadier receives word that Wholeweal has been granted status as a UN Priority One research centre, thanks to Jo making a request of her Uncle at the UN. The Doctor gives her the blue crystal he brought back from Metebelis 3, before silently slipping away from the celebratory party and driving off in Bessie into the night.

Usually deadlines or countdowns add some urgency to an episode but they don't really seem to here. We know that BOSS's plan comes into affect at 4pm but he's been very vague about what it is and as far as I can figure it's a poor man's attempt at knocking off WOTAN from the War Machines. And that's only really been introduced in this episode as is the idea of the maggots pupating and turning into flies. Maybe introducing both plot elements a little earlier in the story would have helped. So we're left with Cliff Jones illness and imminent death as the plot element we're invested in, mainly because Jo's obviously fallen for him in a big way. Fortunately the treatment for the illness, and the solution to the maggot problem has been in plain sight for some while. Two odd points to this episode.... well three, but we've already done the dodgy CSO earlier in the story. BOSS spends most of this episode behaving very oddly, humming Wagner and the like, which isn't behaviour you expect from a super computer and isn't really explained. Then we have Terry Walsh's guard on the gate..... OK I get he's been immobilised, when BOSS tries to take control of his slaves, so he stands there wobbling around. But why doesn't anyone take his gun off him when the Doctor rushes past? He's still holding it when the Doctor returns some while afterwards. So UNIT just stood there while someone wobbles around for how many minutes leaving him holding a double barrelled shot gun ?????

But what the Green Death episode Six is best known as is it's Katy Manning's final episode of Doctor Who. Katy Manning's impending departure had been known about for some time and throughout this season her character shows some real development resisting the Masters hypnotism and fear machine in Frontier in Space and being given a potential love interest in Planet of the Daleks. Right through this story her attraction Cliff is obvious, as is his to her, which sets her departure up nicely and gives her probably the best departure story of any companion. Oddly enough this story also marks the start of real character development for another of our characters: Captain Mike Yates. The effects of what has happened to him here will be felt for some time and will tie into Jo's last influence on the series towards the end of the next series/

Katy Manning's eclectic career post Doctor Who includes presenting the arts & craft program Serendipity, posing naked with a Gold Dalek and many stage appearances. After having twins in 1978 she emigrated to Australia where she eventually became the partner of Barry Crocker, the writer of the theme music for the Australian Soap Opera Neighbours. Her best friend is Liza Minelli who is godmother to her children. No, honestly, I'm not making any of this up! She appeared opposite Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and Elizabeth Sladen, her successor as companion, in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode The Death of Doctor Who where her character is credited as Jo Jones.

Jo Grant appears in 77 episodes of Doctor Who, which is exactly equal to the number of episodes the Ian & Barbara, the Doctor's original human companions, travelled with him albeit with the small caveat that they weren't both in all those episodes. At the moment that stands joint second behind Jamie McCrimmon who has 113 episodes spanning his first and last appearance with the same caveat that applies to Ian & Barbara. Nobody will ever overtake Jamie's record but Jo, Ian & Barbara will find themselves relegated to joint third place in a few years time.

As well a being the last episode to feature Jo Grant/Katy Manning this is the last appearance of the original Third Doctor/Jon Pertwee opening & closing title sequences which have been on the last 102 episodes. The record here is 152 episodes held by the original Hartnell sequence, and this only just beats the Troughton tally of 101 episodes. The next sequence will be the shortest, at just 26 episodes, but will serve as the template for what follows with Tom Baker's first title sequence being used on 150 episodes, of which 144 were broadcast. And to celebrate the final appearance of these titles the end sequence is once again, like episodes 2 & 5, broadcast the wrong way up and in reverse. This also the last time an episode is entitled "episode " & the number.

The Green Death has been repeated three times by the BBC. Firstly on 27th December 1973 it was shown as a 90-minute compilation. This no longer survives in the BBC archives, unlike the original transmission tapes for all 6 episodes which have always been there allowing it to be shown from the 2nd January to 6th February 1994 on BBC2. Then in 2006 on the 3rd to 5th April it was shown 2 episodes a night on BBC4. In fact more of this season, the tenth, of Doctor Who has been repeated than any other with The Three Doctors & Carnival of Monsters being shown as part of the Five Faces of Doctor Who in 1981 and Planet of the Daleks being shown to celebrate the 30th anniversary in 1993. The runners up here are Davison's first season & Pertwee's third with 14 episodes apiece shown and then Tom Baker's First & Last both of which have has twelve episodes of Doctor Who repeated.

The Green Death is the only story to be novelised by Malcolm Hulke that he did not write the television script for, but the anti big business and environmental issues click very nicely with themes expressed in his other stories, especially Colony in Space. Hulke gets round actor Tony Adams illness by restoring to Elgin all the lines taken by James in the fifth episode.

The Green Death was released in double video pack in August 1996 as a tribute to Jon Pertwee who died earlier that year. It was the first release after the break in the classic Doctor Who video range for the Paul McGann Doctor Who TV Movie and sports a modified style to the covers not yet quite in the style they would be for the last few years of the Doctor Who video range.

The Green Death was released on DVD 10th May 2004, as the fourth Jon Pertwee release, and includes a great mock documentary by Mark Gatiss. If you were at my wedding two month later then Rob Leitch gave the sermon there with his notes up against my copy which he'd borrowed and, knowing I wouldn't be back in Kingston for a while, thought he aught to return then!

So while Doctor Who was off air Terrance Dicks & Barry Letts were busy with Moonbase 3, a more realistic science fiction show. It didn't fare that well in the ratings and was for many years thought lost. However 525 line NTSC copies were recovered from the USA during the 90s. It was released on DVD but is long out of print.

Oddly enough when I dug out the Doctor Who Magazine Third Doctor Special Edition to check something to do with Frontier in Space I discovered an advert for The Moonbase on DVD on the back!

1 comment:

  1. The end of The Green Death is the first nail in the coffin of the arguement that the Doctor is an asexual being.

    His reaction to her departure is not that of mentor/student, there was quite clearly a relationship between the two of them that was intimate.