Wednesday 9 November 2011

352 The Green Death Episode Three

EPISODE: The Green Death Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: 02 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 & Jo use a mine cart & pole to push their way through the sea of green ooze & maggots. Elgin confronts Fell about his refusal to loan cutting equipment. The Doctor finds a crevice he believes leads to the surface. The Brigadier summons UNIT to investigate and threatens to close Global Chemicals if they turn out to be responsible. Stevens counters by contacting the ministry of ecology. The Doctor & Jo find giant maggot eggs and bring one with them. Elgin takes an interest in the pumping that Fell is conducting. The Brigadier is instructed to put himself at the disposal of Global Chemicals by first the Ecology Minister and then the Prime Minister. The Doctor & Jo emerge into Global Chemicals pump room as Elgin discovers they about to pump more waste into the pipe. He opens the direct door to the pipe freeing them as Fell's conditioning breaks down. Elgin gets them out of Global Chemicals as Fell returns to Stevens who places headphones on him allowing BOSS to process him again. Fell is given instructions to kill himself jumping off a balcony. The Doctor, Brigadier & Jo return to the Wholeweal community for dinner. Professor Jones tells them he's going on a trip down the Amazon to investigate fungus. A phone call comes through saying Bert the miner has died. The Doctor intends to analyse the egg but gossip concerning it's existence has reached Global Chemicals and Hinks is sent to fetch it. As everyone retires to bed at the Wholeweal, the Brigadier staying at the local pub, Jo stays up reading. In the lab the egg hatches, the Maggot crawls across the floor and approaches Jo.....

I'm really not sure what to make of this episode, it's good yes, but there's a lot in. The dark glowing tunnels and the maggots will appeal to the show's younger fans while Fell's mind control, breakdown and instructed suicide are very adult themes that make me feel like I'm watching a series 7 story again. Then we get this wonderful scene of the Wholeweal community having dinner together and there at the head of the table, looking completely out of place in his dinner jacket & bow tie, is the Brigadier. What follows as Cliff Jones attempts to explain to this very establishment figure what they're doing there is a wonder to behold. There's also a running theme through the second half of the episode as Jo & Cliff try to share a romantic moment but keep getting interrupted! We also get a lovely little joke during the Brigadier's phone call to the Ecology Minister who passes him to the Prime Minister who is addressed as Jeremy. At the time this story was filmed the leader of the Liberal Partywas led by Jeremy Thorpe, the insinuation being that somehow the Liberal Party, third placed no hopers, had managed to form a government! For more fun & games with British politics join us for Terror of the Zygons in a few months time.

A few more cast members have joined (and in one case left) us since episode 1: Mitzi McKenzie plays Nancy, one of the Wholeweal community. She was Mrs Martin in Colony in Space, where she was credited as Mitzi Webster, which was also directed by Michael E Briant. Oddly she is credited but dosn't appear in episode 1. Fell is played by John Rolfe on his third Doctor Who appearance after appearing as the Captain in The War Machines and Sam Becket in The Moonbase. John Dearth is the Voice of BOSS, and very good he is too. He'll be back as Lupton in Planet of the Spiders. Richard Beale, the Minister of Ecology, was in The Ark as the Refusian voice, The Gunfighters as Bat Masterson and The Macra Terror as the Broadcast voice.

The Wholeweal community seen in this story is generally taken to have been inspired by the hippy commune communities of the late sixties. Oddly it does seem to have a real world counterpart! Located near the mid Wales town of Machynlleth is the Centre for Alternative Technology researching and demonstrating alternative energy sources. I stayed there in 1990 and I can safely say it's the warmest place I've ever been to, all by virtue of being properly insulated. The food was fantastic too.

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