At the HQ of Global Chemicals Research Centre in Wales, head honcho Jocelyn Stevens arrives to talk to the laid-off miners gathered at the gate. Good news, he tells them. The coal mine is shut down, but the company has government approval to restart as an oil company.
Not everyone is happy about that. Also gathered is a smaller group, lead by biology Professor Jones, protesting the drilling due to environmental concerns. But before Stevens can address Jones' questions, the mine's warning whistle interrupts. We already know why, because we saw a terrified miner desperately trying to escape the mine, one of his hands glowing green. By the time he's found, his dead hand on the whistle lever, the green glow has spread to his face.
In the meanwhile, back at UNIT, the Doctor is happy to tell Jo Grant that he's fixed the TARDIS dematerialization circuit. "I can now take the TARDIS where ever and whenever I like. I've got absolute control over her." The first place they'll go, he continues, is Metebelis Three, which has a blue sun and grows enormous blue crystals.
But Jo isn't paying attention. She's seen a newspaper article about Jones' attempts to stop Global Chemicals and she's determined to go and help. Coincidentally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is heading the same way. UNIT is worried that the death at Global Chemicals could be the result of international sabotage. The Brigadier tries, unsuccessfully, to get the Doctor to join him and Jo, with a plea, "But Doctor, it's exactly your cup of tea. The fellow's bright green, apparently, and dead!"
Fortunately, the Doctor eventually makes it to Wales. Is this strictly an environmental problem, or is there another agent involved? Who will the Doctor trip up with this problem: "If I were to tell you that the next thing I say will be true, but that the last thing I said was a lie, would you believe me?"
"The Green Death" is the series "with the maggots!". It's in six parts and originally aired May/June 1973. As Terrance Dicks says in the commentary, this "was perhaps the only Dr. Who that began with a moral and a message. Morals and messages emerged in the others, but this one was planned from the beginning." It's a pretty good series, though not everybody agrees with me that the Doctor is dashing in his bright orange plaid Sherlock Holmes caped coat. It takes a lot of confidence to wear a coat like that. And I do love the Doctor's impersonations of a Welsh milkman and a very large cleaning lady. (Pertwee didn't even need a wig!)
This is a review of the 2-disc Special Edition, to be released in August 2013. "The Green Death" has already been released on a one-disc DVD in 2005. The Special Edition features digital remastering, using the latest remastering techniques, of both picture and sound quality.
Extras for the Special Edition, some of which carryforward from the 2005 DVD release:
1. Audio Commentary (from 2005) Commentators are Terrance Dicks (script editor), Barry Letts (producer and co-writer), and Katy Manning (plays Jo Grant). In 1973, alternative energy was not yet mainstream, and Barry Letts really wanted to do a story about environmental concerns.
"The Green Death" was Jo Grant's last series with Doctor Who. Though she has great memories of Dr. Who, Manning does remember other things, such as "everybody is always patting me on the head", as the cute dumb blonde.
Barry Letts groaned all the way through "the gondola bit", where Jo and the Doctor push a mine cart through the maggots. The low quality of the visual effect causes him considerable pain. But I'm with Katy and Terence and prefer to have a good laugh while watching it.
2. "The One With the Maggots: Making the Green Death" (new 27 minutes)
3. "Global Conspiracy?" (2005, 11 minutes) This mockumentary, produced in 2004, was a lot of fun to watch. Mark Gatiss plays Terry Scanlon, who visits Llanfairfach, Wales, to discover what really happened all those years ago at Global Chemicals. Several people revise their roles in "The Green Death", including Stewart Bevan as an older Professor Clifford Jones, and Jerome Willis, who plays Jocelyn Stevens.
"You know," Stevens tells Scanlon, "I think things would become much clearer if you would have a word with the box" - and he offers a pair of headphones. (If you remember the series, you'll know why this is ominous.)
4. Visual Effects (2005, 11 minutes) This short features Colin Mapson, who made giant maggots for "The Green Death" as well as working with the real maggots used for maggot group shots. He remembers they "used lots of handcleaner."
Mapson recreates a giant maggot for the short with some differences. For one thing, the original used weasel jaws for the teethy maggot scenes. For the recreation, he used a terrier skull, so the maggot is bigger.
5. "Interview with Robert Sloman" (2005, 7 minutes) Sloman was the main writer for "The Green Death". Barry Letts wanted to do a series on how we are destroying the planet. How did he pick the particulars? "We all have phobias. my two are maggots and spiders."
6. "Interview With Stewart Bevan" (2005, 8 minutes) Bevan played Professor Jones. He and Katy were in love in real life, but that wasn't the only reason it was a treat to play. "For me, it was a terrific experience. It was one of the best parts I ever had."
7. "Wales Today" (new, 2.5 minutes) archival TV show footage
8. "Doctor Forever - The Unquiet Dead" (new, 23 minutes) This is the last of five parts of the documentary "Doctor Forever". (I've added a comment to this review showing where the first 4 parts can be found.)
9. "What Katy Did Next" (new, 5 minutes)
10. "The Sarah Jane Adventures - Death of the Doctor - Parts 1 & 2" WITH Bonus Commentary (new) Thirty-seven years after filming "The Green Death", Katy Manning again plays Jo Grant in a 2010 two-part episode of Elisabeth Sladen's TV show, "The Sarah Jane Adventures". Commentators are Russell T. Davies (writer) and Katy Manning (plays Jo).
Jo and Sarah Jane attend the funeral of the Doctor. Jo reveals that she disappointed that the Doctor (Matt Smith, 11th Doctor) had been traveling with a married couple (Amy and Rory). She says that the only reason she left the Doctor (John Pertwee in "The Green Death") is that she married Professor Jones.
In the commentary, one topic is Sladen's death in April, 2011 from cancer.at the still-going-strong age of 65. Katy Manning is sure that Jo and the Doctor had a thing, and she left only to marry a "human version" of the Doctor.
11. Photo Gallery (2005)
12. Easter Eggs (2) (one new, one from 2005)
old: From the main menu, press the left arrow button to highlight the Doctor who logo and select. You'll see original continuity announcements.
13. PDF materials: Radio Times Listings
14 Production Note Subtitles (revised 2005). Richard Bignell has revised the Production Notes.
Maybe he'll keep one of 2005 notes I found very interesting. At the beginning of episode 1, when Stevens addresses the miners, he's paraphrasing an actual quote, which should have been a clue that trouble was brewing.
Stevens: "I have in my hand a piece of paper which will mean a great deal to all of you. Wealth in our time!"
The original, which took place in September 1938, was Neville Chamberlain saying: "I have in my hand a piece of paper from Herr Hitler. Peace in our time!"