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
Soon, two more deaths follow, and Jo and the Doctor discover the cause down the mine--a green petrochemical slime that causes death on contact. Worse, the slime has irradiated maggots to two feet in length who also kill on contact.
The Brigadier, and the Doctor (after a perilous but successful expedition at M3) work against Global Chemicals and the director, Jocelyn Stevens. However, in Episode 1, Stevens is seen talking to (himself?), as if he's under control by someone else.
Professor Jones reminds Jo of a younger version of the Doctor. He believes in using alternative energy sources, such as solar power, movements of the wind, tides, and rivers. No waste means no pollution. Stewart Bevan, then Katy Manning's beau, is a most welcome guest performer as the progressive but ecologically conscious Jones.
This is Jo's show all the way. She did well as the Doctor's assistant, but here, she's more than just a pretty face. Her concern and compassion whenever the Doctor is near death is shown to its best when she hears of the death of Bert, a "funny little Welshman" she only met for a few hours down the mine, but whom she felt was very special. Jones' comforting words to her are magic here. She chooses to go to South Wales instead of "all the time and space being offered" to her by the Doctor. As the Doctor says quietly, "So, the fledgling flies the coop." His reaction after he says goodbye to her at story's end tells his fondness of her.
For a good example of Who, Episode One is simply packed with action and a chain of events that draw the viewer in. The writhing and hissing maggots are well-constructed. They used fox skulls for those up close, and for those far away, inflated condoms! No joke!
Note: Tony Adams (Elgin) fell ill midway through production and so his lines were carried on by Mr. Dalek voice himself, Roy Skelton (Mr. James) in Episode 5. John-Scott Martin (Hughes) is best known for as being one of the men inside the Daleks. Roy Evans (Bert) later appeared next season in The Monster Of Peladon as Rima.
As for errors, notice the hand at the bottom right of screen giving Mostyn Evans (Dai) his cue to speak in Episode One. The CSO effects aren't that good when people go down the mine in the lift. And why use CSO and film intermittently in the "field of maggots"?
Katy Manning not only had three seasons as one of the series' most memorable and lovable companions, but had the best farewell story of any companion. The danger on pollution and condemnation against irresponsible corporations who flagrantly poison the Earth so that the ends (more fuel and money for everyone) justify the means, is still relevant--why else were films like A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich made over twenty years later?
Jo's rallying words at the beginning of Episode One still serves as a reminder today: "It's time that the world awoke to the alarm bells of pollution instead of sliding down the slippery slopes of..." Slopes to ruin, yes. Bye, Jo. We'll miss you!
Feeling like a cross between a Quatermass film and the old William Hartnel episode "The War Machines", The Green Death is an enjoyable romp from the Pertwee "exile" period. The wriggling green maggots are (fondly?) remembered by all children who watched the original transmission back in the '70's, the cast ham it up beautifully and the story ends on a sad note as Jo elects to leave the Doctor for a young scientist. While the scipt is very good and moves along at a decent pace, the effects are unfortunatly typical for the time period - the CSO (green-screen) effects in the mine are awful and the flying insect is laughable, however the maggot infested slag-heaps and the attacking maggots are done very well.