Doctor Who
The Green Death

Starring: Jon Pertwee
BBC Worldwide
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: U
Available 10 May 2004

There's something odd going on down the pit... something that's turning the miners green. Pretty soon it's clear that Global Chemicals, a particularly aggressive multinational petrochemicals conglomerate, is involved in some way but it's not until the giant maggots start appearing that the scale of the problem becomes obvious...

The Green Death is Doctor Who's most blatant soap box preaching. Pollution, the transnationalisation of investment capital and the brutal pursuit of profit are pitted against 'alternative' culture in a race for the future of our planet - and it's all rather well done as you end up siding with a bunch of infuriatingly worthy, flute-blowing hippies who in most respects are as scary as any chemicals spill. In fact, the script has probably improved with age as the matters it addresses are as pertinent as ever but now better understood which adds a further dimension to the unfolding action. Let's just hope that hippies aren't really our saviours as I for one don't fancy a world where we all knit our own yoghurt.

On the downside is the central cast. By this stage in his tenure Pertwee's Doctor is as likely to mug at the camera as he is to look scared, The Brig has become a rather woolly figure - a far cry from the hard military man he's supposed to be - and Jo Grant's endless twittering and bug-eyed reactions to anything even remotely dangerous are simply infuriating. At the very time the show's trying its hardest to be intelligent the regulars resort to some rather flat 'by the numbers' performances. Pity that...

The disc, however, is of the highest quality. Once again the programme has never looked or sounded better. Cleaned and polished to a deep lustre, it is now possible to watch The Green Death in a better state than when it was first transmitted, although no amount of technical jiggery pockery can disguise some pretty dreadful back projection work - a hallmark of Doctor Who around this time. And as for the giant fly... the less said the better. However, the on-screen production notes are once again excellent, the photo gallery is possibly the best yet, the commentary is okay-ish and the 'build your own maggot' featurette is just dandy as is the interview with writer Robert Sloman.

The final verdict? A very good script, some entirely average central performances, a bunch of dodgy special effects and a lot of people pretending to be Welsh 'look you' all add up to a flawed but enjoyable story that still manages to rise to the occasion despite itself.

In short, another worthwhile addition to your Doctor Who DVD collection.

Anthony Clark

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