CRRRaSh! 299 Doctor Who: The Green Death

By Roy Mathur, on 2020-02-04, at 23:51:22--00:35:40 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen


I was sick and stuffy, highly stressed, and, as if that wasn't enough, on Friday I had to drive an insanely long way to attend Uncle Marc's funeral in Brighton. It has taken me two days to recover and I still don't feel well. For those recent and other reasons, it's taken me more than a month to watch one serial, write up the notes, and record the pod.


The show must go on and crap like this shouldn't interfere with the juggernaut that is CRRRaSh! Okay, the juggernaut I hope CRRRaSh! to be. One day. One day. One day. Blimey, how long have I been doing this now? How much longer will it take for this podcast and my writing to reach some reasonable cultural impact? It makes me laugh in retrospect at how hypocritical I was saying that it doesn't really matter how many people listen.

What a weekend. What a way to start the week. The only reason I'm up at all today is a skin full of caffeine and the Dropkick Murphys' The Warriors Code because, "a fighter never quits", and, "a quitter never wins".

The show must go on.

(Oh shut up).

Cast and Production

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant: Katy Manning
Director: Michael E. Briant
Writer: Robert Sloman
Producer: Barry Letts
This is the fifth and final serial of season ten, following Planet of the Daleks that we covered in CRRRaSh! episode 294. It consisted of 6 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from 19 May to 23 June 1973.

On This Day

See My Baby Jive, by British glam rock and Wizzard, a song I can't remember, was number one in the UK singles chart. "glam"? Hmmm. Let's be kind and just say they were musically "glam". I remember not liking them because my namesake, musical genius Roy Wood, creeped me out. You know what? Look them up yourself.

Again, as far as my very limited research could reveal, nothing of any great import happened in the UK on that day.

What Happens

The Doctor fiddles with the TARDIS while Jo reads about a weird death in a coal mine. UNIT investigates, but the Doctor visits Metebelis Three first. Jo meets Professor Clifford Jones a scientist and environmentalist, while the Doctor, having barely survived his trip to "paradise" Metebelis Three, drives Bessie to the Welsh coal mine now part of a research project by Global Chemicals.

They find out that the mine is full of green goo and vicious and poisonous giant maggots. The ecological disaster has happened because of pollution created by the research facility's revolutionary process.

It turns out that Global Chemicals computer system, a sentient AI called BOSS (Bimorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor), has enslaved the staff. BOSS is part of a vast global conspiracy between other intelligent computers around the world.

The Doctor foils the plot by de-hypnotising the mine director with a large blue crystal from Metebelis Three. The director then causes BOSS to self-destruct.

The maggots are killed by a fungus food product created by Professor Jones's group.

Jo, whoose affection for Jones has grown throughout the serial decides to marry him and stay behind. The Doctor gives her the crystal as a present and drives Bessie off into the sunset.

What I Thought

The megalomaniacal world dominating AI has strong echoes of Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and obviously Skynet of the Terminator series and HAL9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The mad AI menace of BOSS reminded me of the demonic AI from Harlan Ellison's 1967 short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

I thought that the death of BOSS was distressing, particularly when the AI says that it is burning. It was a far more traumatic end than that of HAL9000's more gradual demise.

The maggots' mouths are particularly nasty looking. I think they patched in a picture of a fang bristling real animal's mouth parts with the model maggot.

I loved that the maggots turn into even more lethal looking giant flies that attack the Doctor. The fly model is cool and I wouldn't mind owning it, or the Metebelis Three hypno crystal myself.

I loved the Doctor's hilarious and near fatal trip to Metebelis Three. Although it was only a short part of the overall serial, I enjoy watching Jon Pertwee hamming it up on solo adventures. There is also a scene later on, when he dresses up as a cleaning lady and really leans into the silliness. It's always great to see Pertwee, a long time comedy actor, to occasionally exercise his chops.

Remember that odd foreshadowing of romantic entanglement and homesickness? Jo Grant finding a partner and leaving the Doctor in The Green Death was the event foreshadowed in Planet of the Daleks.

Captain Mike Yates, who fancied his chanced with Jo is a bit cut up at the news of her sudden imminent marriage, but I would have thought Sergeant Benton a much better match. Instead Jo goes for a man who is almost a human version of the Doctor. Quirky, rude, condescending, brilliant, and attractive. One supposes, once you've been in the company of a Time Lord, finding someone else who can match your lofty expectations is rather difficult.

The Co-Op milk float strikes a chord in my memory. When did milk deliveries end and why did we need them anyway? Not that I'm ungrateful, as we didn't have a car in those days, and I would not have liked to have been sent by Mum to buy milk from the local Co-Op, and then wobble home with bags dangling from the handlebars of my Raleigh Europa (oh god and Brexit just happened). Bags of vegetables were one thing, but milk bottles? No thanks.


Katy Manning went on to star in a few films and occasionally appeared on TV. She still promotes new Doctor Who, goes to conventions, and is also active on social media including Twitter. CRRRaSh! salutes Katy Manning. We will miss you Jo Grant.