Monday, April 13, 2015

The Green Death - "I like your handbag."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Green Death - Details

Season 10, Story 5 (Overall Series Story #69) | Previous - Next | Index

The maggots. Nobody forgets the maggots.

If they're lucky, they forget about the bane of this era, those three letters fans recoil at the utterance of: C.S.O. That's Colo(u)r Separation Overlay, the second most dismal science.

The real drama in this story though is that it is the last for Katy Manning's Jo Grant. The show wants to push your buttons on this one, and they do. We know it's melodrama but, when the Doctor rides off into the sunset (or, a smokey lens aimed at a still high sun) painfully alone, it's hard not feel a bit of heartbreak on his behalf. We suspect we're torn up a little on Pertwee's behalf. He really does look gutted.

The problem is Professor Jones is only almost perfect. He's personable and quirky, brilliant and principled, and about eight percent of the time it's clear he and Jo are going to end up together. The problem is the other twenty percent of the time he's a sexist ass that we fear, if he has one too many glasses of the elderberry wine after a dodgy fungus, could turn abusive. He's so patronizing he takes it for granted Jo is going to marry him and leave UNIT to follow him to the Amazon basin. It undermines the effectiveness of the poignant scene at the end -- played to perfection by both Manning and Pertwee. Still, even if we think Jones is entirely too full of himself, that Jo and the Doctor know their adventure together is over is one of the most touching moments of the series to date. Far more effective than One's farewell to Susan, and even more so than two being wrenched from Jamie and Zoe.

It's not all emotion and a mixed bag of effects though. There's some broad comedy and even Captain Yates get in on the action. He's so Yates about it though it's more comedic than was probably intended. But, if you love to hate him, this'll give you plenty to chew on.

The meat and potatoes of the story is the charmingly didactic environmentalism and anti-capitalism. Good on, Barry Letts. This is sci-fi, so the mind control agent driving the villainy at Global Chemicals is sentient super-computer (my, this is so much like "The War Machines" with a dash of "Inferno" thrown in, but if environmentalism is your theme, can you be faulted for recycling post-consumer materials?) named -- heavy is the hand that types comes up with symbolic acronyms -- BOSS. If it's hard to remember how BOSS came about and why it's so demented and megalomaniacal, it's probably because it's just a stand-in for what really controls the mind of your ace capitalists: pathological greed.

BOSS is really something, humming classical music (someone had 2001 in mind), referencing Wagner and Nietzsche, sounding for all the world like the late Roger Delgado. BOSS, I had to look it up, was not voiced by Delgado though, it was John Dearth, whom we'll meet at the end of next season as Lupton in "Planet of the Spiders."

Terrance Dicks asserts in an interview in the DVD extras that this is the only DW he was involved with that started with a message and got a story built around it. True or not, it's a hard thing pull off. How much do you like being lectured by your communist professor about the evils of capitalism? Did you watch Al Gore teach you about An Inconvenient Truth more than once? I think capitalism is evil and Al Gore didn't hammer the point hard enough, but even I only watched it once. But, I'd watch "The Green Death" again. Come over if you don't believe me. You bring the 'shrooms and I'll start a batch of elderberry wine -- we'll make a party of it!

Wait, are you Welsh at all? Because unless you have a high tolerance for your people being mercilessly stereotyped, you may not be able to stomach all the caricatures slinging boyos. (Oh, DW, I wish we didn't have to apologize for you quite so often on the ethnicity front, the sexism front, and the we-think-we-can-unlock-any-door-with-our-magic-chroma-key front.)

This is another case of a story having all the faults its critics say it has, and still being one you shouldn't miss.

Image via

Stray Thoughts:

The Doctor's run-ins on Metebelis 3 are laughable. But not in the worst way.

This seems to be where Venusian karate changes to Venusian aikido.

Jon Pertwee, Master of Disguise?

Yates's best moment ever: "I like your handbag."

Three tries to pull a Kirk on BOSS. BOSS survives the logic bomb.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...