Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5

The one with the maggots. Even those with only the most cursory knowledge or memory of DOCTOR WHO in its glory days in the 1970s will feel a little thrill of recognition when they remember the maggots – in much the same way as they remember shop window dummies. ?he Green Death?is a bona fide DOCTOR WHO classic and its arrival on DVD is not only a welcome reminder of how great the series was before it ate itself but it also serves as a template for what the new series ought to be striving towards – strong, moral stories with a rich vein of humour, utterly believable characters and some seriously good scares. The new production team have been muttering about tackling ?ssues?in the new episodes and ?he Green Death?shows how to do it without standing on a soapbox or banging a drum or repeatedly hitting your audience around the head with The Message.

Something nasty is going on in South Wales (I should know, I live there). Those scientific types at Global Chemicals have been pumping toxic waste down into abandoned mine shafts leaving nasty green slimy deposits which cause anyone who touches it do die a horrible?r?reen death. Worse yet, the countryside? suddenly crawling with oversized maggots? What? a taff to do? Why, here come the boys from UNIT with their nancy boy scientific adviser in towzp>

You know the score. This is top quality DOCTOR WHO; Robert Slomon? fine script may not be as subtle as we? like to think a modern day equivalent might be but there? no denying the strength and quality of the ideas here, many of them eerily prescient and many others still of concern to environmentalists today. It may be a simple message – pollution is bad, giant maggots are worse – but it? a potent one and DOCTOR WHO has rarely been blessed with such taut, contemporary storytelling. Jon Pertwee is happily finishing off his transformation into the kindly-cuddly scientist and his relationship with his assistant Jo (Manning) who finally flies the coup when she finds her own younger version of the Doctor to spend her life with, is here defined as the strongest bond any Doctor ever forged with one of his girlies. Fine support too from the UNIT crew and Manning? real-life feller Stewart Bevan as long-haired eco-scientist Clifford Jones. Jerome Willis is a creepily malevolent bad guy, the weak puppet of the supercomputer BOSS and one of the few tragic bad guys the series ever attempted to portray.

Besides some appalling special effects – that? the part three escape from the maggot cave I? referring to, of course and the none-too-clever giant fly too for that matter – there? very little to fault in ?he Green Death? There? a level of reality here which the show rarely managed again; the combination of an actor so at home in the role it? hard to imagine anyone else ever played it and a script which plays to every strength the series ever had creates not only a great DOCTOR WHO serial but also great television. Marvellous.

THE DISC: The need to squeeze six episodes onto one disc alongside a stack of quality extras has resulted in a grainier transfer than we?e used to from a DOCTOR WHO disc. Even so, picture and sound are a world away from what we?e previously seen on VHS so no real complaints. Less time for extras but what? here is good stuff. Highlight has to be Mark Gatiss? amusing and irreverent ?lobal Conspiracy?mini-documentary which presents the story as real with investigator Terry Scanlon (Gatiss) recalling the events at Llanfairfach some thirty years later. More traditional fare otherwise in the form of interviews with writer Robert Slomon (rarely seen on the fan circuit), actor Bevan and a quick FX tutorial by Colin Mapson. A nice package is rounded off by a picture gallery and a bouncy commentary from Manning and producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks. Make the most of this one because the next two DVD DOCTOR WHOs are rather less than essentialzp>

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