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Movie Review: ‘Doctor Who – The Green Death’ (Special Edition)

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While I might be a late transplant to the world of Doctor Who addicts, pleasantly known as Whovians, I make up for that lateness with pure enthusiasm. I blazed my way through the first six seasons of the 2005 reboot (only stopping there because Netflix doesn’t have Season 7 yet) and then began working my way backwards. One of my recent classic viewings was this DVD: Doctor Who – The Green Death (Special Edition).

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The story follows the common theme of the eccentric Doctor and his traveling companion, Jo Grant, find themselves in the middle of a new plot, scheme, cover-up for alien invasion and so forth. Specifically this time it is a chemical plant run by a crazed computer who is dumping mass amounts of chemical waste into the ground. Nearby miners are dying and showing strange symptoms of glowing green skin. As our team of heroes investigates, they find that dangerous waste is infecting maggots underground and turning them into giant killing machines with nasty teeth and a surprising ability to jump. The Doctor, Jo and their military friends at UNIT must figure out a way to stop these rampaging maggots and save the town, possibly the world.

A couple of things stand out about this particular storyline for the franchise. First off, this was the last time we would see Katy Manning playing the role of Jo Grant, at least during this incarnation of the series. She was already dating her soon-to-be co-star who played the professor during this storyline and she thought three years was long enough to be playing the same role. Also, in stark contrast to the slick visual effects of the recent reboot, this movie was glaringly dated in that realm as it bounced back and forth between film and video for different scenes. The video portions gave the footage a kind of soap opera feel, which actually worked well with the campy seriousness of the show.

As to the main star himself, the illustrious Doctor, it is played here by Jon Pertwee and in the special features there is a great documentary about his life. You find that he was quite the rebel and already fairly famous before taking on the role. He was bombastic and perfect for the Doctor, to the point where when he asked the current director/show runner how he wanted him to play the part, the answer was, “Just be Jon Pertwee. Just be you.”

There is also another great bonus feature that recounts the route the show took on its rebirth and all the pieces that had to fall into place. Russell T. Davis, the showrunner, tells his story about his devout love for the show and how he always wanted to bring it back, but it wasn’t until a fateful meeting at a party between him and a newly crowned executive at the BBC, Jane Tranter, who also shared his passion that things began to take shape. It cements that old adage about people doing what they love, following their passions and great things coming from it.

There are lots of other features on this special edition and any die-hard fan of the series will thoroughly enjoy digging their way from item to item on the menu. In regards to the movie itself, not one of my personal favorites, but it certainly holds a charm that is worthwhile.

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About Luke Goldstein

A writer, movie junkie and political nerd. Basically anything that tells a good story is enthralling to me.