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Sep 30, 2006

Oil's Well That (You're Fired. - Neil)

The Green Death, episode 6

Howlaround_1A moment of silence before we begin. As I settle down to review Jo Grant's final episode, I reflect on how much brighter and happier the UNIT family years became, how there couldn't have been a single dry eye amongst the production team in the knowledge that one of the show's most beloved icons would shortly be departing, and how the show would never be quite the same again.

Yes, let us shed a tear for the last ever usage of howlaround titles. It truly is the end of an era.

"The story's 'green' credentials have now been pissed all the way up the wall and onto the ceiling"

Back we go again to Stevens' office - as the Global Chemicals complex consists of four rooms and a corridor, this is getting a mite tedious - where Roy Skelton, having made the mistake of referring to the computer as 'Bungle-Bonce', has fallen victim to the Phil Spector Wall Of Sound treatment. I must say his Paul Mc Cartney impressions here are dead good. Just can't depend on anyone, ruminates Stevens; it's not like there's been a great deal of competition in this field since after five episodes, the casualty list stands at a measly six. Not even any UNIT personnel, which is odd as I thought they were saving the trade union allegory for The Monster Of Peladon the following year.

Poo It's all work, work, work at the Nuthutch in the quest to find the cure. The Brigadier's more concerned with his stomach, but as the only available culinary option is the tray of dirt and dog poo with which Colin Baker rubbed his face in The Mark Of The Rani, breakfast is not such an attractive prospect. With Jones' notes gone walkabout and research still stumbling in the dark, it's looking like another twenty five minutes of faffing about until Benton bursts in with an empty carapace and terrific news - at last something's going to happen! Well maybe, just as soon as we've had the 'shock relevation' revealed to us two episodes ago, that Cliff's special hybrid fungus kills giant maggots.

I repeat - a genetically-modified fungus which acts as a deadly pesticide is supposed to solve all the world's food problems. The story's 'green' credentials have now been pissed all the way up the wall and onto the ceiling.

DindinsBOSS' puzzlement at the failure of Yates and James' processing appears to have nothing to do with the big blue glowy Dungeons & Dragons dice still on Yates' person. Inefficient? Try rubbish, mate.

Groan. When I assumed something was going to happen, I naively thought it would be something new and not the exact same tatty chromakey and back-projection car effects we had last week. Scattering fertiliser at minus two miles an hour does not an enthralling action sequence make, but the maggots have all died of boredom so that's one problem solved at least. Well done lads. Now how do you propose to clear the buggers up?

Kinky Mike Yates is having by far the most fun this episode, hauled up in chains and roughhoused by burly men in dark uniforms and leather. This is the last word about Richard Franklin's performance that anyone need ever write.

By my reckoning the giant fly gets a total of around thirty-five seconds of screen time, which is a good indicator of how lame Barry Letts also thought it was.

The countdown to zero-hour - zero being the number of people who are likely to actually notice - is underway. More long-winded ubermensch pomposity from BOSS, whose musical ear is roughly on the same par as the Delaware theme. BOSS is such a absolute twat that I have no difficulty in picturing him with David Tennant's voice - "I love takeovers, they're BWILLIANT!" Even Stevens is getting pissed off. Meanwhile the gate guard decides to play musical statues to pass the time, giving Jon the chance to nip inside the building. Between Yates getting in/out and the Doctor getting out/in - in, out, in, out, shake it all about - I wish someone would once and for all make up their fucking mind.

Overload The confrontation between the Doctor and BOSS is by far the hardest thing to write about in this whole review because there's barely a single element left to comment on that hasn't already been covered. Fruity voice. Crystal. Colour filters. Sine waves. Self-righteous indignation. Explosion. Zzzzzzzz. It's a good enough standalone sequence, but dammit, we've already SEEN it five times in this story in one form or another. "Isn't there another answer?" Jerome Willis does perform a great ventriloquist's dummy act though, and the optical effects were reet smart by 1973 standards. Um, how about we just cut straight to the touching marriage proposal and party afterwards? I think we'd all be a lot happier.

"Mike Yates is having by far the most fun this episode, hauled up in chains and roughhoused by burly men in dark uniforms and leather"

It's beautifully written, this bit. It's genuinely sweet, it's not overplayed, and the Doctor's expression as he drowns whatever sorrows he can with a single swig of champagne, as the reality of not getting his own way all the time finally sinks in, is almost worth slogging through the previous 145 minutes just to get to. It even temporarily writes out that bloody crystal, thus offering a respite from the cheapest cop-out plot device this side of the new series' psychic paper, so it's win-win all the way.

AwwwThus it comes to pass that Mrs Josephine Jones prepares to emigrate to Australia via the Amazon river, while we're left to dwell upon newer and better things, like slit-scan and diamond logos. And as the dinky Palitoy Bessie is pulled along the sunset on a piece of string and the final shot fades out, even the closing EEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo is subdued this week.

Bye bye everybody.

The Bumper Book Of Made-up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about The Green Death episode 6: Jon Pertwee's on-camera sadness was genuine as Barry Letts had just broken the news that his clothing allowance had been cut in half for the following season.


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