Trouble is brewing at a pit in S.Wales. A man touches a green substance and his hand starts to glow. Meanwhile, Global Chemicals boss, Stevens, addresses miners and tells them that coal is history and that the Government are backing his companies energy research. A Professor Jones shouts his protests about the pollution. The pit klaxon sounds; the man is dead and is glowing green. The Doctor heads off for Metebelis 3. The Brig wants the Doctor to go to Wales, and Jo wants to go to Wales to see Jonesand help him. The Brig and Jo set off; she stops at the Nuthutch, as the locals call the collective Jones lives in. She doesn't get off to a good start with Jones; the Doctor, meanwhile, is not enjoying Metebelis 3, with all sorts of dangers. The Brig talks to Stevens and his associate Elgin, who say that Global Chemicals's (GC) new process is clean and rich in energy. Jones is against because the GC process must be polluting; further, he argues humanity must find clean ways of producing energy and not rely on oil. Jones talks of how theyare looking to find sound environmental solutions to global problems, like high protein fungus in stead of meat for food. Jo thinks that it might be an idea to check out the mine shafts to see if GC are pumping waste there. The Doctor returns from his harrowing trip to Metebelis 3 (with a blue crystal) and agrees to help the Brig in his investigations into the mine. Stevens, seemingly confused, says to one of his men - Hinks - that no-one must go down the mine; when he goes, Stevens puts a headset on and closes his eyes. Another miner has gone down the pit and is beginning to glow green. Jo and a miner, Bert, go down to assist the man; the Doctor arrives and says the lift must be pulled up at once, but the controls have been sabotaged.
The Doctor slows the lift by jamming a rod in the pully. He then wants to rig a donkey system so as to use the other lift. The Brig calls GC about cutting equipment but Stevens cuts them off. Fell, a GC worker, complains to Stevens about the death but Stevens says the mine must not be investigated and a voice is heard saying Fell must be processed. It is the voice of their boss. The Brig is stonewalled when he tries, personally, to get cutting equipment. Jo and Bert find the miner, green and unconscious; they try to find aa emergency shaft escape. The Doctor asks Jones to orchestrate a demonstration, whilst he uses that diversion to get into GC and find the cutting equipment. The voice and Stevens see the Doctor on CCTV; the voice wants to discover what purpose he serves in UNIT. The Doctor is apprehended and fobbed off by Stevens. The Brig some cutting gear at a local petrol station and the Doctor heads after Jo and co. Jo and Bert have found something noxious and green in the mine; Bert burns himself on some green ooze. The Doctor finds the miner, dead, and heads off to the west seam. He sends a visibly ill Bert back to the surface and looks for Jo; he finds her and a pool of green ooze and a mass of giant maggots. The shaft begins to collapse and more maggots plunge into it.
The Doctor and Jo use a mine cart to move away from the danger. The Brig decides to pay another visit to GC, begins to tale control and calls in his UNIT men. Elgin confronts Fell about what is happening because he is concerned. The Doctor takes a giant egg with him. The Brig speaks with the Minister for Ecology; the latter, then the Prime Minister, orders compliance with Stevens and GC. The Doctor and Jo climb up a pipe and GC start to empty waste in to it. Elgin manages to get them out of the pipe in time, after breaking Fell's conditioning. Fell sees Stevens as he has a headache; Stevens places a headset on Fell. The voice says Fell must self-destruct; he throws himself from the building. The Doctor, Jo, Brig and the Nuthutch have dinner; Jones is planning to go to the Amazon to find fungi. The Doctor receives a call - Bert has died. Stevens instructs Hinks to get the egg. Jones comforts and upset Jo; they nearly kiss but are interrupted by the Brig and the Doctor. As everyone heads off to bed, Jo reads the book Jones has on the Amazon; the egg hatches and a giant maggot crawls towards her.
Hinks enters the room and is bitten by the maggot; he immediately grows weaker. UNIT arrive in the morning and plan to blow the mines. The Doctor and Jones examine the slime left by the maggot; they discover the slime turns human cells into maggot cells. The Doctor tries to reason with Stevens but to no avail; in the office he meets a minister called...Yates! The Doctor is appalled though as the mines are blown up. The voice reprimands Stevens for calling on outside help; it says nothing must prevent its plan. A cleaning lady sees maggots crawling up one of the pipes. Elgin goes to Stevens and is processed. Maggots start emerging from the underground. (Classic Brig: "I never thought I would fire in anger at a dratted caterpillar.") The Doctor wants to find a cure to the ooze and discover a biological weapon against the otherwise indestructable maggots. The Doctor sneaks into GC disguised as a milkman. Jo knocks over some fungus, destroying Jones's specimens. The Doctor needs a quick switch in disguise when the alarm sounds, so he changes to Mrs. Mop. Jo goes after a maggot. The Doctor gets to talk to Yates and learns more about GC. Jones discovers the fungus is a cure. The Doctor heads for the control room at GC and hear's the voice - it is the voice of a computer: BOSS.
Jones goes after Jo, whilst the Brig has ordered an RAF strike of the hillside. The Doctor and BOSS talk - it is the first computer with a human mind. BOSS works to improve efficiency, supervision and profits for GC. Jo and Jones take cover from the bombing but he is injured. Stevens arrives and tries to process the Doctor, to no avail. Yates gets the Doctor out of his cell; Yates is captured during the escape. Jo gets through to UNIT; the Doctor and Benton fetch her and Jones. At the Nuthutch, Jones says "Serendipity" before passing out; his neck is glowing green. Yates comes to kill the Doctor; the Doctor unconditions Yates with the Metebelis crystal; Yates returns to GC, where BOSS and Stevens are preparing to condition more humans. Yates uses the Metebelis crystal to uncondition another GC worker but the man is killed by BOSS and Stevens walks in, saying no one can be depended on.
The Doctor is given a chrysalis by Benton. They find the body of the maggot and conclude the fungus killed it. The Doctor and Benton throw fungus out for the maggots, who eat it and die. (More classic Brig: "It's working! They're dying like...well, maggots.") A giant fly hatches but is killed by the Doctor who "swats" it with his cape. Yates escapes. Jo tells the Doctor about her accident with the fungus and Jones's slides ("serendipity"); it is the cure. The Doctor rushes to GC as BOSS prepares to take control. Jones begins to show signs of recovery. Stevens is connected to BOSS; the Doctor uses the Metebelis crystal to fight the mind control. Stevens sets the entire factory to blow up; he lets the Doctor go and warn everyone. Jo decides to stay with Jones, to get married and go with him to the Amazon. The Doctor slips away while everyone else enjoys an impromptu engagement party.
The Green Death is a marvellous story! Sloman's script has a lot of things on offer: good old sci-fi fun, witty dialogue (BOSS is the funniest, mad computer ever, like when it starts to hum classical music - and what a difference to WOTAN, from the War Machines, even though that plotline is similar ) ; the touching farewell to Jo; and obviously a great deal of political comment on the miners and mining industry, pollution, oil and alternative energy, the nature of corporations/capitalism/government and the green movement.
There are some clear weaknesses - the CSO and Giant fly aren't great effects. But those don't detract too much from the general picture. The condom maggots were neat!
It is a sad story in that we say goodbye to Katy Manning. I have heard it said that Katy didn't really act in Doctor Who because the sweet natured, giggling, smiling Jo is exactly the same as Katy herself. Jo Grant is, without a doubt, one of my favourite companions in the best companion stakes.
Could Jo be replaced? Absolutely. The next companion would prove to be the fan's nr.1 favourite and mine too: Sarah Jane Smith (Liz Sladen).
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