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This is a six-part serial, first broadcast between 19th May - 23rd June 1973.
A brief and somewhat spoiler-ish summary of the plot: Global Chemicals, a multi-national corporation with friends in high places, think they've found the solution to the world's energy problems. There is a downside, however. The company causes social upheaval by closing down the local coal mine, and also produces some green, gooey waste-product that kills humans on contact though maggots appear to thrive on it. Aided by a merry band of hippie geniuses the Doctor, Jo and the super-secret United Nations Intelligence Taskforce save the day.
It's in this serial that the Doctor finally gets to visit the fabled blue planet Metebilis III that he had been enthusing about for quite some time and finds that, as is often the case with those must-see tourist destinations, the place is overrated. He does bring back a cool souvenir, though.
It's also in this serial that Jo finds another guy who's far more intelligent than she is, who will boss her around and promises to take her places. Since this time the guy is human and seems actually willing to commit to a relationship, Jo immediately says 'yes' when he pops the question and they live, we assume, happily ever after.
The main flaw of this serial is that the story is a parable, and a rather simplistic one at that. Global Chemicals is evil, the high-IQ hippies are good, and the locals are dialect-speaking simpletons with their hearts in the right place who got caught in the middle. There are also some bad visual effects and a couple of serendipitous solutions that stretch the audience's suspension of disbelief to the very limit. These are minor flaws, however.
The script for this serial is tight and well-written, we get some memorable characters even among the bad guys, the giant maggots are cool, and we also get several explosions which is always nice. One of the best things about this serial is Pertwee's performance. He's in top form here, and shows us the different layers of the Doctor's reaction to Jo's departure - the petulance of a vain and self-centred man losing a prized asset, the mixed feelings of a father-figure seeing his protege go out into the world, and the existential loneliness of a near-immortal who knows that he will see everyone he cares about grow old and die - with great clarity.
A good, solid serial.
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Original version of this review:
Behind the sofa
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