HomeTVRevisiting Jon Pertwee's era of 'Doctor Who'

Revisiting Jon Pertwee’s era of ‘Doctor Who’

There are hit and miss results in the move to bring politics into ‘Who’

The Green Death

The Doctor effectively challenges small-minded parochialism in ‘The Claws of Axos’, which is a thoughtful moral story about human green. The most famous example of ‘Doctor Who’ getting political in this era is ‘The Green Death’, which is an ecological story well ahead of its time. Warnings about exploiting the Earth’s finite resources and the horrendous consequences of not heeding warnings are somewhat similar to ‘Inferno’, but ‘The Green Death’ wears its environmentalist credentials more patently on its sleeve. The story is strong, and the cause compelling enough for Katy Manning’s Jo Grant to leave her travels with the Doctor and devote her life to the ecology movement. It fits in neatly with the surrounding ‘flower power’ culture. On the other hand, ‘The Monster of Peladon’, at the end of Pertwee’s run, is a leaden and joyless plod through six tedious episodes. At the time, the UK had just joined the EEC, and miners’ strikes were commonplace. These themes are witlessly shoehorned into the story. It’s a shame, because ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ earlier in the season is an effective satire on the idealism of left-wing politics and the delusion of reaching for utopia, written by a reformed Communist, Malcolm Hulke. The moral is that, for politics in ‘Doctor Who’ to work, they need to be an inherent part of the story, and in service to the story, rather than in service to the writer’s ego.

Greg Jameson
Greg Jameson
Book editor, with an interest in cult TV.

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