A change of scenery now, as a strange infection starts killing miners near an oil/chemical facility in the Welsh valleys. Isn’t it, boyo? UNIT is called in and the Doctor reluctantly joins them, finding a hive of giant maggots are spewing green goo everywhere, causing people to turn a luminous green and die.
The “Evil Corporation” card is pulled out of the Doctor Who Plot Generator hat for this one. A self-aware computer system, not unlike WOTAN (The War Machines) is controlling its workforce in order to… well, I’m not sure what it’s trying to do. Conquer the world using mind control seems to be its goal, but I’m not sure what this has to do with chemicals or why their products were producing massive mutant maggots. It seems to be nothing more than an unfortunate side effect. No alien interference here, just Technology Goes Wrong. It could have been explored better.
On the other side of the fence are the eco-warrior hippie archetypes trying to shut the plant down. Jo goes all goo-goo-eyed over their leader, Professor Jones, and by the end of the story, decides to get married and leave with him on an expedition around the world, which presumably means that is the last we’ll see of her. A clichéd end, for sure, but despite this there were some touching moments and fond farewells. Jo may have been a weak character (and I never really felt her performances were convincing), however I could really feel the connection and friendship with the Doctor in those last scenes.
There are some funny moments too, the odd witty line here and there, and a sense of fun throughout, despite the seriousness of the threat. At one point, the Doctor disguises himself as an old milkman, then as an elderly maid, which made me chuckle. Pertwee can clearly do a lot more than be grumpy and condescending and I wish he would be written humourously more often.
Robert Sloman’s previous season finales have both had a slightly bizarre feel to them, dealing with monsters, legends or the occult, which this one doesn’t. It’s more like the earlier stories with corporations playing with science and going too far; but it isn’t really explored a great deal and I didn’t feel the story held together all that well. I would have liked more focus on the computer ‘BOSS’ and less on the maggots. Although, to be fair, the maggots were pretty cool.
This ends season 10 on a reasonable if unremarkable note, and leads me into the last few chapters of Jon Pertwee’s era.