The Green Death

2004's third DVD release is 'The Green Death', which, as "the one with the giant maggots", is one of the few Doctor Who stories remembered by the general public and is well deserving of its status as a true classic.

As usual, the D3 dubs from the original QUAD masters were replayed via the transform decoder and the component output processed via the grading system. A reasonable amount of noise reduction was applied with a bias towards red as this hue displays the most video noise. It would also help with some of the set pieces in this story such as the BOSS waveform display. The film inserts required a full re-grade and were also processed to remove bad field-flicker from the MKII telecine used in 1973. There was also some other flicker at a slower rate noticeable on some shots which was probably caused by lighting sources and unfortunately nothing could be done with this. As is standard during the creation of the new master, 1 or 2 frames were removed from bad film joins which would be difficult to paint out due to movement.

All episodes were generally of the same quality, although the end of episode 3 (from the Nuthutch dinner onwards) exhibited a higher level of noise and some softening, suggesting this section had been dropped down further tape generations for some reason. During the grading of episode 5 it was discovered that the wrong D3 tape had been sent, featuring a pre-sypher non TX version of the episode without incidental music and FX added to the soundtrack. Work was continued as it did mean the pictures were only 2nd generation Quad as opposed to 3rd and it was easy enough later on to match some very small edits made which pulled up the action in a couple of places.

The story features some Top of The Pops style keying effects (blue crystal/destruction of BOSS) which caused a few problems. Basically the levels on the original (particularly the blue channel) were illegally high which the grading system dealt with by simply clipping the signal at the maximum legal level. There is a little headroom in the system to work with but not enough in this case with the result being that hues were created during the effects shots (due to the clipping) which were not on the original. These shots required a re-transfer from the D3 with the video output level lowered, then a compromise was reached between the darkening of the overall shot and allowing some clipping to occur through the grading system with these adjustments being mixed in/out with the original effects.

The graded shows were then cleaned up frame by frame, removing dropouts and film blemishes. Cleaned-up sound, courtesy of Mark Ayres, was then laid back to complete the masters.

Although this is a six episode story, we were asked to ensure that the completed DVD material would fit onto a single disc. This meant that the room for extras was limited to 45 minutes (effectively the same as for 'Pyramids of Mars', which had four episodes plus 95 minutes of material on one disc), somewhat less than we are used to working with.

The Audio Commentary is provided by actress Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts and script-editor Terrance Dicks, who between them give us a fascinating, entertaining and at times emotional insight into the story.

The main featurette is Global Conspiracy?, a twelve minute look at the mysterious events that occurred in Llanfairfach in 1973... and those that might still be occurring today. Global Conspiracy? includes archive material and interviews with those involved in the original incident and is hosted by Man Alive's environmental correspondent, Terry Scanlon.

John Kelly has supplied three other interview features for the release, featuring actor Stewart Bevan, writer Robert Sloman and the story's visual effects assistant, Colin Mapson, who also demonstrates how to Build a Maggot!

The Picture Gallery includes rare and never-before-seen photographs from both location and studio, and Richard Molesworth has once again provided comprehensive Production Subtitle Notes.


Copyright Jonathan Wood, Steve Roberts  29 February 2004