‘THE CURSE OF PELADON’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Peladon with the Third Doctor and Jo
The Peladon saga begins!
I purchased the ‘Peladon Tales’ DVD box set with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor when it was released in January 2010. This was before I met Sarah Sutton at conventions. This DVD box set contains two stories including ‘The Curse of Peladon’ and ‘The Monster of Peladon’, both set on the same planet.
I enjoyed this DVD box set very much. Both stories are by Brian Hayles and they feature some intriguing scenarios with socio-political atmospheres in them. They also feature the Ice Warriors in the two stories, since Brian Hayles had created them for his early ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the 1960s.
The Peladon saga has continued to last beyond its two TV stories. These include audio stories by Big Finish as well as a ‘Doctor Who’ book. Who knows?! Peladon may return to feature in a story of the new series of ‘Doctor Who’. I’d like to think so, since these tales reflect the times of our society.
‘The Curse of Peladon’ features the Doctor’s first visit to the planet. The story features Jon Pertwee’s Doctor with Katy Manning as Jo Grant. It’s a four-part story by Brian Hayles and is on a 1-disc DVD set.
In the story, the TARDIS ends up on Peladon during a test flight. The Doctor and Jo get out of the TARDIS in time before it tumbles over the edge of a cliff. They climb up the cliff to find a way inside.
The Doctor and Jo eventually get inside the castle of Peladon and are mistaken as representatives from Earth for the Galactic Federation council. Peladon is on the way to join the Galactic Federation.
This story does reflect the period and atmosphere of the 1970s. At the same time, the UK was in the process of joining the EEC (what would later be called the EU). How times have changed since then?! 😀
It’s not clear whether Brian Hayles had this mind when he was writing ‘The Curse of Peladon’. But it certainly helped audiences to engage with the story to connect with what went on in the real world.
Peladon is a world of medieval proportions as well as a certain gothic atmosphere. Its process to join the Galactic Federation causes trouble when there are those unwilling to break off from old traditions.
Jon Pertwee delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this adventure. I like how he takes on board the role of Earth ambassador when mistaken for one. He also has a good relationship with Jo.
Halfway through the story, the Doctor gets accused for sacrilege upon entering the shrine of Aggedor. Jon Pertwee’s Doctor gets to fight for his life when he duels to the death with the King’s Champion.
Katy Manning is lovely as Jo Grant in this adventure. In the story, Jo gets mistaken for being a princess from Earth. She plays the part well as she appears like a princess in her ‘dolled-up’ pink dress.
I liked the relationship Jo has with David Troughton’s character of King Peladon in the story. There’s a sense of a romance between the two, but it’s added with a sense of realism and not so soppy love.
And yes, David Troughton (who would later appear in ‘Midnight’) guest stars as King Peladon in this story. David is one of four sons of Patrick Troughton who played the Second Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’.
I liked David Troughton’s performance as Peladon in this. Peladon is a young, inexperienced ruler who wants his home world to join the Galactic Federation. But even he can be weak-willed at times.
Geoffrey Toone (also in ‘Jeeves & Wooster’) guest stars as Hepesh, High Priest of Peladon. He doesn’t want Peladon to join the Galactic Federation. He has very strong religious beliefs in Aggedor.
The Ice Warriors appear in this ‘Doctor Who’ story and they seem to be the good guys. This was an interesting change from their first two TV stories, as they were usually the bad guys in ‘Doctor Who’.
There are two Ice Warrior delegates from the planet Mars. These include Alan Bennion as Izlyr and Sonny Caldinez as Ssorg. Both appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before as Ice Warriors and are great in this.
There’s also the one-eyed Alpha Centauri, performed by Stuart Fell and voiced by Ysanne Churchman. Alpha Centauri can be very grating on the ears with his high-pitched voice and hysteria.
There’s also Arcturus, performed by Murphy Grumbar and voiced by Terry Bale. Arcturus is a skull-like alien being kept inside a box as his life-support. Can Arcturus be sincere as a peace negotiator?
The cast also includes Henry Gilbert as Chancellor Torbis who gets killed in ‘Episode One’ of the story. There’s also Gordon St. Clair as Grun, who doesn’t speak very much and is the King’s Champion.
Nick Hobbs guest stars as Aggedor, the furry creature in Peladon religion and legends. I like Aggedor when he seems to be not scary. I liked it when the Doctor gives him a Venusian lullaby to tame him.
My Dad likes Aggedor when he sees him. He reminds him of Ethel the Chimp who appeared in that ‘Laurel & Hardy’ film, ‘The Chimp’. You can’t deny it since Aggedor does look like Ethel on screen. 😀
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s ‘The Peladon Saga – Part One’ behind-the-scenes documentary; the ‘Warriors of Mars’ documentary; a documentary about ‘Jon and Katy’ and a ‘Storyboard Comparison’. There’s also a DVD audio commentary with Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and production assistant Chris D’Oyly-John, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s an info-text commentary option to enjoy; a photo gallery of the story and PDF materials including ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Literature’ and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story. There’s also a coming soon trailer for ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.
‘The Curse of Peladon’ is a lovely story with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Katy Manning’s Jo Grant visiting Peladon for the first time. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this story and it had an engaging plot.
‘The Curse of Peladon‘ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE CURSE OF PELADON’
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The Spirit of Aggedor Lives In A Book
How does a Peladon story in book form compare to TV form?
I’ve finished reading/listening to ‘Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon’ by Brian Hayles! It has been an enjoyable read/listen. I found it interesting to discover the world of Peladon in book form and found the descriptive detail and character development in the story rather mesmerising to discover.
The Peladon stories of ‘Doctor Who’ are unique in their own right, especially the TV ones from the Jon Pertwee era. ‘The Curse of Peladon’ itself was one of the attempts by the production team of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks to get the Doctor out off his Earth exile in order to be travelling again.
Brian Hayles created a unique world full of alien and fantasy proportions that can also be considered medieval in their own right, especially when introducing the world of Peladon and its people. It can also be considered a tale reflective of the times in the 1970s when the UK considered joining the EU.
The Target novelization of ‘The Curse of Peladon’ was published in 1975, three years after the story was transmitted on TV. The Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ had barely started in the 1970s and were already getting full swing and becoming popular for those who wanted to rediscover the tales.
‘The Curse of Peladon’ novelization isn’t the first time I’ve come across a book involving Brian Hayles’ writing. The first time I encountered Brian Hayles’ writing in book form was ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization. I enjoyed that novelization very much and I expected the same style of writing for this.
Reading/listening to the Target novelization of ‘The Curse of Peladon’ was different compared to reading ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization. Apart from it being not a ‘Doctor Who’ novelization, I felt invested in ‘The Moon Stallion’ book due to being a Sarah Sutton fan and I loved its TV counterpart.
I didn’t feel the same way as I did with ‘The Curse of Peladon’ novelization. Not because I didn’t find it uninteresting. Far from it! I enjoyed many of the character interaction featured from the TV story in book form. It’s just it was a challenge absorbing everything featured in each chapter of the novel.
The chapters themselves are quite lengthy and whilst reading the novelization with the audiobook, I tended to drift when there was plenty of descriptive detail going on. Thankfully I was able to re-immerse myself back into the book when some character dialogue, drama and interaction occurred.
Going back to the descriptive detail given by Brian Hayles in terms of setting up scenes, it wasn’t bad as I seemed to imply. Again, far from it! I found how incredible Brian Hayles took the time to make the story visual as possible for those readers who thought they’d never watch the story on TV again.
The book copy of the Target novelization I purchased from Amazon is the 1975 edition. I’m glad I got the original 1975 edition of the novelization, although my copy was rather tatty and weather-beaten. Thankfully the book copy I had didn’t break up as I read it with the audiobook, as I’d feared.
The book is divided into 11 chapters. The first chapter is quite short whilst the remaining chapters tended to be lengthy. The first three chapters cover the first episode of the story; whilst the fourth and fifth covered the second; the seventh and eight covered the third and nine to eleven the fourth.
The audiobook is read by David Troughton, who played King Peladon in the TV story as well as being one of the sons of Patrick Troughton. I enjoyed David Troughton’s reading of the novelization in the audiobook. His voice has changed over the years and is no longer the youthful one he had on the TV.
David Troughton’s voice has become richer over the years. Whilst he can’t recreate his youthful voice for young King Peladon, he is able to do a strong voice for Hepesh, almost sounding like the original actor Geoffrey Toone. I don’t think he does exact voices for the Third Doctor and Jo though.
I enjoyed it when David Troughton did the voices for the Ice Warriors including Izlyr and Ssorg. I actually did think Nicholas Briggs might be brought in to do the voice for the Ice Warriors in ‘The Curse of Peladon’ audiobook. But David Troughton does an amazing job making their hissing sounds.
I also really enjoyed it when David Troughton was voicing Alpha Centauri with the voice synthesizer to distort it. It almost sounds like how Ysanne Churchman would have voiced the character in the TV version. But instead of becoming grating, it was wonderfully refreshing and entertaining to listen to.
The voice for Arcturus given by David Troughton with the voice synthesizer is also pretty good too. I didn’t think that Arcturus would’ve sounded logical and machine-like as the book implies. But somehow it makes sense, especially when the tale builds him up to be revealed as one of the villains.
So what differences can be found in the Target novelization compared to the TV counterpart. Well, not much really. The story is exactly the same as it is from the TV version in book version. It’s just there’s more descriptive detail and perhaps extra character dialogue and enhancement on the lines.
There are a few little changes in the book version from the TV version though. For example, there’s the original idea of Alpha Centauri being able to change colour to reflect his mood. That was intriguing to discover and it is interesting that it got dropped from the televised version of the story.
Mind you, I can appreciate and understand why it was dropped. It would’ve probably been expensive and time-consuming to make Alpha Centauri being able to glow and change colour to reflect his mood. Also it wasn’t really essential the story and it is for the best that it did get dropped.
There’s a new scene where Jo tries to convince Grun to not fight the Doctor before they go into the trial by combat during the ‘Episode Three’ section. I’m not sure if this was an actual scene deleted from the original TV scripts or if it was one included by Brian Hayles for the novel. I guess the former.
This leads me to a little dissatisfaction in how Jo is portrayed in the book compared to the TV version. It might be the way David Troughton’s playing it, but Jo often comes across as angry and rather insulting to the Federation delegates when things don’t go her way regarding with the Doctor.
The same case also applies to Jo with King Peladon as she comes across as very angry and even says he makes ‘stupid orders’ when offering the Doctor to fight trial by combat instead of freeing him. I know Jo was upset in the TV version, but she would not go to that point of openly insulting in anger.
By the way, there are nice illustrations of the story in the Target novelization by Alan Willow. I’ve seen illustrations of this kind before in early ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations such as ‘Doctor Who and the Cybermen’ and ‘Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters’. This is especially for the Jon Pertwee TV tales.
There’s also a new scene where Peladon makes a deal with the spirit of Aggedor, just before the Doctor is about to his trial by combat with Grun and before Hepesh enters. This was interesting to discover in the book and intriguing how Peladon is determined to change his home’s barbaric ways.
Another disappointment I came across in the book is the Doctor doesn’t sing the Venusian lullaby to hypnotise Aggedor, or at least the lyrics aren’t provided in the book. I’m not sure if the lyrics were improvised by Jon Pertwee in the story’s making, but clearly Brian Hayles didn’t care for those lyrics.
The book’s conclusion omitted the farewell scene between Jo and King Peladon as well as the Doctor having Aggedor (or ‘Ethel’) cuddling up to him. 😀 I think it would’ve been better if we had a twelfth chapter dedicated to the closing moments of the story rather than have it crammed with the climax.
Interestingly, the actual lady Earth delegate meant to attend the committee for Peladon joining the Galactic Federation has a name – Amazonia. She’s not named in both TV and book versions. Not sure why she wasn’t named. Mind you my main concern is ‘why was she late attending the conference’?!
‘Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon’ is a pretty decent Target novelization by Brian Hayles. I wouldn’t call it an outstanding novelization of a ‘Doctor Who’ TV story, but I enjoyed reading/listening to it. David Troughton is also very good as the narrator for the tale in the audiobook.
I preferred my reading experience of ‘The Moon Stallion’ novelization compared to ‘The Curse of Peladon’ novelization. I enjoyed the experience again with the audiobook read by Sarah Sutton. Otherwise, ‘The Curse of Peladon’ book/audio has been enjoyable and I’m pleased that I read/heard it.
‘Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon’ rating – 7/10
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