‘THE MONSTER OF PELADON’
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Peladon with the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane
‘The Monster of Peladon’ features the Doctor visiting Peladon, 50 years since his first visit. The story features Jon Pertwee’s Doctor with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. It’s a six-part adventure by Brian Hayles and is on a 2-disc DVD set. This instalment of the ‘Peladon Tales’ is compelling to watch!
Just to say, it’s implied that this is the Third Doctor’s second visit to Peladon. However that doesn’t seem to be the case now as the Third Doctor visited Peladon in a Big Finish audio story between ‘Curse’ and ‘Monster’. That story happens to be ‘The Prisoner of Peladon’ starring David Troughton.
In this story, the TARDIS lands inside some cave tunnels where the Doctor and Sarah Jane step out. They are soon captured by Peladon’s guards and are taken to the throne room. Instead of King Peladon though, the Doctor and Sarah Jane meet up with the King’s daughter named Queen Thalira.
Trouble occurs on Peladon now. Having joined the Galactic Federation, Peladon finds itself at the centre of a war. The Federation require a mineral called trisilicate to help them in the war effort. This mineral is found in the mines of Peladon, but the miners aren’t so happy to dig it up themselves.
It gets worse when the ghost of Aggedor keeps appearing in the miners and kills off the miners one by one with a red fiery beam. There is distrust among the working classes and the higher authorities. Queen Thalira needs the Doctor’s help, but it gets more troublesome when the Ice Warriors turn up.
Again, like with ‘The Curse of Peladon’, this story reflects the period and atmosphere of the 1970s. Whether it was intentional or not on Brian Hayles’ part, this story gets its influence from the miners’ strike that happened in the UK in 1973. It’s so interesting to watch these stories reflect those times.
I don’t know what went on during the UK miners’ strike in 1973, but it must have been pretty serious and a lot of debate must have been going on. That’s the impression I get from watching this ‘Doctor Who’ story, especially when there are who want to gain positions of power and oppose oppression.
Peladon is still a world of medieval proportions, despite having joined the Galactic Federation. There seems to be this war going on with Galaxy Five. Whether that’s related to ‘Galaxy 4’, I don’t know. Queen Thalira looks to Federation support at times whilst questioning their motives during the crisis.
Jon Pertwee is superb as ever as the Doctor in this adventure. He’s surprised when he sees that Peladon is ruled by Queen Thalira instead of King Peladon. But he’s willing to help and advise her during this crisis she’s having on Peladon as well as sort out the miners’ squabbles and protests here.
I like how Jon Pertwee’s Doctor gets to be the action hero again in this adventure as well as use his intelligence to outwit oppressors like the Ice Warriors themselves. He also gets to reunite with Ethel…oh, I’m sorry…Aggedor the furry beast as well as strike a friendship with chief miner, Gebek.
Elisabeth Sladen is great as Sarah Jane Smith in this adventure. She’s relatively fresh in her travels with the Doctor, as this story takes place in an early stage of her time in ‘Doctor Who’. She gets to express her women’s lib views, especially as she advises Queen Thalira how to stand up for herself.
Sarah Jane’s relationship with the Doctor is equally enjoyable, as she sometimes teases him when they’re having an adventure. She’s also deeply fond of the Doctor and gets upset when she thinks he’s dead, not once but TWICE in the story. I like that final scene between her and the Doctor in this.
Nina Thomas guest stars as Queen Thalira. She’s an interesting, timid character in the story. Like her father before her, Thalira is inexperienced as a ruler on Peladon and sometimes gets bossed about by Ortron when making decisions. She overcomes her shyness and she puts her trust in the Doctor.
Frank Gatliff guest stars as Chancellor Ortron in this adventure. I’ve seen Frank Gatliff before in an episode of ‘The Good Life’. Ortron is very much like Hepesh in ‘The Curse of Peladon’, since he doesn’t trust Federation representatives and dismisses the miners. But he becomes good in the end.
I found it tense when the Doctor and Sarah Jane try to prove their worth to Queen Thalria and that they can be trusted, but Ortron seems determined to distrust them. He doesn’t even listen when they try to explain that they are innocent. Ortron soon sends the Doctor and Sarah Jane into the pit.
Rex Robinson guest stars as Gebek, the chief miner on Peladon. I’ve seen Rex Robinson before as he was in ‘The Three Doctors’ with Jon Pertwee. Gebek is a kind-hearted man who isn’t rash and doesn’t go for violence. He befriends the Doctor and helps him when they attempt to save Peladon.
Ralph Watson guest stars as Ettis, a fellow miner with Gebek on Peladon. Ettis is the opposite of Gebek, as he’s very against Peladon’s higher authorities and the Federation. He leads a rebellion when he and the miners refuse to work and they steal Federation weapons to defend themselves.
Donald Gee guest stars as Eckersley, a human scientist and engineer who helps with work in the miners on Peladon. Eckersley seems to be one of the good guys at first, as he seems willing to help. But it turns out Eckersley is a traitor and becomes ruthless when he’s working with the Ice Warriors.
Alpha Centauri returns in this, performed by Stuart Fell and voiced by Ysanne Churchman. He’s still the one-eyed alien who can be grating on the ears with his high-pitched voice and hysteria. But Alpha Centuar is now a Federation ambassador on Peladon and helps the Doctor and Sarah Jane out.
The Ice Warriors make a return in this Peladon adventure and this time they’re the bad guys. It was quite a shock to see them back to being bad guys as they were the good guys in ‘The Curse of Peladon’. But it turns out these Ice Warriors are a breakaway group returned back to their old ways.
The Ice Warriors are led by Alan Bennion as Commander Azaxyr, who is ruthless and unhesitating when it comes to deal with opposition. There’s also Sonny Caldinez as Sskel, one of Azaxyr’s troops. The Ice Warriors seem to be greener than ever before compared to their previous TV appearances.
The cast also includes Graeme Eton as Preba; Michael Crane as Blor, the Queen’s champion who gets killed in ‘Part One’ and Terry Walsh as the Guard Captain. There’s also Max Faulkner and Roy Evans (who was in ‘The Green Death’) as the miners and Gerald Taylor as the weird-looking Vega Nexos.
And of course this story features the return of Nick Hobbs as Aggedor, or Ethel as my Dad and I call him. It was great to see the Doctor reunite with Aggedor and use his Venusian lullaby to tame him. I was so upset when Aggedor got killed in a struggle with Eckersley at the end. They killed Ethel! NO!!!
The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a DVD audio commentary with Nina Thomas, Donald Gee, Ralph Watson, Stuart Fell; producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks, moderated by Toby Hadoke. There’s also a fan commentary for ‘Part Four’ only with new series writer Robert Shearman and ‘Doctor Who’ fans Mark Aldridge, Kate Du-Rose and Philip Newman. There’s also an info-text commentary to enjoy.
On Disc 2, there’s ‘The Peladon Saga – Part Two’ behind-the-scenes documentary; a deleted scene and a ‘Where Are They Now?’ interview with Ysanne Churchman. There’s ‘On Target – Terrance Dicks’, looking at the contribution to the ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization range by Terrance Dicks. There’s also a photo gallery of the story and PDF materials including ‘BBC Enterprises Sales Literature’; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and a ‘Studio Floorplan’. There’s also a coming soon trailer for ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. There are also two Easter Eggs to look out for on this DVD disc.
‘The Monster of Peladon’ is a gripping story with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith. I enjoyed their adventure on Peladon and how they tackled an alien version of the miners’ strike as well as dealing with the Ice Warriors, who turned out to be the bad guys in this one.
The ‘Peladon Tales’ DVD box set is an enjoyable collection of ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the Jon Pertwee era. I found it interesting how Brian Hayles told his stories that perhaps subconsciously reflected the times of the 1970s. It was fun to do it on an alien world and with Ice Warriors involved.
‘The Monster of Peladon‘ rating – 8/10
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