C061 The Curse of Peladon



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Primitive aliens with no concept of technology or judicial proceedings want to join a galactic federation in this allegory of Britain’s entry into the EEC



Having sort of repaired the TARDIS, The Third Doctor and his companion, Jo Grant, embark on a journey to the planet of Peladon in the year 3885. There, King Peladon is just about to join the European Union, aka The Galactic Federation, and is meeting with delegates from all around the cosmos — specifically a pair of Ice Warriors and representatives from Arcturus and Alpha Centauri.

Posing as the delegates from Earth, Doc and Jo join the diplomatic talks when suddenly the legendary curse of Peladon seems to become a reality. A horned beast is attacking members of the court and threatening the delegates, thus throwing Peladon’s admission into the Galactic Federation into jeopardy.

Here's what we think

Ponken

@ponken

3.9

Nikulele

@nikulele

4.3

Here's what you think

9 Responses to “C061 The Curse of Peladon”

  1. Stephen | @sgamer82

    TV Tropes calls this serial “The one with a talking dildo alien.”

    Back when Jo was first introduced, I made a note to you guys to keep two episodes in mind in the future. This is the first of them. Specifically, I wonder if you took note of the scene where Jo ruins the Doctor’s attempt to hypnotize the Aggedor and how it contrasts with how she ruined his experiments on that first meeting.

    This serial has many good moments for Jo, I think. Such as her picking up on the Doctor’s ploy and acting the part of Princess, and her moments as she tries and fails to understand the King’s motivations and actions. The Doctor is also awesome, as we see the rare occurrence (outside of Pertwee) of him fighting an enemy in actual combat.

    I’m a sucker for stories with intrigue, so Peladon delivers nicely on that respect, as the mystery of who is sabotaging the delegation and why unfolds. A nice touch was the use of the Ice Warriors as red herrings.

    On the downside, the issue with the priest reminds me of similar “Science vs religion” stories we’ve had, like “The Underwater Menace”, and I can’t say I enjoyed that particular retread. We also had a retread of the Doctor’s impersonating an expected official as he did in “The Power of the Daleks”.

    I enjoyed watching the Doctor save the planet of the skunk stripes. I give The Curse of Peladon a score of 3.9.

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  2. Peter Zunitch

    Let’s face it, any Doctor Who story that has a castle in it tends to be rather good. This story is a perfect example. Thanks much to the directing, Peladon is an instantly engaging world and its well-rounded mythos only leaves us wanting to know more.

    Katie Manning is paired well with both King Peladon and The Ice Warriors, and is finally given some scenes where she can show her acting skills. The Doctor immediately suspecting the Ice Warriors of wrong-doing is a great bit of mis-direction that only becomes more relevant in the future. They are a driving force of good in this episode, and it changes his opinion of them going forward.

    What indeed can we say of Alpha Centauri? At best this iconic doctor who monster (arguably for the wrong reasons) was an insanely ambitious concept whose full potential was just never going to be realized on a shoestring budget. It’s a shame, as I believe as a character it worked well. It would be interesting to see a modern CG version. The Arcturan delegate on the other hand would have been better realized had he been portrayed by an actor in makeup. As for Aggedor, laugh if you like, but I think he was a rather fine creation and was acted well.

    I look forward to next season when we return to continue the story started here. It truly is a shame that historically one high-pitched voice, and a design that didn’t work overshadow such a memorable story. Until next time, Neroon-Neraan-Neroon, Poof! You are a cuddly bear! 4.1

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  3. Trenton Bless | @trentonbless

    Surprise! I’m back earlier than announced! Now that I’m back, I can review The Curse of Peladon. On with the show!

    The phrase “diplomatic nightmare” was surely invented for Brian Hayles’ exciting, elegant four-parter, which rolls a monster gallery, a whodunit and a romance into one. A veiled comment on Britain’s entry into the Common Market broadened its appeal and gave it the kind of added dimension that can only boost a story’s value.

    I mean the look of this serial was brilliant, wasn’t it? I mean, the sets looked good, the Ice Warriors were well done, and I really liked Jo in this story. So wonderful was it all.

    We’ve had a carnival of creatures before, in Mission to the Unknown, but here cast and crew strive to make them all a bit different, and invest them with distinct personalities. Alpha Centauri is a twittering ninny, Arcturus a life-support-assisted schemer (with a voice like the “For Mash get Smash” robots) and the Pels themselves a mixture of very human traits – for an unsurprising architect of chaos, Hepesh is at least well sculpted in terms of motive.

    Overall, this serial is wonderful. I can’t stop using that word with this one, can I? Wonderful. So, with a wonderful story like this, it gets an easy 4.0. I mean, I’m sure you gave it a 4.0 as well. If at least not something close to it.

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  4. Matthew

    Dr Who doesn’t often do current affairs / political satire, so this take on the UK joining the EEC makes for an interesting (and topical) episode. It’s flawed, but overall, I liked it.

    Pertwee is typically great, whether he’s easily assuming the role of chairmen, kicking Grun’s arse or serenading a cuddly bear. Jo has more to do than usual, although her ‘rescuing’ the Doctor from Aggedor when he clearly has everything under control is a bit dumb. The supporting characters are pretty good: the King is, in Jo’s words, a wet fish, but at least he’s a well acted one. And I liked that all the delegates have distinct characters. The Doctor’s initial distrust of the Ice Warriors could have been explored more, though.

    There are quite a few plot holes, most notably: what stops the Doctor saying “Come on, I’ll show you the secret tunnels right now”?

    Also, the Federation seems quite slapdash: the delegates have no idea about customs on each other’s planets, what the other delegates look like, what they are called, or even how many of them will be attending: wouldn’t catering need to know that in advance? (Although perhaps British negotiators just show up in Brussels and begin talks with the first foreigner they meet.) And, while it bugged me at first, Jo decisively telling the delegates that they have no power to cancel a mission makes sense in this context: they probably don’t know themselves what the rules are, so just agree with her.

    Still, its four enjoyable episodes, without much padding (spoiler: you’ll see six episodes on Peladon later. It drags.) I’ll give it a 3.0.

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  5. Arthur Fuxake

    I just watched this serial a month or two ago as I am also working my way through the Pertwee era at the moment. This was one of the first adventures I ever watched as it was repeated on TV when I was very young. For this reason I probably enjoyed it a little more than I should have, although I felt it was not quite up to the standard of some of the third doctor’s previous adventures, and possibly jars a little against all the earth-bound/unit adventures which appeared slightly more adult and darker in tone.

    I’m sure you guys have already picked up on the fact that this story is linked in many ways to the more recent “Empress of Mars”. I won’t go any further to avoid spoilers for the Capaldi episode, and I also won’t talk about Alpha Centauri as I’m sure he/she will have been commented to great effect within the podcast. I am certain too that the Doctor’s Venusian lullaby to the tune of “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” will not have passed unobserved, and have to admit that this curious element still leaves me somewhat perplexed to this very day.

    Apparently, the basis of this serial was inspired by Great Britain’s accession to the Common Market, which was a highly topical and controversial topic at the time. A kind of reverse-Brexit, for any younger listeners. This being the case, it is interesting to note the initial mistrust towards the Ice Warriors (even on behalf of the Doctor himself), that slowly gives way to reveal them to actually become Earth’s closest allies. However, if the script-writer’s intention was to try and convince viewers to treat “foreigners” (because – let’s face it – this was the main issue at the time) with less suspicion, then I hardly think that introducing a traitor within their midst was possibly the best plot device.

    Great acting skills displayed throughout by Troughton, although a little too theatrical in places for my liking. In fact, the character of the king did come across as rather naive and helpless too often throughout the serial. Loved the Hammer-style castle setting and the introduction of multiple alien cultures was quite interesting, even though a couple of these were a bit silly …but enjoyable nevertheless.

    My score for this therefore has to be a solid 3.0; not a classic in my opinion but well above average.

    Reply
    • Arthur Fuxake

      Another great podcast guys, really enjoying your reviews of the classic shows. Sorry about going over the 250 word limit, I’ll make sure I stay under next time. I also made an error when I mentioned that the Ice Warriors were Earth’s allies, I actually meant the good guys in general.

      Keep up the great work!!

      Reply
      • Arthur Fuxake

        Apologies also about the late submission. I wasn’t sure if there was a cut-off point or not, but now that I know I’ll make sure I get any future mini-reviews in before then.

        Reply
        • No need to apologise, buddy. We love reading maxi reviews, too. It’s just that we have to set a limit for how much we include on the show. As for the cut-off point, I’ll try to be more diligent about announcing when we record in future. In any case, super happy to have you onboard! Rock on!

          Reply
  6. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    The TARDIS arrived on the planet Peladon as Ice Warriors from Mars and interplanetary delegates from Alpha Centaur and Arcturus considered the planet’s admission to their federation, according to King Peladon’s wishes. The Chancellor and High Priest Hepesh, though, disagreed about the wisdom of their planet joining. Hepesh related the legendary curse of Aggedor, an extinct animal turned god, which warned of the creature’s return for retribution. This story and the Chancellor’s sudden, mysterious death prompted the delegates’ concern for their safety. The King insisted his local problems were separate from their purpose and pleaded for the delegates to stay. Upon being discovered, everyone mistook the Doctor for the committee’s chairman from Earth before he introduced Jo as a princess so she could move freely around the citadel. As the delegates left the throne room, a statue of Aggedor was levered from an overhead ledge to fall on them.

    The Doctor shoved the Ice Warriors to safety before everyone returned to the safety of the throne room to discuss the ambush as Jo searched the ledge from which the statue fell and found an electronic key. When the delegates retired, the King asked Jo to stay and told her they had a connection because his mother was from Earth and having someone young to talk to was a delightful change. Jo fled, though, assuming the King was after her for political advantage. When Jo gave the Doctor the key she found, he said he suspected the Ice Warriors. An alarm suddenly sounded, summoning everyone to Arcturas, whose life support system had been sabotaged. The Ice Warriors suspected the Doctor was responsible when they discovered him crouched beside the delegate, unaware he was repairing the damage. Jo found the part taken from Arcturas in the Ice Warriors’ room, where she was discovered; detained; and escaped after learning the damage to Arcturas had not been life threatening. The king’s Champion, Grun, summoned the Doctor into secret tunnels beneath the citadel, where the live Aggedor frightened him. Scooby Dooing ensued. For the Doctor, the chase ended in Aggedor’s shrine, where Hepesh found him and accused him of sacrilege. King Peladon announced the charge had no defense and its only punishment was death.

    King Peladon balanced the delegates’ appeal to spare the Doctor against the weight of native law and offered trial by combat with Grun as an alternative to execution. The Doctor accepted. Moments later, the King proposed to Jo, who couldn’t believe his horrible timing. Hepesh gave the Doctor a map and lined up his escape as other delegates seriously considered leaving. Jo pointed out the Doctor losing the fight at his trial would complicate a delicate, diplomatic situation. The Ice Warriors agreed, saying war would break out and devastate Peladon. Jo left angrily, but later learned abandoning the talks required a unanimous vote the Ice Warriors refused to support. The Doctor encountered Aggedor and worked at hypnotizing him until Jo found them and scared the beast away with a torch. In the throne room, the delegates; the King; and Hepesh discussed the Doctor’s disappearance until he and Jo arrived. The startling news that Aggedor was neither a god nor extinct didn’t spare the Doctor. He won his fight with Grun, sparing the Champion, as Arcturus attacked.

    The Ice Warriors killed Arcturus and Hepesh fled. As the remaining delegates, including the Doctor, spoke to the King, everyone realized Hepesh had made an agreement with Arcturus to be implemented after Peladon’s federation membership was rejected. They now assumed Hepesh would accuse the Ice Warriors of murdering Arcturus and start a war. The Doctor recommended replacing Hepesh immediately. The King asked for unprecedented federation support requiring a unanimous committee vote granting special powers. As Jo and and the delegates discussed the situation, Grun helped the Doctor learn Hepesh and his forces were on the offensive. The delegates agreed to support the King, but found themselves isolated, their communications cut off and Jo denied the rumors she would marry the King. Hepesh and his forces entered the throne room and demanded all the aliens leave. A good fight ensued that ended when the Doctor arrived with Aggedor, who killed Hepesh The Doctor discovered the TARDIS, which had been brought up the mountain it fell down earlier and told Jo the Time Lords sent them to Peladon to help with the critical conference. As the real Earth delegate arrived, they dematerialized.

    “Curse of Peladon” is a mystery steeped in the trappings of palace intrigue. Politics; murder; secret passages; arranged marriage; distrust; and betrayal were all spiced with an ancient curse and barbaric rituals. All the action took place inside a citadel atop an atmospheric, storm ravaged mountain. Writer Brian Hayles used Ice Warriors magnificently as a red herring. They did nothing diplomatic in their debut, fighting from a weak position against a besieged group in a desperate situation. Worse. In the sequel, they were invaders. As the Doctor worked to save Arcturus in this serial, they expressed legitimate suspicion which, together with their history, cast doubt on them. Then, Jo found the missing part from Arcturas’ life support system in their room to reinforce doubts.

    Jon Pertwee’s Doctor began his era exiled to Earth by the Time Lords. So, his rare travels in the TARDIS enabled him to deal with something other than an alien invasion or a mad scientist. The last whodoneit involving the Doctor featured him wondering whom the Great Intelligence was using as a spy in “The Web of Fear”. On Peladon, the Doctor slipped into the authoritative role of chairman delegate as he did on the planet Vulcan, investigating the Daleks as the Examiner. The Doctor used other personas from time to time to good comic and dramatic effect like pretending to be a German doctor and a woman in “The Highlanders” or a regional officer during the French Revolution. As Jo told the Doctor, he loved playing the chairman delegate role he well knew was a charade. His natural authority, though, enabled him to pull off the act as easily as taking command of UNIT on Earth. Overall, this engaging, atmospheric serial is a pleasant departure from the type of stories DOCTOR WHO was typically telling at the time.

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