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A companion switch, far too many people in shorts, and the Brotherhood of Sarn

The cast of Monty Python’s Life of Brian seem to be shacked up with Laurence of Arabia on a desert planet called Sarn. Being the backwater world that Classic Who likes to frequent, Sarn of course has an elder / soothsayer, a chosen one sporting a fancy 3D tattoo, and some heretics who refuse to worship the fire god, Logar.

At the not-same time and not-same place, an artefact with a symbol matching the chosen one’s tattoo is discovered by Indiana Jones wannabes in modern day Lanzarote. And look who’s tagging along to their archaeological expedition, why it’s none other than future companion Peri, who’s a bit bored and longing to travel. Oh, what’s that you say? The TARDIS is about to appear and whisk her away on an adventure. Spiffing!

Here's what we think of C135 Planet of Fire

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.9

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.3

Here's what we think of C135 Planet of Fire

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

1.9

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.3

Here's what you think 11 Responses to “C135 Planet of Fire”
  1. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:

    • Mini-Master in a tiny box! Did not see that coming. I hope the box has the basic amenities.
    • Bravo to the locations person.
    • Turlough’s departure. Harrah. Though the episode was a missed opportunity to have him fried in sacrifice to Logar.

    Beefs:

    • Turlough is actually an alien from planet Trion!? They’re making this shit up! Is this a massive retcon to try and give him some redeeming characteristics? If so, big time fail.
    • And the Razzie goes to…Howard. Oh my goodness. Although he’s a better fit for robotic Kamelion (I assume the kamelion prop was kaput, so the production team spray-painted Howard’s face silver).

    Summary & rating combined: plus points for creepy Kamelion scenes and the Master, but alas, minuses for a dull story, and all scenes/references to Turlough, equals 0.8/5.

  2. Tracey from America | @yecartniatnouf

    Ok, I admit I spent the first few minutes of this serial narrating *over* what was being said, mostly about short pants, packages, alien vibrators and how long Kamelion has been attached to the TARDIS like that. I mean it’s been serials since we saw him last.
    I dig this one. The story flows well,
    Peri is showing herself spirited and resourceful.
    Turlough departs, deciding to return to his home planet, as the political winds there have shifted. He passes the torch to Peri, instructing her to keep an eye on Doc, which is handy because Peri wants to travel.
    It’s very gratifying to see the Master scrambling around on the floor like a rodent. Oh snap he’s being burned up now?? But he just got done being all burned up in his previous regeneration!

    Rating: the triple M- Mystery, mythology, and the Master

  3. Tanz Sixfingers | @tanz6fingers & @tanzsixfingers (insta)

    Greetings Leon and Jim!!
    In Turlough’s final story, we finally get to know a little more about him, like his and his home planet’s name. While I liked this serial as an individual story, I dislike it as it fits into the continuity. My likes and beefs have to be combined, because my “Tracy score” for this is “Ambivalence on a Beach”.

    • We finally get to see Kamelion at his full potential as a character, and then he is killed.
    • We learn of Turnlough’s back story, then he leaves the show.
    • Anthony Ainley gives, in my opinion, his finest, most developed performance to date as The Master, except for his death scene.
    • Nice to see Turlough and the Doctor out of their normal clothes.
    • The “American” accents of the people in part one are cringeworthy.
    • The planet Sarn seems remarkably similar to the planet Karn, down to a similar mystical flame-derived cure.

    Davison was on top of his game in this story by Peter Grimwade.
    Once again Doctor Who implies there are only two places in America: New York, and the Wild West. I believe it is a trope now.
    I really liked this serial, and it was on location, too. I’d give it 4.4 burning sacrifices to appease the volcano god Logar out of 5.

  4. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    Remember Cameleon, because I sure as hell didn’t!

    From the start I knew I would like this story to some degree. It opens up with some maritime archaeology, something I’m somewhat partial to technically being an archaeologist (well, I’m going to school to be one at least and have been on a dig). The rest of the story is full of intrigue and excitement as we learn a few valuable lessons by the end: Huffing fumes will solve all your problems and all your Gods are dead. (ok maybe one of these you shouldn’t take to heart lol)

    If you had told me going into this that there’d be a lot of skin in this story I would not have thought it would be mostly from seeing Turlough in a speedo.

    Turlough himself is given some proper resolution, expositing his backstory at the end of his run like a scooby-doo villain. While not as well liked as other companions, I’ve found he was an interesting character that had a much more developed arch than other characters on the show before or since.

    But good-bye Turlough and hello Perry! I have a feeling I’m going to like her. She’s charming and shows enough agency to not be laughably useless, but only time will tell if she holds up!

    Anthony Ainley is a joy to watch like always, giving us as much fun as I’m sure he had making this. He has a terrific presence; Orating like a televangelist. Speaking of which this story has a very biblical feel; False prophets, desert nomads, fire and brimstone, bad guys with goatees; you know, real old testament shit. You’d think this wouldn’t blend well with a galactic civil war and a comically tiny master but it somehow does.

    From a production standpoint this story is excellent with some beautiful location footage and believable sets.

    Overall this story earns 4.6 Anthony Ainley action figures out of 5.

    Steven From Canada

  5. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    I refer to this one as ‘oh yes Kamelion exists, let’s kill him off’. He was supposed to be in The Awakening but his scene was cut in the end. And of course there’s a question where he went when the Tardis was destroyed in Frontios. Hmm, yeah they’d totally forgotten about him.. Still at least they film in Lanzarote (as both itself and Sarn) for this one. Thus the Doctor and Turlough are freed of their heavy clothes and get to wear light stuff for the story. This is of course Turlough’s last story and we have his backstory explained. Maybe a little overdone but still fairly effective for the story in question. And we get Peri played by Nicola Bryant who isn’t American if you couldn’t tell but will be having to fake an accent for the rest of her time on the show. Nicola even had to do it in interviews to keep up a JNT pretence that she was American.

    Originally this was the last contracted appearance for Anthony Ainley as the Master, hence the ‘finality’ of the ending. I’ll leave it up to you if you believe it’s the end for Master for one moment. The healing flame on Sarn is quite similar to the eternal flame on Karn. The similar names/properties have led to some fan theories that they are linked.

    Fair good story in this season of transition 3.7/5

    Cheers

    Kieren

  6. Caleb from Australia

    Hey hey hello!

    Planet of Fire is a quaint story packed in between two giants, Resurrection and Androzani, yet it remains thoroughly enjoyable. Like an old video game, though the case is scuffed and mechanics a tad clunky, it still radiates moments of brilliance.

    We are introduced to Peri, one of my favourite companions, acting bratty and impulsive. She pushes her way around foes – matching their vigour -, but also maintains an air of composure when necessary.

    I’m surprised Ainley’s Master wasn’t invited to the 2019 Met Gala because he is serving the kind of CAMP drag queens salivate over. While his extravagance was enjoyable in past stories, his manner jars too much in this tale.

    Davison’s serious tone only worsens things for Ainley, but proves exemplary for the Doctor – his passive observation of the Master being consumed by fire, eyes wide and aghast, makes my hairs stand on end.

    Turlough finally gets the backstory we’ve been aching for and it is a satisfying resolution for his character – a shame it was held-off until his departing story.

    Fiona Cumming directs the location scenes with an emphasis on scale, taking in every stone and dust-devil.

    Peter Howell’s score is one of my favourites in the show; beyond ethereal.

    I love the costuming, with the Doctor and companions dressing for the scorched environment. The silver Howard scaling the arid landscape in a stark black and white suit provides some wonderful imagery.

    An interesting story, which mostly hits the mark: 4/5.

    Caleb from Australia.

  7. Ed Corbet

    This is the one with a limited costume budget, the palest desert dwellers ever, real genuine Americans in their natural environment and Anthony Ainley’s incredible running.

    Doc murders Kamelion at the end of this one, without hesitation or remorse. By realising he was a danger and asking to be killed, Kamelion showed sentience and more humanity than Davros ever does, and Doc had him at gun-point last story and couldn’t pull the trigger. Where were these robo-racist tendencies when K9 was around? Character inconsistency is an issue with any long-running series with multiple writers though, and it would be unfair to suggest Doctor Who is the only culprit.

    We say goodbye to Turlough (stop cheering), Strickson gets a rare treat for the classic-era; a departure story where the writer knew he was leaving when they started writing it and geared the story around them.

    The pace of this one is hurt by the Doctor not meeting the dullards he’s supposed to save until episode 2 and they haven’t even met the Master at that point, so his plan to exploit them is even weaker than usual; “I’m the Messiah and so’s my chameleonic android!”. He turns up, threatens Peri a bit and then goes out with a “You wouldn’t do this to your own ..” before being interrupted by a cliché hating flame (don’t worry, where he was going with this is never mentioned again (nor in fact how he survives)).

    2.0

  8. Derek Moore

    Dearest Whovians,

    I am delighted to hear your review on Planet O’ Fire! While I have seen Resurrection of the Daleks several times over the accumulating decades, I believe I watched Planet of Fire for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago in preparation for your excellent review. As much as Resurrection of the Daleks was filled with violence and was not my favorite, Planet of Fire was filled with awesome sauce and kicked some serious gluteal muscles. Yes, quite a bit of swimming shots of skinny “young” people, but at least it was equally gregarious shots of both men and women.

    Best part was definitely Peri about to stomp tiny Master’s ass. For all the over the top shenanigans of trying to rewrite the Magna Carta and attempting to destroy the universe by using some kind of UHF antenna (I still cannot understand 95% of Logopolis), it was turnabout as fair play with an over-the-top tiny Master chase scene. That, and between the Doctor enjoying giving Chameleon a very painful death, I give this 4 out of 5 screaming robots. Well done!

    Thanks!
    Derek Moore

  9. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hey fellas,

    This is the one where The Doctor goes on holiday.

    Planet of Fire sees the departure of a companion (or two) and the introduction of another. Perpugilliam Brown breezes into the Doctor’s life and I’m sure contributed to many a sexual awakening for those of us of a ‘certain vintage’.

    Likes

    • The location filming on Lanzarote looks amazing
    • Turlough gets to go full on Hasselhoff rescuing Peri
    • Peter Wyngarde chews the scenery wonderfully, playing his role just right.
    • The “The fire god spoke to me, encouraged me to inhale the gases. I felt intoxicated, invigorated. I felt reborn. You were drunk” exchange was delicious.
    • Mini Master – a teeny tiny timelord – a bit of a call back to Carnival of Monsters

    Beefs

    • The accents, the accents! Why do an American accent if you can’t do an American accent?
    • How much older is Howard than Peri? It seems a very dodgy relationship especially in light of Peri’s bedroom ramblings.
    • Why does Peri think the ancient sex toy is made of platinum? Isn’t platinum silver coloured not gold?!
    • The Sarn dudes seem remarkably unimpressed when entering the TARDIS. Where’s the “bigger on the inside line”?

    Overall, it’s a good introduction story for Peri, and it’s great to finally get some backstory for Turlough, although it’s such a shame we’ve had to wait ‘til his final story. The Master is his usual maniacal if ineffective self, and Peter Davison seems relaxed in the role. Whilst by no means a classic story it plods along nicely.

    I award this story 3.1 Turlough stripey budgie smugglers out of 5

    Andy Parkinson
    @caffreys71

  10. GP Haynes

    Hello again Podcasters!

    Hope this finds you well.

    Here is my review for “ Planet of Fire”

    Yay! “ Kamelion” is back!

    Oh no!…. “Kamelion” is gone again…for good!

    Yay! Turlough is gone!….also for good!

    Yay! The Master is gone!…

    …Oh wait…pretty sure he comes back!

    Well, glad to say it’s an above average story again with the Davidson era finishing strongly.

    Lots of funny stuff watching this, with the natives of the titular Planet of Fire, somehow reminding me of a Monty Python movie. “Amyand” even looks like a young Michael Palin !

    The serial had some interesting ideas, but I can’t help feeling the introduction of Peri, just like “ Seven “ in Star Trek Voyager was done solely to generate interest in the show amongst the male viewers.

    Unlike Jeri Ryan though, Nicola Bryant is not as strong an actress, although I must confess as a young teenage boy first viewing this, I found Peri quite, shall I say, engaging!

    The tiny Master scenes, when he was stuck in a box were also highly amusing, and it was great to see the Master’s Tardis.

    Production, I felt, was not as good as the last few episodes and the low point? Did we really have to see Turlough in his bathing costume?

    However, this was entertaining, humorous and another take on primitive beliefs/ religion. Blindly followed, but with a logical scientific explanation.

    The only truly disappointing thing was it’s the last of “Kamelion”, which my google research shows had a perfectly reasonable explanation.

    Interested listeners can also google the “The curse of Kamelion” which is nothing short of fascinating.

    Rating: 3.4 Tiny Masters

    Cheers

    GP Haynes
    Australia

  11. Peter Zunitch

    For me this is a mood story. If you’re tired or bored, P.o.F. drags and won’t do anything for you. There’s too little action and the scenery can be drab. On the other hand, if you’re in the zone for an intricate classic Who plot, this is a great story.

    It is a shame that once again, a companion’s best story is also their last. Mark Strickson is always amazing but in this story Turlough is too (though it seems all the sudden Kameleon hate comes from nowhere). For his part Kameleon is at his best too, but is that really saying anything? Still it shows where the character could have gone. Luckily there’s more of him in the audios. Peri’s introduction is interesting. She gets a lot to do, and is great on screen, if one can get past the more whiney aspects of her character. Finally, Davison is all but flawless in this one. He’s intelligent, helpful, sympathetic, problem solving and vulnerable throughout.

    The scenery is somewhat drab, but it’s understandable given the type of planet they’re on. Still one wonders where they grow their crops, and indeed there could have been more fire. I love the idea of Mini-Master though, and the story is what shines here. All three plots play off one another, and fit together quite well in the end. All this without too many coincidences. Nice writing. PoF gets 3.4 of coolest looking laser guns ever going off seemingly by accident too many times.

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