CRRRaSh! 271 Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-06-24, at 13:02:18 to 13:30:16 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

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A combination of cold, allergies, stomach problems, and a few other things made me feel a little miserable and put a kink in my daily routine. It's easy to veer from your set timetable when you are your own boss, but this won't happen again. As to why I it's taken this long to return to the rewatch? There was a lot of geek news and also it's quite hard producing these single topic episode. Anyway, the rewatch is back and we are picking up where we left off in CRRRaSh! 265, with Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks.

Cast and Production

Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee
Jo Grant: Katy Manning
David Troughton: King Peladon
Director: Lennie Mayne
Writer: Brian Hayles
Producer: Barry Letts
4 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from the 29th of January to the 19th of February 1972

What Happens

The TARDIS lands precariously and as the Doctor and Jo leave, it falls. They are on Peladon, a feudal planet, which is hosting a meeting of representatives (Alpha Centaurans, Arcturans, and Martian Ice Warriors) for membership to the Galactic Federation. The Doctor and Jo are mistaken for the Earth delegation. Unfortunately, the delicate negotiations are threatened by the suspicious death of Torbis, one of the king's chief advisers who is pro-Federation. Everyone suspects everyone else. Exploring the castle, the Doctor encounters the mythical Aggedor, the monstrous Royal Beast, and hypnotises it and soothes it by singing. The Doctor tries to tell the king, but the high priest forces him into a trial by combat for sacrilege. The Doctor wins (Venusian Aikido/Karate), and spares his opponent. Arcturus tries to shoot the Doctor, but is shot by the Ice Warrior bodyguard. Arcturus was helping Hepesh in the hope of securing mineral exclusive rights, after the planet is isolated from the Federation. Hepesh, the anti-Federation high-priest, tries to kill the Doctor by setting Aggedor on him, but Aggedor has been tamed by the Doctor. Instead, Aggedor kills Hepesh. The intrigue finished, Jo refuses the king's marriage proposal. The Doctor ponder the Time Lords continued interference with the navigation circuits of the TARDIS (in order to send the Doctor where he is needed). They stay for the celebrations, but leave in a hurry when the real earth delegate arrives.

What I Thought

It's a murder mystery disguised as science fiction, which is absolutely fine. For example, I love Larry Niven's Gil "the Arm" Hamilton stories.

The brain in the jar alien is scary. It's actually worse than The Brain of Morbius; one of only two episodes that gave me nightmares as a child. (The other was, the Mary Whitehouse hated, The Seeds of doom, and both starred Tom Baker—thanks Tom, for literally making me hide behind the sofa). I thought the other timid insectoid alien to be quite cute. And, of course, the third delegation; the Ice Warriors, how are really cool , tough, and deeply honourable soldiers from Mars.

Aggedor looks like a cute bipedal boar.

There's a great piece of comedic action when, while fashioning a hypnosis device, the Doctor almost puts himself in a trance. The Doctor's singing really did almost send me to sleep during this rewatch.

Why is the King wearing a miniskirt and thigh high boots? I'm sure that outfit would have been a source of ribbing. I'm not sure I'd want to go to the BBC canteen wearing it.

This is the second non-Master episode in a row, which is a relief. I like the Master, but having him behind every plot was wearing thin and killed any sense of surprise.

This was made back in the distant 70s, but it is easy to view this as a really obvious modern post-Brexit allegory, with Arcturus representing America (or Trump), or China, or some other major country wanting to exploit the UK's isolation.