Doctor Who – Peladon Tales

When I talked about The Masque of Mandragora a couple of weeks ago, I suggested it was the first classic Doctor Who release of the year, which was not actually correct. I’d somehow forgotten that, in the usual pattern of releases, the first one was this little themed box set, which had been on my pile of things to watch since it arrived in January. Silly me. Anyway, what we have here is a slipcase with two of the usual DVD packages. The link, as the title of the set suggests is that these are the two stories set on the planet Peladon. Both star Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, and oh, well, let’s look at them in turn.

The Curse of Peladon

First shown in January and February 1972, this story, featuring Katy Manning as Jo Grant is ever so slightly inspired by the debate over the UK entering what was then known as the EEC or Common Market. The Doctor takes Jo on a test trip in the TARDIS. In the usual kind of way, it doesn’t quite end up when or where he intended[1], and they find themselves mixed up in some entraining political shenanigans. The relatively primitive planet Peladon is applying to join the Galactic Federation, a move encouraged by the young King Peladon, but not entirely approved of by others on the planet. There are an assortment of delegates from other planets. There’s the, err, hexapod hermaphrodite delegate from Alpha Centauri, who is either given the courtesy title Alpha Centauri, or comes from a planet where they give their offspring unimaginative names. And there’s a gooey alien head in a dome, who’s from Arcturus and has a similarly odd name. But the Doctor is most interested and alarmed to see that there are some Ice Warriors around, too. Having had some trouble with them before, he finds it hard to believe that they’ve really given up their old ways and devoted themselves to peace.

There is of course a conspiracy involved, with murder, mayhem and betrayal. And Peladon’s sacred beast Aggedor[2] has an important part to play…

Special features include:

  • The Peladon Saga – Part One A nicely detailed version of the usual cast and crew thingy, looking at how the social and political environment of the times influenced both stories.
  • Warriors of Mars A history of the Ice Warriors.
  • Jon and Katy The partnership between the Third Doctor and Jo Grant

And all the usual bits: commentary, production subtitles and pictures.

The Monster of Peladon

This one was first shown in March and April 1974, and features Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. The Doctor plans to make a return visit to see his old friend King Peladon, but arrives fifty years after the first story rather than the five or so he intended. King Peladon is dead, and the planet is now ruled by his daughter Queen Thalira. But all is not well. The Federation is at war with “Galaxy Five”[3], and is dependent on supplies of a mineral being mined on Peladon. But the miners are having problems with images of Aggedor appearing and quite rudely vaporising people, and they are refusing to work[4].

Who’s behind the trouble this time? Could it be the Ice Warriors? It’s all much of the usual, with trouble everywhere, and plenty of confusion and double-dealing. Perhaps a little long at six episodes, but still watchable, if only for Sarah trying to persuade the Queen to stand up for herself.

Special features include:

  • The Peladon Saga – Part Two This part concentrates on the characters and creatures in the stories, and includes one of the best bits ever seen in one of these documentaries. This had been referred to by several people: Alpha Centauri is a green alien. It’s got a more or less cylindrical body with a big round head. Its resemblance to a, err, gentleman’s body part was noted, and it was decided to put a cloak around it to avoid the problem. Terrance Dicks[5], script editor at the time, decided not to beat around the bush for the documentary. On first seeing Alpha Centauri

    It looks like a giant dick.

    And on seeing it with the cloak:

    It looks like a giant dick with a cloak on.

  • On Target – Terrance Dicks – A documentary about the novelisations of the Doctor Who stories, concentrating on Terrance’s huge contribution to the series. And those title changes were not his fault!

And there’s more, too. Another good set for your collection.

[1] It’s never stated, but there is a suspicion that the Time Lords might have been controlling things here, as the Doctor is still in exile…
[2] Both an object of veneration (statues everywhere, a temple, etc) and an actual real animal
[3] An astronomically oddly named enemy…
[4] Yes, they moved on from EEC entry to the 70s miners’ strike…
[5] Who else?