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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon + The Monster of Peladon (BBC DVDs)

Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon + The Monster of Peladon (BBC DVDs)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A+     Episodes: A+



John Pertwee's run as the third Doctor included a lot of adventures where his damaged TARDIS left him stranded on Earth. This period included some very memorable stories, including an intense run-in with the reptilian Silurians, but did put the show's writers in a bit of a bind after a while.  After all, what is Doctor Who without the ability to travel anywhere, and "anywhen", in time and space?  Story No. 61, The Curse of Peladon, features the Doctor's triumphant return to space as he and companion Jo Grant (Kathy Manning) arrive by chance on the planet of Peladon, a backward world on the precipice of joining the Galactic Federation.


Here writer Brian Hayles borrows a bit from the political news of the day (1972), channeling Britain's collective fears and misgivings over joining the EU into Peladon's reluctance to forego the old ways and embrace the future.  Mistaken for the ambassadors from Earth, the Doctor and Jo must navigate a complicated web of palace intrigue and alien mistrust to get at the truth behind the Curse of Peladon.  Pertwee remains a favorite of many Who fans for his gallant, suave, and dynamic Doctor, and he does not disappoint in his return to space!  He uses a combination of wits, charisma, and brawn to eventually win the day.  This story benefits tremendously from fine performances by Kathy Manning and David Troughton (son of second Doctor Patrick Troughton), whose characters enjoy a bit of a star-crossed romance.  A cast of sinister (the Ice Warriors) and zany (Alpha Centauri) aliens also make for a rich and entertaining setting.


The Monster of Peladon (story No. 73) features the Doctor's return visit to the planet Peladon, this time accompanied by companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).  Missing his mark by more than fifty years in the future, the Doctor once again finds himself embroiled in political intrigue, and this time, all-out rebellion.  Writer Hayles again seeks his inspiration in the political news of the time (1974), and a British miners' strike that paralyzed the country.  On Peladon, the lower-caste miners are driven to extract valuable trisilicate, a mineral critical to the Galactic Federation's war effort.  A powerful, seemingly supernatural manifestation of the ancient monster of Peladon sends the desperate miners into revolt, and the Doctor must sort out the sinister puppet masters behind it all.  Ysanne Churchman returns as the voice of Alpha Centauri, perhaps one of the most memorable alien allies in the show's entire, decades-long run.


The extras on these discs will not disappoint hardcore fans, and will serve to educate new ones on this period in the show's long history.  "The Peladon Saga" (Parts 1 and 2) runs across both discs and tells the tale of the two stories, how they were made, and what inspired them.  Numerous other commentaries and features provide a host of extra viewing material that will carry long after the last episode has been viewed.  Most notable in the interviews is the love and admiration expressed by cast and crew members for the now deceased Pertwee, who by all accounts shared many of the best qualities of the character he so richly portrayed.


Both of these stories exemplify Pertwee's excellent run on the show.  His Doctor's traits of heroism, selflessness, dynamism, and hope marked his long tenure as one of the strongest periods in the show's history.  Both of these discs rate as essential viewing for all but the most casual Doctor Who fans.



-   Scott Pyle


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