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24 September 2014

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The Monster of Peladon

Production Code: YYY

First Transmitted

1 - 23/03/1974 17:30

2 - 30/03/1974 17:30

3 - 06/04/1974 17:30

4 - 13/04/1974 17:30

5 - 20/04/1974 17:30

6 - 27/04/1974 17:30

Plot

The TARDIS returns to Peladon some fifty years after the Doctor's last visit. The planet is now ruled by Queen Thalira - daughter of the late King Peladon - with advice from Chancellor Ortron. The Doctor and Sarah are arrested by Ortron for trespassing on sacred ground but their names are cleared by Alpha Centauri, now Galactic Federation ambassador to Peladon.

A ghost-like image of Aggedor has been responsible for some deaths in the planet's trisilicate mines, heightening unrest amongst the miners. The Doctor discovers that the apparitions are really the result of the use of a matter projector and a directional heat ray by a human engineer, Eckersley.

Eckersley is in league with a group of renegade Martian warriors, led by Commander Azaxyr, in a plot to seize the trisilicate deposits for Galaxy 5, a power bloc at war with the Federation. Azaxyr mounts an attack on the throne room and kills Ortron.

The Doctor however turns the heat ray on some of the Martians, while others are dispatched by the miners. Eckersley flees, taking the Queen hostage, but the Doctor uses the real Aggedor to track him down. Eckersley is killed, but Aggedor also dies in the skirmish.

Its plans thwarted, Galaxy 5 surrenders to the Federation. The Doctor is invited by Thalira to take over as Chancellor but he declines, suggesting the miners' leader Gebek would make a better candidate.

Episode Endings

As the Doctor and Blor, the Queen's Champion, enter the cave, a disaffected miner named Ettis, intending to sacrifice them to Aggedor, detonates some explosives. The resulting rock fall traps the Doctor and Blor in the cave. Suddenly a roaring image of Aggedor appears, killing Blor.

The Doctor and Sarah are thrown into a pit beneath the temple to face the judgment of Aggedor. A low growl alerts them to the fact they they're not alone. The Doctor pulls out a small flashlight and they see the beast Aggedor looming out of the shadows towards them.

The Doctor suspects that the image of Aggedor may be controlled from the supposedly shut refinery in the mine workings. He and the leading miner, Gebek, go there to investigate. The Doctor disarms the automatic protection system and the refinery door opens to reveal a Martian warrior.

The Doctor struggles with Ettis to prevent him from destoying the citadel with a sonic lance aimed at it from a neighbouring peak. They are unaware that Azaxyr has set the lance to self destruct and that if it is operated anyone in the vicinity will be killed. Ettis overpowers the Doctor and operates the lance, which explodes.

The Doctor, Gebek and Sarah enter the refinery in order to use the Aggedor statue - which is linked to a matter transmitter and a heat ray - against the Martians. Azaxyr's deputy Sskel and some other Warriors start to burn their way through the refinery door.

The Doctor and Sarah make their way back to the TARDIS and leave Peladon.

Dialogue Triumphs

Sarah Jane Smith : "There's nothing "only" about being a girl."

Sarah Jane Smith : [Speaking of the Doctor, who has apparently been killed.] "I still can't believe it. I can't believe that he's dead. You see, he was the most alive person I ever met."

Sarah Jane Smith : "It's another rotten, gloomy old tunnel."

Double Entendre

The Doctor : "I've always been very keen on Survival."

Continuity

The Doctor knows mining lore, can go into death-like complete sensory withdrawal (see 'The Trial of a Time Lord'), and is resilient against mental attack. He repeats the lullaby to calm Aggedor, and carries a pen light (also seen in various first Doctor stories, including An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction).

Trisilicate is needed for warfare, being a vital component of circuits and heat shields. Once found only on Mars, it's now found on Peladon, too [possibly a factor in Azaxyr's rebellion]. It's no longer a crime to enter the Temple of Aggedor. Alpha Centauri is now a Federation ambassador. Commander Azaxyr leads a militant breakaway faction of Ice Warriors, including Sskel. They don't recognise the Doctor, and carry a hand-held rodlike weapon that can kill and melt. Ice Warrior ships carry scout craft. [Ice Lords] can be killed by swords.

The natives of Vega are a satyr like race of mining engineers.

QV

Dating the Segments of Time

The TARDIS Scanner

Location

Peladon, 50 years after the Doctor's last visit.

Future History

Galaxy Five (cf. The Daleks' Master Plan) are at war with the Federation. They sue for peace at the end of the story. Ice Warriors are used [with other races] as Federation troops. Federation law states that the natives of primitive planets are forbidden access to sophisticated weapons. An emergency channel can be used to summon troops, which when summoned can't be recalled. A spatial distress beacon sends out a more general SOS. Federation regulations don't allow summary execution.

Trivia

In an attempt to recapture the feel of The Curse of Peladon, the same director and designer were assigned to this story and many of the props that still existed (including the Alpha Centauri, Aggedor and Ice Warrior costumes) were reused.

Myth

Azaxyr is an Ice Lord. (Although he is referred to as a Lord, the term 'Ice Lord' is never used.)

Goofs

The mines apparently have central heating.

In episode one the Doctor opens a secret door which nearly knocks him over.

Sarah tries not to burst out laughing.

Lip reading the Doctor at the end of episode one results in the great line 'What the bloody hell is it?'.

In episode four we get a clear look at stunt double Terry Walsh when, as the Doctor, he throws Ettis.

In episode six the hole in the door vanishes along with the Aggedor statue.

When Aggedor dies Nick Hobbs's skin shows as the trousers detach from the boots.

Stuntman Max Faulkner is killed twice, once in an ambush, and three minutes later by Eckersley.

Fashion Victim

The Pel miners' badger-like haircuts.

Cast & Crew

Cast

The Doctor - Jon Pertwee

Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen

Aggedor - Nick Hobbs

Azaxyr - Alan Bennion

Blor - Michael Crane

Body of Alpha Centauri - Stuart Fell

Eckersley - Donald Gee

Ettis - Ralph Watson

Gebek - Rex Robinson

Guard Captain - Terry Walsh

Miner - Roy Evans

Miner - Max Faulkner

Ortron - Frank Gatliff

Preba - Graeme Eton

Sskel - Sonny Caldinez

Thalira - Nina Thomas

Vega Nexos - Gerald Taylor

Voice of Alpha Centauri - Ysanne Churchman

Crew

Director - Lennie Mayne

Assistant Floor Manager - Roselyn Parker

Costumes - Barbara Kidd

Designer - Gloria Clayton

Film Cameraman - Keith Hopper

Film Editor - William Symon

Incidental Music - Dudley Simpson

Make-Up - Elisabeth Moss

Producer - Barry Letts

Production Assistant - Marcia Wheeler

Production Unit Manager - George Gallacio

Script Editor - Terrance Dicks

Special Sounds - Dick Mills

Studio Lighting - Ralph Walton

Studio Sound - Tony Millier

Title Music - Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Delia Derbyshire

Visual Effects - Peter Day

Writer - Brian Hayles

Bottom Line - from The Discontinuity Guide

Having 'done' entry into the Common Market, Brian Hayles makes The Monster of Peladon a parody of the miners' strike of 1973. Its heart is in the right place, but its brain isn't.

Analysis - from Doctor Who, the Television Companion

A sequel is something that should be attempted only if a) the original was successful enough to warrant it and b) the writer has something fresh to say on the subject.

In the case of The Monster of Peladon the first of these criteria is met but unfortunately the second is not, as was immediately spotted by Keith Miller writing in DWFC Monthly Number 19 - Special Review Edition in the spring of 1974: 'Ortron [had] taken the place of Hepesh, the ruler [had] changed sex, but the story was almost the same [as The Curse of Peladon], with Ortron trying to show the Queen how wrong she [was and] trying to get rid of the Doctor and anyone else who dared to defy [him]. Then Grun, the King's Champion, was reincarnated as the [Queen's] Champion... It seemed as if it was just going to be The Curse of Peladon drawn out into six episodes. How disappointing!'

That The Monster of Peladon should suffer from this obvious shortcoming is all the more regrettable given the rarity of direct sequels in Doctor Who. The repetition of so many elements from The Curse of Peladon is not only unoriginal but also creates problems in terms of believability. It seems very unlikely that Alpha Centauri would still be on Peladon some fifty years after the events seen in the earlier story (unless the creature has a high boredom threshold!) or that Aggedor, the last surviving beast of its kind, would still be alive - especially if it has been kept in a pit all this time - and more unlikely still that the Ice Warriors would again be involved. Although perhaps less significant in plot terms, the biggest coincidence of all is that the mineral trisilicate, said by the Doctor in The Curse of Peladon to be exclusive to Mars and Martian technology, is now to be found in abundance on Peladon and is being used by Galaxy 5 as the basis for their technology!

Quite apart from its unsatisfactory nature as a sequel, The Monster of Peladon drags awfully. The plot fairly groans under the weight of Peladon's political intrigue and unrest amongst the miners. Like The Curse of Peladon's allegory about entry into the Common Market, these were topical issues at the time of the story's original transmission, when miners' strikes seemed to be part and parcel of life in the UK, but unfortunately they are simply not very interesting.

The characterisation is also rather weak on this occasion. The miners, with their daft badger hairstyles, are a stereotypical bunch of revolutionary hotheads. Their taking up of arms against the authorities would seem to suggest that they are very aggrieved indeed, but their motivation just does not come across.

Nina Thomas's Queen Thalira, meanwhile, is such a drip that it is hard to believe that she could hold on to power for any time at all. Eckersley is also poorly defined. He seems to have constructed the trisilicate refinery, which is now disused (although why this should be the case is unclear), and also to have provided the communications room and the special security doors for the armoury. A further puzzle is that the refinery has a hi-tech sonic defence system but the armoury - which would seem more in need of it - does not. Why not have such a system in both places?

The one bright point in all this is that the Martians are well characterised and - at least in this small breakaway group - back to their old warlike ways. Alan Bennion, who played Slaar in The Seeds of Death and Izlyr in The Curse of Peladon, turns in another excellent performance as Azaxyr, and skilfully manages to make him seem subtly different from both those earlier characters. Unfortunately, with one exception, the other Warriors are let down by poor costumes with mismatched heads and bodies cobbled together from what was left in the BBC's stores after The Seeds of Death. The exception is Sskel played by Sonny Caldinez, who also appeared as Ssorg, the sole regular Warrior in The Curse of Peladon, and so was presumably able to reuse the same, better-assembled costume.

Craig Hinton, writing in A Voyage Through 25 Years of Doctor Who, dated December 1988, thought that the creatures nevertheless had a considerable impact, although he was rather less well disposed toward the story as a whole: 'Looking unfortunately very tatty in seven year old costumes designed for other actors, the Ice Warriors still managed to maintain that air of menace that had made them so popular in the sixties - when they appeared, that was. The Monster of Peladon seemed to drag over six episodes, introducing - then ignoring - plot developments, and leaving the "cruel Martian invaders" until the last moment. It was... creaking under weak special effects and mediocre direction from Lennie Mayne.'

The Monster of Peladon is tedious and uninspiring. Only Sarah's grief when the Doctor apparently gets killed during the course of the action seems real, foreshadowing what is to come in the very next adventure...

< Death to the DaleksThird DoctorPlanet of the Spiders >

This episode guide is made up of the text of The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping, and Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker.

The Discontinuity Guide © Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping 1995.
Doctor Who: The Television Companion © David J Howe and Stephen James Walker 1998, 2003.



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