Monday, 8 July 2013

The Curse of Peladon

Following the season opener, the Doctor and Jo have been released from Earth for a second time to help out the planet Peladon, seeking entrance to the Galactic Federation sometime in the future. It’s an interesting blend of the new and the old – Peldadon is a planet seemingly in its own ‘middle ages’, ruled by a singular castle in a cliff where storms rage and beasts roam.
Izlyr, the Ice Warrior, with Alpha Centauri, the Doctor and Jo
The thing is, we are presented with merely a glimpse of the planet, and another planet that presents as a small city at best. It’s a great image to start with, but quite limited in the end. However, ‘The Curse of Peladon’ is a pretty good tale.
King Peldaon fails to win Jo's heart :(
For starters, we have David Troughton, son of the second Doctor (who also appeared in the War Games’ appearing as King Peladon in a great performance. We have the return of the Ice Warriors, whom the view spends most of the time presuming to be the villains, but as it turns out are not! It’s excellent that Brian Hayles, the writer and creator of the Ice Warriors, saw fit to present them in a different light rather than the atypical ‘they are monsters, therefore they are bad’ approach.
I like the imagery, the direction, the story. The costuming is excellent, the only thing missing is the concept of Peladon as a world, rather than a small kingdom. How does King Peladon rule the world? Especially without even basic wifi!
The Galactic Federation have sent delegates from four planets, including Earth (who doesn’t show up until the very end, and the Doctor poses in their place), Mars (the Ice Warriors), Alpha Centauri and Arturis. The last two are both rather clever creations. Alpha Centauri has multiple legs and one giant eye, and perhaps looks a little ridiculous by 2013 standards, but I rather liked. Arturis was very nicely made, a small green creature in a machine that kept him alive and allowed him to be mobile.
The strange and devious Arcturus
There is a great action/fight sequence between the Doctor and Grun, the King’s Champion, in a sort of pit they are lowered into surrounded by ropes. It was rather well done, and well thought of artistically. Then we have Aggedor, the ancient beast of Peladon, whom the High Priest Hepesh (getting to this character) has made a sort of god. This was very well shot, as was the whole piece, so that they never had him on screen for a long continuous period of time which would have emphasised the limited ability the production crew had to make a convincing looking beast.
Aggedor was mostly shot in the shadows, and thanks to good lighting, there were plenty of those. Doctor Who sometimes has over-lit sets which makes them look really bland, but in the Pertwee era usually the lighting has been much more subtly done thus far. ‘The Curse of Peladon’ is another example of that.
As for Hepesh, the high Priest of Peladon played by Geoffrey Toome, and the guy responsible in the most part for all killings and so forth, it’s a very considered performance in a role that despite his actions, the audience can sympathise with. In some ways the story is a bit of a ‘whodunnit’ especially in the first couple of episodes. It’s great that it’s not a black and white case of ‘he’s a bad man’. That coupled with the Ice Warriors who even defend the Doctor at times, makes this a well thought-out story. To be fair to the Ice Warriors, only in ‘The Seeds of Death’ have they been involved as full-on baddies who just want to invade and kill. In ‘The Ice Warriors’ they are trapped in the ice and desperate.
The Doctor fights Grun in the pit.
And so ‘The Curse of Peladon’ has been reviewed. Mostly positive stuff, without it being brilliant or extremely exciting. My only other criticism would be it is a little slow, but an enjoyable tale with some wonderful memorable moments such as the fight in the pit, oh and perhaps the best of all is Jon Pertwee singing a Venusian lullaby to calm and slightly hypnotise Aggedor. A wonderful moment for the third Doctor there.


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