The Monster of Peladon (1974)

The Monster of Peladon is a sequel to the 1972 adventure Curse of Peladon. Curse was hugely popular and it was obvious that there was going to be a sequel. It even has the same writer and director (Brian Hayles and Lennie Mayne respectively). Now the first Peladon story was a nice four parter and it was about Peladon joining the Galactic Federation which was mirroring the UK entering the EU at the time this serial was broadcast. This time instead of David Troughton as King Peladon we get Queen Thalira and this time the story involved a dispute with miners which because of the time that this story was transmitted, the UK was under the three-day week which was introduced by the Government led by Edward Heath. Letts and Dicks were incredibly political and these Peladon stories proved that. The story sees the Doctor bring Sarah Jane Smith to Peladon some 50 years after his first visit but troubles seem to be still the order of the day. An attempt is trying to get some important minerals but the miners are refusing to use the new technology for fear of Agador. The Ice Warriors are used far better than they had done since The Seeds of Death. This is because they are the enemy as opposed to the good guys which is what they were resorted to in Curse.

The issues that I have with this story are many. Firstly, it doesn’t need to be six episodes in length. Secondly, Queen Thalira isn’t a believable leader. She is routinely belittled and doesn’t come across as any kind of a leader. It’s unfortunate because Nina Thomas seems like a good actress and has some good scenes but sadly doesn’t really stand-up to King Peladon. She is more inclined to defy what is expected of her and there is a nice little scene between the Queen and Sarah when Sarah talks about feminism which was one of the character traits. There are some good supporting casting decisions. Donald Gee is very good as Eckersley. When he first comes on screen he does look quite Tom Baker, not just in appearance but in his mannerism. As the story moves on and his true intentions are bought to light he goes up in my estimation. He is the best thing about this story. I also quite liked Rex Robinson as Gebek but to be honest I like Rex Robinson in practically every Doctor Who story that he is in. Though he is let down by that stupid multi coloured wig which was something that must have looked silly in 1974. Both Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen were ok in this story but nothing fantastic. It was clear whilst watching this series it was clear that as the end was in sight there wasn’t the freshness and enthusiasm that there was in 1972.

The big ‘twist’ that is in this story is that it isn’t Chancellor Ortron who is behind the Agador appearances but in fact it is Eckersley. The story does well in making us think that history is repeating itself because in Curse it is Chancellor Torbis. However beyond this there isn’t really much in the story and by episode three I was starting to get a little bit bored. It was clear that this story was pretty much like Curse. Some people have criticised that Eckersley’s betrayal is too obvious and silly but I think it’s done very well and isn’t silly at all and should be applauded. I also enjoyed Alpha Centuri who was funny in Curse and is funny is this story. The fact that she/he/it was used more was a good thing and I thought that the voice (Ysanne Churchman) was something that finished it off nicely.

The Monster of Peladon is a story that sadly fails to live up to what Curse had done two years before. It suffers from being over stretched and also doesn’t do the newly introduced Sarah Jane character any favours. Not the best story of the season.

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