01/02/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Doctor Who: Peladon Tales DVD boxset. region 2 DVD: pub: BBC BBSDVD 2744. Price: about GBP 15.00 (UK) if you know where to look.. 2 DVDs 243 minutes. Details per volume below)).
check out website: www.bbcshop.com
Doctor Who: The Curse Of Peladon – 97 minutes 4 episodes with extras
stars: Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Geoffrey Toone and David Troughton
Trying to keep to an objective of seeing the ‘Doctor Who’ DVDs I bought in order this winter, it only dawned on me recently that the boxset stories aren’t being released separately but only together. Normally, the practice is to box individual stories after their initial release not before. So much for continuity watching, unless you have them all stacked up. I did with what I’d picked up so split the two stories here with the ‘Doctor Who: The Dalek War boxset’. In some respects, this is good news for Who fans in keeping some moderation in prices, more so when the price drops after a year or so and also making BBC Worldwide Enterprises, the Beeb’s merchandise arm, from milking the series. Well, unless they want to get all the DVD sales first before a re-issue in blu-ray. Me, cynical? Then again, why is ‘The Invisible Enemy’ cheaper to get as part of the ‘K9 Tales’ boxset than separately, just in case K-9’s one and only story didn’t sell well on its own?
Gripes aside, ‘The Cure Of Peladon’ is the first test drive of the TARDIS since the Doctor (actor Jon Pertwee) was marooned on Earth after his capture by the Time Lords. He takes his assistant, Jo Grant (actress Katy Manning), for a quick jaunt before she has a dinner date and they get caught up in a still superstitious world being examined to be enrolled into a Galactic Federation. They are mistaken for the Earth delegation and the Doctor as the chairman. Bizarrely, for the Doctor, the asthmatic breathing Ice Warriors delegation are no longer dangerous enemies but proving themselves as allies. The other delegates, like the Alpha Centauri delegate, look equally bizarre and are from more seemingly timid races. Things aren’t helped that the King’s chief advisor is killed by the supposed legendary beast of Peladon and the delegates nearly succumbing to ‘accidents’ themselves and blame attributed to the Doctor, especially as he escapes a secret tunnel system into the sacred temple and faces a death sentence.
Having the Doctor back out in the wide universe was always seen as a likely thing to happen although the twist at the end does tend to indicate that he isn’t likely to get things all his own way. In an odd quirk of fate, the Doctor is sorting out problems he would have done himself when he was freelance and what he was sentenced for by the Time Lords, who now employ him themselves to do. Funny old universe, huh?
This story takes a lot of different turns and shows the Doctor automatically prejudiced against the Ice Warriors first rather than asking what time period he’s in compared to the times he met them originally. With hindsight watching, it’s not difficult to work out who all the bad guys are but it’s played out to show a variety of issues. The High Priest, who is against joining the Federation, sees nothing against working with one of the delegates to sell mining rates which seems at odds with his wishes.
The audio commentary chiefly with producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and actress Katy Manning covers aspects of keeping the stories real and truthful and sending itself up or using well-known celebrity guest-stars. Even as they said that it was obvious and they acknowledged that this was a problem that dogged the McCoy years. The same could be said with the Doctor’s clothes where although the style was kept it was changed from story to story but which became a permanent costume from the Davison era onward and I loved Barry Letts describing it as becoming a cartoon because of it.
Katy Manning makes reference to some photos with a curler in her hair which appear in the photo gallery as well as a rare photo showing the Ice Warrior with its actor not wearing his carapace. The costume is the same one that actor Bernard Breslaw wore in ‘The Ice Warriors’ during Patrick Troughton’s tenure.
The extras take an hour to wander through, ranging from the ramifications of the Peladon stories compared to the political conflicts of the 70s which oddly matches similar problems today. SF has always been strong in metaphor, unlike most genres, so said pattern can be found to fit any real life event. A close look at the Ice Warriors and isn’t it about time we saw them in the new series? I wish they’d covered their pincher hands and how they could handle anything intricate that way. One almost wonders if there’s an unseen breed with real fingers. There is also a look at the Doctor and Jo Grant relationship from Katy Manning’s perspective. All great stuff and I find watching all these extras an interesting experience.
Doctor Who: The Monster Of Peladon – 146 minutes 6 episodes with extras
stars: Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, Nina Thomas, Frank Gatcliffe and Donald Gee
With the Doctor (actor Jon Pertwee) taking his companion, Sarah Jane Smith (actress Elisabeth Sladen), on a whistle-trip return to Peladon, he miscalculates the time and arrives fifty years later and discovers the king he knew dead and his daughter Thalira (actress Nina Thomas) on the throne. I wonder what happened to her mother? Even though this is very much a male-orientated society, the absence of the female of the species is odd. Even Queen Thalira only has the occasional presence of a hand-maiden.
Things have changed a little and in others, the same. The Chancellor/Head Priest Ortron (actor Frank Gatcliffe) is the power behind the throne with his own agenda. Peladon is now part of the Galactic Federation and crystals are supposed to be mined to help against a galactic war with Galaxy Five but the native miners are in revolt, more so when they see new technology under the hands of the human Eckersley (actor Donald Gee) is capable of and taking the work away from themselves.
The Doctor surmises early on that the miners do all the work and only the upper classes get the rewards. That sounds awfully similar to our reality, doesn’t it? Things aren’t helped when the beast of Peladon occasionally appears and apparently urges the revolt by disintegrating the odd miner. Even the presence of the Alpha Centauri ambassador does little to change things but is manipulated in calling for help, which turns out to be a renegade branch of the Ice Warriors who are prepared to sell the crystals to Galaxy Five, the actual enemy.
This story is significant in a number of ways. Most significantly, the Doctor uses the technology to attack and kill the Ice Warriors. Granted he had little choice in the matter but it was something I had forgotten about this particular story. I should point out that the story is well-structured and nicely paced to fill out the six episodes allocated to it. There is also a wide range of aliens with humans in the minority for a change. Most of them have their own agendas, some deceitful and duplicitous but it does dimensionalise all the characters.
In many respects, despite having a large number of people in the audio commentary, being interrupted with a fan-based one for episode four ended up ruining the flow and I hope this was only an experiment not likely to be repeated too often. With the professional commentary we had producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, actor Donald Gee and for three episodes, actors Nina Thomas and Ralph Watson. Stunt actor Stuart Fell was available for the last two episodes covering not only his role as the body of the alien Alpha Centauri but information about the start of his career.
Unusually, the extras aren’t that many. The second part of a look at Peladon and a brief interview with voice actress Ysanne Churchman (the voice of Alpha Centauri) from a wile back. Soon as I saw this, I recognised both her and the interview which gives away my age. The rest of the second DVD has the usual picture gallery and a piece about the Target Books and writer Terrance Dicks massive contribution to them. Shame that a couple of those interviewed weren’t better prepared.
This is also the penultimate story before Jon Pertwee left the show adding to its significance. Now, isn’t it about time that ‘Planet Of The Spiders’ was released on DVD?
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