The Curse of Peladon

DVD NTSC
Region 1

DVD PAL
Region 2
Box Set
VHS Video
NTSC A
NTSC B
NTSC
PAL
(Doctor Who Story No. 61, starring Jon Pertwee)
  • written by Brian Hayles
  • directed by Lennie Mayne
  • produced by Barry Letts
  • music by Dudley Simpson
  • 4 episodes @ 25 minutes each
Story: Mistaken for official delegates from Earth, the Doctor and Jo join a committee of various aliens sent to consider the near-medieval society on the planet Peladon for acceptance into the Galactic Federation. Is an ancient curse summoning the spirit of the great beast Aggedor to silence Federation supporters and prevent the king from losing his sovereignty? Or is it the Ice Warriors up to their old tricks again, sabotaging the meetings, as the Doctor suspects?

DVD Extras include:

  • Audio commentary by actress Katy Manning (Jo Grant), producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks,
    production assistant Chris D'Oyly-John, and moderator Toby Hadoke.
  • "The Peladon Saga - Part 1" featurette (23 min.), which is effectively the first half of a "making of" for "The Curse of Peladon",
    adding sound effects designer Brian Hodgson and make-up supervisor Sylvia James,
    plus the first half of a "making of" for the story's sequel "The Monster of Peladon",
    adding Nina Thomas (Thalira), Ralph Watson (Ettis), Donald Gee (Eckersley), visual effects designer Peter Day, and make-up supervisor Elizabeth Moss.
    The second half of both "making-of's" features on the DVD for "The Monster of Peladon".
  • "Warriors of Mars" featurette on the history of the Ice Warriors (15 min.), with Dicks, Letts, James, Hodgson, Day,
    Sonny Caldinez (Ssorg), Alan Bennion (Izlyr), "The Seeds of Death" director Michael Ferguson, plus an audio interview of Bernard Bresslaw (Varga).
  • "Jon and Katy" featurette (7 min.), with Manning, Dicks, and Letts.
  • Storyboard comparison (2 min.)
  • Pop-up Production Note Subtitles
  • Photo Gallery sound effects montage (7 min.) - Arcturus lives!

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program. To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide version instead.



For a story meant to be the "cheapie" of the season, "The Curse of Peladon" turned out really well. Although limited in many respects, what we get is quite well done.


The TARDIS gets its due in introduction: a visual materialization with the right sound, a scene in the interior expertly leading into a scene around the exterior. A little more practice will soon improve the timing of the materialization sound effect cue, and not make the looping necessary, but this is quite good this time around. Thus, the Doctor and Jo are well established as strangers to this setting, and an enjoyable pair of protagonists to boot.


SHAKESPEARE IN SPACE

It is interesting to note how the modern-day monarchy of planet Peladon resembles a court out of a Shakespearean play. Hepesh and Torbis are hard to tell apart in their first scene, in appearance, mannerisms, or even philosophy for that matter, but none of this really matters beyond the first scene anyway, does it?

The gathering of aliens interacting with the "Shakespeare" characters is largely what makes the Peladon stories so enjoyable and memorable. In all the conflict and mystery and suspicion, peaceful solutions are sought out as well. In this one, the Doctor has to overcome some prejudice against the Ice Warriors, which is a nice touch. I particularly enjoy Arcturus as well - the background sound effect his presence always brings to the mix is quite effective in creating a tense and creepy atmosphere (a crisper variation of something heard back in the second episode of "The Keys of Marinus" [story no. 5] ). Some have said he is a poor Dalek wannabe, but I find his voice and laser effects are miles ahead of what we got from the Daleks in the previous story (before its special edition made vast improvements). There are only two laser shots in this story, just as the Daleks are only seen to fire twice in the previous story, and here the effects are much more carefully directed and give more satisfying results.

King Peladon is a real weenie. Luckily, the script allows Jo to notice this as well, so audience reaction against the king can still work with the story. But what is the point of being king if you can't rip down laws that your predecessors left you which make your stomach churn, and introduce new ones that reflect your own values and allow you to govern at peace with your own conscience?! King Peladon too easily tries to defend his inability to lead by his conscience, which is the epitome of a weenie in my opinion. King, eh? Well I didn't vote for him! Apparently one does vote for Queens on the planet Naboo in the Star Wars universe, but that's another story.

Episode three is the Doctor's mandatory captivity episode, yet this does the story no real harm in actuality. We know from the start that it's only temporary until he gets into that anticipated traditional fight with Grun. And after one scene in the cell going over suspicions and the mystery at hand, his jailor taunts him with an open door, allowing him to explore the tunnels and the mysteries of the beast Aggedor. Follow this with the fight itself, and a tense, revealing cliffhanger, and the episode remains strong.

The final conclusion of the story seems a bit too simplistic on paper, but the director and his actors do such a fine job of pulling all the right dramatic moods out of every moment of the finish, that "The Curse of Peladon" shines really bright, a fine gem of a story, well worth the sequel it eventually got.

The split-screen dematerialization at the end is first rate, seamlessly allowing actors opposite the TARDIS at the end to continue moving and talking naturally. I'd say it was the first time this effect was ever used, although Richard Martin did pull off something similar in Susan's final scene with an inlay of the TARDIS.


"The Curse of Peladon" is a really fun story, highly enjoyable. The production was largely much better than the original version of "Day of the Daleks" (the previous story), but the events themselves are not quite as powerfully crafted.



This story has become available on DVD and VHS video.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
"Peladon Tales" Box Set
for the U.K.
VHS Video
NTSC A in the U.S.
NTSC B in the U.S.
NTSC in Canada
PAL for the U.K.


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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Sea Devils"



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