Doctor Who #376: The Monster of Peladon Part 5

"When my father signed treaties with the Federation, he could not have known it would lead to nothing but bloodshed!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Apr.20 1974.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Sarah are reunited at the refinery, where Azaxyr and Eckersley are both definitely proven to be traitors. Ortron is killed; no one cries.

REVIEW: Ok, ok, I give in. These Ice Warriors are baddies. I'm fine with it. And as far as invasion schemes go, this one's not bad. Swoop in to "help", declare martial law, take over planet. It's politically smart. And the reveal that Eckersley is also a traitor is well handled (if hardly surprising), revealing his voice before cutting to him. Not so smart is how everyone is so keen to reveal their plans. Both villains go on and on about what they're doing and why they're doing it. Even when they're supposedly acting in secret, they never bother to turn off the CCTV so that everyone can find out their plans simultaneously. And it's infectious, with Alpha Centauri spilling the beans on two occasions, either by mistake or in fear for its life. You can read the shame on its massive eyelid. At least the cramped tunnels and corridors make it reasonable for us never to see more than a handful of Ice Warriors at at time. The production team has clearly had to shore up their numbers by including the oh-so-silly "bobble-head" Ice Warrior costume. You'd think with a helmet like that, it could take Gebek hitting it with a rock.

More wrong-headedness... Sarah's escape plan is deeply flawed. She pushes the Ice Warrior right on the Queen's train, which means she and Ortron are stuck there, the latter paying with his life. (He's been such a two-dimensional jerk, he can't exactly be missed.) And then there's the statue of Aggador Eckersley uses to kill the miners and soldiers with. It plainly looks like he transmats the statue, which then shoots people. When the Doctor takes control, he presents it as a projector tied to a heat blaster, an image broadcast to other locations. Except we do see Aggador disappear when it's in use, so... Who screwed up?

Not to say everyone is acting dumb or saying dumb things. The heroes heat up the mines so the Ice Warriors can't advance, and the Ice Warriors cut off the air supply to choke the miners out. Doomed Ortron is proven right about aliens in general. Queen Thalira is more and more embittered as the story moves along, more regal when she takes off the crown than when she had it. Sarah has emotional ups and downs when she believes the Doctor dead and then see him alive. And I like the moment when Eckersley prevents Azaxyr from killing Alpha Centauri, and the hexapod thanks him, then quickly clarifies that he's still a traitor. It's in these character moments that the episode is redeemed.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I went to Peladon looking for a sensible plot, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Ok, not as bad as that - thanks to the character work, mostly - but you could drive the whole Martian fleet through those plot holes.

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