Doctor Who #312: The Curse of Peladon Part 3

"One minute you're condemning the Doctor to death, and the next minute you're proposing to me!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.12 1972.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor sings a lullaby to Aggador, then faces his trial by combat. Peladon proposes to Jo.

REVIEW: This story really is dark and dingy, a side-effect of taking place on a planet where it seems to always be night (or rather, stormy, so there's no sun and usually no windows). But while the murk is getting to me (perhaps because it's raining as I type these words), I still admire the story, even if it isn't exactly flawless. I question, for example, how much the lead characters have become ciphers in it. The Doctor and Jo have taken on roles that have, in places, overwhelmed their true selves. Consider the Doctor making threats that his death will cause a galactic scandal (but he's not the real Earth delegate). Or the heights of melodrama Jo reaches in her scenes with King Peladon (would she really consider marrying him if he hadn't ordered the Doctor's execution?). They've become the people they're only pretending to be, while thankfully keeping to the essence of who their really are.

Where the episode shines, as with the rest of the Peladon storyline to date, is in the back room machinations of the characters. Cementing the fact that the Ice Warriors are good guys now, they're the only ones who jump to the Doctor's defense. Arcturus preys on Alpha Centauri's instinctual cowardice to seed doubt, fear and panic into the poor hexapod, but the Martian Warriors hold the deciding vote that keeps the delegates from leaving the planet. (If Federation Law demands unanimous decisions, it's a wonder they get anything done.) Hepesh wants the Doctor killed no matter what he says, but only in the right circumstances, using an ally's game plan so as to create the most outrageous interstellar incident. He's likely being manipulated himself by someone who doesn't want the Federation involved so they can reap Peladon's resources themselves, and if you're paying attention, there aren't many suspects left (unless you think Alpha Centauri really has it in him/her/it). Close-ups in fact link Hepesh and Arcturus, just before the latter sticks out its gun and fires at... well, the staging is a little musty. As for King Peladon, he's still an ineffectual boy-king, trapped by tradition and lied to by his closest adviser. The key, as Jo puts hopefully makes him realize, is to rule BOTH as a King and as a man (with the humanity that entails), which he sees as separate things. Duty AND conscience.

There are two less vocal members of this cast, of course. The first is Aggador, finally seen here in its full plush glory, and for once, an adorable monster really is supposed to be adorable. The Doctor's makeshift hypnosis gadget mesmerizes it, and a catchy tune soothes it (it sounds Celtic, but I hear it's actually just nonsense), and it's actually quite pettable when it's calm. Who knows what Hepesh uses to enrage the creature and cause it to kill. Jo screws everything up because she's gotten used to being the action heroine and attacks the beast with a torch. Her getting so quickly mesmerized in the aftermath (and the Doctor's "good grief") is quite funny and makes it all worth it. And then there's Grun, the mute and imposing King's Champion, and his fight to the death with the Doctor. Quite an exciting one too, with handheld cameras, shots from above )(this is a REAL pit you have to climb down into with ropes) and lots of cool gags. It's probably the best fight Doctor Who's ever had up to that point (perhaps ever, I've still a ways to go), and it ends rather violently with Grun getting choked out in some netting. It could have been another case of shouting "Hai!" a lot and opponents tripping over themselves. Instead, it's a real highlight of the season.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Some excellent action in what is otherwise still a potable political thriller.

0 comments:

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (54) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (31) Avengers (59) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (680) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (61) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (20) Buffy (6) Canada (72) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (57) Cat (156) CCGs (60) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (3990) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (78) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1687) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (87) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (771) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (61) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (441) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (87) Hawkman (40) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (16) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (97) JSA (26) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (202) Kung Fu (100) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (130) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (457) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (9) Nightmare Fuel (22) Number Ones (60) Obituaries (42) oHOTmu OR NOT? (80) Old52 (12) One Panel (301) Outsiders (167) Panels from Sheena (5) Paper Dolls (7) Play (77) Podcast (500) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (16) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (540) Sandman (23) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (371) Siskoid as Editor (35) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (21) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1727) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (39) Supergirl (90) Superman (1062) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (24) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (85) That Franchise I Never Talk About (54) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (103) Who's This? (212) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (84) X-Files (246) X-Men (103) Zero Hour Strikes (27) Zine (5)