Doctor Who #377: The Monster of Peladon Part 6

"You're sure you don't want to stay and take the job, Doctor? Civil service post, with a pension?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Apr.27 1974.

IN THIS ONE... The bad guys are defeated, often with one version of Aggador or another, and all's well that ends well.

REVIEW: Killing spree! The Doctor takes over the transmat Aggador and goes to town, disintegrating all the unnamed Ice Warriors. And later, he takes the real Aggador, last of its kind, out to track Eckersley and the hostage queen, and the beast mauls the traitor, but not before becoming extinct at the end of his blaster. Pretty sanguinary even for Pertwee's Doctor, and rather thoughtless on that last bit. Not that the villains didn't deserve it, even if Eckersley isn't a hardened killer. He lets Sarah live and knocks Alpha Centauri on the back of the eyeball, so it's doubtful he would have hurt Thalira once he found his hidden space shuttle. But that's the function of the scene where they come across dead bodies from both sides, and the queen lets her outrage known, "look what you've done!". Even if he didn't pull the trigger, he's till responsible for these deaths. And of course, for the Doctor's, had he really been killed by the security system, but again, Eckersley keeps himself well away from the action. That leaves a miner he shoots while escaping, which can be considered self-defense. The Ice Warriors get much better deaths, with a real struggle, miners and soldiers piling up on the super-strong Azaxyr before he gets a sword in the belly. A warrior's death he can be proud of in Martian Valhalla.

The Doctor's "death" is particularly notable because it foreshadows his upcoming last story (might viewers at the time have thought this was really the end for Pertwee?), even the mention of Sarah's tears. Poor Sarah is up and down throughout the episode, and who can blame her? The Doctor's death wouldn't just mean the loss of a friend, but also an exile on a grotty faux-Medieval planet. As usual, Lis Sladen is great at putting us through the same wringer her character's being put through, her body language saying everything, from her loose "whatever" movement when she thinks the Doctor dead, to the shock on her face when he wakes up from his trance, to her fit of anger, to her gentle teasing at the TARDIS door (more of THAT, please). You can't even compare this to the only other female speaking part in the story. Thalira is, by contrast, the lamest of lame ducks. She has very few lines even when some would be indicated, is pushed around like a victim, has bouts of "acting" which I can only put in quotation marks, and continues to seek a strong male figure to put her trust in, insecure to the last. On the one hand, it's realistic that Thalira's attitude hasn't turned 180 degrees, but on the other, it seems like the only reason she was written this way is to make Sarah spout Women's Lib philosophy at her (less of THAT, please).

Speaking of "lessons", let's talk about that epilogue, shall we? I mean, wow. As if to give the audience relief from the doom and gloom (dozens dead, an animal species extinct), all the good news that comes next has to happen within seconds of one another. So all at once, we have the Doctor being offered the position of chancellor and deferring to Gebek, Thalira learning a feminist lesson from Sarah, the war with Galaxy 5 ends, and the TARDIS is found in the tunnels. ALL. AT. ONCE. Talk about over-egging the pudding. That's way too much for one scene to do (compare to The Curse of Peladon where the epilogue seems to happen many days or even weeks later). It's perhaps best that we get ultimate closure on the Peladon story, because it's really been played out as a destination. Until the novels and audios, at least.

VERSIONS: I'm unaware of any notable differences in the Target novelization.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Some genuine emotion coming from Sarah Jane, and the action isn't bad at all, but the dumb ending makes it feel like everyone's bailing on Peladon, and not just the audience.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - A lot of it is perfectly fine, though it takes a while to take off, but ultimately, I find it to be far less than memorable, especially compared to The Curse of Peladon. The characters are two-dimensional and the plot hare-brained and repetitive. This return to Peladon feels entirely redundant.



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