Doctor Who – The Curse of Peladon

Doctor Who - The Curse of Peladon
Doctor Who – The Curse of Peladon

“The Curse of Peladon” is an adventure of the ninth season of “Doctor Who” classic series which aired in 1972. It follows “Day of the Daleks” and it’s a four parts adventure written by Brian Hayles and directed by Lennie Mayne.

The story

The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) brings Jo Grant (Katy Manning) on a test journey of the Tardis, which however materializes on the planet Peladon, whose king petitioned to join the Galactic Federation.

The Doctor and Jo are mistaken for the Earth delegates and get involved in an interstellar political intrigue. The young King Peladon wants progress for his still primitive planet, but there are those who are still anchored to old superstitions. When one of the king’s advisors is killed, the high priest Hepesh claims that the curse of Aggedor is hitting them because they are abandoning the old traditions.

Extras

This DVD contains a fair amount of extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles, Radio Times Listings, a trailer about the next DVDs to be released and a gallery of pictures from this adventure.

There are comments in the adventure alternative audio track moderated by Toby Hadoke by protagonist Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks and production assistant Chris D’Oyly-John.

The Peladon Saga – Part One. The first part of a documentary about the adventures set on the planet Peladon. It also reveals elements of “The Monster of Peladon” plot so unless you already know it you better watch both adventures first and then the extras.

Warriors of Mars. The story of the Ice Warriors in “Doctor Who”.

Jon and Katy. The relationship between the Third Doctor and Jo Grant saw in particular by actress Katy Manning.

Storyboard Comparison. Special effects designer Ian Scoones shows the drawings made for the opening sequence of this adventure together with the scene actually shot.

“The Curse of Peladon” is an adventure that had to be shot only in the sets created in the recording studio because there was a need to keep costs to a minimum, as it happened in various occasions in those years in the production of “Doctor Who”. In this case that choice works very well because the story is dramatic and developing it in such small and poorly lit sets increases the tension.

“The Curse of Peladon” is inspired by a very important event in the chronicle of the time: the United Kingdom was about to join the then European Economic Community, the international union which became the European Union. In this adventure the planet Peladon is on the verge of joining the Galactic Federation.

That is a decision by the young king which heavily influence the fate of his planet but many of its inhabitants are still tied to old traditions and are afraid of the changes that are coming. The king has a tight bound with his advisors, with whom he grew up, but their opinions about the Galactic Federation are opposed so he’s forced to make a choice, the first truly autonomous choice of his life.

When the most progressive of the advisors is killed in unclear circumstances, the high priest Hepesh is ready to claim that it was Aggedor, a creature he worships, who carried out that murder as a punishment because the king decided to move away from old traditions.

In this clash between old and new, of course the Doctor is looking for a far from supernatural explanation, even among the delegates of the Federation who come from different planets and belong to different species. In the confrontation between the backwardness of the planet Peladon and the far more advanced technology of the planets members of Federation, the Doctor must find out who has an interest for the planet to remain isolated.

One of the characteristics of “The Curse of Peladon” is to have more of an alien species, including the Ice Warriors the Doctor already met. The result isn’t great and for example Alpha Centauri is quite laughable with its phallic shape, its huge eye and its squeaky voice, but given the resources of the time, having non-humanoid aliens was remarkable.

Despite these limitations, “The Curse of Peladon” is a terrific Shakespearean-style tragedy that takes place around the court of Peladon with intrigue, violence and characters with hidden agendas. The Doctor and Jo have a chance to shine, so does King Peladon, played by David Troughton, son of Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor.

The Third Doctor’s adventures were mostly set on Earth, “The Curse of Peladon” is one of the minority set on a different planet. Now it’s become a classic and is an excellent example of “Doctor Who” of the early ’70s.

In Region 2 and Region 4 countries this DVD is part of the “Peladon Tales” box set – available on Amazon UK – and even in Region 1 DVDs the documentary “The Peladon Saga” is split in two parts between “The Curse of Peladon” and “The Monster of Pelandon” DVDs making them an unofficial box set so a global judgement must necessarily be given only at the end of the reviews of the adventures it contains.

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