The experiment reaches an important milestone and Sue appears on local radio in 2011′s final Adventure with the Wife in Space.
Sue: So what’s Peladon? Is it a person or a place? Or maybe it’s this oil painting? Is it a cursed oil painting? Am I close?
She’s talking about the opening model shot.
Sue: And I guess these must be the corridors that everyone will be running up and down later. I’ve seen better, to be honest.
In the throne room, King Peladon referees an argument between two royal advisers.
Me: Does this bloke ring any bells?
Sue: Roger Daltrey?
As forked lighting strikes the citadel, Sue believes that we are now in Hammer Horror territory (just you wait, love), but when the TARDIS arrives, we are sidetracked by a discussion about the Doctor’s current status in the universe.
Sue: So, the Doctor can pop off for a quick adventure but he always has to return to Earth? What’s so wrong with that? Ian and Barbara would have loved that. So is the Doctor still exiled or is he now on parole?
And then Sue is introduced to Alpha Centauri.
Sue: Oh, purlease! What’s that supposed to be?
Sue is struck dumb while her mind attempts to process the image. But she gets there in the end.
Sue: It’s a giant penis. (pause) It’s a giant penis in a shower curtain.
Me: Imagine what it looked like without the shower curtain. And that almost happened, believe it or not.
Sue: Please, don’t.
Me: At least the production team are trying to create a truly alien race, instead of just sticking bits of plastic to somebody’s forehead.
Thankfully, Sue perks up whenever we go ‘outside’…
Sue: You’d never believe that this was filmed inside a studio. I thought they’d gone to Mount Snowdon or something like that; I’m impressed. I just wish they could have filmed all the studio stuff like this. Film really does make all the difference. And the sound effects are great too.
The Doctor’s new outfit is then subjected to Sue’s critical gaze.
Sue: I’m not sure about it. The Doctor is starting to remind me of John McCririck – and that’s never a good thing – but at least the cloak could double for a picnic blanket, if he ever manages to land on a planet with some decent weather, that is.
When the political situation on Peladon becomes clear, Sue spots the obvious parallel.
Sue: So this is basically a story about the European Union? That’s very topical.
Me: Yes, this would have been an important talking point in the early 1970s.
Sue: I’m not talking about the 1970s. I’m talking about right now. So, is Peladon a bit like Greece?
The Doctor and Jo decide to investigate a statue of the mighty Aggedor.
Sue: What is that supposed to represent? Is it a giant pig?
Me: Try giant boar.
Sue: How appropriate.
But it’s the costumes of Peladon that continue to fascinate Sue.
Sue: A purple skirt and thigh length boots. Is he appearing in pantomime?
Me: Oh no he isn’t.
Sue: I like Jo’s dress, though. It’s much more modest than we’re used to. We definitely won’t be getting a look at her knickers this week.
Me: But we might see the King’s, if we’re lucky.
And then the Ice Warriors turn up.
Sue: Blimey, it’s all go this week. We’ll end up sounding like the Ice Warriors if we don’t give up smoking next year. That’s exactly what CPD sounds like. Actually, all these aliens squabbling among themselves reminds me of Babylon 5. Yes, Babylon 5 crossed with Game of Thrones. But with less incest.
The episode concludes with the statue of Aggedor falling towards the Doctor.
Sue: That wasn’t a great cliffhanger. I can’t say I’m impressed with this story so far.top
As the delegates continue to argue the pros and cons for Peladon joining the Federation, Sue is very pragmatic about the whole thing.
Sue: I just hope the Federation bring Peladon the gift of trousers.
At one point, the King declares, “There is no plot!”.
Sue: I really wouldn’t brag about that if I were you.
And when King Peladon isn’t pointing out the flaws in Brian Hayles’ script, he’s flirting outrageously with Jo.
Sue: She could do a lot worse. She’s supposed to be on a date with Mike Yates right now, and that obviously isn’t going to go anywhere. So is this Jo’s last story? Does she marry the king and stay behind on Peladon? I’m not sure how I feel about that.
But there is an upside…
Sue: The Doctor is a lot nicer to Jo this week. I just can’t believe that it’s taken him this long to thaw. Maybe he’s jealous?
The delegates argue over who may have tried to assassinate Arcturus, but Sue can’t see what all the fuss is about.
Sue: Just ask the head in a box!
So they do. Repeatedly.
Sue: Arcturus reminds me of Davros. He even sounds a bit like Davros. Is this where they got the idea of Davros from? And why are all the aliens green? Are they supposed to be colour coordinated? Or did the BBC just buy a job lot of green paint?
Me: Just be thankful that Alpha Centauri wasn’t pink!
Sue: At least Jo is getting plenty to do this week. It’s her last chance to shine, I suppose. I’m not convinced that she is doing this stunt, though – her ankles are very fat in this close-up.
When Jo is pursued by Aggedor, the creature accidentally kicks part of the set and a ‘stone wall’ slides across the floor. Sue makes me rewind the DVD so she can watch it again and again.
Sue: It’s a good job it wasn’t a supporting wall. They’d all be dead if it was.
The Doctor immediately assumes that the Ice Warriors must be the bad guys, and when it turns out they aren’t, Sue isn’t very happy.
Sue: That makes the Doctor a little bit racist, doesn’t it? I expect a lot more from him. It should be him convincing everyone else that they are prejudiced, not the other way around. That’s not good.
Me: I don’t care what you say, this episode is still very important to me. This is the episode that was playing on UK Gold the first night you brought me home to meet Nicol. Tuesday, April 13th, 1993.
Sue: What was she wearing?
Sue: You can remember which episode of Doctor Who was on the telly that night, but you can’t remember what Nicol was wearing. That just about sums it up.top
Sue has become increasingly distracted by the costumes of Peladon…
Sue: I can imagine Eddie Izzard walking around in the King’s costume. Or maybe Pat Butcher. It’s a difficult look to pull off.
Me: This story is very Christmassy, don’t you think? All those reds, greens and purples.
Sue: Well, it is a pantomime.
Me: Oh no it isn’t.
Sue: Why is the guard who can’t talk called Grunt? Isn’t that a bit cruel?
Me: He’s called Grun.
Sue: Oh, well, that’s much better.
When Aggedor finally takes centre stage, Sue isn’t convinced.
Sue: Oh dear. They were getting away with it when they kept it hidden in the shadows, but now that you can see it out in the open, it’s too fluffy. Like a huge teddy bear. They should have roughed it up a bit. It should be caked in shit, it shouldn’t look like it’s just been blow-dried.
The Doctor advances on Aggedor with a spinning mirror and a Venusian lullaby.
Sue: Just stick your fingers in its chest! Hang on, is he singing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’?
Me: I told you this was Christmassy! I’ve planned this for months.
Sue: Have you really?
Once Aggedor is under hypnosis, Sue quickly changes her tune.
Sue: He’s quite cute, really. Is he house trained?
The Doctor is sentenced to trial by combat, and King Peladon isn’t swayed when Jo pleads with him for clemency.
Sue: She’s never going to sleep with him now. He’s completely blown it.
The Doctor is lowered into a pit to face the mighty Grun.
Sue: Is that really Jon Pertwee? I’m not convinced. The hair looks even more fake than usual.
As Grun and the Doctor fight to the death, Sue just can’t help herself…
Sue: Just stick your finger in his ****ing chest!
The episode concludes with Arcturus and the Ice Warriors both drawing their weapons and firing.
Sue: That was a very confusing cliffhanger. What the hell was going on there?top
This will be our 300th episode of Doctor Who. Yes, I know it’s not the 300th episode of Doctor Who (that’s the middle of The Daemons) but we condensed some of the recons very early on (a fact that continues to haunt us) and so this is our 300th episode.
As luck would have it, on the very same evening we were due to watch the episode, we were invited to appear on Bob Fischer’s show on BBC Radio Tees, and as we set out for the studio, Sue quizzed me about what she should expect.
Sue: What do you think Bob will ask me?
Me: Well, he’s bound to ask you about the episode we’re currently up to.
Sue: I didn’t realise I’d have to revise for this. I’ve been really busy today.
Me: We only watched an episode last night! Come on, you can do it, ‘The Curse of…’
Sue: Peladon. Yes, that’s right, The Curse of Peladon. Anything else?
Me: It would be great if you could slip the words ‘hermaphrodite hexapod’ into the conversation. That might get a laugh.
Sue: And how am I supposed to do that, exactly?
Me: Alpha Centauri? Remember?
Sue: That’s a planet, isn’t it?
Me: The giant penis?
Sue: Oh yes, the giant penis in a shower curtain. OK, if you mention Alpha Centauri, I’ll drop that in.
The full show is available on the BBC iPlayer until Tuesday December 27th (and includes B-sides from Jon Pertwee and Frazer Hines!) and the edited ‘highlights’ are also available below.
Me: I told you to drop ‘hermaphrodite hexapod’ into the conversation, not ‘penis in a shower curtain’!
Sue: Sorry! I got confused.
Me: Well that’s something else you can scratch off your bucket list – you said the word ‘penis’ on local radio. Well done.
We return home in silence, and then we settle down to watch the 300th episode of the experiment.
Sue: Nice rugs.
No, she isn’t referring to the Pels’ wigs, it’s the fabrics that adorn most of the walls in the citadel that have drawn Sue’s eye. She has also noticed just how smoky the sets have become, and when I tell her that the production team got in a lot of trouble for bringing burning torches into the studio, and how the cameras had to be stripped down so that all the soot could be removed, she believes it was a price worth paying.
Sue: It’s the best thing about this. It’s the only realistic thing in the entire story.
Grun slips into the tunnels to attack Hepesh for betraying his people, but the old man manages to overpower him.
Sue: How did Hepesh pick up that huge boulder? That’s ridiculous. Pertwee struggled to pick a rock that was less than half that size. Do the people of Peladon have superhuman strength? Have I missed something important?
Meanwhile, the Ice Warriors, Jo and Alpha Centauri take a vote on whether to side with King Peladon. Alpha Centauri decides to prevaricate (“Just poke her in her eye!”), but the others eventually persuade it to join with them and it slowly raises its hand(s) in agreement.
Sue: Does that count as one or three votes?
An Ice Warrior returns to his quarters and discovers that their communications equipment has been sabotaged.
Sue: That’s a very nice chest. I saw something very similar to that in TK Maxx earlier today.
I think we’ve completely lost her now.
Civil war breaks out on Peladon but Sue still isn’t stirred. Even scantily clad men fighting each other fails to spark any interest.
Sue: It’s not exactly 300. It’s not even close to 30.
The Doctor speeds up the war by setting the now-tame Aggedor loose on Hepesh, whom it kills instantly in a fit of rage. King Peladon is beside himself with grief.
Sue: Where’s the music gone? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss the music when it’s not there. It doesn’t feel right. Is Dudley on a three-day week at the moment?
And then the real delegates from Earth turn up.
Sue: Good. I was beginning to worry about them. I thought they’d been smashed to bits on the side of a mountain somewhere. Oh, nice use of the ‘Doctor who?’ joke. We haven’t had one of those in a while. It takes real skill to do that without it sounding shit.
The Doctor suggests to Jo that the Time Lords may have been behind their recent detour.
Sue: A likely bloody story. They are just trying to make it seem more important than it really is.
The Doctor and Jo leave in the TARDIS before their subterfuge can be questioned further.
Me: How do you feel about Jo not staying with the king?
Sue: I’m relieved. He was a bit wet. And who’d want to live on a shit-hole like Peladon?top
The Final Score
Sue: That didn’t really do anything for me. It was definitely below average. The production values weren’t very good – some of it looked very cheap. Except for that bit on the mountain. They should have filmed the whole thing like that. Some of the alien costumes were a joke, the direction was flat and the plot didn’t excite me either. The only good thing I can say about this one is that at least Jo had something to do for a change. Pertwee didn’t do my head in too much as well. And if was four parts. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if they’d dragged it out to six.
And on that bombshell, the wife and I will be taking a little break from Doctor Who (apart from the new stuff that Sue insists we watch on Christmas Day). We will return early in the new year and, if I manage to time it right, we might reach the halfway point of the classic series (Planet of the Daleks Episode Five) on the experiment’s first anniversary (January 24th). Now that is a sobering thought.
Until then, Sue and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And thank you for your continued support. Without you, we’d have given up ages ago.
The experiment continues in 2012…top
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