Peladon and on and on and on and on…
Sue: Peladon… Peladon… The name definitely rings a bell…
I sigh. For lots of different reasons.
Sue: Oh yeah, Peladon. I remember now. What have we come back here for? Peladon’s a shit-hole.
Things immediately get off to a very ropey start…
Sue: It’s Mad Max with badgers.
The miners of Peladon are attacked by an unseen force and they run away, in fear of the almighty Aggedor.
Sue: Oh yes, Aggedor. It’s all coming back to me now. It was a giant boar, wasn’t it?
Sometimes, this blog just writes itself.
Sue: I wasn’t very impressed the first time we visited Peladon. Why have we come back? They had better have a good reason for it.
In the citadel’s throne room, Sue only has eyes for one character. And no, it it’s not the queen you’re thinking of.
Sue: How S&M is this guy? Can they really get away with that? Wow. Gary would like him, though, he looks like one of the bouncers at Man Bar.
The TARDIS arrives on Peladon, off-course and about 50 years too late.
Sue: I thought the Doctor had a working TARDIS these days? Make your bloody mind up! Does it work or doesn’t it?
The miners of Peladon lament their terrible working conditions, but Sue is far more engrossed by their uniforms.
Sue: You know, this is like Game of Thrones but…
Me: But with less incest. You really have to stop using that joke.
Sue: No! With more incest! That’s why they all have the same hairstyle. They must interbreed or it wouldn’t make any sense. Unless Peladon has a branch of hairdressers that specialises in Badger Set and Blow Drys?
Me: It looks like someone threw a bottle of Tipp-Ex at Kevin Keegan.
Sue: At least it keeps their ears warm in the winter, so it’s not all bad news. And they could always form a Mungo Jerry tribute band if they lost their jobs.
The Pel miners’ hair will inevitably become an endless source of fascination for Sue, which is more than you can say for the plot. But the thing that annoys her the most is the constant switching between film and video.
Sue: It’s very jarring. Why can’t they just chose a style and stick with it? It’s putting me right off. It’s especially noticeable when they switch from film to video on the same set. Why did they do that? And what the hell is actually going, on by the way? I’m lost already.
After filling her in on the basics of the plot that she’s missed (it’s difficult for her to concentrate on politics when men are parading around in skirts that short), Sue finally identifies the real-life context for this particular story.
Sue: Oh, so this is about the miners’ strikes in the 1970s, is it? Is the Queen supposed to represent Margaret Thatcher?
Me: Thatcher doesn’t come to power for years.
Sue: Maybe Thatcher is the strange woman in the purple dress who stands at the back doing nothing.
Me: It’s either that or a very subtle crossover with Sapphire and Steel.
Sue: So is the Queen supposed to be Ted Heath, then? She’s prettier than Ted Heath.
Me: Yes, well she is a lot easier on the eye.
Sue: She looks like Amy Pond.
Me: Although the streak of grey hair is very Ted Heath.
It appears that a terrible war is raging between the Federation and the mysterious Galaxy 5.
Sue: Who are Galaxy 5 when they’re at home? And why does that ring a bell? Should I know what that means?
Me: You’re thinking of Galaxy 4. They come from the galaxy next door.
Sue: They sound like a boy band. Or maybe a local radio station.
Eckersley, the human mining expert who has been sent to Peladon to extract the mineral needed to fuel the Federation’s war, also rings a bell with Sue.
Sue: He’s definitely been in Doctor Who before.
Me: Very good, I’m impressed. It’s Donald Gee and he was in The Space Pirates.
Sue: The only reason I remember him is because he looks like Jasper Carrot and I can remember somebody looking like Jasper Carrot once before. So it had to be him.
Toby Hadoke, eat your heart out.
The miners continue to debate their miserable lot, but Sue is only half-listening to them.
Sue: Maybe their hair is extra-bouncy and rocks don’t hurt them when they fall on their heads? Perhaps it’s an evolutionary thing?
When Sarah is introduced to Alpha Centauri, she almost has a heart attack. The hermaphrodite hexapod profusely apologises for its appearance.
Sue: Yeah, it’s not my fault I look like a giant dick. Do you know how many times I’ve had to go through the “I’m sorry that I look like a giant dick” conversation? It’s depressing.
And then, a little later:
Sue: If Steven Moffat brought back Alpha Centauri, do you think the BBC would tell him off?
And then, just as Sue begins to drift off completely, this happens:
Sue: Who gave him an Equity Card? I’ve seen Nativity plays with better performances. He must be related to one of the production team. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.
The episode concludes with the Doctor confronted by an apparition of Aggedor.
Sue: Crash-zooming the camera like that doesn’t make it any better.
Me: I can vividly remember watching this cliffhanger when I was four years old. It terrified me. I have this incredibly strong memory where I flatly refuse to visit my great-aunt after my mother told me she had a new Labrador. I thought she said Aggedor. I remember being horrified that a member of my family would have access to a monster from Doctor Who as a pet, and I refused to leave the house. I was an easily confused child.
Sue: You’re an easily confused adult.top
Sue: The giant dick is reflecting a lot of glare. It’s far too shiny. Did somebody polish the top of its helmet before they started filming?
Suddenly, an electronic voice excitedly announces that there has been an unauthorised explosion in the mine.
Sue: Have they got a Dalek working the switchboard?
As the inhabitants of Peladon run around like headless chickens, Sue is drawn to the stencils that adorn the planet’s walls and curtains.
Sue: Did they get Rolf Harris to design their logos? “Can you guess what it is yet?” Oh, it’s a pig.
The Doctor claims to have returned to Peladon because he has a special interest in the planet.
Sue: Since when? What is there to be interested in? It’s a boring shit-hole! Does the Doctor pop back to all the planets he’s saved to check up on them? And if he does, how does he ever get there?
An epic fight scene between the miners follows, and while I hope that Sue will appreciate the skills of Terry Walsh, she’s distracted by something else entirely.
Sue: One of those guards is wearing a g-string.
As Sarah investigates Peladon’s refinery, we see something mysterious lurking behind a window.
Sue: Am I supposed to know what that is?
Me: You could make an educated guess.
Sue: Is it the Daleks? Is that why we heard one earlier?
Sue: Is it…
Me: Don’t even joke about it.
Sue: …the Yeti?
Sadly, the studio lighting continues to annoy Sue…
Sue: It’s too brightly lit for a giant penis. They should have stuck the penis in the mine so no one could see it properly.
When a miner named Ettis attacks Alpha Centauri with a sword, Sue is horrified.
Sue: He’s going to castrate him!
The Doctor and Sarah are arrested for something or other, but the religious gobbledygook flies over Sue’s head because she’s far too busy checking out Aggedor’s statue, and his tummy in particular.
Sue: Aggedor could do with losing a little weight. Have you seen the size of his sagging belly? He’s almost as fat as our cats.
Chancellor Ortron declares that the Sarah and the Doctor have committed blasphemy, and they are thrown into a deep, dark pit for their troubles.
Sue: That won’t be very good for Jon Pertwee’s knees.
The Doctor and Sarah can hear a large animal approaching in the darkness, and then Aggedor suddenly makes a run for them.
Sue: We’ve seen this cliffhanger before. It’s exactly the same cliffhanger as the other story! Why do they feel the need to repeat themselves? Why don’t they write something new? Why?
This seems like as good a place as any to introduce Sue to Doctor Who‘s production codes, and how this story probably sports the most appropriate code of all: YYY.
Sue: Hang on a minute, how bad is the next story going to be?top
As Aggedor runs towards the Doctor and Sarah, Sue has a suggestion…
Sue: Just hypnotise him!
Me: Don’t you start!
Sue: It’s what the Doctor did the last time he was in this situation. You have to sing Christmas carols to it.
And that’s exactly what the Doctor does.
Sue: We’ve seen this before. Boring!
Eckersley convinces Alpha Centauri to call for Federation reinforcements.
Sue: I don’t trust Eckersley at all. He’s a shit stirrer.
When Sarah gives Queen Thalira a lesson in Women’s Lib, Sue enjoys the scene a lot, especially the line “There’s nothing only about being a girl’, and the fact that Sarah won’t let men to tell her what to do. It is a great scene.
But it is completely undercut a few minutes later when this happens:
As the mystery surrounding the inhabitant of the locked refinery mounts, Sue tries to take part in the investigation.
Sue: Should I know who it is?
Sue: Is it the Ice Warriors?
Me: What? I mean, yes! Wow. You got there in the end.
Sue: Once I thought about it, and I stopped being flippant, it was pretty obvious.
As this episode continues to limp on, Sue hits the proverbial nail on the head.
Sue: There is a lot of talking in this story. Is it just me or is it really boring? I’m running out of things to say about it.
Me: No, it isn’t just you. In fact, I think it was John Williams who once said that the only extra feature this story needs is a wrap of speed.
As Gebek tries to maintain order with the revolting miners, Sue is drawn to his northernness.
Sue: He’s like Arthur Scargill. But with better hair. I’m just surprised that he doesn’t call Eckersley, Eckerslike.
Meanwhile, the Doctor claims to have some serious suspicions…
Sue: Someone in the script department has it in for Jon Pertwee. Somebody is surreptitiously selecting several S’s so he sounds silly.
Me: Now you’re doing it.
The Federation reinforcements radio in and they sound suspiciously like the Ice Warriors.
Sue: It’s definitely the Ice Warriors.
The episode concludes with – yes, you guessed it! – an Ice Warrior.
Sue: Told you.top
The Ice Warriors place Peladon under martial law.
Sue: Martian law?
Me: Close enough.
Sue: Is the reason that they made this story again because they had all the costumes and sets sitting in storage? That’s the real reason, isn’t it? I mean, who was crying out for a sequel to the last one set on Peladon? It doesn’t make any sense.
The Ice Lord, Azaxyr, proceeds to provide a concise and pithy summary of the plot so far.
Sue: That was very helpful. Thanks. He should turn up at the beginning of every episode to fill in all the bits I may have missed.
In fact, Azaxyr remains a constant source of fascination for Sue.
Sue: How come he can talk reasonably OK, while all the other Ice Warriors sound asthmatic? That doesn’t seem very fair.
The Doctor asks Sarah if the Ice Warrior silhouette she saw through the refinery’s window matches that of Sskel, the Ice Warrior currently guarding them.
Sue: How can she possibly tell? They all look the same to me.
She changes the subject.
Sue: I had a jacket just like Sarah Jane’s when I was 12.
Sue: You dressed like Sarah Jane?
Sue: Yes, we were both very trendy, what can I say? I’m not convinced by her Christmas jumper, though. I wouldn’t have been seen dead in a jumper like that.
As Ettis riles the miners up into a frenzy, Sue spots a familiar face.
Sue: It’s Burt the miner! You know! From the one with the giant maggots.
Me: The one with the giant maggots? Really? After all this time, that’s all we get? The one with the giant maggots?
Sue: Does this actor always play miners? Is he the go-to guy when the BBC need someone to pretend to be a miner?
The Doctor manages to persuade the miners to return to work and things begin to settle down.
Sue: THE END!
But no, we’re only just over halfway through this story. It truly is a harrowing thought.
Sue: I like the way the Doctor is wearing a lot of green in this story. It’s almost as if he knew the Ice Warriors were going to show up and he didn’t want to clash with them.
The Doctor decides to turn up the heat, which will inevitably result in the Ice Warriors feeling groggier and groggier…
Sue: I know just how they feel.
The Doctor rushes off to stop Ettis who has positioned a sonic lance in the direction of the citadel. But before he goes, Gebek hands the Doctor a sword.
Sue: Why did the Doctor accept that weapon? That’s not a very Doctorish thing to do, is it? But then again, he does like a good swashbuckle.
And, would you believe it, that’s exactly what he get because Ettis – who is quite literally as mad as a badger – threatens to destroy everyone. The resultant fight is very interesting for all the wrong reasons.
Sue: Who the hell is that? Did Jon Pertwee just regenerate in the middle of a fight scene?
After head-butting the Doctor in the balls, Ettis switches on the lance. But Azaxyr has already booby-trapped it and the machine blows up in the mad miner’s face.
Sue: Do you think Pertwee was far enough away from that explosion?
Me: Yeah, I bet he was in the BBC canteen by that point.top
Sue: I knew Eckerslike was in on it. Pfft.top
After a slow, and frankly tedious, Part Five (although Sue did enjoy the cliffhanger), we attempt to rouse ourselves for one last journey to Peladon.
Sue: Eckerslike always has his hands in his pockets. Never a trust a man who never takes his hands out of his pockets.
The Doctor uncovers Eckersley’s weaponised Aggedor statue, which he teleports to some miners so he can gain their trust.
Sue: Wouldn’t it be funny if the Doctor’s elbow accidentally landed on the big red button and he killed them all?
It would, if only the Doctor didn’t spend several minutes calmly murdering Ice Warriors.
Sue: This Doctor really doesn’t give a hoot for the sanctity of life, does he? He’ll kill just about anything given half the chance.
Eckersley halts the Doctor’s killing spree with his sonic security system, and at one point the Doctor looks like he’s being attacked by a mobile disco.
Sue: It looks like the Doctor is going to regenerate. Actually, when does this Doctor regenerate? We can’t be far off now.
I look at my watch.
Me: In just under three minutes.
Sue actually sat up when I said this.
Sue: Really? He regenerates at the end of this episode? Why didn’t you tell me?
Me: I wanted to keep it a surprise.
Sue: Oh, I’m really excited now. It’s not a great story to go out on, though. Regenerating in front of a giant cock. That’s not good.
As Sarah rushes off to visit the Doctor’s corpse, Sue comes to a startling conclusion.
Sue: So, was Eckerslike a last-minute replacement for the Master? Was it supposed to be his arch-enemy who killed him but they had to change it? That would make a lot of sense.
Me: Yes, in fact, Eckersley becomes the Doctor’s arch-nemesis from this point on. I will be changing the counter on the homepage to say ‘Is It Eckerslike?’ very soon.
As Sarah weeps, Sue is bludgeoned into submission by the scene’s emotional heft.
Sue: He died for some stupid badgers. This is actually quite sad…
The Doctor sits bolt upright in his chair.
The cushion in the face was worth it.
The Doctor doesn’t seem to be bothered by Sarah’s tears.
Sue: What a ****. Both of you.
Meanwhile, Queen Thalira is being harassed by the Ice Warriors. She doesn’t seem all that bothered to be honest.
Sue: She doesn’t vary her performance at all. She looks very nice but that’s about it.
In a last-ditch attempt at securing his freedom, Eckersley kidnaps Queen Thalira and the Doctor sends the real Aggedor after him. The poor thing is promptly shot in the head, but not before he manages to maul the mad mineralogist to death.
Queen Thalira thanks the Doctor for his actions. “We are forever in your debt,” she tells him.
Sue: Yes, you have saved us a small fortune in vet bills.
The episode concludes with the Doctor scolding Sarah before he drags her into the TARDIS by her ear. And, just like she was a naughty schoolgirl, Sarah giggles.
Sue: What a fantastic role model for feminism. Good grief.top
The Final Score
Sue: That was tedious. I mean, what was the point? We’ve seen it all before. And it was shorter last time, too! I despair.
The experiment continues…
Just a bit of business before I conclude this update. First of all, please keep the audio clips and questions coming in for the retrospective podcast I have planned. We’ve already received a couple of fantastic entries so far. Full instructions can be found at the end of the last update and the deadline for your submissions is: Thursday March 15th. The best and most creative submissions will win a mug.
Secondly, I have created a poll where you can vote on which Fourth Doctor episode you think we should tackle as a video commentary. You can vote for the story you’d like to hear Sue wax lyrical about on this blog’s sidebar to the right.
And finally, here’s a lovely picture of Neowhovian confusing the hell out of William Russell during the recent Gallifrey convention (click for a larger version):top
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