Sue: Peladon… Peladon. The name rings a bell…
I sigh. For lots of different reasons.
Sue: Oh yeah, Peladon. I remember now. So what have we come back here for? Peladon is a shit hole.
Things immediately get off to a ropey start.
Sue: It’s Mad Max with badgers.
Peladon’s miners are terrified 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 writes itself.
Sue: I wasn’t impressed the first time we visited Peladon, so why have we come back? I hope there’s a good reason for it.
In the citadel’s throne room, Sue only has eyes for one character. And no, it isn’t the queen you’re thinking of.
Sue: How S&M is this guy? How did they get away with that? Wow.
The TARDIS arrives on Peladon, off-course and about 50 years too late.
Sue: I thought the Doctor’s TARDIS was supposed to work these days? Make your bloody mind up. Does it work or doesn’t it?
As Peladon’s miners lament their terrible working conditions, Sue is much more interested in their uniforms.
Sue: You know, this is just 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 be inbred. Unless Peladon has a branch of hairdressers that specialises in Badger Set and Blow Drys?
Me: It looks like someone’s thrown a bottle of Tipp-Ex over Kevin Keegan.
Sue: At least it keeps their ears warm in the winter, so it’s not all bad news. And they can form a Mungo Jerry tribute band when they lose their jobs.
The miners’ hair will become an endless source of fascination for Sue, which is more than you can say for the plot. But the thing that really annoys her is the constant switching between film and video.
Sue: It’s very jarring. Why can’t they just chose a style and stick to it? It’s especially noticeable when they switch from film to video in the same scene. Why did they do that? And what the hell is actually going, on by the way? I’m lost already.
Sue can’t concentrate on politics when men are parading around in skirts that short.
Sue: Is this about the miners’ strikes in the 1970s? Is the queen supposed to represent Margaret Thatcher?
Me: Thatcher doesn’t come to power for years yet.
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 subtle crossover with Sapphire and Steel.
Sue: So is the queen supposed to be Ted Heath? She’s prettier than Ted Heath.
Me: She is a little easier on the eye, yes. Although that streak of grey hair is very Ted Heath.
A terrible war is raging between the Federation and Galaxy 5.
Sue: Who are Galaxy 5 when they’re at home? Why does that ring a bell? Should I know what that means?
Me: You’re thinking of Galaxy 4. Galaxy 5 are from the galaxy next door.
Sue: They sound like a boy band. Or a local radio station.
A mining expert named Eckersley also rings a bell.
Sue: He’s definitely been in Doctor Who before.
Me: I’m impressed. It’s Donald Gee from The Space Pirates.
Sue: The only reason I remember him is because he looks like Jasper Carrott, and I remember somebody looking like Jasper Carrott before. So it had to be him.
Peladon’s miners are a miserable lot, it has to be said.
Sue: Maybe their hair is extra-bouncy so the rocks don’t hurt them when they fall on their heads? Perhaps it’s an evolutionary thing?
Sarah is introduced to Alpha Centauri, and almost has a heart attack in the process.
Sue: (As Alpha Centauri) 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 I look like a giant dick” conversation? It’s depressing.
And then, a little later…
Sue: If Steven Moffat brought back Alpha Centauri in the new series, 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 Doctor is haunted by Aggedor.
Sue: Crash-zooming like that doesn’t make it better, you know.
Me: I vividly remember seeing this cliffhanger when I was four years old. It terrified me. In fact, I wouldn’t visit my great-aunt when my mother told me she had a new Labrador. I thought she said Aggedor. I remember being horrified that a member of my own family would have access to a monster from Doctor Who. I was an easily confused child.
Sue: You’re an easily confused adult, Neil.
Sue: The giant dick is reflecting a lot of light. It’s too shiny. Did they polish its helmet before they started filming?
An electronic voice excitedly exclaims there’s been an unauthorised explosion in the mine.
Sue: Have they got a Dalek working the switchboard?
The Doctor 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 shithole! 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?
As Sarah investigates Peladon’s refinery, something mysterious lurks 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?
The studio lighting still annoys Sue.
Sue: It’s too brightly lit for that giant penis. They should have stuck that penis in the mine so you couldn’t see it properly.
When a miner named Ettis attacks Alpha Centauri with a sword, Sue is appalled.
Sue: He’s going to castrate him!
The Doctor and Sarah are arrested for blasphemy, although the religious gobbledygook flies over Sue’s head because she’s too busy checking out Aggedor’s statue.
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.
The Doctor and Sarah are thrown into a deep, dark pit for their crime.
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…
Sue: We’ve seen this cliffhanger before. It’s exactly the same cliffhanger as the first story! Why do they feel the need to repeat themselves? Why don’t they write something new? Why?
This seems like as good a time as any to introduce Sue to Doctor Who’s production codes, and how this story sports the most appropriate code of all: YYY.
Sue: Hang on a minute, how bad is the next story going to be?
As Aggedor charges towards the Doctor, Sue has a suggestion.
Sue: Hypnotise him!
Me: Don’t you start!
Sue: It’s what he 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. It’s boring!
Eckersley convinces Alpha Centauri to send for Federation reinforcements.
Sue: I don’t trust Eckersley. He’s a shit stirrer.
Sarah gives Queen Thalira a quick lesson in Women’s Lib (Sue loves it when she tells her “There’s nothing ‘only’ about being a girl”), and as the mystery surrounding the inhabitant of the locked refinery mounts, Sue decides to take part in the investigation.
Sue: Should I know who it is?
Sue: Is it an Ice Warrior?
Me: What? Sorry, I mean yes! Wow. You actually got there in the end.
Sue: Once I thought about it, and stopped being flippant, it was pretty obvious, really.
And then Sue hits the proverbial nail on the head.
Sue: There’s too much 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 maintains order, Sue is drawn to his northernness.
Sue: He’s like Arthur Scargill. But with better hair. I’m surprised he doesn’t call Eckersley, Eckerslike.
When the Federation’s reinforcements radio in, they sound suspiciously like the Ice Warriors.
Sue: It’s definitely the Ice Warriors.
And then the episode concludes with – yes, you guessed it – an Ice Warrior!
Sue: Told you.
The Ice Warriors declare martial law.
Sue: Martian law?
Me: Close enough.
Sue: Did they make this story again because all the sets and costumes were sitting in storage? That’s the real reason, isn’t it? I mean, who was crying out for a sequel to the other one set on Peladon? It doesn’t make any sense.
The Ice Lord Azaxyr concisely summarises the plot so far.
Sue: That was helpful. Thanks. He should turn up at the beginning of every episode to explain the bits I’ve missed. And how come he can talk reasonably okay, while all the other Ice Warriors sound asthmatic? That doesn’t seem fair.
The Doctor asks Sarah if the Ice Warrior silhouette she saw through the refinery’s window matches that of Sskel, the Ice Warrior who’s guarding them.
Sue: How can she tell? They all look the same to me.
She decides to change the subject.
Sue: I had a jacket like Sarah Jane’s when I was 12.
Me: You dressed like Sarah Jane?
Sue: What can I say? We were both very trendy. 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, Sue spots a familiar face.
Sue: It’s Burt the miner! From the one with the giant maggots. Is he the go-to guy when the BBC need a pretend-miner?
The Doctor persuades the miners to return to work.
Sue: THE END!
Sadly, we’re only halfway through this story, which is a truly harrowing thought, actually.
Sue: I like the way the Doctor is wearing 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 turns up the heat, which results in the Ice Warriors feeling groggier and groggier.
Sue: I know exactly how they feel.
The Doctor rushes off to stop Ettis, who is currently pointing a sonic lance at the citadel. But before he goes, Gebek hands him a sword.
Sue: Why did the Doctor accept that weapon? That wasn’t a very Doctorish thing to do. Then again, he does like a good swashbuckle.
And that’s exactly what he gets, because Ettis – who literally is as mad as a badger – wants to kill everyone.
Sue: (Pointing at Terry Walsh) Who the hell is that? Did Jon Pertwee regenerate in the middle of a fight scene?
After head-butting the Doctor in the balls, Ettis activates the sonic lance. But Azaxyr has booby-trapped it and the machine blows up in the mad miner’s face.
Sue: Do you think Jon Pertwee was far enough away from that explosion?
Me: Yeah, I bet he was in the BBC canteen by that point.
Sue: I knew Eckerslike was in on it. Pfft.
After a slow, and frankly tedious, Part Five (although Sue did enjoy the cliffhanger), we rouse ourselves for one last trip to Peladon.
Sue: Eckerslike’s hands are always in his pockets. Never a trust a man who doesn’t take his hands out of his pockets.
The Doctor uncovers Eckersley’s weaponised Aggedor statue, which he then teleports to some miners in order to 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 murdering Ice Warriors.
Sue: This Doctor doesn’t give a hoot for the sanctity of life. He’d kill anything given the chance.
Eckersley ends the Doctor’s killing spree with a sonic security system that reminds Sue of a mobile disco.
Sue: It looks like the Doctor’s going to regenerate. Actually, when does this Doctor regenerate? It can’t be long now.
I glance at my watch.
Me: In just under three minutes.
Sue: What? He regenerates in this episode? Why didn’t you say so?
Me: I wanted it to be a surprise.
Sue: Oh, I’m excited now. It’s not a great story to go out on, though. Regenerating in front of a giant cock can’t be good.
Sarah rushes off to tend to the Doctor’s corpse.
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: That’s right. Eckersley is the Doctor’s arch-nemesis from this point.
Sue is bludgeoned into submission by the scene’s emotional heft.
Sue: He died for some stupid badgers. This is quite sad, actually.
The Doctor sits bolt upright in his chair (the cushion in the face was worth it), and then Queen Thalira is harassed by some Ice Warriors.
Sue: She never varies her performance. She looks nice, but that’s about it.
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 it mauls the mad mineralogist to death.
Queen Thalira thanks the Doctor for his actions. “We are forever in your debt,” she tells him.
Sue: You’ve saved them a small fortune in vet bills.
The episode concludes with the Doctor scolding Sarah as he drags her into the TARDIS by her ear. Sarah giggles like a naughty schoolgirl.
Sue: What a fantastic role model for feminism. Good grief.
Sue: That was tedious. I mean, what was the point? We’ve seen it all before. And it was shorter last time, as well! I despair.