Archive for the Season 09 Category

9.2 – “The Curse Of Peladon”

Posted in Classic Who, Season 09 with tags , , , , on October 27, 2014 by Review The Who

CW Series 9 - The Curse Of Peladon

Peladon is hosting delegates from the Galactic Alliance as it tries to join as a member but, on the eve of the conference, one of the King’s closest advisors is killed mysteriously and Peladon’s future with the Alliance is thrown into doubt as the delegates try to get to the bottom of the murder. The King must decide whether to move Peladon forward and join the Alliance or retreat into a past of medieval mythology. The Doctor and Jo land on Peladon during their first trip away from Earth in a newly repaired TARDIS and are instantly mistaken for the Alliance delegates from Earth and caught up in the chaos as it ensues.

After the long exile on Earth, “The Curse Of Peladon” shows why this era of Doctor Who did well to be earth bound in a time and universe of heavy budget constraints. All the limitations of doing this show under the workload and lack of cash are fairly clear to see here.

It’s a well loved story, and not without its charm, but it does seem to struggle under a few heavy brassneck aspects. For the first visit to an alien planet in some time, Peladon feels like it relies heavily on the BBC drama department’s historical drama sets. Drafty castle chic with torch lined walls is the order of the day. It’s the reason that my brother was convinced that all 70’s Doctor Who contained two warring factions and a monster in an underground cave. Still, there is a Shakespearean tragedy to the Peladon throne being led into disarray between the scientific advice of Chancellor Torbis and the traditional beliefs of the King’s co-advisor Hepesh with his obsession with Peladon’s mythical royal Beast Aggedor.

David Troughton does a great turn as the young King, and its nice to see Brian Hayles bring his Ice Warriors back, although it would be better to see them have more of a purpose than the somewhat stiff Martian delegates featured here as an “Are they or aren’t they the baddies?” role. Alpha Centauri’s delegate is one of the worst Who aliens ever created, carting about like a gigantic pea with a cloak and the most ridiculous high pitched voice. Even my ten year old was looking at it and wondering what they were thinking. Centauri is up there with the Absorbaloff as one of the most ill-conceived alien designs we’ve seen, so bad it could have been created by a junior level Blue Peter competition winner.

Arcturus could have been a great alien villain – head in a jar – but it just feels like they missed a trick with a rubber head in a plastic box, covered in green liquid, but with no real facial movement. Wish they’d spent the budget for the Alpha Centauri costume on a puppeteer’s hand to give Arcturus face more of an edge with movement and had a humanoid Centauri and not a giant pea-headed walloper. Most of the delegates discussion is a high pitched rummy that starts to grate quickly and you just end up wishing they would all shut up. Why would you be chosen to represent your Planet at a serious conference when you’re a mad gobshite that can’t shut up?

Royal Beast Aggedor looks a bit like a wild boar that’s taught itself to lumber about on its hind legs. A poor misunderstood creature that responds well to The Doctor singing it a lullaby and hypnotising it with a bit of bling. Most of Aggedor’s damage seems to come from statues in its image toppling over rather than the “monster” itself.

The Doctor also gets to do a bit of hand to hand combat against the King’s champion, and its always a joy to see a stunt fighter in a silver wig swapping out for Pertwee as he goes flying, or takes a heavy tumble.

I usually try and be fairly positive about the shows, but having watched this a couple of times this week, my memory of the story is definitely better than how the story itself has stood up, and I’m struggling to be as positive as I would like. Its just a bit of a naive 4-parter, that struggles to effectively create an alien planet and is let down by fairly poorly realised aliens. The Doctor and Jo are up to their usual standard, but its just a bit of a dull outing which doesn’t shine the way you’d hope. If “The Curse Of Peladon” is a satire on the UK joining the European Common Market, can we look forward to an imminent return to Peladon to see a next generation King/Queen of Peladon being advised by Chancellor Farage that they should really leave the Federation cause you just can’t trust these alien delegates. Lets hope not. 5/10

Written and edited by Gavin Dunbar


9.1 – “Day Of The Daleks”

Posted in Classic Who, Season 09 with tags , , , , on September 17, 2014 by Review The Who

CW Series 9 - Day Of The Daleks

On the eve of a historical world peace conference, an assassination attempt on Sir Reginald Styles raises the alarm with UNIT, who are providing security, and throws the conference and the peace it’s hoping to maintain into doubt. The Doctor’s curiousity is piqued as to why Styles assailant appears to have disappeared into the ether after his failed attack, leaving behind a futuristic weapon. Who are these time travelling guerillas and what have the Daleks go to do with the Peace Conference?

Season 9 kicks off with the return of The Doctor’s oldest adversaries. “Day Of The Daleks” is a classic time travelling Sci Fi concept and a forerunner of The Terminator; freedom fighters from the future come back in time to stop an event from happening to change the course of history and try and stop the evil aliens/computer that rule the world in their future time period from getting to that situation. Its a proper time paradox romp, one of the first real goes at it in Doctor Who, and it works really well on the whole. The weakest thing about it is probably the Daleks themselves, who seem to be a bit of a damp squib in their own adventure.

Terry Nation is credited as having orginated the stories (he was too busy to write a Dalek serial himself at the time), but writer Louis Marks had already written much of this adventure before being asked to re-write it to include the Daleks. And it really shows. It doesn’t help that there were only three Dalek props available to use at the time of filming, so they really are thin on the ground. If you have the DVD release there is a special edition version with newly filmed scenes including more Daleks and up to date effects to make it feel more full on. They also got current Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs in to overdub the Dalek chat, since the original vocals weren’t considered to be up to the usual quality. This makes for a more interesting concept, but it still feels a bit like its already shot its bolt by the time the Daleks come into play.

There are some good scenes with The Doctor and Jo in the future, as prisoners/guests of The Controller, puppet leader for the Daleks of the future world, admirably played by Aubrey Woods. But the best aspects rest back on contemporary Earth with UNIT, time displaced guerillas and the security of the peace conference.

Having watched both the original and special edition version over the past couple of weeks, the climax of the story doesn’t really seem to come to anything. There is no pay off after the realisation that the soldiers trying to kill Styles was caused by them trying to kill Styles rather than Styles himself. Certainly no pay off from having the Daleks. They seem to merely exist in this tale as the back story behind why people are time travelling to change the future back in the past. A real shame since they had been missing from the show for some time, and would have benefited from a more cohesive plot they were actually a part of.

A convoluted, budget return by Skaro’s finest takes the shine off an otherwise fine tale. What could have been a solid 8/10 in its own right falls to a 6/10 with an anti-climax that the original concept would have coped without. It’s not terrible by any means; its fairly enjoyable in places, just a bit of a missed opportunity/slightly wide of the mark effort. Nation’s greatest Dalek moment was still to come with “Genesis…” and Marks would have a better chance to work again on the show with “Planet Of Evil” and “Mask Of Mandragora”. An anti-climactic 6/10.

Written and edited by Gavin Dunbar