I wasn’t particularly interested in the idea of a whole box of Peladon set stories, though I do enjoy the two TV stories and the Fifth Doctor audio set on the planet I wasn’t convinced… but then they revealed the Sixth and Eighth Doctors were appearing (in the next half…) and so I jumped on board. Happily these fight two stories still quite fun, and not entirely Doctor-less either… Let’s take a look!
Synopsis (of Episode 1 “The Ordeal of Peladon”):
When King Peladon hears of a holy man with seemingly magical powers and the gift of foresight, he resolves to discover the truth of it for himself. But his quest to understand the shifting loyalties of his people is one from which he cannot return unchanged.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
“The Ordeal of Peladon” sees David Troughton reprise his role as King Peladon sometime after his TV appearance, though not a lot has changed. He has an Chancellor named Raarlan (David Sturzaker) who is clearly just as corrupt as his previous ones were and there’s an inspection on the way by two Ice Warriors, Ixmari and Skanlar (Nicholas Briggs and Moyo Akandé) That being said King Peladon had been hearing of a Saintly figure among the general population of Peladon by the name of Skarn (Ashley Zhangazha) and soon he sneaks off out of the Palace with Skarn follower Harfair (also Moyo Akandé) to see what the fuss is about. Together they nearly get mugged but are saved by Ixmari, who decides to go along on the trip with them, eventually meeting Skarn himself. Things get a little heated and Ixmari ends up stabbed and dies despite Skarn trying to call the God’s help to heal him, leading him to question whether he really has their ear (it’s actually more mineral poisoning, apparently…)
Before help arrives Skarn relates a story to King Peladon where he was just building up his fame when the Doctor appeared in his “Blue Box” behind him, convincing people of his power. The Doctor in question is actually David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, who rags on the fact that he always ends up on Peladon during its medieval time period, then says he can’t interfere with Skarn and his followers because he knows how it ends and it’s very much a fixed point in time, so leaves. It was a fun cameo! Back in the present King Peladon is once again reduced to sitting alone in his citadel while Raarlan clearly runs things, Skarn dies of poisoning and Harfair is in prison, saying she hears her master’s voice and knows of the chaos yet to come… Overall I enjoyed more than I hated.
That would be quite the weird line up if it were all one story!
Episode 2 “The Poison of Peladon” is set during the reign of Queen Thalira (played here by Deborah Findlay) sometime after her TV appearance and sees River Song act as the High Priestess undercover as she heard some bad rumours and wanted to protect one of her husband’s favourite planets. There is also a plague on Peladon that has affected Thalira’s daughter and once again her chancellor is clearly corrupt, in this case Gobran (Aaron Neil). They are soon visited by three delegates, as often happens! There is Father Mendica from Earth (Ariyon Bakare), Ambassador Ribble from Arcturus (Justin Salinger) and good old Alpha Centauri from Alpha Centauri (Jane Goddard). River and Alpha hit it off, as somehow feels natural, and Ribble is often acting shifty, also naturally. Father Mendica is also suspect, so when someone attempts to poison Thalira but got Centauri instead there is plenty of blame to go around, but it’s River who ends up behind bars. She is soon freed by her new favourite Hexapod and slowly but surely it’s all brought to light: the “water purification system” the Arcturans had supplied Peladon with were actually a slave force of “Subsumers”, a race that absorbs muck and the like, and this was arranged by Chancellor Gobran. The plague was actually poisoned water that once again Gobran arranged so that a potential Republican Uprising could be stopped in its track, and finally Father Mendica was actually a member of the “Karg Mafia”, who wish to spread chaos amongst the stars.
Mendica is eventually subsumed by the Subsumers and Ribble flees off-screen instead of being arrested for dealing in slave labour. Oh and Gobran died by being attacked by a bunch of previously caged Aggadors, the last key ingredient in a Peladon story! River leaves Peladon in pursuit of Ribble, which is a weird sentence to type… Overall it’s a fun story, with some great banter between River and Alpha Centauri.
The main thing that stood out in “Ordeal of Peladon” was Nicholas Briggs’ Ixmari, who was supposed to be an older Ice Warrior on his last mission which is fine but Nick’s attempt at an old man Ice Warrior stripped the performance of a lot of its Ice Warrior-ness and therefore it just sounded like Nick Briggs whispering. It was rather distracting at times.
Other than that the only thing worth complaining about would be that Peladon in this time period is still rather dull it seems. Corrupt Chancellors, Galactic inspections from all the usual Peladon races… I get trying to match people’s expectations but they could’ve done something a little more interesting with the planet! Hopefully in the next two stories…
Well as mentioned “The Ordeal of Peladon” is set after Third Doctor TV story “The Curse of Peladon” and “The Poison of Peladon” is set after the follow up Third Doctor TV Story “The Monster of Peladon”. Also King Peladon had previous appeared in the Companion Chronicle “The Prisoner of Peladon”. Throw in the next two stories in this box and the Fifth Doctor audio “The Bride of Peladon” and that’s a lot of Peladon in one paragraph!
Both Ordeal and Poison of Peladon had their moments and did recreate the planet well it’s just they did it too well as everything featured felt like we’d seen it all before… because we had. I get the boxset is called Peladon but they needed to expand the scope a little bit to up my interest in what was going on. Overall these two stories aren’t bad, they’re just … predictable.