Friday, October 12, 2012

Doctor Who-The Curse Of Peladon
                           The early 1970's were very fertile creative ground for TV and film writers,especially if you happened to be writing for science fiction where one could take ideas from real life situations and deliver them to the public in a way that was far enough from the truth to be safe but close enough to the situation to be familiar and plausible. During the Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who became much like Star Trek in America in that regard,focusing parallel issues from reality within the story. While this worked wonderfully with the stories involving UNIT on contemporary Earth,script editor Terrence Dicks and producer,the late Barry Letts both came to the conclusion that the idea of the time lords using the doctor as a time/space travelling secret agent as it were,as presented in 'Colony In Space' would not only work wonderfully with the third doctors James Bond-like manner,but also add some extra variety and vitality to the show. Not only that but real life again laid the groundwork when England was in negotiation's to join the European Common Market. All of these issues combined went into the making of this story.

                      On a test run with the TARDIS,an attempt to return to Earth results in a crash landing on the planet Peladon,where the TARDIS is knocked over the cliff. Searching for help in the nearest populated area,the Doctor and Jo find themselves forced to pose as Earth delegates who along with representatives from Alpha Centauri ,Arcturus and Mars are trying to persuade Peladon,the young heir to his planets royal thrown,to join the Galactic Federation. The delegates are all attempting to persuade Peladon,himself about to be crowned king,to join while his ward Repesh is repeatedly standing in this way,insisting that a cursed creature called Aggedor will run amok killing people if the planets old ways are discontinued.  The divided and lonely Peladon tries to ask Jo,posing as an Earth princess to join him in marriage. But one member of the royal family has already been killed before the delegates arrived and Peladon is compelled to go by the wishes of Hepesh in all things.

                        The Doctor,based on past experience that the Ice Warriors,the delegates from Mars are involved. And he proceeds to investigate the situation. He finds Aggedor is actually merely a wild animal rather than a mythological monster and that he,along with the Arcturan delegate are being used by Hepesh in order to assure that Peladon does not join the Galactic Federation. Due to his divided position,Peladon is not in the position to grant the doctors request upon returning to present Aggedor for what he really and instead settles on a fight to the death with his mute kings champion Gran. Gran loses by default during what turns out to be an assassination of the Arcurtan delegate. With the help of Joe and the realized interest of the Ice Warriors and the Centurian delegate,the doctor is at last able to convince Gran of Aggedor's true nature and Aggedor,suddenly aware of Hepesh's deceit ends up killing Hepesh before the the thrown. After Peladon makes one last marriage plea to Joe,she leaves with the doctor in the recovered TARDIS...just as the real Earth delegates arrive.

                        While very much a story of political intrigue and therefore based heavily in plot and dialog,this is one of the finest stories of the Jon Pertwee era and justifiably considered one of the all time best classic Doctor Who serials ever made. David Troughton,son of Patrick who portrayed the second doctor is magnificent as the torn and unenviable Peladon. Realizing he's been put in the position of either betraying his own people's traditional ways or starting a war,his anxiety manifests itself in his personal loneliness in trying to wed Jo Grant. For her part,it's easy for us in the audience to empathize with Jo's lack of understanding how he cannot see the correlation between his personal needs and political ambitions. Repesh is the embodiment of the ultimate conservative character,defeating his own purpose in terms of his views by conniving and conspiring in order to keep his people from joining the Galactic Federation. Even he admits his wrong headedness just before his death. Though interestingly enough the doctor's unraveling of the conspiracy itself came from his own self protective act of fruad the act did,in his case,end up justifying the means.
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