14 November 2013
 Day 318: The Curse of Peladon, Episode Four

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 318: The Curse of Peladon, Episode Four

Dear diary,

You could almost be forgiven for thinking that this might be Jo’s final story in the series. It’s her seventh story, which gives her almost twice as many as Liz, and equal to Victoria and close to Zoe. She’s suddenly become a very useful asset to the Doctor, providing the solution to many of the problems they’ve faced in this story, from finding the tunnel in Episode One to helping keep the peace as best she can. Oh, and then there’s a love story.

I said back at the start of the story that I was hoping Jo would be kept front and centre throughout, and I think it’s fair to say that she’s been pretty well-served in that respect. What’s lovely is how real her personal story throughout the last four episodes has felt. You can really see Jo and King Peladon falling for each other, and the final scene in which he asks her to stay and she has to decline without giving a valid reason is genuinely heartbreaking. That they get to part with a kiss is a lovely touch, and it helps to flesh out the characters even more.

Right back at the start of The 50 Year Diary, I expressed surprise at just how three-dimensional the companions were. There’s something of a myth that’s built up over the years that all the new series companions are fully formed while all the classic ones were merely ciphers. I’m constantly waiting for the standard to drop, but on the whole I’ve not been disappointed. Victoria was something of a blip, but all the companions so far have had a quality to them that I’m surprised to see, and I think it’s another benefit of watching through in order like this.

A lot of my good feeling toward this episode seems to be born from the last five minutes of it. The conversation between the Doctor and Jo about how they arrived on Peladon at this precise point in its history was welcome, as I’d been wondering earlier on how the Doctor had managed to bring them here. It’s nice to see that Jo’s wish to get back to Earth next is echoed by the Doctor. I’ve not really been keeping track of his character’s evolution over the last few stories, but I think we’re seeing a shift now.

The first few stories of this era saw him desperate to get off the planet and return to his wanderings in time and space. Now that he’s getting occasional trips out courtesy of the Time Lords, he seems to be finding himself a bit more settled at UNIT. It’s something that still has a way to go (and I’ll try to remember to keep an eye out for it as I move forward), but I think we’re seeing a very definite change in his persona, and it’s for the better.

I’m also pleased to see the arrival of the real Earth ambassador at the end of the story. It’s something I thought was going to be a bit of a plot hole - and at one stage I even wondered if the Doctor was the real ambassador, set in place by the Time lords themselves. It’s interesting to note how different the Third Doctor is in his assumed role when compared to his Second incarnation during The Power of the Daleks. There’s never been a more clear contrast between the pair!

I’m looking forward to moving to another story, though. The Curse of Peladon simply hasn’t captured my imagination in the way I was hoping it might, and having had a break from him for a week or so, I’m looking forward to seeing the Master again. I’m all for the series trying to break up the monotony of Earth-based a bit, but hopefully the next one will be more to my tastes…

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