Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 389: The Monster of Peladon, Episode One
As ever, wind and rain lashed at the walls of the Citadel of Peladon. Perched high on the side of a mountain, the fortress had stood the onslaught of such weather for centuries. Today we different, though, for today, there was another sound echoing around the large, grey halls. The wheezing, groaning of the TARDIS engines died away as the Doctor stepped out of the battered, blue police box. His new companion, Sarah Jane, followed close behind.
“The Citadel of Peladon, Sarah,” he announced, gesturing out into the room. “One of the most interesting…”
Before the man could finish, Will sat bolt upright, and stared at the screen in utter disbelief. Interesting? Interesting!? The last time the Doctor had visited Peladon, a couple of seasons ago with companion Jo Grant in tow, it had been far from interesting…
I don’t think it’s especially hard to guess that I’ve not really been eagerly anticipating this one. The Curse of Peladon left me completely cold (Indeed, it holds the lowest average rating that I’ve given to any Pertwee story), and the prospect of returning to the planet in a story that I’ve seen described as ‘a remake, but a third longer’ hasn’t especially been filling me with a great deal of excitement.
That said, I was actually quite pleased to see the Citadel again in our opening shot, being attacked by the weather. I’ve mused before that I like the Doctor having a few friends throughout time and space that he can drop in on now and then, and the idea that he’s been meaning to pop back in and catch up with things here is great – as we’re reminded several times throughout the episode, the Doctor is one of the key reasons that Peladon joined the Federation in the first place, so it makes sense that he should call round and make sure that everything is ok.
I think I’m actually surprised by how pleased I am to see all these elements making a return – the Throne Room, Aggador, there’s even mention of characters and situations from the first story, and it all creates a rather nice sense of nostalgia.
It also means – make sure you’re sitting down for this one – that I’m actually quite enjoying things! I know! Don’t get me wrong, I’m expecting this feeling to wear off by the end of the story (I’m already dreading this plot being stretched out over six whole episodes), but for now I’m actually engaged in events, and I’m interested to see where they go from here. I’ve always known that the first Peledon tale involved them debating whether to join the Federation, and that the second is more to do with the miner’s strikes of the time, but I don’t know where the story goes from here. I don’t know if Peleadon stay in the Federation, or opt to leave again, and I’m quite keen to find out.
Things are helped by the fact that the Doctor and Sarah’s relationship is growing better with every new episode. I love the way that she teases him here (the way she playfully calls him a ‘name dropper’ when he refers to the king as his good friend is a real highlight!), and the relationship reminds me somewhat of the one between Clara and the Eleventh Doctor, where she won’t take and of his grand ‘Time Lord nonsense’, and just cuts him down to size with a few well placed words and a smile. People always talk about the way Sarah Jane acts with the Fourth Doctor as being that of absolute best friends, but I think it’s clear that she’s pretty fond of the Third incarnation, too.