Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day 390: The Monster of Peladon, Episode Two
Since picking up on it again during The Time Warrior, I can’t help but keep noticing just how great scenes shot on film look in this series. There it was sequences of soldiers storming a castle. In Invasion of the Dinosaurs, it was the Doctor watching two dinosaurs battle it out on the streets of London. In Death to the Daleks we had that lovely shot of the pepperpots taking command on the planet’s surface. Today… well, today isn’t anything quite as exciting as all that. It’s a simple scene of the Doctor stood in a tunnel, talking to a couple of the miners.
It’s not a particularly thrilling scene, and there’s very little action involved – there’s only a couple of alternate shots, for example – but it’s remarkable how it makes everything look so much richer. Even down to the Pel’s rather distinctive wigs, it looks like there’s more money being spent than there really is.
Not that I’m able to complain all that much, though. No matter how much I can moan on about the Peladon tales being far from the most thrilling of Doctor Who adventures, they do look very sumptuous. Everything from the look of the caverns, to the throne room, the costumes, and the rest of the Citadel is beautifully designed, and there’s a real cohesion to all the elements: You really get a sense of this as being a society which has developed over time as opposed to simply being erected in TV Centre for a few weeks every couple of years.
Indeed, the area where the design lets me down is the more high-tech Federation area, which comes across as somewhat bland and completely lacks the character of the other sets. It’s the same kind of design that you see in many ‘futuristic’ sets from this era, and we’ve seen one or two too many in recent weeks for it to make much of an impact here.
Perhaps my favourite piece of design, though, is Sarah Jane’s costume. I really like this one, and thinking about it, this may be my favourite of all her outfits. It’s a look that wouldn’t be out-of-place today, and there’s echoes of it in some of Jenna Coleman’s first publicity shots for the programme. When people talk about Sarah’s clothes, it’s usually to mention things like her Hand of Fear Andy Pandy outfit, or the one she rocks in The Five Doctors, and they’re usually brought up because they’re a bit more… out there. For me, this look doesn’t get enough of a look in – and it really should!