As sequels go, Monster of Peladon isn`t at all bad. Okay so it plays with the same ideas – it`s got another dodgy High Priest and another wimpy Monarch for a start – and is a bit overlong but it does have the Ice Warriors, making their final appearance for the best part of 40 years until their recent return in Cold War in the New Series. And it’s Pertwee’s last alien planet.
Of the guest cast, Donald Gee, who plays Eckersley, known as “By `Eck-ersly” in my house, [though that only really works in a Yorkshire accent, vet’nary…] always strikes me as a cut-price Tom Baker, and Nina Thomas has the same sort of speech impediment as her equally wimpy father who obviously had to settle for some old bit of Peladon crumpet instead of Jo Grant…
The main problem with the story is that it can’t really pull off the same trick twice – last time out, the Ice Warriors were goodies when we expected them to be baddies, so this time… yeah, you guessed it, they’re the baddies. Not exactly a surprise, but then having them lumbering about probably works just as well as it always did if you hadn’t seen Curse at all. Of course, if you have, it’s all a bit “Here we go again…”
From part one we don`t need all those tedious scenes with the miners and their new equipment at the start, instead we open with the Doctor and Sarah arriving, mirroring the opening of Curse of Peladon, which I edited immediately before starting work on this story. Once we have to cut away from the Doctor and Sarah, that`s when the Badger Boys, that’s the Miners of Peladon to you and me, make their first appearance. Part two posed no real problems, apart from a slightly different recap of the cliffhanger, requiring a combination of the sound from one and the pictures from the other. That means we cover the first two eps in just over half an hour.
Part three is where it starts to feel as if the story is treading water until the Ice Warriors turn up at the end of the episode. Yes, it`s a nice shock reveal, which must have had quite an impact back in the day, but in this version we get to it after nine minutes instead of twenty five!
It`s interesting to note the changes made to the Ice Lord costume from Curse, the helmet has been darkened down a lot and the mouthpiece has reverted to the kind of make-up up they used in Seeds of Death, making it much more effective than the original Bernard Bresslaw one he sported first time out. I keep looking at that Ice Lord outfit and picturing little Pat Troughton acting alongside it in The Seeds of Death… and once the Ice Warriors turn up, the story really gets going. If it was up to me I would have lost the cliffhanger with Ettis [Captain Knight from The Web of Fear] and the Sonic Lance but it was impossible to edit round it.
The politics of Peladon leaves me cold to be honest, as does the Pertwee era’s occasional tendency towards moralising and I really don’t give a monkey’s about issues of class warfare, striking miners or female emancipation. You have to view these old shows in the context of the time in which they were made and even if society has moved on you have to look for the positives. I can’t stand those tedious, dreary bloody fans who do nothing but critique and find fault all the time. These episode are trapped in the amber of 1974 and it’s not their fault.
Too long and not as engaging as the original, this ended up being one of those edits where pretty much everything is still there, only told a lot quicker with as much of the padding removed as possible. As a result we can tell the story in an hour and twenty-five minutes, cutting this six-parter down to the equivalent of four, which is what it probably should have been in the first place.