The Serial (4/5)
Since I was a young child of about 12 or 13 Doctor Who was one of my favorite television shows. I discovered it during the early 90's, the same way many of you discovered it, on my local PBS station. During that time the only Doctor I can ever remember seeing is the immortal fan favorite fourth Doctor Tom Baker, and for years he was “My Doctor”.
A few years back my wife got me the New Beginnings box set featuring the final Tom Baker serials, the excellent Keeper of Traken and Logopolis, and Peter Davison's debut as the Fifth Doctor Castrovalva. Seeing Davison's Fifth Doctor was a revelation to me, I had known about the different incarnations, but never before had I seen one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From that moment I became obsessed with picking up as much classic Doctor Who as possible, and especially getting to see EVERY Doctor.
About a year ago, I finally got around to Jon Pertwee with the serial The Green Death. At first I wasn't sure about Pertwee’s take on the Doctor, but by the end, I found a Doctor to replace Tom Baker as my favorite, Doctor Who was my new obsession, and Jon Pertwee Doctor Who was now my favorite vintage, so when the Curse of Peladon (alongside it's follow up the Monster of Peladon) appeared in my mailbox a few weeks ago I was especially excited to be getting more of Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor.
The serial begins with the Third Doctor and companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning) taking the TARDIS for a test flight. They end up landing on the planet Peladon, unfortunately, it was not the smoothest of landings, and the Tardis ends up falling over the side of a cliff soon after Jo and the Doctor emerge from it. They climb to the top of the cliff, and seek refuge in a nearby castle.
It turns out that the planet Peladon is in the midst of some severe political upheaval, as it has recently petitioned to join the Galactic Federation. The King of Peladon is all about joining the Federation, however, some of his advisors are not so keen on joining, and when one of them is suddenly murdered, the High Priest believe it is the work of Ageddor, the God of the people of Peladon, in an attempt to stop Peladon from joining the federation. The Doctor, believes it is his ancient enemies The Ice Warriors behind the murder, and will stop and nothing to find the truth.
Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon is an excellent Pertwee era serial. The director Lennie Mayne takes an excellent politically charged script from Brian Hayles, and injects a wonderful ambiance, and a Gothic atmosphere befitting Hammer's gothic horrors of the 50's and 60's. The serial has an excellent cast of interesting characters from the already established Ice Warriors, to the Hermaphrodite hexapod Alpha Centauri. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning both turn in excellent performances, and it must be said, may have the greatest Doctor/Companion chemistry of the entire classic Doctor Who series.
BBC and 2 Entertain have presented Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon in it's original 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is completely solid throughout, no noticeable grain, and only a few lighter moments. These moments can be attributed more to the source, than the transfer.
The BBC have also done a similarly excellent job with the audio, presenting it in a digitally remastered English track with optional English subtitles. The dialogue, effects, and music are clear throughout, with no noticeable distortion, or background noise.
As with many recent Doctor Who releases this DVD release is completely stacked with extras. The disc kicks off with a commentary track featuring actress Katy Manning, producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrance Dicks, and a production assistant on the episodes Chris D'Oyly-John. This is followed by the Peladon Saga Part 1, a making of documentary with interviews with the cast and crew of the Curse of Peladon. It also gives a little background history on the political climate of Britain at the time, and how it influenced The Peladon serials. We then get around to the Warrior of Mars featurette which gives a little history lesson on the Ice Warriors. There is also Jon and Katy, a short series of interviews, that reflects on the Jon Pertwee/Katy Manning pairing in the series. Finally, we have a storyboard comparison, and photo gallery.
An excellent Third Doctor serial, the Curse of Peladon would make an excellent entry into any Whovian's DVD collection. The serial is fantastic, and interesting throughout, and the A/V job once again courtesy of the Doctor Who restoration team is top notch. If that wasn't enough, the extras are completely extensive, and will cover anything you may want to know about the Curse of Peladon. This release comes highly recommended, especially to DW junkies like myself.