The Monster of Peladon
“Already the rebellion has begun. This is what comes of softness with the common people.” – Ortron
The second of the Peladon stories kind of rehashes the original with a few new twists. Again the Doctor appears in the middle of a crisis of whether the ‘primitive’ Peladonians will accept new technology and ideas from the Federation as the priest strives to hold on to tradition and the ruler wants to embrace progress. Again there is suspicion of the Doctor as an outsider and a conspiracy among the supposedly superior Federation representatives. There is a focus this time on the commoners of Peladon (largely absent from the original) who are all miners—with rather odd badger like hairstyles though this parallels the odd double color hair of the aristocrats as well—and who understandably do not accept the fact that the new Federation alliance means work and no gain for them. This is supposedly supposed to be a commentary on the real miner strikes that were happening at the time.
Though there is some interesting political wrangling as the Doctor and others give advice, much of the action is rather low key—attempts at rebellion, reprisals, discussions of what is proper and improper punishment in a society trying to move towards civilizing.
Things step up a notch at the end when the Ice Warriors show up and start using a heavy hand to force the labor of the miners. Suddenly the elite and the workers unite in solidarity as one people despite their differences just a short time before. When several miners are gunned down, the high priests vow to the leader of the rebellion that “We will be revenged!” is quite inspirational.
Sarah Jane is quite feisty here—especially as she asserts her rights and equality. The Doctor keenly encourages her to direct some of this resolve and ideology to build up the confidence of the queen. In response to the queen’s statement that she can’t do much since she is only a girl, we get Sarah Jane’s great statement that “There’s nothing ‘only’ about being a girl!” There’s a sense of victory as we see the queen start to stand up with a steely nerve more and more.
Best (or worst) unsettling moment:
The identity of mysterious figure moving behind the dark window is truly a mystery for the story and thus a very good unsettling moment.
The business with the apparition of Aggedor and the miner’s running away in fear gets kind of old as it’s use and overused several times.