After ditching poor Captain Mike Yates, with whom Jo has a date, for a test flight of the TARDIS with the Doctor, the pair end up on a cliff face. They then scale a excellently sculpted miniature mountainside to the "Citadel of Peladon. Here they fuel a case of mistaken identity, always a great time saver (like the 2005 invention of the psychic paper), once assuming their roles of the Earth delegates the two are able to immerse themselves in the court conspiracy on a galactic scale. First, Peladon is a planet under a feudal monarchy applying for admission to "Galactic Federation" (no, not that ONE), an application with delegates from Alpha Centauri, Arcturus, and Mars are assessing whether or not to accept Peladon's entry. The good but young King Peladon is torn, his Chancellor Torbis urges towards progress, to bring the Planet from superstitions beliefs, while High Priest of Peladon Hepesh is worried that the ancient ways and traditions will lost with the Federation membership. But the mysterious murder of the Chancellor, is interpreted by the High Priest to be a sign of disapproval from the spirit of the Royal Beast of Peladon, Aggedor.
In a very Agatha Christie style "drawing room mystery", we have the Good Doctor and the usual suspects or delegates. Interestingly enough some bigotry influences the Doc's judgment. The Doctor immediately suspects Ice Lord Izlyr, let's be fair, the Ice Warriors in all previous encounters HAVE attempted world domination. So when someone attacks the Arcturus delegate, and some superficial evidence also pointing to this, the Doctor is onboard with the theory. Meanwhile an equal mistrust of the Ice Warriors themselves towards "Princess" Jo evolves inpart because of the young King Peladon's instant attraction for her, and partly his mother's Earthly origins (also an angle Peladon uses to talk game to Jo), also in their eyes any possible union gives unfair political weight in Federation affairs. All are but pawns in some devious political game...What sinster secret lays behind the killings? Is Aggedor seeking his revenge? Maybe, But more importantly, Jon Pertwee's Doctor is at his best here as the courtly King's counselor filling the void left by Torbis' death, lending his sagely advise to an inexperienced king. Also coming to DVD for May the improved sequel aired the following season The Monster of Peladon, in which the Doctor an Sarah return 50 years later to more treacherous plots.
Influences of this story arc, other than Shakespeare's histories there are strong similarities to the Classic Star Trek episode "Journey to Babel." In turn it may have influenced some Babylon 5 stories as well.
Another important (atleast to me) note: the voice of Alpha Centauri played by Ysanne Churchman worked as an actress on British radio, TV and film (returns as the Voice of Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon and to voice the Spiders in Planet of the Spiders). She is my favorite thing about all three stories, de-lightful!
Great bits.... Delagate from Alpha Centauri's high pitched voice may be nearly enough to distract away from the fact that the costume looks like a man-sized one-eyed-member...other high points...the Doc sings the "monster" Aggedor to sleep, the "Venusian" lullaby the Doctor uses in The Daemons. Here, the Doctor uses the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
Another neat fact David Troughton, young King Peladon here, is really the son of the second Doctor, the late Patrick Troughton, but you'd know him as the Prof. in season four's MIDNIGHT, if they new series ever needs a 2nd Doctor stand-in, David is perfect (with a wig & a recorder).
Peladon Drinking Game.....Drink whenever:
-King Peladon flirts with Princess Josephine of TARDIS.
-King Peladon proposes to Princess Josephine of TARDIS
-Princess Josephine of TARDIS spurns said flirting & proposal attempts.
-The Doctor calls someone "Old Chap" or "My Dear Fellow."
-The Doctor or Jo are accused of murder or threatened with execution or just "seized"(it happens quite a lot in these stories, doesn't it? )
-The King is taken hostage.
-ALPHA CENTAURI speaks (let's face it, that voice! You gotta have a drink!)
-Aggedor shows up, whether it be to maul or purr (shrine statues count, too)..."Here's to Aggedor....cheers!"