Timestamp #73: The Monster of Peladon

Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon
(6 episodes, s11e15-e20, 1974)

Timestamp 073 The Monster of Peladon


The Doctor returns to Peladon, and that means we get more Aggedor! Well, kind of.

As this serial gets rolling, I hadn’t noticed before now that the opening credits have a glitch. When the Third Doctor transforms into a silhouette and joins the wormhole effect, the zooming leaves an artifact in the lower left corner of the screen until the Doctor Who logo appears. I can’t un-see it now.

Anyway, back to Peladon. Three miners are moving a device called the sonic lance when they are attacked by something called the “Spirit of Aggdeor”. It’s no surprise that the miners are afraid and refuse to work any longer, and it’s also no surprise that it’s time for the Doctor to arrive. Right on cue, the Doctor brings Sarah Jane to Peladon to show her “one of the most interesting places” he knows, and they are almost immediately apprehended.

They are taken before the queen, the daughter of the king we saw on the Doctor’s last trip to Peladon, who is working with the Federation delegates to keep mining production moving. Our travelers arrived in the height of war between the Federation and Galaxy Five, and their appearance correlates with fears of enemy spies being implanted in the Federation. It’s been fifty years since the Doctor was last on Peladon, but the queen knows the legends of the Doctor, and his life is saved by old friend Alpha Centauri, who vouches for the Doctor.

Sarah Jane is fiery. So awesome!

The miners are extracting a mineral for the war effort, and are upset with their way of life which hasn’t improved in the last fifty years. Their leadership is split between Gebek (who negotiates with the queen for improvement) and Ettis (who relies on violence, including taking over a Federation armory), and they have some unintentionally hilarious hairstyles.

After the Spirit attacks again, the Doctor appeals to the queen to let him investigate before she takes rash action against the rebels. The queen sends her champion with the Doctor to investigate the last site of the Spirit’s appearance when Ettis sets off an explosion. The Spirit appears, kills the champion, and then vanishes. Gebek uses the sonic lance to free the Doctor, who escapes just before the Spirit attacks again, and the Doctor and Gebek strike a deal for the good of Peladon to continue the investigation. The Doctor promises to convince the queen to improve conditions and the miners can get back to work. As the guards attack, the miners and the Doctor escape together.

Sarah Jane has gone to find the Doctor and gets lost, tripping a defense system near the refinery after seeing someone sneaking about inside. She is rescued by Alpha Centauri and Eckersley, a human miner. Meanwhile, Chancellor Ortron (mirroring High Priest Hepesh from the last Peladon adventure) convinces the queen that the Doctor is in league with the miners, and recommends that the Doctor be executed.

Ettis attacks Eckersley and forces Alpha Centauri and Sarah Jane to open the armory. After Alpha Centauri sounds the alarm, Ettis escapes with Sarah Jane, who then is captured by the palace guards. Ortron orders her taken to the temple and pins the rebellion on her and the Doctor. He throws them both into the pit to be disposed of by the real Aggedor.

Oh, Aggedor, I have missed you.

The Doctor uses the “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” lullabye on Aggedor, which works just like it did fifty years before, and they are released by the queen. Thank the Maker that the queen is finally standing up for herself! She asks the Doctor to have Gebek meet with her and discuss the miners’ grievances. The Doctor departs on his mission, but asks Sarah Jane to remain and advise the queen in how to stand up for herself. Her advice: “There’s nothing ‘only’ about being a girl.”

Yes! She’s like Jo turned up to eleven.

Gebek tries to rally the miners to a peaceful situation, but Alpha Centauri has requested Federation military support, which may exacerbate the situation. As the Doctor gets ready to assuage that problem, Ortron orders the Doctor to remain in the Citadel, and when he tries to sneak out to meet with Gebek, Ortron has him arrested. Alpha Centauri and the queen lobby for his release, but Ortron declines. The queen orders that Sarah Jane is to remain free, and Ortron agrees since, as a female, Sarah Jane cannot be a problem.

When Ortron talks about the Doctor’s “rebel friends,” he rolls the R and enunciates much like Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope. It must be part of classical British acting classes.

Sarah Jane relays the Doctor’s message to Gebek, whose men have just secured the sonic lance by force. She later confers with the queen in the presence of Alpha Centauri and Ortron on how to dissuade the incoming Federation troops, who (by procedure) cannot be recalled once summoned. Sarah Jane heads for the dungeon to release the Doctor, but Gebek offers to go in her stead. Once free, the Doctor accompanies Gebek to the refinery as the miners set up the sonic lance and prepare to lay siege on the Citadel. During all of that, Alpha Centauri contacts the Federation troops, who sound a lot like Ice Warriors, and gets an update on their deployment.

Ortron puts the plan in action by appealing to the miners to return to work and promises that after the troops leave, the queen will listen to their grievances. They agree, but are immediately attacked by the Spirit. As they run, the Doctor finishes hotwiring the refinery door and reveals two Ice Warriors.

Wait. Aren’t the Ice Warriors supposed to be friendly on Peladon? Not anymore, it seems. They take the Doctor and Gebek captive and impose martial law on Peladon. All of the players are taken to the throne room, and the Ice Warrior commander, Azaxyr, summarizes the entire affair so that he has a clear picture. He returns the miners to work under Peladonian armed guards: If the miners fail to work, they will be killed, and if the miners and guards fail to follow the plan, the Ice Warriors will execute the hostages they have taken as collateral. The Ice Warriors claim to be a Federation force operating under wartime rules of engagement.

Ettis and his miner army storm the throne room to rescue Gebek, but are immediately slain by the Ice Warriors. Only Ettis escapes, and Azaxyr decides to execute the Doctor, but is convinced by Sarah Jane, Alpha Centauri, and Eckersley that only the Doctor can convince the miners to return to work. After the Ice Warriors leave to inspect the worksite, the Doctor reasons with Sarah Jane that the figure she saw in the refinery must have been the Ice Warrior guard Sskel, and that Azaxyr and Sskel must have been on the planet before the Federation troops arrived.

Sneaky, sneaky.

The Doctor returns to the throne room and asks the miners to return to work, but the Peladonians are united as a whole against the Ice Warriors. So he asks them to pretend to work until he can solve the problem, and they agree. The miners return to work as asked: They cooperate with Azaxyr exactly as they did with Ortron. Meanwhile, the Doctor raises the temperature in the mines to weaken the Ice Warriors and give the miners a fighting chance against them. The miners attack, but Gebek learns of Ettis’s plan to destroy the Citadel with the sonic lance. The Doctor goes after Ettis while Gebek keeps Sarah Jane safe, but Sarah Jane is captured by Sskel and interrogated by Azaxyr.

The Doctor fights Ettis and is defeated, but when Ettis tries to activate the sonic lance, a self-destruct circuit — one that Azaxyr enabled when he detected the rebels moving the machine into position — destroys the machine. Ettis is killed, and the Doctor is presumed dead. Azaxyr returns the mines to normal temperature and disables the ventilation system. The Doctor wakes up from the explosion and returns to the mines. He catches Gebek up on the situation, and the Doctor heads to the refinery to restore ventilation.

Sarah Jane stages a diversion to free the queen, Ortron, Alpha Centauri, and herself from the throne room, but only Alpha Centauri and Sarah Jane escape. Ortron is killed in the attempt while trying to protect the queen. Alpha Centauri and Sarah Jane take refuge in the communication room where the ambassador sends a general distress call and Sarah Jane discovers that Eckersley is conspiring with Azaxyr to corner the market on the minerals and ship it all to Galaxy Five. Eckersley is also controlling the Spirit of Aggedor, which is a matter projection of a statue with a directional heat ray. Sarah Jane sees the Doctor on the screen and runs to join him at the refinery.

That’s two serials in a row to use the combination of a galactic emergency, essential minerals, and cornering of markets to leverage power.

Eckersley and Azaxyr return to the Citadel, and Sarah Jane distracts the refinery guard long enough for the Doctor and Gebek to incapacitate him. Azaxyr discovers Alpha Centauri in the communications room, and the ambassador is sent back to the throne room where Azaxyr intimidates the queen and Alpha Centauri reveals the truth about Eckersley and Azaxyr. The ambassador is forced to reveal Sarah Jane’s whereabouts, and Sskel is dispatched to apprehend the team at the refinery. The Doctor defeats the Ice Warriors at the refinery door with the Spirit of Aggedor, and Sskel returns to Azaxyr.

Gebek rallies the miners and the guards while the Doctor controls the Spirit from the refinery, but Eckersley amplifies the security system until it drives Sarah Jane out of the refinery and overpowers the Doctor. The miners storm the Citadel with help from the Spirit of Aggedor. Sarah Jane returns to the Citadel and holds Eckersley at gunpoint until he disables the security system. He disarms her when she sees the unconscious Doctor on the screen, and Eckersley locks her in the communications room.

The miners storm the throne room to find Azaxyr holding the queen at gunpoint. The miners lay down their swords, but then attack the Ice Warriors hand-to-hand and kill them all. The queen sends Alpha Centauri to send a message to the Federation, where the ambassador frees a morose Sarah Jane who goes to the refinery. Meanwhile, Eckersley takes the queen hostage.

The Doctor wakes up, having placed himself in a sensory withdrawl trance, and shocks Sarah Jane. He mocks her for her concern, but they return together to the throne room and learn of the queen’s peril. The Doctor dispatches the real Aggedor like a bloodhound, and the creature finds and kills Eckersley. Sadly, it dies in the assault, and the Doctor mourns his friend’s death.

I mourn as well. I’m going to miss that critter.

A short time later, the Doctor, Sarah Jane, and the queen are gathered in the throne room where Gebek is named as the new chancellor and Alpha Centauri brings news of Galaxy Five’s surrender. As the Doctor and Sarah Jane leave, she ribs him over the queen’s offer to remain as her advisor, and he playfully pushes her into the TARDIS as they head off to the next adventure.


Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.




Timestamp #61: The Curse of Peladon

Doctor Who: The Curse of Peladon
(4 episodes, s09e05-e08, 1972)

Timestamp 061 The Curse of Peladon


This was a surprising hit for me, and it’s mostly due to Princess Jo Grant.

The King of Peladon wants to join the Galactic Federation, but one of his advisors, the High Priest Hepesh, believes that an ancient curse is trying to stop this assault on their culture’s sanctity. The king’s other advisor, Chancellor Torbis, is killed by the embodiment of that curse, a creature called the Aggedor. This nearly derails the conference that is scheduled to happen now-ish since the delegates are afraid of conflict, which sounds an awful lot like another Federation we know, but they agree to wait for the delegate from Earth to arrive.

Enter The Doctor. The previously immobile TARDIS (conveniently) arrives on a cliff with the Doctor and Jo, who are out for a little spin around time and space before Jo goes on a date with Mike Yates. There’s one small problem, however, since the stormy cliffs of Peladon are not the UNIT base. In a decent bit of model work, the TARDIS goes over a cliff, (conveniently) trapping our heroes, and they begin to climb toward the citadel on the rocks above them.

When the pair arrive, they assume the role of the Earth delegation, and meet the other members of the quorum: The high-pitched Alpha Centauri delegate, the impressively operated shrunken-head-in-a-jar Arcutran delegate, and a pair of Ice Warriors.

Wait. Ice Warriors?!

There’s a nice moment of empowerment for Jo where she becomes a princess to avoid execution – only men of rank and women of noble lineage may enter the throne room – and she grabs that role and runs. Meanwhile, the Doctor saves all of the delegates from a crushing fate after a statue falls with a little help from the king’s mute champion Grun and his friend gravity. Grun is a pawn in the plot to derail the king’s vision, and Hepesh is engineering it by working the whole curse angle. But who is the mastermind? It must be the Ice Warriors, right?

Well, actually, no. And that’s the beauty of this story.

The Doctor believes that the bad guys are the Ice Warriors. He’s run into them twice before, and they’ve been formidable foes each time. This go-round, there’s even circumstantial evidence pointing toward their complicity after the Arcturan delegate’s life support pod is sabotaged, but they claim to have given up war in favor of peace and self-defense. After a bout in the Thunderdome with Grun, the Doctor believes the Ice Warriors when they save him from being shot by the Arcturan, who was working with Hepesh all along. If Peladon fails to join the Federation, Hepesh can rule the planet (even through a figurehead like the king) and sell the valuable mineral rights to Arcturus.

The Doctor locates and hypnotizes the Aggedor with a spinning mirror and a lullaby, and then leads it to the throne room to expose the reality of the curse to the king. The throne room is occupied by Hepesh and his loyal soldiers who have just staged a coup, but the Aggedor attacks the man who kept it captive, and the threat is defeated.

Jo comes clean to the king about her lineage and refuses his offer to be his consort. Jo and the Doctor hightail it off Peladon when the real Earth delegate arrives (bearing humorous gifts of a “Doctor who?” gag), and the Doctor realizes just how convenient is was that they arrived in the right spot at the right time to stop this exact plot.

Time Lords, man. Puppet-string-pulling, meddling-in-time-and-space-without-leaving-their-ivory-tower Time Lords.

I can’t say much more on this one. I liked seeing David Troughton again, especially in a bigger role than either The War Games or The Enemy of the World offered him. I also adored Jo in this story, as she has become a better companion with the re-introduction of traveling in the TARDIS. She really carried this serial.

I also really loved that the Ice Warriors weren’t the bad guys. It’s a good misdirection, and one that wouldn’t work with a higher profile baddie like the Cybermen or the Daleks.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Sea Devils


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.



Timestamp #48: The Seeds of Death

Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death
(6 episodes, s06e23-e28, 1969)

Timestamp 048 The Seeds of Death


In the near future, the TravelMat (T-Mat) has become the system to move things around in the future. Humans, supplies, evil alien fungal spores…

That last one is a major problem since the Moonbase, which operates as the hub for the planet’s T-Mat system, has been seized by the Ice Warriors. I’ll admit that this serial nearly lost my attention as soon as it unveiled the “base under siege” trope because over how overused it was in the last season. Luckily, this one works differently.

The TARDIS arrives in a space museum on Earth, the travelers get a convenient info dump in the T-Mat presentation, and then get confronted by Professor Eldred. He is upset that the travelers are trespassing, and is (conveniently) the only one who can pilot the rocket to the Moon after the T-Mat is cut off. His bitterness toward the T-Mat program, despite having an entire presentation dedicated to it in his museum, is based on how it ended space travel after planetary travel was made too convenient.

Commander Radnor and Miss Kelly, the upper leaders of the T-Mat program, come to solicit the professor’s help, but Eldred can’t make the flight due to his age. In his place, the Doctor, Zoe, and Jamie pilot the rocket.

Meanwhile, the Ice Warriors have the repaired the emergency cublicles on the Moonbase and trick Earth into sending repair crews to fix the entire system. Once it’s back up, they send the evil alien fungal spores to consume all of the oxygen, destroy the climate, and kill all the humans. The “base under siege” trope is broken by having the Doctor and crew moving back and forth between Earth and the moon to stop the threat. Thank the Maker!

After defeating the spores with a torrential rain storm (that’s a lot of soap bubbles and one clean countryside), the Doctor solves the problem by spoofing the Ice Warrior homing signal and sending the entire fleet into the sun. A bit extreme, but in this case it was probably the only solution.

The comical theme for this Doctor continues with a chase through the Moonbase that includes a passageway constructed of fun house mirrors. I get what they were trying for there, but the effect tore me away from the narrative and the drama. On the other hand, Zoe and Jamie get a chance to really shine when the Doctor is injured and the companions have to fight the invasion on their own.

Watching Patrick Troughton act like he was dying in all those bubbles was kind of humorous. I was still in the story at that point, but when I realized that he was essentially a kid at bath time at that point, I giggled.

When the Doctor is revived, he calls out for Victoria: Does he regret something about how her story played, or does he miss her? In my opinion, Zoe’s a much better companion.

Finally, on an engineering note, the T-Mat cubicle doors would be much more effective if they opened outward vice inward. Even better would be for them to slide open so they can be locked but not stand in the way of arrivals or loading.


Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Space Pirates


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.



Timestamp #39: The Ice Warriors

Doctor Who: The Ice Warriors
(6 episodes, s05e11-e16, 1967)

Timestamp 039 The Ice Warriors


Traveling through time and space, and it’s like they never left. Except this time, the TARDIS is sideways.

Come to think of it, I’m a little surprised that the TARDIS doesn’t have its own gravity. I mean, sure it makes for great comedy to have the ship fall over and everyone topple, but it seems rather unsafe from the materialization aspect. Imagine that the ship lands, falls off a cliff, and the Doctor wastes a regeneration because he snapped his neck by crashing into the library wall at full speed.

Anyway… I digress.

It’s an ice age in the far future, and people are dependent on computers to such an extent that they can’t even make simple decisions on their own. It’s so bad that the team’s leader, Clent, makes the Doctor prove his qualifications after the Time Lord saves the base and their lives. Part of me wanted the Doctor to just walk away and let this civilization freeze. It seems that the Doctor is a better man than me.

This future came about because of artificial crops, which minimized the need for real plants. As they died off, less carbon dioxide was produced and the Earth’s heat was no longer retained. I’m going to stop here and quote another good doctor: “Now wait just a damn minute!”

It’s been a few years since my high school biology class, but I seem to remember plants consuming CO2 and producing O2. The science was a bit lacking in this episode. I understand that they corrected it in the novelization, which is technically canon, but I’m not pursuing the books or audio dramas at this point.

These humans have discovered something called an Ice Warrior. Long story short: It wakes up and explains that it hails from Mars and has been frozen for millennia, and he needs his warriors to decide whether to invade or leave. It forces Victoria to find a power pack and goes to thaw his compatriots. After Victoria is kidnapped, Jamie and Arden set out to rescue Victoria from the Ice Warriors, but they get ambushed and left for dead. Luckily, Jamie is rescued by scavengers.

The Doctor develops a plan to use ammonium sulfide to incapacitate the Ice Warriors – I loved how he tested the chemical dispenser, since he’s been so skeptical of this civilization, by having it create water – and ventures off to the Martian ship. Of course the humans protest because they can’t afford to lose anyone else, but the Doctor was right: He was superfluous at the base.

The Ice Warriors are fighting the scientists because they think the ionizer, which is used to melt the ice, is a weapon. They’ve decided to leave (good!), but first have to invade the base (bad!) to get fuel for their ship. That plan begins with trying to shatter the base’s protective dome with a sonic gun. After the Doctor incapacitates the Ice Warrior gunner with the ammonium sulfide mix, he and Victoria change some settings and make the sonic gun more likely to hurt the Ice Warriors.

I would have had sympathy for the Ice Warriors because they were trying to leave somewhat peacefully, but then they started being violent to get the fuel. I had no problem with their (probably not so) final fate. The computer can’t help because it’s built to preserve itself and the society, so it short circuits and the scavengers save the day by firing the ionizer at the ship and disintegrating it.

Victoria really did a good job in this episode of carrying her own. Sure, she was a bit of a damsel in distress, but she also was great in moving the plot. I especially loved how she couldn’t describe the specifics of the Ice Warrior ionic engine, not because she was stupid, but because she didn’t have the words based on her temporal reference. I can forgive the earlier scientific snafu for that brilliance.

I can also forgive the generated apathy for the humans. They were supposed to be frustrating in their dependence on a self-serving computer. What’s harder to forgive is the plot convenience of the Ice Warriors actually having enough fuel to start lifting off. That negates any intelligence I attributed to the Ice Warriors because they attacked for no reason. It’s also lazy plot continuity.

Overall, The Ice Warriors is a fun enough story, but the plot and scripting are all over the place. I’d give it a 3.5, but the scoring method is based on whole numbers, and I follow the trend of John and Paul at Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast by being optimistic when in doubt.


Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.