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Recap / Doctor Who S11 E4 "The Monster of Peladon"

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There's nothing "only" about being a girl.
Sarah Jane Smith
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The one with evil Judge Dredd.

Written by Brian Hayles. This six-episode serial first aired from March 23 to April 27, 1974.


The Doctor returns to Peladon, some fifty years after his first visit. King Peladon's daughter, Queen Thalira, is now in charge, advised by the inevitable Evil Chancellor, who promptly arrests the Doctor and Sarah Jane. Alpha Centauri, the squeaky-voiced octopoid from the last story, is now the Federation ambassador to Peladon, and clears the Doctor's name.

A spectral image of Aggeddor (the titular Monster, a god of Peladon) has been blamed for a number of deaths among the Trisilicate miners. The Doctor discovers that the spectral image is the work of a human engineer, Eckersley, who is working in cahoots with some renegade Ice Warriors to seize the Trisilicate deposits for a rival power bloc, Galaxy 5.

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The Ice Warrior leader, Azaxyr, leads an attack on the throne room, but is killed along with his comrades when the Doctor turns Eckersley's heat ray on them. Eckersley takes the queen hostage, but the Doctor and the real Aggeddor hunt him down. Eckersley is killed, but so is Aggeddor.

Galaxy 5 surrenders to the Federation and the Queen offers the Doctor the chancellorship, but the Doctor suggests Gebek, the miners' leader.


"Glorious Goodwood", one of the earliest recorded audio stories of Doctor Who, takes place between this serial and "Planet of the Spiders". It was actually filmed during Jon Pertwee's soon-to-conclude tenure right before he left the role of the Doctor. However, it never made it to air and was reallocated to the shelves of the BBC Archives as an unfinished production. It was rediscovered in 2005, after Pertwee had passed, and included on Doctor Who at the BBC: Volume 3, a CD containing stories narrated by Elisabeth Sladen, who was still alive at the time of release.


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Tropes

  • Agony Beam: The refinery's security system attacks people from within their minds, with the effect represented by a loud siren and a swirling rainbow pattern. Prolonged or heightened exposure can fry a person's brain.
  • Author Tract: The "women's lib" section seems rather shoehorned into the story. It amounts to one scene, is superfluous to the plot, and is only raised briefly again at the end.
    • Indeed, Ortron's Stay in the Kitchen vibe comes off more as an Informed Attribute. While Ortron is obviously dismissive of his Queen, it is hard to imagine him being more amenable to a young king. Also, when the chips are down, and Azaxyr threatens to rule Peladon, he is the first to proclaim that only the Queen has that right. (However, that may be more about asserting Peladon's sovereignty than respect for the Queen, and he earlier consented to Thalira insisting Sarah remain at liberty by sneering that she was only a female.)
  • Bait-and-Switch: Last time the Doctor was on Peladon the Ice Warriors turned out to be the good guys. Now they've gone back to being the villains again, with Azaxyr a member of a radical faction that wants to return to the Good Old Ways of war and conquest.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Eckersley and Azaxyr.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Eckersley/Azaxyr and Ettis, a radical miner who tries to destroy the royal citadel.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Eckersley conspires with the Ice Warriors for a stake in the trisilicate trade.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: There are numerous mentions to the previous Peladon story.
  • Convenient Coma: The Doctor can put himself into a coma, to avoid being killed by the refinery's alarm.
  • Disappeared Dad: King Peladon is now dead of old age and his daughter has taken over the throne. We didn't even get to hear about the missus.
  • The Dragon: Sskel to Azaxyr.
  • Enemy Mine: Ortron and Gebeck's striking miners spend much of the story in direct conflict with one another, thanks to the miners feeling exploited by Peladon's monarchy, but after the Ice Warriors show up, they form an alliance with one another. However, the far more radical Ettis views Gebeck as a traitor for this, leading him to try assassinating the monarchy by blowing up the Citadel with the sonic lance.
  • Everything in Space Is a Galaxy: The two main power blocs whose conflict form the backdrop of the story are the Galactic Federation and Galaxy 5.
  • Evil Chancellor: Although Orton's less "evil" and more of a Knight Templar.
  • Fake Faint: Sarah Jane has Queen Thalira pretend to faint in order to distract the Ice Warrior guarding the door to the throne room.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Vega Noxos (who belong to the Satyr alien race known as the vegan) He viewed the native Peladonian miners as "superstitious primitives" for their fear of Aggedor. Ironically he was killed by the fake ghost of Aggedor.
  • Foreshadowing: Sarah Jane mentions the Doctor's saying, "Where there's life, there's hope," trailing off before the final word. Later, thinking him dead, she cries over his body. The Doctor, upon waking states, "Tears, Sarah?" All of this would be reprised in a different order in the season finale, "Planet of the Spiders".
  • Green Rocks: Trisilicate is an amber-colored mineral found in abundance on Peladon. The full extent of its properties are never explained, but it's stated to be the basis of a huge chunk of the Galactic Federation's technology.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Galaxy 5 is an interstellar power bloc at war with the Galactic Federation. They're the ones who organize the conspiracy with Azaxyr and Eckersley to put Peladon under martial law and sap the Trisilicate deposits that the Federation is reliant on.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Chancellor Ortron is initially as xenophobic and dogmatic as Hepesh was in the previous Peladon story, but when the Ice Warriors show up and start exerting their agenda, he helps the Doctor resist them.
  • Hermaphrodite: Alpha Centauri makes a second appearance, and is once again said to be hermaphroditic, voiced by a woman, and referred to as "he".
  • History Repeats: After all the effort the Doctor put into making Peladon and the Federation a better place, it has only managed to get worse. Peladon has regressed from trust back to as it was during its medieval, crusader mentality-dominated days. Another crackpot advisor oversees its ruler and is even more execution slap-happy than his late predecessor, while the Ice Warriors are no longer friendly to the Doctor, but hostile. Oh, and another unintelligible mute man is the ruler's champion.
  • Hostage Situation: The Martians gather a group of Peladonians, plus the Doctor and Sarah Jane, and threaten to kill them if the miners refuse to work.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Martian commander drops the trope name. He doesn't actually get to be the third one.
  • Knight Templar: Orton is hostile to the Doctor and Sarah, tyrannical to the miners, and looks down on his own queen because she's a woman. He's also a genuinely loyal patriot of Peladon who quickly unites with the miners against the Ice Warriors and dies protecting his queen.
  • The Mole: Eckersley.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Aggedor is still enthralled by Venusian lullabies.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: There's a fight scene where you get a good, clear look at the face of the Doctor's longtime stunt double, Terry Walsh.
  • Public Secret Message: Gebek tells his miners to "cooperate with Commander Azaxyr like we've cooperated with Ortron". The catch being that they never liked Ortron and planned to overthrow him.
  • Red Herring: For those who remember the last Peladon story where the Ice Warriors turned out to be on the Doctor's side. Here they are back to being villains again.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Azaxyr and his crew are said to be members of an extremist Ice Warrior political group who are upset about their culture becoming good galactic citizens.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Both averted and played straight; Gebeck's worker's rights movement is depicted sympathetically, but the attempts of Ettis to start an actual revolution are universally condemned.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: This story was inspired by the 1972 miners' strike.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The evil ghost is really a hologram.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Ortron gives up his life to give Thalira a chance to escape. Unfortunately Thalira goes into shock on witnessing his death and is immediately recaptured.
  • Sequel Episode: To "The Curse of Peladon", examining what became of Peladon after it joined the Galactic Federation.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Queen Thalira is not treated with much respect due to this. Sarah Jane evokes "Women's Lib" (using those words) to get her to stand up for herself.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Alpha Centauri threatens to make their displeasure known by sending an official communication to the Galatic Federation. This is during the middle of an armed uprising against the government.
  • Unobtainium: The Galactic Federation is strongly reliant on Trisilicate-based technology; since Trisilicate is particularly abundant on Peladon, the planet's mines become hugely important to the Federation.
  • The X of Y
  • You Will Outlive Your Usefulness: The Ice Warriors kindly inform the Doctor that they intend to kill him as soon as he's no longer useful to them.

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