‘His cry of warning shall be heard in the night, and death shall ride in the land of Peladon!’ The spirit of Aggedor howls through this superb Audiobook version of a true classic from the Pertwee era. 5* (5 CDs, 5 hours 20 minutes)
I am hopelessly biased about this story. It has been among my very favourite ‘Doctor Who’ adventures since I first saw it in 1972 and the novelisation IS my favourite, so no surprise, this review will be positive! But this really is a terrific Audiobook presentation that does Brian Hayles’ classic work full justice.
For me, this ‘Doctor Who’ story has it all; the exciting action and Aikido so typical of the Pertwee years, aliens of every kind, a definitive ‘monster’ and an intelligent, thoughtful plot worthy of the best Hartnell-era historicals.
In the Citadel high on storm-wracked Mount Megeshra, a young king, his nobles and visiting delegates from several alien worlds hold the future of Peladon in their hands (those who *have* hands…) Should the people of Peladon hold fast to their ancient beliefs and reject the Galaxy beyond their world, or should they join the Galactic Federation and accept change as the price of progress?
The ever-dashing Third Doctor and wonderful Jo Grant land (with suspiciously perfect timing) right in the middle of this heated debate, as danger, death, diplomacy and unexpected romance all collide in a power struggle between the old and the new, between religion and technology, between the familiar and the unknown.
‘Our royal host’ for this journey through the smoke-filled throne rooms and secret passages of power is no less than the original King Peladon of Peladon himself, David Troughton. His performance is superb, narrating with energy and feeling, conveying the tension of the story and providing great, individual voices for the full spectrum of species on display.
The noble, passionate young King Peladon, his loyal, ill-fated Chancellor Torbis and proud, haughty Hepesh the High Priest open the story in style, each with their own distinctive tones. Then the aliens begin to show up… David Troughton makes a great Ice Warrior as Ssorg hisses and lumbers around, gives clear distinction to the voice of Ice Lord Izlyr and (with a little post-production), the logical gratings of Arcturus (a neuroplasm floating in a ‘box of tricks’) and the ‘shrill and elegant’ flutings and vacillations of the unforgettable Alpha Centauri! And of course, the debonair Third Doctor (‘my’ Doctor) and feisty, emotive Jo Grant.
The music and sound design are splendid; thunder rolls around Mount Megeshra, footsteps and voices echo in the long stone corridors of the Citadel, swords clash and ring – and Aggedor roars and howls, sounding like a truly terrifying royal beast and several times larger than on screen!
Hayles’ novelisation of his own scripts is excellent, true to his original televised story but with enough subtle expansions to make the novel enjoyable even when you know the story well. Some are small, interesting details; for example, we learn why the king was so smitten by his first sight of Jo – not only did she look beautiful, but she strongly resembled Peladon’s late mother – another young Earthwoman. The pit of combat is specifically not the sandy Romanesque arena we saw on screen, but a complex array of glassy, maybe obsidian pillars and split levels, while Alpha Centauri shimmers with colours that reflect its current level of hysteria!
The prose is excellent, rich and atmospheric and filled with insights into the minds of the characters, which really add to this story about beliefs, loyalties and attitudes to change. Perhaps best of all, we can now fully appreciate the viewpoint of Grun, the ‘ritually mute’ King’s Champion, who illustrates the struggle for power on Peladon as it plays out within him: his devotion to his King who seeks change, his faith in Aggedor and the High Priest of his awesome god who stands for tradition – and a growing faith in this courageous alien known as the Doctor.
The major addition to the text is a sequence of scenes in the build-up to the Doctor’s trial by combat, greatly expanded from the on-screen story. Jo and Hepesh contend for influence over Grun, the Doctor prepares for his combat and the King dares to throws down the gauntlet to his god Aggedor, demanding that the Doctor must live - or he will renounce his faith. When the crisis breaks at the trial by combat, we can clearly see what happens to Arcturus (partly concealed on screen by the episode’s cliff-hanger and partly by tactful editing for teatime viewing.) The Doctor’s ‘Venusian lullaby’ to Aggedor is not specified in detail in the book, but that’s not surprising as producer Barry Letts co-created it in ‘The Daemons’ and recycled it for the television production of this story. (If you want to sing it at the appropriate moment, the CD insert has the words!)
The overall effect of this production is superb and does full justice to a true classic, splendidly novelised by the original author. Finally, I’m looking at the original 1975 Target paperback book on my desk by the new Audiobook version, and it’s pleasing to see the way the design has been faithfully carried over; the cover illustration, the mid-brown colour of the spine, the back cover text and, in the CD insert, along with interesting details of the story, the novel and its author, the same six internal book illustrations from forty years ago.
Most highly recommended, I award this Audiobook five stars and the crown of Peladon! 5*
This is a 5-cd set of a reading of the novelisation of The Curse of Peladon, a story first aired on television in 1972 and featuring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant. In this story, the Doctor takes Jo for a quick spin in the Tardis, but they don’t land back on Earth where Jo is about to go out on a date and is dressed accordingly, but on a forbidding mountainside where they are forced to clamber up to a citadel on top of the mountain. There they find that they are on the planet of Peladon, where the young King Peladon of Peladon is hosting dignitaries from the Galactic Federation assessing Peladon’s readiness to join the Federation. But there are those on Peladon who would rather they stayed with the old ways, under the sway of religion dedicated to the royal beast Aggedor and who will stop at nothing to remove the threat of the Federation. When the Doctor is mistaken for the Earth delegate and Jo an Earth Princess, they take the opportunity to try and help.
This is a great story, a reading of a classic novelisation by Brian Hayles which has been very sympathetically and fully written. The background to the culture and politics of Peladon, and the ethos of Aggedor is very well done, and the other characters are very well written and portrayed. The Martian Ice Warriors are great; at first the Doctor is wary and suspicious of them as in his previous meetings with them they have been hostile, but it doesn’t take long for the real characters of Izlyr and Ssorg to come through and charm the Doctor and even more so, Jo. The rather phallic character of Alpha Centauri still makes you chuckle, both for its appearance and its highly excitable character personified in a high-pitched voice. Even Grun, though mute and therefore without lines, makes his presence felt throughout the story. Hepesh, the High Priest of Aggedor is a really fully drawn character whose reverence for the old ways leads him down very dark paths. There are times in the story when the audience knows much more than the Doctor does, and this gives a real immediacy and tension to the story which is well maintained throughout.
This is a great ‘classic’ Doctor Who story; the Doctor is the benevolent statesman, but also the man of action. Jo adds a touch of glamour to the whole event, and there are a great smattering of aliens in the story to add different viewpoints and cultures to the rather ‘medieval’ world of Peladon. It’s a nice touch that David Troughton, who played King Peladon in the 1972 televised story reads this novelisation. He has a pleasant voice, and pitches the different characters well. The sound is really good; the characters’ voices when they are in the tunnels or the other rooms of the citadel are toned to sound different to the straight read narrative, and the whole way the production has been done offers a very ‘real’ vibe to the experience for the listener. Fantastic; I really hope we get more of these ‘classic’ novels being read; they are a great experience and a great reminder, above and beyond dvds and the novels themselves, of the wonder that is Doctor Who.
on 17 May 2013
As majestic as the Royal Beast itself/himself, AUDIOGO's new audio production of Brian Hayles' CLASSIC SERIES four-parter, DOCTOR WHO AND THE CURSE OF PELADON is, simply, imperious, and is as polished and crafted as the author's original TARGET novel.
Faultless, unchallengeable and audaciously addictive to a point where you will be drawn into listening to the release two or three times across consecutive days without boredom setting in or regret that you haven't fed the cat or, heaven forfend, undertaken daily ablutions.
Submit to the true `curse' of Peladon; be a `couch-potato' for five hours.
Like a time-worn Grandfather perched on the edge of his Grandson's bed reading a dog-eared TARGET original copy, David Troughton is singularly unpretentious as reader-performer with a beguiling rhythm and genuine authority that is as comforting as a mug of warm milky cocoa. At times, he's calming, delicate and comforting only to release a guttural passion as the narrative wheels on a Sixpence.
Perhaps, the least successful characterisation is that of the Martian Lord, Izlyr, who tends to `rassssssp' verbally less like an `ice warrior' and more like a bronchially challenged Sir Robin Day with a hint of Roy Hattersley.
Simply, he is, along with Geoffrey Beevers, one of the archetypal DOCTOR WHO novelisation reader-performers, and as such, in the future, would be able to make Glen McCoy's Sixth Doctor novelisation, DOCTOR WHO - TIMELASH (1985) as thrilling as a Matt Damon BOURNE movie if he had the opportunity.
His reading-performance is supported - yet not overwhelmed - by Simon Power's (MEON PRODUCTIONS) specially recorded sound treatment (special sound effects, voice modulation treatment and music score) that is, consistently across his contributions to AUDIOGO's releases, restrained, astutely observed and `realised' with real-world (even in a science fiction environ) truth and honesty.
From the enveloping thunder-ridden surface of Pel as the Doctor & Jo irrationally undertake `extreme sport, to the growling Plantigrade as it casually swipes at its prey like a cat toying with a ball of wool, to the sparking feud between the feral lunges of sword-upon-sword, to the unpredictable cascade of hurtling shards of masonry, and to the cell-shredding electronic weaponry of a disembodied alien.
However, whilst subtlety different from the televised broadcast, MEON PRODUCTIONS' voice treatment, for both Arcturus and Alpha Centauri is a triumph as it respects the heritage of the on-screen characterisation but deftly `tones down' the acidity of it. This is a prime example of the importance of collaboration between the actor, the director and the post-production producer in order to delivery an exemplary product.
Like hen's teeth, DOCTOR WHO AND THE CURSE OF THE PELADON is a rare beast; it's joyously performed, a crafted production (overdue credit to audio producer, Dizzy Dalziel) with a masterly sound treatment by MEON SOUNDS that serves the novel with due appreciation (sadly, Hayles' original novelisation does not add value (i.e. by adding a substantial back-story or character motivation) to the original televised broadcast.
In short, authentic and faithful.
If only all DOCTOR WHO stories (and broadcast episodes) managed to reach such sublime height of authenticity and intrigue.
on 3 June 2013
When I was young, the Target novels were a monthly treat. Old stories that seemed so distant in the memory - yet were probably less than a decade old! - were brought to life on the printed page.
This reading by David Troughton brings to life a classic Pertwee story that saw not only the return of the Ice Warriors, but also introduced a group of memorable aliens including the hexapod, Alpha Centauri, and the "head in a goldfish bowl", Arcturus.
Mr Troughton is a master reader, and even now the story holds together. Fleshed out characters and motivations are envigorated with a great performance, that, aided by audio trckery, allows different races to have different voices.
Its one of the longer books, running to 5 CDs and this affords the story time to breathe. Its a who-done-it for want of a better description and as with many of the 70s stories, even some of the villains are shown to be misguided in their sense of duty rather than evil.
As an introduction to the range or an ongoing part thereof, Curse of Peladon is good value for money and a great item to listen to whilst relaxing on the sofa or whilst doing the dishes!
on 11 January 2015
A thoroughly enjoyable story with many elements that make a good Doctor Who. Although essentially science fictional, in many ways ‘The Curse of Peladon’ feels like a historical. The world of Peladon seems to have an almost feudal, mediaeval society, with some form of caste system and ruled by a hereditary monarch. They don’t seem technically advanced enough to have reached a space faring level which arouses the question of exactly how preliminary contact was first made between Peladon and the Federation. Although set in the future the whole scenario of Peladon being admitted into the Federation and the various issues that accompany such a thing are, in certain ways, timeless. Hence the connotations with the European Union at the time the serial was originally written. Thus the basic plot to ‘The Curse of Peladon’ is one that can transgress genres and locales.
One of the most enjoyable elements of the story is the way the Doctor becomes embroiled in such circumstances. He doesn’t need the shortcut of psychic paper to assume the role of ambassador from Earth. He adopts the false persona perfectly and utterly convinces the court of Peladon and the Federation delegates. No one questions his validity throughout; or at least until the very end.
‘The Curse of Peladon’ is also one of the best Doctor Who stories for its aliens. The civilisation of Peladon itself is a good work of secondary creation. The writing makes it a realistic and believable society. Adding to this is the incredible array of varied aliens that form the delegation from the federation. The Ice Warriors become a more complex and believable alien race than they had previously been depicted as. They are now more than just warmongering monsters. I also personally always found Arcturus and Alpha Centauri two of the most fascinating aliens. They were both quite unique and thus highly interesting. I longed to see more of their worlds and people. In fact, I’d love to Alpha Centauri make a re-appearance in modern Doctor Who.
Hayles’ novelisation of his own script follows the serial fairly well without much variation. It might have perhaps been nice to have included a bit more of the history of Peladon, expand the world’s culture to more than just Mount Megeshra or offer some greater explanation of how Peladon and the Federation came together to start with. It has a major advantage over the televised version in that the climax of the duel doesn’t suffer from terrible editing that makes such an important part of the plot quite confused and muddled. It is much clearer in the novelisation what is happening with Arcturus, Ssorg and Hepesh.
The first of Brian Hayles' two novelisations for the Target range, The Curse of Peladon was published in January 1975. Whilst it sticks closely to the television original, with only a few new scenes added, Hayles was able to take full advantage of the medium of the printed page and he created a novel rich with detail and atmosphere. The result is that this audiobook is a great listen in its own right, as it's much more than just a straightforward transcription of the tv script.
Landing on the primitive planet of Peladon, the Doctor and Jo quickly get caught up in local politics. Peladon is seeking entry into the Galactic Federation and a group of delegates from various planets have arrived to hear their case. Some, like Alpha Centauri and Arcturus are new to the Doctor. Others, like the Ice Warriors, are old enemies of the maverick Time Lord.
When a high ranking Peladon official is found dead in mysterious circumstances, the Pels claim that the spirit of Aggedor is responsible. The Doctor, however, is certain that the Ice Warriors are the guilty party. But is there another solution?
David Troughton, who played King Peladon in the television original, is the reader. Troughton has already read a number of Second Doctor audiobooks, as well as some new series titles. It's easy to see why, as he is a quality reader, with a warm and compelling voice.
Sound and music design is good, and not as overpowering as some of the previous titles. The menagerie of monsters are realised well, sounding quite similar to their television originals.
Running for 5 hours and 20 minutes, The Curse of Peladon, is a highly entertaining reading of one of the classic books from the early days of the Target range.