The Death of Peladon

Posted in Audio by - February 18, 2022
The Death of Peladon

Released January 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Set during Queen Minaris’s reign farther in the future than the two televised Peladon serials explored, ‘The Death of Peladon’ by Mark Wright presents a world on the brink of environmental disaster. As the Sixth Doctor and Mel arrive to find a barren landscape and rivers running red, the threat of a looming civil war amidst even darker machinations leaves little hope for this world that the Doctor holds so dear.

Whereas the preceding serials focused quite rightly on the difficulties of being a good ruler, ‘The Death of Peladon’ even more explicitly amplifies the parallels to Earth with a fairly biting commentary on unchecked capitalism, exploitation, and climate change. Peladon is now a world that the Queen’s daughter Isabelda claims the Federation has all but abandoned and forgotten since the rich supplies of the vital trisilicate have diminished, and the general population is poorer and worse off than ever while feelings of political alienation run high. The underlying theme of just how far an oppressed and disenfranchised class can be pushed before finally beginning to fight back against those in control and the perceived inaction being taken to help is both strong and relevant, and the ambiguous ending that leaves open to interpretation whether further representation or starting completely anew is the better approach is a fitting concept to further mirror the thoughts of so many groups across the globe in different contexts of modern society.

Against the backdrop of a populace slowly succumbing to trisilicate poisoning, the Sixth Doctor and Mel are jointly a voice of optimism and determination in a world that has become so grim as hard-earned rights have slowly been stripped and alternative sources of labour found. The two leads spend a substantial amount of time apart to allow Mel to witness first-hand the detrimental and lethal effects of over-mining on this world, and Bonnie Langford is wonderful throughout as Mel’s incredible sense of morality drives her to bring Queen Minaris to see the true state of her world. The pairing of Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford has always been one of Big Finish’s many strengths, and even though the characters do spend more time than is typical simply commenting on the current state of affairs and pleading that violence is not the course of action taken, the immense chemistry and energy each performer brings to this production is superb and will surely appeal to fans of this era.

Unfortunately, despite the many strengths of this script, it shares an incredible number of similarities with ‘The Monster of Peladon.’ There is something to be said about history and mistakes repeating themselves and how hard it truly is to affect meaningful change, but ultimately it seems like a missed opportunity to do something new with this setting in an unexplored time. The motivations of the rebels are perfectly understandable, but this is again territory that Peladon has already touched upon elsewhere. This then has the unfortunate effect of making the new iterations of familiar positions somewhat less dynamic than their predecessors, and although Sara Powell as Minaris, Remmie Milner as Isabelda, and Liz White as Helais are all serviceable, there isn’t much to distinguish these characters that don’t come with the nostalgic element of the characters in the first two instalments of this set. As such, while ‘The Death of Peladon’ is a wonderfully atmospheric tale brimming with pertinent and hard-hitting themes, the actual content of its story remains far too faithful to what has already been explored on this world and- for better or for worse and despite some forced twists- gives the sense of a world stuck in an unending loop until a momentous climax and effective confrontation.

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