The Ordeal of Peladon

Posted in Audio by - February 17, 2022
The Ordeal of Peladon

Released January 2022


The world of Peladon has long been an important one in Doctor Who, home to two classic serials from the Third Doctor era and filled with politics and aspirations allowing for perfect allegories to those of Earth. Now fifty years on from its debut and Peladon’s journey to join the Galactic Federation just as the United Kingdom looked to join the European Economic Community, Peladon seeks to explore the politics and progress of the titular planet across several generations.

Jonathan Barnes and Robert Valentine open this celebratory set with ‘The Ordeal of Peladon,’ putting the focus on David Troughton who once more reprises his role of King Peladon for the first time since 2009’s ‘The Prisoner of Peladon’ in Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range. This King has always had a certain optimism and naivety as he genuinely acts with his peoples’ best interest at heart, and Troughton once more beautifully captures that sentiment as he attempts to be the best monarch possible and to leave his daughter the best possible version of this world. Set between ‘The Curse of Peladon’ and ‘The Monster of Peladon,’ the elder King Peladon continues to make known his vision for his world to join the Galactic Federation while realizing that he has failed to convince many of his people to join in his way of thinking, and when he comes to learn of a prophet who can perform miracles and who is shifting the populace’s loyalty away from him, he resolves to discover the truth no matter the cost.

Ostensibly channelling the old gods of Peladon, this prophet who not so long ago was a humble fisherman seeks the King’s audience to tell him of the new truths before them all as he rallies a new public sentiment. Both threatening and ardent as the zealot Skarn, Ashley Zhangazha’s performance is captivating and unsettling in equal measure, and while Skarn is ultimately confronted by the King’s truth when a needed miracle fails to manifest, the ultimate miracle that does occur on cue is a shocking one given how innocuous it seems at first glance. The Doctor is a figure woven into the history of this world, and while the Sixth and Eighth Doctors are prominently advertised to star in later stories in this set, the Doctor’s intimate knowledge of the fate set to befall this world is an intriguing piece of foreshadowing for the state of affairs he will encounter in this planet’s future.

Of course, no visit to Peladon would truly be complete without the Galactic Federation making an appearance in some respect, and Nicholas Briggs is brilliant as a loyal Ice Warrior who has been awakened for one final mission, a surprise inspection. Troughton and he share an immense chemistry as their characters’ shared sense of honour and duty are brought into focus, and the journey to Skarn’s village is fraught with both expected and unexpected dangers to expertly highlight the unique state of this world whose traditions and vision for the future are hanging in the balance. Skarn’s follower, Harfair, is essential in further developing this particular plot element, and not portraying Skarn and his followers as one-dimensional people automatically in the wrong helps to create a sense of authenticity to the core conflict that in many ways is so relatable to modern-day events on Earth in which the openness and bluntness of challengers can contrast so incredibly effectively against the secrets of those currently in power. While it’s hard not to wish that this entire set would feature Peladon struggle to find its identity without any influence from the Doctor and his friends, ‘The Ordeal of Peladon’ is a brilliant reintroduction to this beloved society and a strong foundation for the impending devolvement despite King Peladon’s very best and noble intentions.

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