“The Monster of Peladon.” A serial of six episodes from Dr Who, BBC, UK, 23 March to 27 April 1974. (Season 11, Episodes 15-20). Jon Pertwee (Doctor Who), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Donald Gee, Nina Thomas, Frank, Rex Robinson, Alan Bennion. Writer: Brian Hayles. Script editor: Terrance Dicks. Director: Lennie Mayne.

   This six-episode sequel to “The Curse of Peladon” (Season Nine, 1972) takes place 50 years later, with the Doctor and Sarah Jane discovering that the planet Peladon’s decision to join the Galactic Federation is not going so well.

   The trisilicate miners are demanding better working conditions, but keeping them under their rulers’ thumb is a phantom replica of Aggedor, the royal beast, who starts appearing in the mines and using a heat ray to disintegrate rebellious miners. The politics of the situation are not only local. There are also intergalactic considerations at play as well, and the Doctor and Sarah Jane land the Tardis right in the middle of them.

   Not one of the better serials, I’m afraid. All of the action takes place in a underground rooms connected by dark torch-lit passageways, with a lot of fur-haired miners running back and forth (and probably in circles) to mostly no avail.

   Episodes two and three cover mostly the same ground and could easily have been combined into one. It isn’t until episode four, when Commander Azaxyr and a force of Ice Warriors come to take over the planet in the name of the Federation, that anything other the same old, same old happens.

   There is a surprise twist or two in the final two episodes that almost (but not quite) makes this serial stand out above the mediocre. There is a brief attempt by Sarah Jane to convince the Queen of Peladon that she should stand up more herself, but not too long afterward, the latter is dragged along as a hostage just as damsels in distress always did, long before women’s lib came along.

   It should be noted that Commander Azaxyr’s full-face helmeted and caped garb, along with his heavy breathing while talking, is unmistakably an early prototype of Darth Vader, well before the latter showed up in a totally different setting.