As the penultimate adventure for Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, Planet of Fire has a lot to do. Not only does it have to write out two companions in the form of Turlough and Kamelion, it also has to introduce Peri and seemingly kill of the Master for good. It is a shame then that all it is remembered for is Peri in a bikini.
It is obvious that producer John Nathan-Turner had two thoughts when it came to creating Peri. By making her American, he hoped to get free or discounted flights to film a story in America and he hoped for a ratings increase by putting a beautiful woman in revealing clothing, something that she became famous for over the next couple of years Nicola Bryant was in the show. I think we all know the type of audience he was trying to appeal to there. By no means was this the first time the show had resorted to this sort of titilation of the audience, look at the costume worn by Leela for her entire tenure. But the leering and lingering shot of Peri in her bikini is the lowest the show seemed to sink to in an attempt to grab audience figures.
Despite being one of my favourite companions, Nicola Bryant isn't very good in her debut performance. Her accent is constantly slipping, not helped by the fact she had to keep it up behind the scenes but the script doesn't ask much of her either. She spends the entire story running around and screaming. At this stage in her character development, it is depressing to see a companion revert back to a screaming damsel in distress.
This story proved to be the final outing for Mark Strickson as Turlough and it turned out to be the non-event that many companion departures are. There are no tears, no regrets and if you didn't know any better, one would think he was simply popping down the shops. Even the Doctor doesn't seem that broken up about loosing another companion. I suppose we get to finally learn Turlough's backstory, even if it isn't all that interesting.
The rest of the plot for Planet of Fire concerns a group of boring blokes in boring robes dithering about while the miniaturised Master is fiddling about with Kamelion. It is a plot line too silly to take seriously. The Master has accidentilly made himself small enough to fit into a shoe-box and had this been a comedy, it might have worked. The show being a drama doesn't lend itself well to this point and it looses all credibility the moment they open the box and unveil Thumbelina. How can anyone take his threats seriously when he is the size of a Mars-bar?!
And as for Kamelion, who cares...