Meglos: Doctor Who: Season 18
Zastor, leader of Tigella invites the Doctor to his planet to investigate the energy fluctuations in the Dodecahedron a twelve-sided crystal that the two caste society of Tigella argue over. The scientific Savants see it as a power source of their civilization while the religiously fanatical Deons worship it.
On Tigella's sister planet a band of Gaztak Space Pirates are met by the last Zolfa Thuran - Meglos. The Living cactus creature traps the Doctor and Romana in a time loop and assumes the Doctor's appearance. He gets the Gaztaks to take him to Tigella promising them power. Disguised as the Doctor he steals back the Dodecahedron as it is a Zolfa-Thuran energy source that can be used as the ultimate weapon.
Once free of the time loop the Doctor and Romana arrive on Tigella. Romana is captured by the Gaztaks and the Doctor is near sacrificed for his supposed crime. Meglos only just manages to escape Tigella with the Gaztaks help. But once back on Zolfa Thura the Dodecahedron will be used to hold the universe to ransom and Romana must get the Deons and Savants to join forces to help them overcome Meglos and his pirates.
Return to top of page
Meglos CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor / Meglos)
Lalla Ward (Romana II)
John Leeson (K-9 Mk. II)
Jacqueline Hill — Lexa
Bill Fraser — General Grugger
Frederick Treves — Lieutenant Brotadac
Crawford Logan — Deedrix
Edward Underdown — Zastor
Colette Gleeson — Caris
Christopher Owen — Earthling / Meglos
Simon Shaw — Tigellan Guard
Production Staff for Serial 5Q:
Writers - John Flanagan & Andrew McCulloch
Director - Terence Dudley
Script editor - Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
Executive Producer - Barry Letts
Return to top of page
Yes not a lot of people like this one. But I do.
Power Of Kroll got me watching but Meglos hooked me into watching every episode from then on. Except for accidentally missing the odd one here or there. Strange how years later when reading up on stuff I find out that this was one of the most derided of stories. So suppose it doesn't matter how bad one may seem in the new series, kids of today will still find it frightening and fascinating and remember even the Last Of The Time Lords with fondness for how it scared them when they grow up.
But Meglos, the only story named after the villain of the piece and quite a cunning villain the talking cactus! Quite a genius, this last Zolfa Thuran has managed to hoodwink a bunch of semi stupid space pirates into bringing him a body to inhabit in order to get around and do his bit of plotting on sister planet Tigella.
His character is pretty good because he's so single minded and iron willed and able to do everything just by manipulation. Not to mention that he looks sinister at the start as the human covered in green bumps and spikes, then he's taken up a notch as Tom Baker gives us one final evil doppleganger performance and probably his best one. Meglos looks like the Dr and almost acts like him but you know it's not really him with Baker's slightly off mannerisms. Shows he's still a really good actor and not just a sci fi comedian. Plus the bits where Meglos and the human go through wrestling for possession of the same body are really good and quite creepy even now.
Pity the rest of the story is...well a bit bland. The Gazaks run by General Grugger are obviously the comedy relief especially when it seems they have Spike Milligan impersonator as their second in command. We have ANOTHER jungle planet, this is the third one in about 5 stories and the jungle sets are looking cheaper with each outing. The Tigellans are a bit tedious too, the fact an entire civilization hides underground "because it says so in our holy books that it's uninhabitable upstairs on the surface" just seems a bit dumb.
You telling me out of an entire civilization not one person is curious to take a sneak peek at the jungle and go for a run around or something? For a society split down the middle too into tech heads (with ridiculous blonde bob wigs, why do they all wear them?) and a religious order it seems a bit silly. Though the majority of them act it well, especially Zastor and Lexa played by Barbara Wright herself, Jacqueline Hill. The first original companion to come back as another character.
All in all it's not bad and the Doctor & Romana are on top form and even K9 is back in action. But it really lights up when Meglos is around especially with Baker playing him most of the time. Although one wonders why the brilliant Meglos would trust a bunch of dopey space pirates and not considered they would double cross him for control of his ultimate weapon at the end of the show? Surely a ruthless person such as him would have shot them all when they got back to Zolfa Thura having outlived their usefulness? Anyway not a bad romp giving it a 7.1/10
I think its mainly cos I can't work out the character of Meglos himself. He starts off as a cactus in a spaceship that has things in it like buttons and levers and dials and stuff that would be pretty hard for even the most intellectual cacti to operate, and then he takes over the Earthling and....well, that's about it. He just seems a bit flat and dull for a story that is supposedly built around him. I think the script is very traditional and - worse - on the one dimensional side. General Grugger who has the task of hooking up with Meglos really doesn't do much either and seems to be played for laughs - again a throwback to the Williams era.
Another throwback is Jacqueline Hill returns to the series too, but not as Barbara. Which makes me wonder why she was cast in the first place? She is a very good actress but adds nothing to her character, so the fault must be in the writing. Again. And speaking of bad writing, the Doctor and Romana got out of the time-loop.....how?
Then there is Brotadac who is just appallingly bad. So bad that his character's name is an anagram of Bad Actor. Yep; someone is definitely having a laugh. And its pretty apt too. Oh, I gotta mention the model shot of the surface of Tigella - with its lovely planet in the sky suspended by a string. Classy.
However, Tom is very good as he does the double act of being the Doctor and as being Meglos and there is some great makeup on him (and the earthling) too. In hindsight you can see there are little clues throughout this series that it will be Tom's last season; he changed in Leisure Hive and he has changed again in this story. So aside from Tom and Lalla who is also good, there isn't really much on display here. 5/10.
Well, you sort of can. Romana sets it up by talking about the crazy Tigellan plant life when they get the distress signal... but I guess it can still be difficult to take that a plant in a pot could have coerced all those big hairy blokes who like jackets to do all it's dirty work for him.
Then again, why not, let's just believe!
After that it's a pretty interesting, well paced story by a couple of new writers (was one of these a 19 year old, or was that the Full Circle writer?)... is this the first new writer since Fisher?
There's a lot going on - you've got the dodecahedron (brilliant word!), the internal power struggle on Tigella, a new kind of time loop and Tom getting to play his doppelganger again... and he does a brilliant job of doing both. In fact I think everyone does really well in this one - Jacqueline Hill was much better as Lexa than she ever was as the bland Barbara, and I believe we get our first black guy in the series since the famous Rick James in The Mutants... there is one exception though... Zastor... he's bloody awful! If you're going to wear a big purple cloak, you've got to be able to act... and this bloke was lucky to be able to breath I think... dreadful!
Story wise, it all flows nicely I think. Cliff hangers are all very strong - especially the final one with big stone hanging over the doctor and the monks (or whatever they are) burning through the rope... unfortunately Foxtel lost it's connection 12 years ago when this was taped, so I didn't see how he got out of it... well either that or they couldn't think how to get him out of it either and though "signal failure" was an easy exit!
Tom and Lalla are very good here - although we do learn that Lalla definitely wasn't a jock at Time Lord school... she's a terrible runner!
All up, it's fun and holds together well... yes... if you can look past the fact that all the strings are being pulled by a cactus...