Doctor Who – Meglos

Having managed to catch up with those exciting[1] weight reports, it’s well past time for me to catch up on the pile of classic Doctor Who DVDs that I’ve seen recently. First up is this one from September/October 1980, with Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as the second Romana.

Having managed to escape from a chronic hysteresis[2], the Doctor and Romana get caught up in one of those classic plots. You know the sort of thing, two factions, one religious (lots of robes and chanting) and one scientific (bad haircuts), disagreeing over their civilisation’s source of power, the unimaginatively named Dodecahedron. This is made more complex by the intervention of a mad space cactus called Meglos, who has occupied the body of an unnamed “Earthling”, then transformed himself into a replica of the Doctor. Meglos, for the usual barking mad reasons, strolls off with the Dodecahedron, which is bad for the people who depend on it for power, and even worse for the Doctor, as the religious faction, headed by a woman called Lexa, who looks remarkably like the first Doctor’s companion Barbara, but the Doctor never mentions this[3].

Tom has lots of fun playing two of himself, especially when Meglos starts to lose control of the Earthling, and he turns slightly green and spiky.

It’s an entertaining enough story, a bit silly in places, but works well enough on repeated viewing. Fun.

Special features include the usual commentary[4], the subtitles with loads of background information, a photo gallery and:

  • Meglos Men – John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch, who wrote the story, have a tour around their old haunts and chat about developing the story. They also visit the gloriously opinionated Christopher H Bidmead, script editor at the time
  • The Scene Sync Story – a nice historical item on a clever technique used in Meglos. This allowed two camera to have their movements synchronised, so that tracking shots could be used when combining full-size and model shots. Quite impressive for the time
  • Jacqueline Hill – A Life in Pictures – A tribute to the actress. Nicely done.
  • Entropy Explained – Dr Philip Trowga explains a wee bit of thermodynamics, which is quite relevant to the story.

[1] For the easily excited
[2] That’s a “time loop” for anyone who isn’t a pair of Gallifreyans trying to impress each other
[3] Yes, yes, both played by Jacqueline Hill, but you’d think the Doctor might have said something about her looking like an old friend. Or not.
[4] One of these years I’ll catch up on all the commentaries on these things. But not yet.