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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cactus Who?
Doctor Who: Meglos (DVD).

DVD Info.
Format: PAL
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
Region: 2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Classification: U
Studio: 2entertain
Running Time: 87 minutes

Special Features
* Commentary by Lalla Ward...
Published 7 months ago by Timelord-007

versus
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meglos
Meglos, despite some of its negative points, is, in essence, a Doctor Who story that was before its time. It is a story that, at its heart, deals with the struggle between religion and science.

As a viewer, you can't help feeling a struggle off-screen as well. You almost feel the tug of war between the writers, the script editor and the director, as they fight...
Published on 24 Jan. 2011 by Doctor Who Online


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meglos, 24 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Meglos, despite some of its negative points, is, in essence, a Doctor Who story that was before its time. It is a story that, at its heart, deals with the struggle between religion and science.

As a viewer, you can't help feeling a struggle off-screen as well. You almost feel the tug of war between the writers, the script editor and the director, as they fight it out to gain their own narrative. And what we're left with, through sheer luck, is a melding of the three, that essentially benefits the story in a way that no single party could have done on their own.

Once you get past the dodgy wigs, and the tiresome time loop scenes, there are many elements that make this a rather enjoyable story.

Tom Baker, nearing the end of his tenure as The Doctor, puts in a sterling performance as Meglos, not to mention the welcome return of Jacqueline Hill as Lexa who bookends her Doctor Who career here.

Then there is the truly fantastic make-up which makes the characterisation of Meglos even more villainous and believable. There are also some great FX shots in the story, combined with highly detailed models, that work together using the new Scene Sync technology - yet another example of the story being ahead of its time.

The DVD is rounded off with some excellent features that compliment the story.

The 'Commentary' features Lalla Ward (Romana II), John Flanagan (Writer), Christopher Owen (Earthling / Meglos) and Paddy Kingsland (Composer). John and Lalla seem to take turns guiding, but understandably, Christopher Owen tends to get lost in the background, and doesn't really seem to contribute much until the final episode. Peter Howell (Composer) joins the commentary for Episode Three and offers an insight into some of his cues, as well as providing a refreshing critique to his own work. All in all, a fairly run of the mill commentary, that could have really benefited from Tom Baker's presence.

'Meglos Men' is an 18-minute documentary that follows Writers; Andy McCulloch and John Flanagan as they retrace their steps into the past, into the genesis of Meglos. Checking out their old haunts, through to a modern-day meeting with Script Editor; Christopher H. Bidmead.

It's a fantastic little feature that is written, produced and directed by the fabulous Chris Chapman, who has risen the calibre of Doctor Who DVD documentaries to a whole new level.

'The Scene Sync Story' looks at how the pitfalls and limitations of Chroma Key gave way to research into the newly discovered Scene Sync technology - a process that ties two cameras together to pan in unison.

The eye-opening documentary shows us how Meglos was a test run for the process, which has evolved and can now be seen in many modern day film and television productions. The feature includes Interviews with Peter Leverick and Roger Bunce (Cameramen) and Stephen Drewett (Visual Effects Designer).

'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' looks at the life of Doctor Who Actress, Jacqueline Hill (Barbara, Lexa). It's a wonderful tribute to the woman whom we all know from Doctor Who, but paints the wider, and to most of us, unknown picture of her life through to her untimely death. It was surprising to learn that Jacqueline was responsible for Sean Connery getting his first leading role, thanks to a suggestion to her Director husband, Alvin Rakoff. The feature includes interviews with William Russell (Actor), Verity Lambert (Producer), Alvin Rakoff (Director / Husband) and Ann Davies (Friend / Actress).

'Entropy Explained' is presented by Dr. Phillip Trowoga from the University of Westminster, and takes a scientific look at the running theme through Season 18 of Doctor Who - Entropy; the measure of disorder of a system. Picking through the laws of thermodynamics, it breaks down the technical speech into easy to understand explanations and situations.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' features The Mutants, and isn't as well put together as previous trailers, too many fast cuts and no real energy behind the trailer music leads to it failing to really sell the story.

As with previous releases, there are the usual 'Radio Times Billings', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Information Subtitles', as well as an 'Easter Egg' that gives us a clean version of the final Fourth Doctor title sequence.

The extra content that we have here, is certainly of a high quality, but going on past form, it does feel a little feature-light. It was surprising to find no feature on the stunning make-up that gave this story such a visual impact, and Tom Baker's involvement, apart from the story itself is non-existent - despite being a Baker-heavy serial.

It is most definitely worth its retail price, with both 'Meglos Men' and 'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' taking the main stage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas left unexplored as the Doctor treads water, 21 Jan. 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Coming only a year after Doctor Who reached record 16.1m ratings with City of Death, John Nathan Turner's first season as producer showed the downward trajectory that would be one of the hallmarks of his tenure when Meglos barely managed a quarter of that figure, with an equally dismal `audience appreciation rating.' Yet despite Turner being handed a seaworthy vessel and proceeding to drill holes in it below the waterline with bad creative decisions and dodgy casting in later years, it's not a bad little story even if the Doctor doesn't have much to do in the first episode, and what little he does he does repeatedly. Unfortunately it's a very undeveloped one, with both plot and character veering too often to the perfunctory and originality largely extending to the villain being... a cactus. A meglomaniacal plant has its possibilities, but there's the feeling that the Doctor had been here before too many times to find much to interest him and the central debate between science and religion - in particular a religion that has been built around unexplained technology whose priests don't want explained or explored - never gets off the ground.

There's one interesting bit of casting in having one of the very first Doctor's original companions from the very first episode, Jacqueline Hill, playing the high priestess, although she's not helped by having to share many of her scenes with Edward Underdown, who gives an embarrassingly bad performance - most of the time he doesn't even wait for his cues. But then maybe the general rushed feeling of the production was contagious - the four episodes are very short, with a lot of repeated footage from the previous episode to pad out the running time. It's not terrible, and you do get the chance to see Tom Baker turning into a cactus, but it has that treading water feeling that typified the Nathan Turner years.

Still, there's a decent selection of extras, as ever: audio commentary by Lalla Ward, Christopher Owen, John Flanagan, Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell, featurettes on the story's actors-turned-writers (particularly engaging), the Scene Sync special effects technique used for the story, a layman's guide to Entropy (the uniting factor of that season's stories) and a tribute to Jacqueline Hill focussing on her tenure in the series as Barbara, as well as an isolated score, an extended theme tune (hidden away as an Easter Egg), stills gallery and on-screen production notes. Two-and-a-bit stars - one for the completists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meglos Man, 27 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Is the Doctor a cactus or the cactus a Doctor?

`Meglos' is the second story of the John Nathan-Turner era of `Doctor Who' and a fascinating four-part adventure written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch and directed by Terrence Dudley. This story has a different style of pace and atmosphere compared to 'The Leisure Hive'. I enjoyed this story very much although I wouldn't say it excites me as many other stories. This is a doppelganger story about a Dodecahedron, some space pirates and an evil cactus.

The Doctor has been summoned to the jungle world of Tigella, whilst he and Romana are repairing K-9 in the TARDIS. But the Doctor, Romana and K-9 get caught in a time loop, one that they can't seem to escape from. This is the work of the megalomaniac Meglos, an evil cactus who hires a group of space pirates and takes on the form of the Doctor to steal the powerful crystal-like Dodecahedron from the Tigellans. Can the Doctor, Romana and K-9 stop Meglos in time?

This story has the feel of belonging to the Douglas Adams era of the series from Season 17, even though script editor Christopher H. Bidmead commissioned the story from the writers. I enjoyed the ideas John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch came up with in their story and certainly from watching what they discussed in the DVD special feature `Meglos Men' was very fascinating. You can tell they were comedy writers working on the show, as it clearly shows in the story they tell here.

The concept of an evil cactus wanting to take over the universe is something never done before in `Doctor Who', but I'm not sure if it's original. I like the time loop aspect of the story where the Doctor and Romana keep repeating things they say, the Doctor trips over and K-9 wags his ears to say, "Thank you mistress! Repairs are complete." If that was done today and if TV Burp was still on ITV 1, Harry Hill would jump in and sort the Doctor and Romana out, ha, ha.

This was the first time Terence Dudley contributes to the series as director of this story. I know Terence Dudley for writing my favourite `Doctor Who' story `Black Orchid' as well as writing `Four To Doomsday' and `The King's Demons'. I enjoyed how he directed this story of `Meglos'. Some criticise Dudley on his directing, but I think he does a fairly good job as he's an experienced TV producer, writer and director working for the BBC.

I enjoyed Tom Baker's performance in this story. Not only does he get to play the Doctor, but also as Meglos in the Doctor's form. I was shocked when Meglos turned into the Doctor at the end of Part One. Also when the Doctor looks like a cactus in certain moments of the story is quite frightening, and Tom looks amazing that make-up. I'm sure Tom enjoyed playing the doppelganger element in the story, even though he was on his way to being the Doctor by this point.

Lalla Ward as Romana is equally good in this. I enjoyed how Romana shares scenes with the Doctor in the TARDIS especially when they repair K-9; get trapped in a time loop and try to get out of it. Romana has an adventure of her own when getting lost in the jungles of Tigella and bumping into the space pirates who force her to escort them to where the TARDIS is. I don't think this is the best story for Lalla's Romana, but it's a fairly good outing for her all the same.

It was great to hear John Leeson's voice as K-9 in this adventure as he was missed in `The Leisure Hive'. I laughed when K-9 answered to one of the Doctor's post-repair questions, "Affirmative Mistress." I thought it was mean when Bill Frazer's General Grugger wanted to kick K-9 at some point in this story. K-9 wasn't treated well in this season by the producers, but he has good moments throughout this story even when his power levels and batteries are low.

This story features the return of Jacqueline Hill (who played Barbara, a companion of William Hartnell's Doctor in the early 60s) playing Lexa. I was delighted to see Jacqueline in this story and to see her playing a different character compared to when she was playing Barbara. Here she plays a spiritual ruler on Tigella, who believes the Dodecahedron to be sacred and is determined to have the Doctor killed for sacrifice since she believed he stole it whereas it was Meglos who did it.

The story also features the guest appearances of Bill Fraser as General Grugger and Frederick Treves as Lieutenant Brotadac of the space pirates called the Gaztaks. These are two comic characters in the same style of double acts from the Robert Holmes stories. You can tell they're meant to provide comic relief to the story when working with Meglos. Brotadac incidentally is an anagram of `bad actor' by the writers which I'm not sure is complementary to the actor who plays Brotadac.

The rest of the cast includes Edward Underdown as Zastor, Crawford Logan as Deedrix and Colette Gleeson as Caris. The cast also includes Christopher Owen as the George Morris who gets kidnapped by the pirates and gets taken over by Meglos to walk around in human form. I don't like simply referring to this character as the Earthling as he was in the story, so I'm calling him George Morris as that was what he called in the Target novelisation of `Meglos' by Terrance Dicks.

The music for this story interestingly is composed by two composers Paddy Kinglsand and Peter Howell. As I understand it, the music work was shared between two composers because one of the composers wasn't able to complete the score and the other had to step into the breach to complete the music. To me, the styles of music between both composers doesn't sound any different as they both sound very electronic and eighties style to me anyway.

The special features on this DVD of `Meglos' are as follows. There's Meglos Men' which I've enjoyed watching featuring writers John Flanagan and Andrew McCullock reuniting and looking back over their writing experience of Meglos in London and meeting up with script editor Christopher H. Bidmead. There's also `The Scene Synch Story' which is a behind-the-scenes look into the technique used to create some of the story's shots.

There's also `Jacqueline Hill - A Life In Pictures' looking into the fondly remembered actress who played Barbara Wright in the series. This features interviews with her husband Alvin Rakoff, producer Verity Lambert, actor William Russell (who played Ian) and Ann Davies (who played Jenny in `The Dalek Invasion of Earth'. There's also `Entropy Explained', a short featurette looking into the theme of entropy featured in Season 18 particularly in the story 'Logopolis'.

There are also some audio options including a commentary with Lalla Ward, Christopher Owen, co-writer John Flanagan and composers Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell. There's an isolated score option and an info-text commentary option to watching during the story. There are also a Radio Times Billings PDF documents to access on a PC/laptop. There's also a photo gallery and a `coming soon' trailer for the next `Doctor Who' DVD which is `The Mutants' with Jon Pertwee.

So `Meglos' is an interesting and fascinating story to watch in `Doctor Who'. It's not the most exciting story I've seen, but I enjoyed how John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch wrote their first and sadly only contribution for the series. Tom Baker is brilliant playing both the Doctor and Meglos in this and it was good to see Lalla Ward as Romana and K-9 voiced by John Leeson. I wouldn't get overly excited about this one, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it and worth adding to your collection of `Doctor Who' stories from the series.

The next story with the Doctor and Romana is 'Full Circle'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cactus Who?, 30 Oct. 2014
By 
Timelord-007 (The Eccentric Wanderer) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Doctor Who: Meglos (DVD).

DVD Info.
Format: PAL
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
Region: 2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Classification: U
Studio: 2entertain
Running Time: 87 minutes

Special Features
* Commentary by Lalla Ward (Romana), Christopher Owen (Earthling), John Flanagan (writer), Paddy Kingsland (composer) & Peter Howell (composer)
* Meglos Men Writers John Flanagan & Andrew McCulloch meet with script editor Christopher H Bidmead
* The Scene Sync Story - A look at the pioneering technique used to create of many of the story's shots
* Jacqueline Hill - A Life in Pictures A look at the life of Jacqueline Hill, with husband Alvin Rakoff, Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert & actors William Russell & Ann Davies
* Entropy Explained
* Isolated Score
* Radio Times Billings (PDF DVD-ROM - PC/Mac)
* Production Information Subtitles
* PhotoGallery
* Coming Soon Trailer
* Digitally remastered picture & sound quality.

Story Info.
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companion(s): Romana, K-9
Main enemy: Meglos, The Gaztaks, General Grugger
Main setting: Zolfa-Thura and Tigella, 1980
Writer:John Flanagan, Andrew McCulloch
Director: Terence Dudley
Producer: John Nathan-Turner
Story number: 110
Season 18
Premiere broadcast: 27th September - 18th October 1980
Premiere network: BBC1
Format: 4x22-minute episodes

Cast.
Doctor Who - Tom Baker
Romana - Lalla Ward
Voice of K-9 - John Leeson
Lexa - Jacqueline Hill
Zastor - Edward Underdown
General Grugger - Bill Fraser
Earthling - Christopher Owen
Lieutenant Brotadac - Frederick Treves
Caris - Colette Gleeson
Deedrix - Crawford Logan
Tigellan Guard - Simon Shaw

Ratings.
Part one - 5.0 million viewers
Part two - 4.2 million viewers
Part three - 4.7 million viewers
Part four - 4.7 million viewers

Trivia.
1)The Doctor wasn't allowed to see the Dodecahedron on his previous visit (but did, as he remembers seeing it).
2)The Tigellans know of the Time Lords.
3)Time Lords are time sensitive enough to be aware of being in a time loop.
4)Romana knows martial arts & has heard of the Screens of Zolfa-Thura.
5)The working titles for Meglos were The Golden Pentangle, The Golden Pentagram, The Golden Star, The Last Sol-Fataran & The Last Zolfa-Thuran.
6)The sound effect created for the approach of the Fendahl in (TV: Image of the Fendahl) is re-used as background atmosphere for the Tigellan jungle, as well as effects used in The Daleks' Master Plan & Planet of the Daleks.
7)Brotadac is an anagram of "bad actor".
8)Mysteriously, part four's end-titles theme music is played a whole-step lower than normal (curiously, this puts the tune back in its original key of E minor).
9)The UK press reported that Bill Fraser only took the role of Grugger so he could kick K-9.
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10)Jacqueline Hill (Lexa) returns to the Doctor Who series fifteen years after last in the Tardis, as Barbara Wright (one of the original companions).

What's Up Doc?
On Tigella, two opposing factions are irrevocably divided over one fundamental issue: the Dodecahedron, a mysterious artefact which provides the entire planet's energy.

With the Savants & the Deons locked in a crippling stalemate & their civilisation on the brink of collapse, the Tigellan leader Zastor seeks the Doctor's help but the Doctor & Romana have been trapped aboard the TARDIS in a timeloop by Meglos, the last of the Zolpha Thurans, who will stop at nothing to steal back the awesome power of the Dodecahedron...

Timelord Thoughts.
Meglos is a story that I feel comes under a lot of scrutiny among fan's but I find it's a decent enough yarn from a well written script by John Flanagan, Andrew McCulloch even if it does flag in pace towards the end & is directed with excellent camera-work & great tightly paced editing by Terrance Dudley & features some impressive forest set designs & a chilling performance by Tom Baker in dual roles as the Doctor & the cactus like Meglos in disguise as the Doctor.

A bit more character development for supporting actors Edward Underdown as Zastor & Jacqueline Hill as Lexa wouldn't of gone a miss as one character seems far more likeable than the other who seems quite unsympathetic, the script doesn't explain why this is so the viewer has little interest in wanting to get to know these characters, what is far more fun however is Bill Frasers charming performance as the none to bright General Grugger who scene steals everytime his character appears on screen.

Tom Baker is simply magnificent in this adventure giving a far better performance here than in the seasons previous story & delivers a thoughtful & funny performance as the Doctor while giving a truly chilling frightening menacing take as Meglos via some impressive cactus make up effects that at times is quite a hypnotic terrifying performance to watch.

Lalla Ward is simply superb as Romana II who's cool, calm under pressure, smart & full of dry sarcastic wit especially when she's involved in scenes featuring the Ring Bandits.

The DVD extras are Baker-lite but feature a 'Commentary' with Lalla Ward (Romana II), John Flanagan (Writer), Christopher Owen (Earthling / Meglos) & Paddy Kingsland (Composer), while 'Meglos Men' is an 18-minute documentary that follows Writers; Andy McCulloch & John Flanagan discussing Meglos that features a present day meeting with season 18 Script Editor; Christopher H. Bidmead who seems quite an eccentric character himself.

The highlight of the DVD extras for me was 'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' which looks at the life of the former Doctor Who actress that includes interviews featuring William Russell (Actor), Verity Lambert (Producer), Alvin Rakoff (Director / Husband) & Ann Davies (Friend / Actress).

Meglos is a unique but bonkers Fourth Doctor tale but nevertheless it remains a solid sci-fi adventure that despite it's dodgy wigs & occasional poor effect is a consistently entertaining if occasionally flawed story that's well worth a watch.

Timelord Rating.
7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "A Double Baker on the Rocks", 25 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
This a strange story idea where Meglos the Maniacal cactus, gets some mercenaries to help him in his plans to steal the Tigellan power source the Dodecahedron. As others have said it would fit in more with the style of the previous season's Douglas Adams' script edited tales than Christopher H. Bidmead's smart set ideas.
Meglos is an evil genius cactus (by our standards as the ability to make a decent sandwich would be genius by cactus standards). The mercenaries (good comic performances by Bill Fraser & Frederick Treves) steal him a human to merge with copying the form as his cactus form might attract attention (told you he's a genius).
He then turns himself into the Doctor's double having trapped the Doc in a time loop. Then both Dr & Meglos turn up on Tigella. There are interesting ideas in this like the idea that repeating actions voluntarily helps you break a time loop (great name for it "chronic hysteresis") and that the merged human and can break through Meglos' disguise and the original cactus form keeps coming through. Where it falls flat is the planet Tigella. There is no sense of this being a real place. The Doctor's pal Xastor (played as a rather depressed old boy by Edward Underdown) and the religious nut Lexa ( a good peformance in ann underwritten role by Hartnell companion Jaqueline Hill) are for want of a better way of putting it, the ruling party and opposition. When Lexa grabs power & then later Xastor takes it back, there is no sense of upheaval. Romana tells Xastor he really needs to be back and power and then he just ambles off down the corridor and reasserts himself.
Meglos's ability to track the Doctor through time & space, put him in a time loop and change form all suggest Black & White Guardian sized powers. It makes you wonder why he needs the help of some amateur mercenaries?
Tom and Lalla do their best with odd material, really bringing to life the time loop sequences in the Tardis-which as doing the same schtick over and over could easily have fallen flat. Tom makes less than you might expect of Meglos, relying on subtle shifts in performance such as being unsure what to do next when Lexa asks him as the Doctor to swear allegiance to Ti. He's a bit more shouty as Meglos but otherwise it's a shame the script is always clear on which one's who, as the performance would work in places for the audience to have to guess.
Not June Hudson's best costumes especially the run of the mill Tigelans who look like choir boys who've got some security work.
Direction and sets are good but not inspired.
Ther debut of scene-sync allowing more natural movement with CSO does improve the look of things.

Not a large haul of extras. A chummy and fun commentary if not one of Lalla Ward's best. She is joined by one of the writers & the human or earthling Christopher Owen amongst others. At the jokey idea that Tom Baker could have an identical twin Lalla is horrified. It's revealed the dodecahedron was to be the Pentagon but was changed for obvious reasons.

Meglos Men is an interesting arther than great hybrid, part interview/part making of. Writers Flanagan & McCulloch meet up and take a journey visiting old haunts such as the house in which the writing was done, places the theatre where the put on a play which impressed Bidmead and it all sparks off memories of the writing process. They reveal that the merecenaries were originally tough Lee Marvin types & pay tribute to Tom's acting. They visit Bidmead who has recently watched it again and is v positive about Meglos as a story.

The scene sync story tells us who and why this improved CSO process came to be used and which other shows it featured in. A nicely done short.

Entropy explained starts off impenetrable but soon starts to explain the concepts of entropy and heat death quite well. It really belongs on the Logopolis disc as that story has more to do with it.

Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures gives us some detail of the lady behind Barbara benefitting greatly from the presence of friends/colleagues William Russell, Ann Davies and (via archive footage) Verity Lambert. But most of all the thoughts of her husband Alvin Rakoff paint a good picture. It's short and some more clips would have been good but much of her early work in probably in shows that don't remain in the archives. A worthwhile feature all the same.

The story is silly fun, extras are light and it's really a package for big fans of Tom Baker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Baker going through the motions...but still fun!, 17 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
Well, what can you say about Meglos. Probably the lightest story and the comic turn of season 18, leading as it does to the more deep and serious e-space trilogy. Baker going through the motions both as the Doctor and Meglos. Already, the sparkle is going. It's almost as if Tom is preparing for his exit from the show...! The heart and soul is no longer in it! But it is good fun. The scene with Meglos (the cactus) and the Gaztaks (space pirates) in episode 1 is great, and the special effects are superb for 1980. Also, the concept of the chronic hysteresis is huge fun, although the escape is somewhat of a let down. Also, there are a couple of good cliff-hangers thrown in. However, the main problem with this show is that you just don't really care about either of the main protagonists on the planet Tigella. You warm to neither the scientists or the those that partake in the cult worship of the Dodecahedron. Not enough effort was made in developing the characters, or explaining more of their history. On the plus side, the extras are good, containing as they do a very fitting tribute to Jacqueline Hill.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker is Meglos!, 28 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
This is a story which has grown on me over time. By no means a classic Meglos does however have much of interest. The return of Jaqueline Hill to Dr Who - former 1st Doctor companion Barbara - here playing a high priestess. Tom Baker gives an interesting performance as Meglos himself. And the sfx may be considered cheap by todays standards, but in 1980 there were few TV progrrammes, in the UK or US, who could achieve what the dr who production team did on such a small budget. Worth a look.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Best leave buying this evil cactus until near the end., 22 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
As I've posted elsewhere, I'm one of those fans who has selectively bought DVDs from the Classic series range buying those featuring my preferred incarnation of the Timelord first and, of those, leaving the less well regarded stories until last. Which brings us to 'Meglos'. This really sticks out like a sore thumb in the more 'serious science' approach of Season Eighteen and is something of a throwback to some of the stories in the preceding Graham Williams seasons, in particular 'Creature from the Pit'. Jungle planet? Check. Vicious alien plant life? Check. Bandits stealing alien hardware? Check. Actors playing bandits going OTT? Check. And are the locals acting badly in the bad white wigs related to the locals acting badly wearing bad wigs in 'The Space Museum'? Could be. The plot riffs on that very worn sci-fi trope of religion v technology.

Okay, so apart from that is it any good? Well in addition to being the Doctor, Tom Baker turns in a great performance as an evil doppleganger talking cactus; Lalla Ward is on top form and Jacqueline Hill brings conviction and gravitas to the role of Lexa. This contrasts sharply with Edward Underdown who practically sleepwalks through his role as the completely uninspiring leader of the Tigellans (think John Major but much more grey and lifeless) and the usually great Bill Fraser who appears to keep looking around to remind himself what show he is supposed to be acting in. The best I can say of 'Meglos' is that it is okay but if you are relatively new to Who or want to complete your Tom Baker collection I'd recommend leaving buying this until near the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A talking cactus impersonates the Doctor, what's not to like?, 14 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
'Meglos', the second story from Doctor Who's eighteenth season, has rather a poor reputation which I don't think it deserves. The story is, admittedly, far from perfect but there's far more to like than dislike. Coming after an outstanding story like 'The Leisure Hive' this was never going to be considered as good.

Visually the story is rather impressive, especially the Zolfa Thura 'scene sync' scenes. Tom Baker's cactus make up/costume looks fabulous. There's some great incidental music from Paddy Kingsland (who scored the first episode) and Peter Howell (who did the other three). Howell's music for some of the Tom Baker Meglos scenes, in particular, is superb. The story is very well directed by Terence Dudley.

Tom Baker gives a decent performance as the Doctor but he positively shines as Meglos, bringing a real sense of menace and rage to the role. Jacqueline Hill (who played companion Barbara Wright from the first episode of Doctor Who in 1963 until 1965) is on fine form as Lexa. Bill Fraser and Frederick Treves are good fun as pirates Grugger and Brotadac respectively.

The main idea behind the story is the Doctor being impersonated by a cactus and, understandably, the writers struggle to bulk this thin concept out to four episodes. The Savants/Deons conflict on Tigella is just a generic science vs religion plot which isn't especially interesting. It is never explained where the Dodecahedron came from or why it is so powerful, which is irritating. Things go downhill towards the end, with Lexa being killed off for no apparent reason. When the action moves back to Zolfa Thura in part 4 you get the distinct impression that the writers are flagging.

Despite all the flaws, 'Meglos' remains a consistently entertaining story.

The special features include 'Meglos men', a fairly interesting 18 minute feature in which 'Meglos' writers John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch meet up and discuss the writing process of the story while travelling around various locations in London from their past. They also visit script editor Christopher H Bidmead at his home to talk with him about their memories of working together. Bidmead in a hoodie and a baseball cap is a sight to behold.

'Jacqueline Hill- a life in pictures' is a very nice overview of the life and career of Hill. It includes footage from interviews with William Russell (fellow Doctor Who companion Ian Chesterton), Verity Lambert (Doctor Who producer, 1963-65) and Alvin Rakoff (Hill's husband) among others.

'Scene sync story' is about the scene sync technique used in the story. It's mildly interesting, but quite complex. 'Entropy explained' is a short feature which explains the concept of entropy, which was a recurring theme of Doctor Who's eighteenth season.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I still don't know how many sides a dodecahedron has!, 17 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who - Meglos [DVD] (DVD)
I recall being impressed by the punchier speed at which this story sped along when it was first transmitted. Now I find it ran too short by accident and despite padding - which I can see all too clearly but did not notice at the time - it stubbornly refused to grow.
So, is Meglos a deadloss? No, of course not. This everyday story of cactus folk trying to take over the universe has lots of witty bits; it has a Chronic Hysteresis by which small children can be kept busy for hours acting it out; it has great cactus make-up, and for veteran fans it has Jacqueline Hill - in colour.
The story is slight but I liked all the stuff where Meglos is being the Doctor and the stuff with the coat. Apart from the slightly dodgy special effects there is not much to dislike about the programme although the wandering round the jungle padding and the comedy heavies is tedious. The commentary has no great revelations and nor does the text but it is pleasant to spend time with these people and learn about how it came about. Similarly the short film in which the writers reminisce, though I thought this too short and more questions might have been asked of Christopher H Bidmead.
The sych film and entropy explained were interesting and of course for fans like me, and others I hope, the feature on Jacqueline Hill was interesting and moving. A pity we saw no clips from her appearance in `Tales of the Unexpected' where she played a bitchy American and from `Paradise Postponed' where she movingly portrayed a woman cheated on by her husband - but these were ITV shows so maybe that's why. Being in Doctor Who gives a kind of immortality and it is sad but surely true that despite her work in TV, film and theatre by now Jacqueline Hill would be forgotten by those who never knew her. But Doctor Who fans never forget, they keep memories of those they loved current and never stop appreciating them for what they did.
If you do not enjoy this DVD you may be right, or it may be merely that it is `beyond your comprehension'!
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Dr Who - Meglos [VHS]
Dr Who - Meglos [VHS] by Terence Dudley (VHS Tape - 2003)
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