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Dr Who - Meglos [VHS]
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Starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor.
The Doctor is invited to visit the planet Tigella by its leader, Zastor, who has become concerned about disputes between his peoples two opposing factions, the religious Deons and the scientist Savants. The TARDIS is intercepted by the megalomaniacal xerophyte Meglos, last survivor of the planet Zolfa-Thura, and trapped in a chronic hysteresis a time loop but the Doctor and Romana manage to free it. Meglos, using the body of a kidnapped Earthling, transforms himself into a duplicate of the Doctor and steals the Tigellans power source a mysterious dodecahedron. He plans to use this to power an apocalyptic device with which he intends to destroy Tigella. The Doctor, although hindered by the activities of a group of Gaztak mercenaries hired by Meglos, ultimately brings about the xerophytes destruction by tampering with the dodecahedrons controlling computers.
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The story takes place on a planet called Tigella and revolves around a power source for the inhabitants to live called the Dodecahedron which the evil Meglos steels by becoming the doctor to gain the trust of the people.
Meglos traps the doctor and Romana in a time loop to try and keep him away but they find a way to break the loop and the real doctor gets mistaken for the thief who then has to regain trust and help the Savants and Deons get back their energy source.
Their is also a lovely documentary with friends, costars and the widowed husband of Jacqueline Hill talking about her life before her tragic death succumbing to cancer.
This is worthy of watching to see Tom Baker look like a walking cactus plant!
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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