Doctor Who #539: Meglos Part 2

"You know, for one awful moment I thought you'd forgotten your lines."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.4 1980.

IN THIS ONE... Meglos impersonates the Doctor to steal a big 12-sided die, and the Time Lords get out of the time loop.

REVIEW: Let me preface by saying this is a short episode indeed, clocking in at less than 20 minutes of new material. Judging by my DVD clock, the next two are even shorter. The new production team needs to get this under control before long, before all episodes feel like their were hit with industrial action (see Shada). Not to say nothing happens, plot-wise, but perhaps we're being short-changed on character development. There's a cracking scene between Lexa and Zastor, where she's delightfully passive-aggressive - Jacqueline Hill really is too good for this script - and I would have loved to see more. The Gaztaks get a couple jibes, but are hardly in it, except to put Romana in danger in the cliffhanger. But they're hardly any more interesting than her last bit of jeopardy in the tendrils of giant bell plants (shades of Eden, which isn't a promising comparison). There's a female Savant who seems starstruck when she sees the Doctor/Meglos, and that's about the limit of the whole subrace's characterization.

And Meglos? He's pretty much the Doctor here and even spouts nonsense like "Having lived in the future I can hardly die in the present". Fast-talk, or really beyond our comprehension? Between the Savants not believing in religion, and Lexa denying science, Meglos' statements almost tap into some kind of faith-related theme. Almost. There's no real follow-through. He steals (T Mats?) the Dodecahedron and then proceeds to skulk about in cactus make-up for a bit, ruining the Doctor's reputation as he ALSO skulks around (without make-up). These sequences have little to offer, except a break in dialog to enjoy the music. I'm not really enjoying the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's sounds, but there's a rare use of the Doctor Who theme at one point, I guess to distinguish him from Meglos.

How the Time Lords get out of the time loop, by going through the motions "out of phase", creating temporal interference, is complete nonsense, of course, but fun enough. I just wish we didn't have to witness Romana wagging the dog so often (it seems slightly filthy to me). Not sure I like the jokey dialog about learning lines, but I'm not about to bitch about what little wit this era's scripts are producing to date. When finally the Doctor arrives on Tigella, there are some pleasant elements of farce because he visited 50 years ago so thinks everyone's seeing him "again" because of that, not because his doppelganger got there first. K9's batteries are consistently running low, but we were warned this would happen. Doesn't mean he's well used.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I don't hate it. I don't love it. It's perfectly average. A few good jokes and that Lexa scene go a long way, but I'm still not sure why I should care about this planet and its inhabitants.



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