Doctor Who #540: Meglos Part 3

"You've been leading us round in circles."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.11 1980.

IN THIS ONE... Romana goes around in circles. Lexa makes her move and attempts to sacrifice the Doctor.

REVIEW: Only 18 minutes of new material and most of it seems to follow a most disagreeable theme, that of going around in circles. Mere minutes after getting out of a prolonged time loop, Romana spends most of this episode leading the Gaztaks on a merry chase around the jungle until finally - FINALLY! - she does what I wanted her to do a few seconds in, which is bringing them to the giant plant traps so she can escape. But once she does and gets into the Tigellan compound, it's just more running around, in a maze instead of a forest, the same maze Meglos has been skulking around in for the better part of two episodes. What a waste of time.

Of course, the episode - the entire story, really - would be over by now if the heroes weren't acting like complete dunderheads. The Doctor is especially dense, taking a loooonnnng time to figure out he's got an evil twin causing trouble. Romana is perhaps a little more justified in helping Meglos escape. And K9's batteries are still dead. He's useless. They're about as limp as the so-called "lethal" vegetation of the planet, which I think is something of an over-statement. Maybe the Savants are really wimpy and COULD die from exposure when the faithful sentence them to exile, but the killer plants really look more annoying than anything else when the Gaztaks or Romana are tangling with them. Perhaps Tom Baker doesn't notice his Doctor IS quite limp and passive because he gets to play Meglos too. Not a far cry from his Doctor, mind you, but openly megalomaniacal and of course, a lot creepier. I don't know if the "Earthling" trying to fission from him is meant to be actually happening or a visual representation of what's going on in Meglos' mind (in this era it could be either, though I suspect it'll be the least reasonable explanation), but it's a well-done effect with an effective mime component.

Lexa continues to be the most interesting character in the serial. Here she uses the theft of the Dodecahedron (no T Mat job, it's been shrunk and put in Meglos' pocket) to stage a religious coup on the scientist caste. Is it a political maneuver, or does she really believe "the god" took it away as punishment for the Tigellans' heresy? (I see the script can't quite agree as to whether the Deons are mono or polytheistic.) Little bit of column A, little bit of column B? Else why insist on sacrificing the Doctor? Dropping a big stone on him is a pretty gruesome means of sacrifice by the way, which Baker only mildly disarms with a humorous touch, blowing up at it to keep it up there. But while Jacqueline Hill's steady performance keeps her scenes afloat, I'm afraid there isn't much to recommend in the way of acting otherwise. Comely Savant Caris has a very scripted moment of existentialism when she realizes her entire culture is based on a McGuffin. The Gaztaks are almost at the point where they'll go "Arrr" like comedy pirates. And I take a short nap every time Zastor opens his mouth.

- I don't care if running around in circles is part of the point, it's boring as hell. And if it's not part of the point, that's even worse.



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