Doctor Who #541: Meglos Part 4

"I'm just going outside for a little stroll to see if I can catch up with myself."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.18 1980.

IN THIS ONE... Lexa gets killed and it's back to Zolfa-Thura to blow up the death star for everyone else.

REVIEW: Less than 16 minutes of new material, and yet, there was call for so much more. Lexa's death, for example. Not only is her sacrifice unearned and needless, it's undramatic (a nameless Gaztak shoots her) and badly staged (did she take a bullet for Romana? I think so, but it's not made clear). Why did she have to die? No reason, because we're not given any indication of how losing their religious leader AND their holy artifact/sole power source will transform their society beyond "we're making a good start". For all the talk of lethal plants, it looks so easy in that brief epilogue. Similarly, the return of the Earthling is played as a joke, where the guy in the suit seems serious enough about staying on Tigella rather than return to his irrate wife. But the biggest waste of all is that the Doctor and Meglos finally meet, and just when it's getting interesting - the Doctor asking just what the big deal is about controlling the universe - Romana bursts in to rescue him (for the second time in the same episode). There isn't even a moment of confusion as to who's who. The episode, not unlike its audience, wants it to be over already.

I have to say, Meglos makes a more believable Doctor than the Doctor can double Meglos. Too genial. It does mean he gets to show off more wit than we've seen in a while, having that Gaztak lean on a giant screen to "hold it up", for example, and some of the amusing banter he throws at the double act. And after being rather dense in the previous episodes, it's good to see him catching on quickly to the fact Meglos got rid of the coat, though that does beg the question as to how Meglos created the coat in the first place (it was either part of himself or some illusion). But I'm done trying to figure out how Meglos' abilities work. In Part 4, he leaves the Earthling, turns into a gross crawling slug, and becomes a useless potted plant again. Why not stay mobile? As a big stiff cactus, he really doesn't have the opportunity to stop his makeshift Death Star weapon from destroying Zolfa-Thura (great design if those screens can focus the destructive energy at the planet they're on). Whatever.

And it's a whole episode of "whatever". Things happen with no explanation or reasoning, just like Lexa's death. There's a bit where K9 acts silly to distract a Gaztak so the Savants can hit the guard with a rock. The rock has no effect (weaklings), so K9 uses his nose laser on him. Why not zap him in the first place? He's clearly not trying to save his batteries because he then uses his laser to cut a huge hole in the Doctor's cell. Like I said, whatever. Should I get excited about that call from Gallifrey at the end? Nope, because I know they won't be going to Gallifrey for a couple years yet. So again...

The Target novelization has various little omissions and added details, the only important being the backstory and name (George Morris) given the Earthling.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - Every time I get interested in something, it is promptly ignored. What. Ever.

- Watched in one go, you don't notice the brevity of the episodes quite as much, and you're left appreciating Jacqueline Hill's return and maybe the goofiness of the villain. But I bet it won't be long before you're confusing elements of Meglos with elements of Frontios. I know I do all the time.


snell said...

Dude, Frontios is no Meglos...

Siskoid said...

But just as unmemorable.

What usually happens for me is that I take the best bits of Meglos (Jackie Hill, a Gaztak double act) and stick them in Frontios.

I also probably put stuff from The Twin Dilemma into Frontios, or vice-versa.

In a way, that's why I needed to make this pilgrimage, to get all that sorted out.

snell said...

I was very fond of Frontios...but then, it's been decades since I've seen it...

Siskoid said...

Less than a couple years for me, and still I can't really confirm anything that happens in it.


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