Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Doctor Who Review: Meglos

This week's Doctor Who, The Rebel Flesh, was the first part of a two part story. And that means I haven't got the whole story yet. I thought week's was alright, but what if next week's is fantastic, then the whole story will be better or if it's awful the opposite. Although they're on two seperate weeks, they are one story, so I don't want to review half. I wouldn't review half of a film, so why do it with this. So next week find out what I think of the story.

But of course I couldn't leave you with nothing this week. So I trawled the archives of my big box of videos and came up with a classic Doctor Who with a tenuous link to this week's. I say classic, because it's from the original run of Doctor Who, not because of the quality, because well, I'm about to explain. So lets have a look at Meglos, another story where there's someone who looks like the Doctor but with a weird alien twist.
Yes. I know this is the least convincing connection ever. I don't care.

This is a classic Who, so it's split into 4 parts, each lasting 25 minutes. It's a Fourth Doctor story, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor, Lalla Ward as his companion Romana, and it has K-9 in it.

Part 1
The episode starts with a thrilling piece of techobabble between the Doctor and Romana while fixing K-9. Then it cuts to a group of people, from a planet called Tigella, we don't know and they spout exposition and then have a religious debate. In a third so far unconnected story some space pirates bring a man to an alien planet where he merges with a cactus, and reveals himself as title character, Meglos. The Tigellans call for the Doctor to help them mediate their debate, Meglos finds out and traps the Doctor in a "Chronic Hysterisis". Then he turns into a double of the Doctor.

I've just summed up 25 minutes in just over a hundred words. And I've not missed anything out. Almost nothing happens in this episode they just talk to each other explain things they should already know so the audience knows what's going on. But as almost nothing happens. We don't care. The Tigellans are in three groups, agressive scientists, who are right but conpletely unlikable, religious fantatics, who are portrayed like fundamental creationists, so also unlikable, and one old guy who's in charge of both groups, but refuses to make any decisions or do anything interesting. The space pirates are stereotypical pirates, but also somehow dull. And the Doctor and Romana do literally nothing at all, until they get caught in the "Chronic Hysterisis" which is a unneccesary complicated way of saying time loop. And this timeloop means they just show the same 30 seconds of film over and over again, further padding out a completely actionless episode. Oh, and the Doctor already knowing the Tigellans so they can call him for help is just lazy writing to allow the plot to continue.
And they all have ridiculous costumes.
Part 2
Meglos disguised as the Doctor travels to Tigella with the pirates and meets the Tigellans. He acts unbelievably suspiciously, not recognising a man the Doctor knows, not knowing his way round a place he's been before and asking to view the Tigellans power soure, the Dodecahedron, on his own with some bullshit reason that he says only a Timelord could understand. But for some reason, no-one seems to think the slightest thing is wrong and are all shocked when he steals the Dodecahedron. Because... they're stupid? The Doctor meanwhile in trapped in a timeloop where the same 30 seconds is still repeating and there's also an extra bit of time after each loop where he and Romana discuss the situation. Why is there extra time? Because according to Meglos that's how long it takes for the loop to restart. Which doesn't make sense. Him and Romana then escape the timeloop by repeating their actions from within the loop in their extra time. And that works because... it's never explained. And they don't even repeat the exact actions, they get it really wrong, but it still works because... it's never explained.

The Doctor arrives on Tigella and Romana gets attacked by a plant because they needed to seperate her and the Doctor somehow for plot purposes. K-9 runs out of battery, so he can get put out of the way too. The Doctor gets captured because the Tigellans think he's Meglos and Meglos now looks like a cross between the Doctor and a cactus, because... the audience need to tell the two Doctors apart? Then Romana gets cornered by the pirates and they decide to kill her. Cue credits. So, more happened here, but it was still incredibly padded out with unneccesary rubbish. And the things that did happen made no sense.
I challenge anyone to explain the timeloop escape. It make literally no sense.
Part 3
The pattern of stuff happening, but nothing really mattering or making sense continues. Romana isn't killed for very flimsy reasons, and she leads the pirates round in circles til they meet the plot-convenience plants and she escapes. Meglos meets a Tigellan but instead of her screaming or shooting him or anything sensible, she leads him to the exit then gets knocked out by Romana who thinks Meglos is the Doctor. Meanwhile the Doctor is with the Tigellans when the religious nuts take over the city off screen, because it was clearly too exciting for this story. K-9 does nothing, just gets carried around. Meglos has made the dodecahedron tiny so he could steal it and meets the piratesand they all fly away in their spaceship while he manages to make the grand reveal of the tiny dodecahedron twice in the space of 5 minutes to the same group of people. Which, doesn't make sense. And then the religious nuts decide to execute the Doctor by dropping a huge rock on him. Dun dun dun.
Because this is clearly the most practical way to sacrifice.

Part 4
Romana and the dull old man run in and tell the religious nuts that they've seen Meglos. And for some reason this immediately convices them and they release the Doctor. Then the Doctor heads to the Tardis and the leader of the religion gets shot by pirate to save Romana, because... the writers wanted her redeemed? She was played by an old Doctor Who companion so they gave her a big exit? Well who cares because she's forgotten immediately and never mentioned again. The Doctor then follows the pirates to Meglos's base which turns out to be a superweapon and there's a long 30 second reveal of it even though it's not a good model and we saw it in part 1 so it's hardly a surprise. So that's pointless. Meglos plans to destroy Tigella and the Doctor arrives to stop him. There's a bit of them pretending to be each other which is too complex for me to explain here, but they end up betrayed by the pirates and locked in the pirate's ship's brig. Romana arrives to rescue them and you expect the 'which one is the real one' routine, but no. Meglos immediately reveals he's Meglos, and seperates into the cactus and human again. The human, the Doctor and friends all run away in the Tardis and it turns out the Doctor's rigged the superweapon to explode taking Meglos and the pirate with it. Because the Doctor always blows people up. He doesn't try and make peaceful solutions at all.

But the Tardis doesn't seem to be taking off, can they escape before the countdown ends? Of course they do. That was terrible false tension. The weapon explodes. Then suddenly we cut to the Doctor getting thanked on Tigella. He blew up the dodecahedron, their only power source so now they have to live in an area with killer plants, but thats ok. Apparently. I'm not sure why this isn't a major problem, but apparently it's not, because the Doctor's recieved a message and has to leave. So he takes the human back home telling him "you'll be back before you left!" and the story ends on the man looking puzzled. Which is surprisingly suitable for my views on this episode.

For the most part nothing happens in Meglos, and when it does none of it makes sense. The acting and script are simultaneously dull, bland and completely nonsensical. There are fun moments and Tom Baker is clearly enjoying himself, but it doesn't save this poor story.
And it has some really terrible bluescreen.


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