Meglos

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110[1]Meglos
Doctor Who serial
Meglos.jpg
Meglos takes on the Doctor's form.
Cast
Others
Production
Writer John Flanagan and
Andrew McCulloch
Director Terence Dudley
Script editor Christopher H. Bidmead
Producer John Nathan-Turner
Executive producer(s) Barry Letts
Incidental music composer Paddy Kingsland (1)
Peter Howell (2-4)
Production code 5Q
Series Season 18
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Originally broadcast 27 September – 18 October 1980
Chronology
← Preceded by Followed by →
The Leisure Hive Full Circle

Meglos is the second serial of the 18th season in the science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in four weekly parts from 27 September to 18 October 1980.

Plot[edit]

The Prion star system contains two habitable planets which have supported civilisations: Zolfa-Thura, a desert world devoid seemingly of life structures bar five giant screens; and Tigella, a jungle world inhabited by the humanoid, white haired Tigellans. The structure of Tigellan society is based on two castes: the scientific Savants, led by the earnest Deedrix; and the religiously fanatical Deons, led by Lexa. The latter worship the Dodecahedron, a mysterious twelve-sided crystal which they see as a gift from the god Ti. The Savants, however, have utilised its power as an energy source for their entire civilisation. The planet’s leader, Zastor, mediates between the two factions, whose tensions have grown greater as the energy source has begun to fluctuate. When Zastor’s old friend the Fourth Doctor gets in touch, the weary leader invites him back to Tigella to investigate and help. When the Doctor, Romana and K-9 try to land the TARDIS on Tigella someone intervenes, trapping them in a time bubble known as a Chronic Hysteresis Loop, causing them to repeat a small "pocket of time" over and over again.

The culprit is Meglos, the last Zolfa-Thuran, a cactus creature who has remained hidden below the surface of his planet in a secret structure. He has summoned a band of ramshackle space pirates called Gaztaks to help him in an audacious plan, and their leaders Grugger and Brotadac are greedy enough to try. Meglos wants to steal the Dodecahedron back from Tigella, as it is a Zolfa-Thuran energy source of immense power. To aid him, Meglos uses an Earthling captured for him by the Gaztaks to occupy and take on humanoid form: and the humanoid form he chooses is the Doctor, whom he has trapped in the bubble. While the hysteresis persists Meglos gets the Gaztaks to take him to Tigella, and infiltrates the city in his new identity. Zastor greets “the Doctor” warmly as an old friend, asking him to examine the Dodecahedron, but others are less sure, especially Lexa.

The Doctor and Romana break out of the bubble by throwing it out of phase, and then land the TARDIS on Tigella – but in the middle of the hostile jungle rather than near the city. As the Doctor heads off to find Zastor, Romana stumbles across the dangerous vegetation – deadly bell plants – and then the Gaztaks, waiting patiently for Meglos to return to their spaceship. She gives them the slip after a while and heads off to the city herself.

Meglos has used his time as the Doctor to access and steal the Dodecahedron, shrinking it to minute size. Not all goes smoothly, however, as the Earthling fights back against his occupation, causing green cactus spikes to break out on his skin. When the Tigellans sound the alarm Meglos hides away but the real Doctor arrives at the same time and is accused of theft. His bewilderment and charm are little defence as both Savants and Deons start to panic as the energy levels of the city start to fail. Lexa uses the situation to her own ends. Zastor and Deedrix are arrested in a Deon coup, with other Savants expelled to the hostile surface of the planet, while the Doctor himself is prepared for sacrifice to Ti.

The doors of the city are sealed, with Meglos still trapped inside, with a hostage Savant named Caris for company. She soon gets the upper hand when the Earthling tries another bout of resistance. In a subsequent mix up Romana overpowers Caris, letting Meglos escape and reunite with the Gaztaks, who have staged an attack on the city to rescue him. The Dodecahedron is in his possession and the pirates soon blast off back to Zolfa-Thura – though three Gaztaks, half the crew, have been lost.

The real Doctor has by now been able to prove to the Tigellans he did not steal the artefact and there is a doppelgänger at work. Lexa realises her mistake but does not live long to regret it when she is shot dead by a wounded Gaztak who was left behind. The Doctor, Romana, Caris and Deedrix head with K9 for the TARDIS, determined to follow the Gaztak ship.

Grugger’s ship touches down on Zolfa-Thura and Meglos wastes no time in restoring the Dodecahedron to full size and placing it at a spot equidistant between the Screens. He reveals his race perished in a civil war over the control of the crystal, which can power a weapon strong enough to destroy planets. At Grugger’s urging Meglos decides to use the weapon again and to aim it at Tigella.

When the Doctor arrives he plays Meglos at his own game and tries a little impersonation. The situation becomes so confused the Gaztaks lose track of which one is which, enabling the Doctor to change the settings of the super-weapon. Meglos abandons the Earthling, leaving a bemused man watching a cactus creature reassert himself in his laboratory. Meglos knows the Doctor has realigned the weapon. The creature is unable to stop the Doctor fleeing back to the TARDIS, taking the Earthling with him, and is also unable to persuade Grugger not to fire the weapon. From the TARDIS the Doctor and his friends witness the destruction of Zolfa-Thura, the Gaztaks, Meglos and the Dodecahedron.

Caris and Deedrix return to rebuild Tigella, recognising with Zastor and the Deons that old enmities must be put aside and a new society forged. The Doctor and Romana depart and prepare to take the Earthling home, but as they are leaving Romana receives a message from the Time Lords that she must return to Gallifrey

Continuity[edit]

The Gaztaks reappear in the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures novel Warmonger by Terrance Dicks.

Production[edit]

Serial details by episode
Episode Broadcast date Run time Viewers
(in millions)
"Part One" 27 September 1980 (1980-09-27) 24:43 5.0
"Part Two" 4 October 1980 (1980-10-04) 21:24 4.2
"Part Three" 11 October 1980 (1980-10-11) 21:19 4.7
"Part Four" 18 October 1980 (1980-10-18) 19:30 4.7
[2][3][4]

This is the only time in the original run that a Doctor Who serial was televised with an eponymous title, (not including Marco Polo, which was never televised with that umbrella title). Working titles for this story included The Golden Pentangle and The Last Zolfa-Thuran. This is one of only two multi-part stories to feature all credited cast members in every episode, the other being The Edge of Destruction.[5]

This story features the only use in Doctor Who of a camera-linking system known as Scene-Sync that allowed the use of non-static shots of characters superimposed onto a miniature set. As the cameras on the actors were moved, the cameras on the miniature set moved the equivalent scaled amount automatically. The exact scale motion was achieved by trial and error, involving minute adjustments to the voltage delivered to the slave camera's motors. Part Four's closing theme was transposed to the lower key of the original theme music.

During production of this story, Madame Tussauds in London debuted the "Doctor Who Exhibition". Included were sculptures of both the Fourth Doctor and his Meglos doppelganger. As a result, Tom Baker is the only person to have appeared twice in the wax museum.

Cast notes[edit]

Jacqueline Hill, who played the First Doctor's companion Barbara Wright, makes a guest appearance as Lexa,[5] marking the first time a companion has returned to play a role other than their original character. Brotadac is an anagram of "Bad Actor",[6] an in-joke by the production team. Bill Fraser only agreed to take the role of Grugger on condition the character was allowed to kick K-9.[7] His request was granted. He later appeared in the spin-off pilot K-9 and Company

Commercial releases[edit]

In print[edit]

Doctor Who book
Book cover
Meglos
Series Target novelisations
Release number 75
Writer Terrance Dicks
Publisher Target Books
Cover artist Andrew Skilleter
ISBN 0-426-20136-1
Release date 5 May 1983

A novelisation of this serial, written by Terrance Dicks, was published by Target Books in February 1983. Dicks names Meglos' unfortunate human host and bookends the novel with his kidnapping and subsequent return to Earth. A French translation of the book was published in 1987.

Home media[edit]

Meglos was released on VHS in March 2003 and R2 DVD on 10 January 2011 and an R1 release occurred on 11 January 2011. In 2002, Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell's incidental music was released on the compilation album Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 4: Meglos & Full Circle. This serial was also released as part of the Doctor Who DVD Files in Issue 109 on 6 March 2013.

References[edit]

  1. ^ From the Doctor Who Magazine series overview, in issue 407 (pp26-29). The Discontinuity Guide, which counts the unbroadcast serial Shada, lists this as story number 111. Region 1 DVD releases follow The Discontinuity Guide numbering system.
  2. ^ Shaun Lyon et al. (31 March 2007). "Meglos". Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  3. ^ "Meglos". Doctor Who Reference Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Shannon (7 August 2007). "Meglos". A Brief History of Time Travel. Retrieved 30 August 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Howe, David J.; Walker, Stephen James (1998). "Meglos: Things to watch out for...". Doctor Who: The Television Companion. London: BBC Worldwide. p. 384. ISBN 0-563-40588-0. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Howe & Walker 1998, "Meglos: Analysis". p. 385. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  7. ^ Howe, David J.; Stammers, Mark; Walker, Stephen James (1992). Doctor Who The Handbook - The Fourth Doctor. London: Doctor Who Books. p. 131. ISBN 0-426-20369-0. 

External links[edit]

Reviews[edit]

Target novelisation[edit]