DVD Review: Doctor Who – Meglos

★★★★★

He’s back, and it’s about cacti! Tom Baker’s Doctor faces a fiendish alien foe in this 1980 adventure which sees a household plant attempt to conquer the universe on a BBC budget.

Arriving on the planet Tigella, the Doctor, Romana (Lalla Ward) and K9 visit an old friend of the Time Lord’s, a scientist who is facing a constant battle against the planet’s religious group, the Deons led by Lexa (Jacqueline Hill). Complicating matters is the appearance of the evil Meglos, a cactus-like creature who joins forces with a group of mercenaries to steal the Tigellan’s energy source, while disguised as the Doctor himself…

Meglos cover

Boasting typically enthusiastic performances from Baker and Ward, Meglos sadly it isn’t the most engaging of stories, with little thought given to the real reasons behind the enemy’s grand plans and a need to pad out the four episodes with lots of running around a forest.

The debates between science and religion are interesting enough, and it’s good to see former First Doctor companion Jacqueline Hill back in the series, but the dialogue isn’t the most exciting and its delivered with little conviction from the actors involved.

Saved by Baker’s presence and some light relief from Bill Fraser as Grugger, this is a rather workmanlike story sandwiched between the much more enjoyable Leisure Hive and E-Space Trilogy.

The extras on this single disc set more than make up for the stories weaknesses, with Lalla Ward leading the commentary alongside actor Christopher Owen, co-writer John Flanagan and composers Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell.

There’s also an interesting documentary featuring Meglos writers Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch, who take a tour of their old London haunts which inspired the writing of the story. The Scene Sync is another documentary which looks at the technical aspects of the adventure, while Jacqueline Hill – A Life in Pictures is a touching remembrance of one of the people who played such an important part in the programme’s early days.

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