A sentient cactus possesses an accountant delivered by space pirates to impersonate The Doctor
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On the planet Tigella, a mysterious dodecahedron has divided the population into the religious Deons and the scientifically inclined Savants, both of whose future is under threat and both of whom rely on the object’s power to stay alive. Something’s going wrong, though, and thus the Savants summon Doc to help them work out what’s wrong with their energy source.
Doc and Romana meanwhile are still trying to repair K9 after his failed attempt to become a seafaring vessel when a sinister space cactus from Zolfa-Thura puts them in an allegedly inescapable time loop, assumes The Doctor’s identity and heads to Tigella to steal the dodecahedron for his own planet-destroying means.
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Oh blast, here we go again!
This is one of those stories that I honestly would never watch again if it had another actor playing the Doctor.
-Evil Tom Baker is always fun.
-The villain is a giant talking cactus.
-Sadly, the two Toms and the bonkers idea of a giant talking cactus that can change into a human are the only entertaining thing in this story.
-Barbara is back, but she’s not Barbara or interesting.
-Romana gets attacked by pathetic and cheap looking vegetation.
-Meglos could have picked any humanoid in the entire universe. So why does he pick up an Earthling from 1980 who looks like he was working at a bank?
-Unlike the last story the makeup on Tom Baker was not very good. You can see he is clearly wearing gloves in many shots.
-I honestly didn’t even care about anyone other than the Doctor, Romana, or K9.
Knowing that Tom Baker was very ill while filming this story (and pretty much the rest of the season) and still was excellent at playing two parts I’m going to be very generous and give it a 1 out of 5.
What an incredibly awesome episode! Jacqueline Hill returns and is totally enchanting. We get a double-dose of Tom. Zastor, Grugger and Brotadac hold their own. Romana once again proves she can outwit a band of brainless marauders. The concept is original and inspiring. The dialog is meaningful and thought-provoking. We get awesome pseudo-science. The sets are interesting, the costumes beautiful and makeup FX fantastique. The model composites are beautiful (wobbly take-offs notwithstanding). We also get triffids! And any power source modelled after a D-10 is okay in my RPG book.
On the other hand, what a crappy episode! It drags, and drags, and when it doesn’t, it drags. We get an earthling, because… why? Our villain is a cactus with a desk. And just what was his motivation again? We killed ourselves so now I’m mad at everyone else? Is this the motivation they modelled Niro after in Star Trek? It’s also sad that Meglos ACTS so much like the doctor, you know, that guy he never met? And did Doc just condemn a race to live on the surface of an in-hospitable violent plant world?
It’s major retro-rewrite time. Mr. prickles should just possess people using his mobile form to attack. Second, lose the irrelevant earthling. Third, before blowing up, let the screens fire at the planet carving away a good deal of plant life, saving the population. Fourth, Barbra kills meglos. Fifth, any action, please.
Doppleganger, nay. I dub thee, Fubar-ganger. Next time, weed killer for all. 2.2
This story is based around scientific smarty pants Savants, Dodecahedron devotees the Deons and a calculating cerebral cactus creature, Meglos, who plans to implant (sorry!) himself into Colin from accounting who has been brought along by yet more bumbling space bandits.
It’s great to have Jacqueline Hill back in Who and she’s great as Lexa, but it’s weird to have her in another role that’s not Barbara. Tom Baker is also brilliant playing both the Doctor and his doppelganger. Bill Fraser is good as General Grugger, Bill will later appear in the spin off K9 and Company. Zastor, sadly as a character isn’t great and you wonder how on earth he ever manged to become leader in the first place as he’s so wishy-washy. Zastor was played by Edward Underdown who was very ill whilst filming and could not take in any solids and arrangements were made so he could be fed by tube!! What an old pro! This was his last ever part, and he died in 1989
Some of the model work and effects are brilliant, and although sometimes it’s obvious it’s CSO I think they’re possibly the best so far in Doctor Who.
The Chronic Hysteresis is very similar to the time loop used in The Armageddon Factor.
Brotadac is an anagram of Bad Actor – a very tongue-in-cheek bit of fun at the shows expense and in no way a slight against the actor playing him (Frederick Treves)
The Tigellan guard’s helmets are very reminiscent of those worn by the Death Star gunners.
Colin/Meglos is very reminiscent of Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.
This is one of the more forgettable stories of the Tom Baker era, it’s just a little bit too silly without enough humour to redeem it. Although there’s some plus points it’s all a bit meh.
I award this story 2.5 dodecahedrons out of 5
Thanks be to Ti!
Summary: Not as naff as rumoured, and how can you not love an inanimate cactus villain.
Rating: 3.7/5 Dodecahedron non-believers crushed by a big stone by loony Barbara. Crunch!
This season 18 4 parter tries to tackle one of the most prolific themes in Sci-Fi; the conflict between Science, Religion and… cacti?
The story features some great elements, from Tom Baker in a double roll as both hero and villain, fantastic models and costumes, and the Doc and Romana Groundhog-daying around in the Tardis (if only Bill Murray knew he just needed to repeat his morning routine to get out)
The return of Jacqueline Hill was a welcome treat. Her performance in this story being reminiscent of Barbara’s time as Yetaxa in “The Aztecs”. An excellent reminder as to why the Hartnell era is my personal favourite.
The only real criticism is that the blue screen effects haven’t held up as well as it has in other stories, but the old Who adage still holds true: the story more than makes up for the effects!
Overall this story earns a score of 4 burgundy trench coats out of 5.
Longtime listener, first time reviewer,
Steven from Canada
Hey there podcast people
Great to be back in touch in these tricky times. I have finally caught up with my Who marathon and can provide my reviews again. Hope you are doing well. Here goes with Meglos
I love Meglos and I love S18 in general. Disclaimer: this is the season I watched when I was introduced to Doctor Who as a wee nipper so I will most likely be biased in my reviews on this season. I love the atmosphere of S18 and the focus on science, possibly a move towards more serious stories based on science. The incidental music in this period is mega atmospheric and continues on into Davidson. In reality Meglos is a so-so story, but fun not the less, In terms of the look of it I think the model work is quite nice, particularly the dodecahedron. In fact the sets are great for this period. There’s some interesting costumes including those weird haircuts for the characters with the blond wigs on. Also the standard bungling robber guys who look similar to those in the Ribos Operation – served a purpose plot wise I guess.
It’s a bizarre story but I kind of like the bizzarity of it. The suit guy who turns up at the start and proceeds to get tortured and turned into a cactus, is a strange addition to the story, I’m wondering what the thinking was behind that – didn’t seem to add anything. And then you get the weird talking cactus. Barbara’s return was epic but unfortunately she didn’t then return as a companion. Also the (now quite common) depiction of an alternative evil version of the doc shows greater depth of Bakers acting skills demonstrated.
So all in all as mentioned you will get massively biased scores from me this season, purely because of the nostalgia factor. It’s a maligned story in fandom apparently but I love it so even though it is so so I’m giving it a 3.3