Doctor Who – Meglos

Doctor Who - Meglos
Doctor Who – Meglos

“Meglos” is an adventure of the eighteenth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired in 1980. It follows “The Leisure Hive” and it’s a four parts adventure written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch and directed by Terence Dudley.

The story

The civilization on the planet Tigella is in danger: the survivors live underground exploiting the energy of the Dodecahedron but it started fluctuating. The tensions between the scientists faction and the religious faction increase the problems and the leader Zastor hopes for a solution from an old acquaintance, the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), who’s arriving together with Romana II (Lalla Ward).

Meglos is an intelligent plant that remained hidden under the surface of the planet Zolfa-Thura, Tigella’s neighbor. Now he intends to use a group of space pirates to go to Tigella to get the Dodecahedron and use it for his purposes.


This DVD edition has a good amount of extras. There are typical contents such as production subtitles, a gallery of pictures from this adventure, the Radio Times Billings and a promo of the “Doctor Who” DVDs soon to be published.

There are various comments in the adventure episodes alternative audio track by its protagonist Lalla Ward, authors John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch, actor Christopher Owen and composers Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell.

Meglos Men. Authors John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch revisit the creation of this adventure.

The Scene Sync Story. A short documentary on the experiment with the new version of the CSO technique.

Jacqueline Hill – A Life in Pictures. A tribute to the actress Jacqueline Hill.

Entropy Explained. A short physics lesson connected to some “Doctor Who” adventures.

Isolated Score. The option to watch this adventure with the isolated soundtrack.

Andrew McCulloch was an actor who started a parallel career as a screenwriter with his colleague John Flanagan and, thanks to the fact that he knew the “Doctor Who” script editor Christopher H Bidmead, the two of them came into contact with the show’s production and were commissioned to write the script that became “Meglos”.

Terence Dudley was chosen as the director of this serial and in casting the actors he took into account the fact that Jacqueline Hill, who was married to a colleague, wanted to return to acting after spending years raising her children. Producer John Nathan-Turner never missed a chance to get extra publicity for the show and having the actress who played one of the Doctor’s first companions would have brought a lot of it so he approved that choice.

In a production often penalized by the tight budget and the lack of time available, a positive news came from the possibility of experimenting with a more advanced version of the CSO (Color Separation Overlay) technique already used several times in previous serials without additional costs. At the BBC they wanted to verify the possibility of having an increase of flexibility in combining images thanks to a greater mobility for the cameras compared to the version in use at the time and a “Doctor Who” serial seemed an excellent test.

The plot of “Meglos” has some interesting ideas but it also has several problems, made worse by production errors such as some characters that at a certain point get killed but one or two of them appear in subsequent scenes. The civilization on the planet Tigella is in decline and the survivors living underground are divided into two factions, one that follows the use of science and technology and a religious one, but their contrast is functional to the plot without offering insights. In the first episode the Doctor and Romana are imprisoned in a time loop but it seems that it’s possible to cheat time to get out of it.

For a serial of four episodes there’s far too much padding. The episodes are shorter than normal and yet they needed to add some scenes to fill some time. That time, and more minutes, could have been used to better develop what lies behind the history of the planets Tigella and Zolfa-Thura and the important characters.

I suspect that the cast also suffered from the situation offering not really memorable performances as a consequence. Tom Baker tries to carry the adventure on his shoulders with the help of Lalla Ward and little else but it seems to me an impossible mission case in which the actors had little to work with.

Experimenting with the new version of CSO made it possible to shoot some scenes that have special effects above the average of the classic “Doctor Who” series. On the other hand, there are also sets such as the one that reproduces Tigella’s jungle that seems of inferior quality compared to other similar sets seen in previous adventures.

Overall, “Meglos” seems to me one of those adventures of the classic “Doctor Who” series hastily produced because there was time available. The consequence is that the potential of the story was exploited only a little and there were production problems that made the result worse. Even the DVD edition seems to suffer from those shortcomings, in particular in the documentary on the production that is typically included, which in this case is about the authors’ memories and very little else. In essence, it seems to me a product for fans who want to have the complete collection of “Doctor Who” DVDs. You might also decide to buy it as part of season 18 (Tom Baker’s season 7) boxset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *