Monday, 30 March 2015


On the outside Meglos seems like a bit of a setback after the Movie-stylings of The Leisure Hive but take a deeper look and it's actually a more old fashioned Doctor Who Story.Considering that the Villain of the story is a talking cacti, hell bent on conquering the universe, one might assume that Meglos would have fitted in better in the more humorous season 17 (Melgos was apart of Tom Bakers last season as The Doctor which was season 18) but Meglos manages to retain an air of seriousness thanks to the performances of Tom Baker. In Meglos he plays both The Doctor and Meglos. Former Doctor Who regular Jacqueline Hill, who played companion Barbara Wright in the first two seasons in the shows history, in Meglos she plays a character called Lexa. Now I know what you're thinking, a talking cactus and a band of space pirates for villains what were the writers thinking! What's actually quite funny is the fact that the idea for Meglos (the cactus) came from the two writers of the story just looking at their rather sad looking cactus which was situated on their kitchen table (talk about mad sources of inspiration!) As for the space pirates which were called Gaztaks, they just came from the writers not wanting to feature in their story the usual run of the mill uniform villains, so they had the Gaztaks wear cloths from the many different planets that the Gaztaks had been to and pillaged and were actually more like mercenaries than pirates, although I suppose they were a bit of both.

Okay lets get into actually talking about the story and my views on Meglos. It's interesting that with Meglos, The Doctor, Romana and K-9 don't arrive on Tigella until almost twelve minutes into the second episode of this four part story because of a trap employed by Meglos to keep The Doctor stuck in a time loop. That's just about more or less thirty-two minutes of the story  gone and they're only just arriving, I thought that was an odd choice story wise when I re-watched Meglos a couple of days ago, but it did allow the supporting characters in the story to be established, so when The Doctor Roman and K-9 do arrive, the story can start to really get moving. One of the grievances I have with Meglos is that to be honest it is a little slow, whereas the story before this one "The Leisure Hive" was a lot more pacy and I just feel like the plot for Meglos could have been a little quicker and not as slow. Personally I think Meglos could have made a decent three-parter or maybe they could have edited parts one and two together and parts three and four together but I suppose we'll never know if either of those ideas would have worked.

With Tom Bakers dual performance as Meglos in Meglos was awesome because even just the look in his eyes when he's acting as Meglos as opposed to when he's playing The Doctor lets you know that this is someone else. My oldest memory of this particular Doctor Who story is The Doctor and Melgos (Looking like The Doctor) being in the same room and wondering just how that was done, I thought that bit was brilliant. The spiky make-up that they use on Tom Baker for the scenes where Meglos is losing his grip on his earthling host and Meglos starts to shift between looking like The Doctor and a spiky cactus version of The Doctor, I would have liked to have seen more of that because that make-up effect was really cool. That does however touch on a bit of the plot that is a bit weird, why did Meglos need a human host? why not get the Gaztaks to capture a Tigellan instead? it does seem a little odd! at the heart of this story it is science versus religion with science obviously wining hands down and I think it worked for this story to be about science versus religion and a dying city. The first time round I watched Meglos was on T.V across four days when I was ten years old and I enjoyed it, but look back on it today as a twenty-one year old I can't help but feel a little disappointed, I not saying it's awful or that there isn't stuff in it that I really like, it's just that I can't help wondering if it couldn't been done better.

My next post will be on State of Decay. I only saw parts one and two of Full Circle and with Warrior's Gate I'm pretty sure I only saw the first part but I can remember seeing all of State of Decay the first time round I started watching Doctor Who, so that's why I'm be looking at State of Decay next.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Leisure Hive: Reptile gangsters and a holiday for The Doctor and Romana

When I first saw The Leisure Hive it was a bit of a shock that the opening title sequence for Doctor Who was different, even the theme tune had been given a shake up, but you could still tell that it was the Doctor Who theme tune. That was and still is my overriding memory of The Leisure Hive, the fact that it was so different in its feel, to any Doctor Who story that I had seen before. The incidental music had a different feel to it, the tone was different, it was more serious, less jokey then the last three Doctor Who stories that I had seen (The Creature from the Pit, Nightmare of Eden and The Horns of Nimon). And in retrospect I can see that the science has a more plausible feel about it. The Doctor's clothes had also been changed, (luckily the scarf was still there!) At the start of this story is a long opening shot where the camera pans along Brighton Beach for a good solid two or three minutes until you arrive at The Doctor, sitting on a deck chair. Even though that sequence was (I think) too long, it did set a nice feel to the first part of this four parter. Once the story shifts to the planet Argolis (which 99% or 98% of the story, I'd say takes place at) the story begins to develop into almost a gangster movie, with the Foamasi being used very much like the marfia, with there being underground Foamasi criminal gangs with The West Lodge being the main one. It's not stated if there are other Foamasi criminal groups. The Foamasi are a species of intelligent reptiles while the other main alien race in The Leisure Hive, the Argolins, who are an intelligent plant based life form. 

The director of The Leisure Hive, Lovett Bickford's choice to shoot the story using single camera techniques,as opposed to using the more common multi-camera shooting style of the time, was a good choice because it made the story feel more filmic and it also made up for any faults in the design and construction of the Foamasi costumes. It did cause The Leisure Hive to go over it's budget, which is possibly why Lovett Bickford was never asked to come back to direct another Doctor Who story. I'm now going to focus on Tom Baker and Lalla Wards performances in The Leisure Hive. I think Tom Baker gives a first rate performance in The Leisure Hive, in this story The Doctor is a lot more sombre then he has been for the last four stories, in fact I hadn't seen The Doctor this serious since The Stones of Blood. I think that Tom Baker particularly did a great job of performing the scenes when The Doctor ages several hundred years, (I wont say how he gets back to looking like his old self in case you haven't seen the story before!) he makes it totally believable that The Doctor has aged several hundred years and makes you suspend your disbelief that it's just make-up. With Lalla Ward I felt that her acting was back to the standard that she showed back in City of Death. Lalla Ward is brilliant as Romana in The Leisure Hive, I really feel like we're reminded in this story that The Doctor and Romana are almost equal in their scientific knowledge, with Romana sometimes proving to be smarter in some areas and it's all because of Lalla Wards acting ability. I've chosen to not go too in depth in to the stories plot because I don't want to give all of what happens in The Leisure Hive away. On the whole I can remember liking The Leisure Hive the first time I saw it and I still do, if I had to give The Leisure Hive an out of ten score, I would give it a 6 out of 10. although I do think that it did have too much music.

My next blog post will be on Meglos

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Horns of Nimon

The Horns of Nimon was the last Doctor Who story to be script edited by Douglas Adams, and the last to be produced by Graham Williams. It’s a shame that given that the first two seasons of Doctor Who that Graham Williams had produced had been so good that his time as producer had to end with a story like this one. The Horns of Nimon is one of those Doctor Who stories where if you were to look at it just from the point of view of what had been written, the ideas, the dialogue, not the visuals then it would have come across as a good story. If you then look at the finished production your view of The Horns of Nimon would probably drop. One of the things that Doctor Who was criticised for at the time that The Horns of Nimon was made, is school boy level humour. While its true that season 17 had its fair share of humour, the season 17 story that seemed to have the most was The Horns of Nimon. The main contributors of this when watching it are clearly Graham Crowden who played Soldeed and Tom Baker. Graham Crowden is incredibly funny in some scenes in The Horns of Nimon and incredibly bumbling in others. With Soldeed, you clearly have a villain who is a genius scientist but is also a lunatic underneath it all. Particularly when in Part 4 of The Horns of Nimon when Soldeed's plan to restore the Skonnos empire to its former glory falls to pieces because the Nimon have deceived him and he ends up being reduced to this insane, hysterical mess, its really funny when Soldeed looses it. With Tom Baker its feels like when he got his hands on the script for The Horns of Nimon that he didn't think to much of it and watching The Horns of Nimon its clear that the two reasons that he puts as much humour as he does into the story is because one he doesn't much of the script for The Horns of Nimon and two because he's clearly trying to improve what he had to work with in the script by putting more humour into it but at the same time as that it's also clear in this story that The Doctor uses humour in The Horns of Nimon link he does in City of Death, as a ploy to put his enemies off guard. Lalla Ward has a lot more to do than in other stories in season 17 and that was written in on purpose because the writer Anthony Read felt that the writers hadn't been making the best use of the character and Anthony Read also felt that Tom Baker would feel thankful that he wouldn't have to be in every scene. Now lets talk about the Nimon themselves, I loved the masks, which where very good. I really liked their voices which I felt, and still feel are really effective, I'd love it if their look was updated and they were brought back in the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi's era. I had mixed feelings when I first saw The Horns of Nimon and still do now, there are things about it that I like and things about it that I don't like, on the whole it's an okay, fun story and is a better story than people make it out to be, not 10 out of 10 better but a 4.5 or 5 out of 10 I'd say.

Nightmare of Eden

I remember really enjoying "Nightmare of Eden" the first time I saw it, but you can’t help but see where in certain sequences the production of Nightmare of Eden could have been a lot better. The first thing that stands out are the spaceship model shot sequences which were shot on video over the course of two hours in a single day, but should have been shot on film, which would have taken four days. If they had shot it on Film like it normally was it would have looked a lot better. Problem number two would have to be Nightmare of Eden's monsters, the Mandrels. They're supposed to be terrifying and yet they look (as others have pointed out in the past!) like cute rejects from The Muppet Show. They look good in the Jungle where you can only see the shape of a Mandrel and its glowing eyes, but as soon as you move them to the ship where everything is flood lit, the Mandrels loose any scariness they might have had and end up just coming across as a bit of a laugh! On a better note however, one of the better effects of the story was when one of the Mandrels broke back down into the drug substance that the creatures were made up of in the story. To achieve the effect of the Mandrel braking down into the drug, a Mandrel costume was recreated using brittle foam and covered bits of it in latex, and had all of it attached to pulling wires and they then pulled it inwards and at the same time they were pumping smoke through it. When they finished the effect with a roll-back and mix, while putting in some more dust and the finished effect is probably the best effect in the story. When watching "Nightmare of Eden" it’s clear that the writer Bob Baker had thoroughly researched his ideas behind his script for "Nightmare of Eden", namely drugs and the scientific ideas behind the C.E.T machine (The Continuous Event Transmuter). The acting could have been better namely Lewis Fiander who played the character Tryst, he really could have done without the accent he chose to put on for the character and the square sun glasses. On the whole I still find Nightmare of Eden surprisingly enjoyable despite its flaws; it’s definitely not as bad as The Creature from the pit that's for sure.