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