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2. Meglos
Writers: John Flanagan & Andrew McCulloch
Director: Terence Dudley
Script Editor: Christopher Bidmead
Producer: John Nathan-Turner

Synopsis: The Doctor is planning to visit a friend on the planet Tigella, where the main power source - an object known simply as the Dodecahedron - is beginning to fail. Two factions, the scientist Savants who believe it should be studied and the religious Deons who revere it as a sacred object, are coming into conflict, while at the same time Meglos, the last Zolfa-Thuran, is impersonating the Doctor and attempting to steal the device along with some less-than-reliable space pirates.

Review: "Meglos" is one of those fairly ho-hum serials that passes as filler but doesn't really distinguish itself. The philosophical conflicts between the Savants and the Deons on Tigella are mildly interesting, and I actually liked the sequence with the "chronic historesis," whereby the Doctor and Romana are forced to replay the same events over and over again until they devise a way to stop it. If nothing else, it takes advantage of the most unique element of the series' premise, i.e. time travel, rather than simply using it to land the Doctor in a more conventional sci-fi setting. But the script takes almost two entire episodes to get the Doctor and Romana involved in the story, and while the space pirates are sometimes amusing (especially the way Meglos enlists their help while clearly expecting that they might betray him, as indeed they attempt to do at one point), none of the guest characters are what I'd call standouts. And it's never exactly clear why the Doctor has to reprogram the Dodecahedron at the end to self-destruct - obviously he had to stop them from using it to destroy Tigella, but couldn't he have just shut it down rather than blowing up Meglos and the pirates (and potentially himself, Romana, and two of the Tigellans as well if they hadn't gotten back to the TARDIS in time)? Like its predecessor "The Leisure Hive," this one clocks in under the standard Doctor Who running time, so it's not as if they were short on time to explain things. And I hate to say it, but I wasn't that impressed with Tom Baker's performance as Meglos: even when he's alone with the pirates and doesn't have to keep up the ruse, he doesn't seem all that different from when he's playing the Doctor. That's not to say that his performance is bad, just unmemorable - rather like the serial itself.

Rating: **
1/2 (out of four)

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