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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ thing of the day: Matt Smith could have fought a space cactus, you know

Not everyone was thrilled with every moment of Matt Smith’s debut season. But it could have been worse.

I still don’t know what the hell was going on in “The Lodger” — just who was trying to build a pseudo-TARDIS upstairs, anyway? — but I do now know one thing for sure: It wasn’t Meglos.

Consider yourself lucky if you don’t know who Meglos is. Suffice to say that the late Tom Baker era was not the best among the series’ history, and a demented megalomaniac cactus is not the finest or scariest villain the series has ever known.

What’s the bullet we dodged? The Coventry Telegraph’s Geek Files tells all:

Gareth Roberts told Doctor Who magazine that early drafts of the script for his episode The Lodger had included the villain.

Roberts told Doctor Who magazine: “I’d been joking about Meglos 2 for years and when I sat down to write the first draft [of The Lodger] it suddenly seemed right.

“Meglos survived in my script for quite a long while – but then we saw the [cactus-like] Vinvocci (pictured below) in The End of Time – and as the rest of the story was more comedic, we decided the villain had to be as scary as possible.”

*whew* Lucky break for us there.

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)



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  • Why does everyone have to put down series 18? JN-T’s first few series’ were great, but then it went down hill after that (especially when he was trying to be reassigned!)

    I don’t even think that Meglos was so bad – but then I’m an anti-vegetarian, so an intelligent cactus fits in perfectly with my views…

  • Erik

    The main reason I always put down season 18 is that JN-T did a fantastic job of taking the “fun” out of Doctor Who. He was so obsessed with making hard sci-fi, that the whole season just had a dour feel to it, for me at least. Add to that Tom just seeming tired and bringing in Adric, one of many horrible JN-T era companions, and I just don’t like much of it.

  • After seeing episodes of “The Horns of Nimon” and other dubious examples of the late pre-Turner era, it’s hard for me to believe that “Meglos” was that bad. Then again it has been a long time since I’ve seen the episode.

    Then again it’s hard to hate any episode that could inspire my local PBS folks to quip about how this week the Doctor was in a really prickly situation. Ok, that’s not exactly up there with the best of the Algonquin Roundtable but it beats quips about farting aliens and how short those darn Sontarans are…

  • gensing

    I knew Thurman Chang of Tek Jansen reminded me of something!

  • Jason

    Agreed, The Lodger was a bit nonsensical in places, but still very entertaining. Disagree about Season 18, though – I think Leisure Hive, Meglos, State of Decay, and Logopolis were very good.

  • Alice

    Are we re-examing the last season already? I’m glad. I was not impressed on the whole but I felt kind of alone on this site.

  • RogerBW

    Alice, I also rather lost interest after the Angels, and put in a couple of posts to that effect. But the consensus has definitely been positive, and I’m certainly not here to tell people not to enjoy things. (Goodness, I’m enjoying The Deep!)

  • Jim Mann

    Suffice to say that the late Tom Baker era was not the best among the series’ history…

    I haven’t seen a few of the later Tom Baker episodes in many years, but his final few seasons had several great episodes, particularly City of Death.

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