19 January 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 10th January 2011

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 19th January 2011

Meglos, despite some of its negative points, is, in essence, a Doctor Who story that was before its time. It is a story that, at its heart, deals with the struggle between religion and science.

As a viewer, you can't help feeling a struggle off-screen as well. You almost feel the tug of war between the writers, the script editor and the director, as they fight it out to gain their own narrative. And what we're left with, through sheer luck, is a melding of the three, that essentially benefits the story in a way that no single party could have done on their own.

Once you get past the dodgy wigs, and the tiresome time loop scenes, there are many elements that make this a rather enjoyable story.

Tom Baker, nearing the end of his tenure as The Doctor, puts in a sterling performance as Meglos, not to mention the welcome return of Jacqueline Hill as Lexa who bookends her Doctor Who career here. 

Then there is the truly fantastic make-up which makes the characterisation of Meglos even more villainous and believable. There are also some great FX shots in the story, combined with highly detailed models, that work together using the new Scene Sync technology - yet another example of the story being ahead of its time.

The DVD is rounded off with some excellent features that compliment the story.

The 'Commentary' features Lalla Ward (Romana II), John Flanagan (Writer), Christopher Owen (Earthling / Meglos) and Paddy Kingsland (Composer). John and Lalla seem to take turns guiding, but understandably, Christopher Owen tends to get lost in the background, and doesn't really seem to contribute much until the final episode. Peter Howell (Composer) joins the commentary for Episode Three and offers an insight into some of his cues, as well as providing a refreshing critique to his own work. All in all, a fairly run of the mill commentary, that could have really benefited from Tom Baker's presence.

'Meglos Men'  is an 18-minute documentary that follows Writers; Andy McCulloch and John Flanagan as they retrace their steps into the past, into the genesis of Meglos. Checking out their old haunts, through to a modern-day meeting with Script Editor; Christopher H. Bidmead.

It's a fantastic little feature that is written, produced and directed by the fabulous Chris Chapman, who has risen the calibre of Doctor Who DVD documentaries to a whole new level.

'The Scene Sync Story' looks at how the pitfalls and limitations of Chroma Key gave way to research into the newly discovered Scene Sync technology - a process that ties two cameras together to pan in unison. 

The eye-opening documentary shows us how Meglos was a test run for the process, which has evolved and can now be seen in many modern day film and television productions. The feature includes Interviews with Peter Leverick and Roger Bunce (Cameramen) and Stephen Drewett (Visual Effects Designer).

'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' looks at the life of Doctor Who Actress, Jacqueline Hill (Barbara, Lexa). It's a wonderful tribute to the woman whom we all know from Doctor Who, but paints the wider, and to most of us, unknown picture of her life through to her untimely death. It was surprising to learn that Jacqueline was responsible for Sean Connery getting his first leading role, thanks to a suggestion to her Director husband, Alvin Rakoff. The feature includes interviews with William Russell (Actor), Verity Lambert (Producer), Alvin Rakoff (Director / Husband) and Ann Davies (Friend / Actress).

'Entropy Explained' is presented by Dr. Phillip Trowoga from the University of Westminster, and takes a scientific look at the running theme through Season 18 of Doctor Who - Entropy; the measure of disorder of a system. Picking through the laws of thermodynamics, it breaks down the technical speech into easy to understand explanations and situations.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' features The Mutants, and isn't as well put together as previous trailers, too many fast cuts and no real energy behind the trailer music leads to it failing to really sell the story.

As with previous releases, there are the usual 'Radio Times Billings', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Information Subtitles', as well as an 'Easter Egg' that gives us a clean version of the final Fourth Doctor title sequence.

The extra content that we have here, is certainly of a high quality, but going on past form, it does feel a little feature-light. It was surprising to find no feature on the stunning make-up that gave this story such a visual impact, and Tom Baker's involvement, apart from the story itself is non-existent - despite being a Baker-heavy serial.

It is most definitely worth its retail price, with both 'Meglos Men' and 'Jacqueline Hill: A Life in Pictures' taking the main stage.

 

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