As fans, we long for every Doctor Who story to be a classic. The reality is that for every End of Time or Androzani you get the occasional Fear Her or Meglos. Good job then that we’ve got Fan Editing to try and make up the shortfall. Of course, you can’t turn a leaden script into TV gold, but you can do what you can to make each story as watchable as possible. Utimately, you`re trying to come up with a version that is actually enjoyable to watch and with this one, I think I might just have succeeded.
Meglos is a curious little clunker. Curious because it stands out like a sore thumb in Season 18 because it`s so very Season 17 and comes across as a script that was held over even though it wasn’t. Little because, apart from Part One, the rest of the episodes are really short, hovering around the 20 minute mark. And if you`ve ever seen it, the Clunker part needs no explanation! But a naff idea, a duff cast and a poor script pretty much sums it up. In DWM`s The Mighty 200 it came in at 188 [one place above The Horny Nimon, which I`ve also FE`d] but I`ve already done the story which came bottom of that poll and that turned out ok so there`s hope for this one too!
Meglos is one of those stories that you really have to be in the mood for; one of those ones that you watch with a drink, or after several drinks. Back in the day, I needed a drink myself after all the changes JNT had introduced with the preceding story The Leisure Hive. I was probably still too much in shock for the Stunt Casting of Jacqueline Hill to make much of an impression on me. And of course, it was after the TX of episode 4 that the news broke that Tom was offski.
Before I started I knew that all that Chronic Hysteria bollocks was the first thing that was going to be cut. That meant placing the emphasis in the story on Meglos instead of the Doctor. It`s always a good rule of thumb that the longer it takes the Doctor to get involved in the story, the worse that story will be. Well, much like Revelation of the Daleks, the Doctor doesn`t join the story until halfway through the second episode. So sticking with Meglos as much as possible made sense.
This approach at least let me keep most of the Gaztak sequences, which are at least honestly comedic as opposed to the Tigellans, who are cod trying to play straight. To be fair to the Tigellan actors though, their dialogue doesn`t really allow for any other approach. So we start with the Gaztaks arrival on Zolpha-Thura, only cutting away to the Tigellans when we have to. The arguing in the debating chamber scene sums up the entire Religion v Rationality conflict much better than any of the other scenes before it. I couldn’t not include Zastor`s “threads” comment as it`s the only memorable line in all four episodes.
The only other memorable bit of the story is that music cue where Meglos creeps about the Tigellan city. It was included on that “Dr Who – The Music” LP back in the early eighties and was one of four LPs every Who Fan had to own – Genesis, Pescatons & Sound Effects being the others. As a result, if you`re of a certain age, you`ll know it off by heart. That means you`ll notice that I`ve cut it down slightly as I couldn`t leave it out altogether but still wanted to tighten up that sequence to remove Tom`s rather naff reaction shots.
It took me a while to work out how to reorder the footage in that scene in order to make it work. Other places where footage has been moved about include the screen where the Chronic Hysterical Rectum plays out – I used a shorter loop – and the end where I radically reordered the material to improve things. I really wanted to avoid having to show a slimy bit of green carpet being pulled along on a string. But how else to convey the idea that Meglos is going back into his own body? The answer was to use a reverse of the initial sequence where Meglos takes over the Earthling so now the cactus re-inflates, giving the impression that Meglos has somehow transported himself back into his body.
Meglos will always be a clunker but this Fan Edit does improve things considerably. I`ve avoided all that Chronic Hysterectomy nonsense and a lot of the other padding in the story – which is why it comes out as our shortest Fan Edit yet at just over half an hour. Yes, exactly. There`s so little plot in these four episodes that you can cut the whole thing back to the equivalent of just one episode and lose nothing, not a bloody thing.
Flanagan & McCulloch never wrote for Doctor Who again. No surprise there. What is surprising is how the hell they managed it in the first place! I mean, I know they said they were desperate for scripts but what the hell was Bidmead thinking of? At least now it will only take you half an hour to watch Meglos and thanks to this Fan Edit it`s one episode that doesn`t take itself too seriously. Instead of four episodes that make you want to hide behind the sofa because they`re so bad!