Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Doctor Who: Meglos / The Dominators

Before moving on to reviewing these serials, it’s worth taking some time out to talk about where the classic Doctor Who video range is at the moment here in the States. For the first time in all the years these DVDs have been coming out, we’re finally getting releases very close to day-and-date with the U.K. “Meglos” is the first such release in the U.S.; the release date for it is January 11th here, while in the U.K. it came out on the 10th. Why it’s taken ten years for this to happen is beyond me, but it’s a welcome development nevertheless, especially for fans that enjoy discussing these discs on internet message boards and the like, because they don’t have to feel out of the loop. It was always irritating to read about a particularly cool U.K. release, knowing that it was going to take six months or more for it to come out stateside. Not so anymore, although the plan hasn’t been perfected yet, as the upcoming releases of “Kinda” and “Snakedance” will have a one-month lag between the U.K. and U.S. release dates (March across the pond; April here).

What this also means is that there will be no shortage of classic Who discs this year, because in addition to the newest releases, here in the States we’re still behind on some half dozen or more discs, so we need to catch up on those as well (this month’s catch up title is “The Dominators”). For at least the first half of the year, every month we should be getting no less than two releases. So if you’re someone who collects all of these, you’d better start pinching some pennies. On the other hand, if you’re someone who just wants to pick up the best titles, I’ll be here, throwing out lofty opinions to aid you in your purchasing decisions. Another nice new addition to the range is the recently unveiled BBC Classic Doctor Who Channel on YouTube, which will be updated periodically with clips from past, current and upcoming DVDs. Be sure to add it your Favorites.

So while this is all great news, it’s something of a shame a better title couldn’t have been used to kick this whole thing off. “Meglos” is from Tom Baker’s last season as the Doctor, and its release completes Season 18 as well. Season 18 –John Nathan-Turner’s first as producer and Christopher H. Bidmead’s first and only as script editor – was designed to have a harder sci-fi edge to it, as well as pulling back on much of the comedy that had been prevalent in previous seasons. Having written before about the beauty of Season 18, I won’t go down that road again, except to say that “Meglos” isn’t up to the same level of quality as the other six stories from that block. In fact, in many ways the script feels like a leftover from Season 17, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that the entire feel and approach of Season 18 was fresh and new. As a result, “Meglos” is a story pulling in opposite directions.

Read the rest of the DVD review for "Meglos," as well as the Patrick Troughton tale "The Dominators" by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.