This four-part story, which ran from 27 September to 18 October, 1980 was written by John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch. It has some unique attributes, including Jacqueline Hill, who played Barbara a travelling companion of the first Doctor, returning as one of the inhabitants of Tigella, and it affords Baker the opportunity to play both the Doctor and a villain.
A powerful and mysterious artifact, the Dodecahedron, which powers the entire planet of Tigella is the center of a divisive issue, between the planet’s inhabitants, the Savants and the Deons.
The planet’s leader, Zastor (Edward Underdown), wants the Doctor’s help but both the Time Lord and Romana (Lalla Ward) are stuck aboard the TARDIS in a time loop created by Meglos, a plant based life form – a cactus – (voiced by Crawford Logan), a Zolpha Thuran who wants to steal the Dodecahedron.
While the Doctor and Romana repair K9 after his water incident in the previous story, the TARDIS hovers near Tigella, and Zastor asks his old friend, the Doctor, to come and help settle the planetary dispute.
I will say this, some of the cheap effects in this story work, and some are simply terrible.
Meglos takes on the form of the Doctor, allowing Baker the chance to be a bit of an evil megalomaniac, as he tries to steal the Dodecahedron. This allows the series a rather iconic look of the Doctor with spines projecting from him, like a humanoid cacti, but beyond that, I honestly didn’t find anything exciting, or engaging about the story.
I was only truly intrigued by the last few minutes of the episode when Romana tells the Doctor that they are needed back on Gallifrey.
I do hope that the rest of the stories in this last season for Baker are better than this one because it wouldn’t be the best way to send him off before his regeneration.
There could have been a lot more to this story than what was done and given, and of course the formula that seems to play through almost all of these older Doctor Who stories is all here, our heroes captured on one side, then the other, learning and putting stuff together, recaptured, recycle, repeat.
It’s very clear that the Doctor, the series and the actor, needs a shot in the arm, and I’m afraid it isn’t going to happen for quite some time.
I don’t think I’m tired of the universe, or the character, but the stories and concept needs more. We know that things shake up when the series returns in 2005, but right now, it feels stagnant.
I do hope there are some amazing stories coming up, actually I know there is, but right now, the series is not what it could or should be.
Next week, when they try to return to Gallifrey, things come Full Circle.