Saturday, 28 April 2018


And so, at last, we reach Number One. Unlike other countdowns, you haven't been able to use a process of elimination to figure out who First Place is. No doubt, the suspense has been killing you so I'll get right to it: 


There are any number of One Timers who have dazzled us over the years in both the Classic and New Series. I've mentioned a few of them, already, as I constructed this list. As much as I've admired their performances like so many other fans have, my choice for all-time fave is not one any of you probably suspected.

By no stretch of the imagination can we label the Season 18 story Meglos a Classic. I find it to be a half-decent story with a few fun little moments to sustain it for four episodes. Some disagree with even that and think the story is just plain awful. But, as mediocre (or even bad) as the story may be, it has a single brilliant jewel in its crown: the titular character is absolutely wonderful!

One of the things that embarrasses me the most about my Meglos Passion is that I can't, for the life of me, pinpoint why I love him so much. There are any number of really cool things about him but none of them are quite enough to truly make him the best one-time-only villain in History. I'm guessing that it is a combination of all these traits that, ultimately, puts him over the top.

Just to be concise and organized, let's take the trouble to list a few of the more prominent aspects of the character that make him better than any other one-time-only villain: 


For most other villains and/or monsters in the series (recurring or single appearance), acquiring the ability to cross the fourth dimension is their ultimate dream. And it makes sense that they want it so badly. There's so much you can do if you can control the Laws of Time.

But Meglos is way more interested in what the Dodecahedron can do for him.  Admittedly, I can see why. Such a power source, along with the screens of Zolfa Thura, will enable him to hold the Universe at ransom. It's a pretty amazing power to wield.

One would think that Meglos isn't gunning for time travel because it's just not attainable for him. But, here's what makes him so cool: Within moments of taking over that poor, hapless human that the Gaztaks kidnapped, he walks over to a nearby console and starts working equipment that enables him to trap the Doctor and Romana in a time loop. Basically, this guy has time travel abilities, already - but he doesn't really care much about it. The Dodecahedron is still his real focus. He seems to have figured out time travel stuff ages ago. He's mastered it so much that it's just a control panel or two in a disregarded corner of his workshop. To me, that gives him way more street cred than other villains/monsters that are out there. 


Like most great Sci-Fi Villains, Meglos is endlessly paranoid. He always needs to feel like he's one step ahead of everyone else. When he first meets the Gaztaks, he knows they will try to betray him. They're Gaztaks - it's what they do! So he shows that he is on to them by locking them into his lab with him for all eternity unless they obey his instructions. After revealing his suspicion of them, he thinks everything will be fine with his new-found allies.

I love the fact that he's wrong and ends up according more trust to General Grugger than he should have. At the most opportune moment, Meglos is betrayed. He was too confident in his display of power during Episode One and let his guard down further than he should have. I'm not sure why, but I really do enjoy the fact that he's capable of making such a fundamental mistake when it comes to dealing with people. He's not quite the paranoid maniac that he should be - and I think that gives him an interesting edge to his character. It makes him distinctive from so many other stereotypical villains who would've never trusted those Gaztaks further than they could throw them. 


This is probably the trait I like the most about him.

By the time we reach the end of the story, Meglos has been portrayed by two actors (Tom Baker and Christopher Owen), a voice artist (Crawford Logan), and two props (a cactus and a slimy thing that crawls across the floor). Because he's a disembodied intelligence, he's very abstract. Yet, somehow, the character persists through all of his various representations.

Ironically, he's on his shakiest ground when Tom Baker is portraying the character. It seems that, as usual, Tom wants to play the role for laughs. But, for the most part, he keeps Meglos pretty straight. Even when he's covered in cactus spikes, he resists the urge to consciously make the visual look silly. It's almost as if Tom knows this is an awesome villain and doesn't want to wreck it  (mind you, it's entirely possible that he had all kinds of fights with the production team who were yelling at him to behave - that did happen a fair amount during Season 18!). 

I adore the fact that Meglos gets channeled through so many people and objects but his spirit seems to remain consistent in all of them. He's a fanatical maniac who trusts the wrong people a little more than he should. Whether he's parading around as the Doctor or a cactus or the various stages in between - this is always conveyed effectively. 


Forget "Fantastic!" or "Geronimo!".  "Reverse the polarity" or "When I say run, run!" might be a bit cool, but not cool enough. Even the Sixth Doctor's way of repeating a single word in an outraged manner doesn't quite measure up to Meglos' catchphrase:

"I am Meglos! Only survivor of my planet!"    

I love how proud he sounds when he proclaims it. Like he worked his ass off to survive and you better respect him for it. Like no one else deserved to survive but him. So much undertone seems to go into its delivery.

I also love the variation he puts into it. Those aren't his exact words every time. He might say: "I am Meglos! Last Zolfa Thuran!"or other things like that. It's nice that he mixes it up for us.

Okay, maybe the Doctor's catchphrases are a bit better - but not much! It really is a fun catchphrase. For quite some time, whenever there was a lull in the conversation among my geek friends, one of us would suddenly blurt out: "I am Meglos! Only survivor of my planet!!". We all loved the catchphrase and it would always make us laugh. The breaking of the tension would get us to find a new topic to rant about and the conversation would continue. That's how much we appreciated Meglos' proclamation! 


As we hurtle towards the somewhat rushed ending of Episode Four, the human Meglos has been inhabiting, at last, breaks free of his will. This should be it for our last Zolfa Thuran, right? He's got nowhere else to go.

Instead, he scampers away on the floor as a plastic blob with a post-production effect over him. The Doctor explains he's converted himself into a lower light wave or something to that effect. "That would mean he's nearly indestructible!" Romana gasps.

Fan fiction has not only picked up on that statement, but there's an issue of Doctor Who Magazine that claims that a rough draft of The Lodger contained the triumphant return of Meglos (this was removed in later drafts). Just like Tobias Vaughn in my last post, this is a villain we love too much to truly let die. I, for one, would love to see him make a return appearance on the show. As much as it would behoove me to remove him from here, I'm sure he would rank quite highly on my two-time-only villain list.

Sil would probably still beat him. But, let's be honest, Sil is pretty damned awesome!

That's it for fave one-time-villains. Sorry folks like Doctor Solon or Harrison Chase didn't show up, here. But then, if you've read even a few of these, you'd know they probably weren't going to! 

Here are the rest on the List: 

Fifth Place:

Fourth Place:

Third Place:

Second Place:

Enjoy my lists?   Here's my Top Five Guilty Pleasures:   






Monday, 23 April 2018


We're getting close to the winner, now. You can see that I have been making some unusual choices. This one, however, is a bit more conventional....


Kevin Stoney's one-time-only villain contributions to Doctor Who in the 60s, to me, are near-legendary. He just had such great presence with both portrayals. He seems to stand out so much more than anyone else that got to play a bad guy during that era. Truthfully, if you're willing to watch his performance contextually, he beats most actors who have played an antagonist on the show. 

Just like Morgaine and Helen A in my last entry, it was difficult to choose which of Stoney's two characters I prefer. Mavic Chen is a delightful little megalomaniac as he tries to beat the Daleks at their own game during The Dalek Masterplan. But, for some reason, I like Tobias Vaughn just that little bit better. I'm not entirely sure why. It could be the simple reason that there exists more footage of the story. Which, in turn, gives me a stronger impression of the portrayal. I hate that it might be as petty as something like that - but it's entirely possible!

I think it might also be that Tobias Vaughn feels that little bit more accessible. Dalek Masterplan is a bit of a space opera. Chen is from the far-flung future - which makes it a bit harder to connect with him. Whereas Vaughn was meant to be more contemporary. Both are complete madmen, of course. Which means, in their own way, both are pretty remote (if you do find them relatable, it may be time for some therapy!). But a power-crazed maniac running a multi-million dollar corporation in the late 60s (possibly early 70s) is someone I can identify with just that little bit better than a sinister politician from the 40th Century. Which might be one more reason for Vaughn to win out over Chen.

Whatever the case, it was a very close race. But, in the end, Vaughn wins. 

I think one of the things I adore most about Stoney's performances are the unusual choices he makes. If I may dare dwell on Chen that little bit longer, I love the weird way Stoney holds writing utensils when he's playing him (apparently, in the 40th Century we still write things by hand - and we do it in a very unusual fashion!). He makes another strange choice with Vaughn. Throughout most of his performance, he closes one eye just a little bit more than the other. It gives him a sort of perpetual sneer that gets him to come across that little bit more arrogant and unlikeable. While on the topic of his eyes, I also love that Stoney remembers what the script said about him in Episode 1 and resists blinking as much as possible. 

It's these little things that Stoney puts into his performance that really make him rise above the rest. He is obviously someone who puts a lot of thought into his craft and it pays off. Vaughn could have been a very run-of-the-mill Pawn of the Cybermen Greedy Bastard, but he gives so much consideration to the crafting of the character that we have a hard time not completely falling in love with his villainy.   

Beyond Stoney's performance, compliments must also go to the writing. Some interesting twists are put on the character that were right in the script. Vaughn's sense of humor is one of the more interesting nuances. Like most sadists, he's in a state of glee as he inflicts pain on people - that's nothing new for a character of his nature. But I'm really intrigued by how he reacts to Zoe ruining his receptionist computer. Most megalomaniacs would be outraged by such a gesture but Tobias is amused. Having a villain who zigs during moments when we expected him to zag is a good move when you've got to stretch him over eight episodes. Things could have gotten boring very quickly with him if the writer hadn't put in these little tricks.

Some complain of Packer, of course. Why would anyone put a person so neurotic and even a bit incompetent in charge of their security? I say Packer makes perfect sense for a personality like Vaughn. He needed a whipping boy. Someone who could still, for the most part, do a decent job but would stumble up just enough for Vaughn to give him regular tongue-lashings. To me, Packer was exactly what Vaughn's distorted ego required.    

There are a few specifics moments that come together beautifully in The Invasion for Vaughn. The first is when he taunts Professor Watkins to shoot him. After administering torture so sadistic that even one of the torturers becomes a victim, he grants the professor his greatest wish. Stoney plays this moment to perfection. His rage is thoroughly convincing as he yells at Watkins to shoot him. The smile on his face as we see that even bullets can't harm his enormous ego is truly chilling. 

But my favorite Vaughn moment happens at the beginning of Episode Eight. Although it is probably done more for the sake of padding things out, Vaughn gets this great speech where the Doctor gradually wins him over. We get a gorgeous look inside his thought process and see the full extent of his selfish pride. While anyone else would strive to survive, Vaughn sees little point in saving a world that will convict him for endangering it. But then, slowly but surely, he decides to join the Doctor. Not to see justice done or to save humanity. But because the Cybermen wrecked his plans and he wants to punish them for it. He makes the vaguest attempt to gain pathos as he laments over his crushed dreams. Stoney is truly masterful as he brings Vaughn close to tears in the delivery of that speech. How can we resist him, really? 

During those sad Wilderness Years, a New Adventures novel was written that shows that Vaughn managed to survive when the Cybermen shot him. I can't blame the fan who wrote it. Tobias Vaughn is a one-time-only villain that was so good, you don't want to think he'll die. Ever. 

Stay tuned for our first-place winner. Who will it be?    

Fifth Place:

Fourth Place:

Third Place:     

Thursday, 12 April 2018


The countdown continues.....


As we continue down the list, I find myself wanting to express my love for a villain of the female persuasion. Before some of you start trying to accuse me of just trying to be a Social Justice Warrior or something of that sort (that's been going around a lot, lately, in fandom!), I did not place her here strictly because she's a woman and we need to increase villainess awareness or something like that. I really do think that, out of all the one-time-only baddies to grace the series, she is truly the third best. Gender has nothing to do with it.

It seemed most logical to pick a villainess from the Seventh Doctor era. He had the most enjoyable female enemies (although Eleven had some good ones, too). Perhaps, because his first battle was against the Rani, the writers seemed to like how he stood up to evil women. Even in stories like Silver Nemesis, where the plot wasn't as good as some of the other tales from that season - characters like Lady Peinforte could still make things that much more fun. She's not the winner of this particular award, by the way. Neither is Morgaine from Battlefield. Although, she came quite close...

When it was first transmitted, Happiness Patrol was, very much, considered a vote-splitter among fandom. You either loved it for its bravery or hated it for its camp sensibilities. There seemed to be no in-between. Over the years, negative opinion regarding the story seems to have mellowed. There's still a segment of fandom that will eternally hate it, but most people now seem to see it for the work of brilliance that it truly is.

Helen A is, without a doubt, one of the key things that makes Happiness Patrol so awesome. She is a blatant parody of Margeret Thatcher, yes. But I love that they didn't just stop there. She would've been so two dimensional if they had. But, instead, they went so much further with the character. 

Probably what I love most about Helen A is that she never does any of her own dirty work. She has a team of people who are eager to please her that will perform all those morbid forms of execution on her behalf. That, to me, is a villain with real power. She just sits in her office and puts on this pretense of domestic bliss while the real evil is executed through delegation. It's a great trait to give a baddie. Particularly when so many other villains in the series love to directly administer the pain to their victims. Helen A is far more inclined to just watch and enjoy while minions take care of the blood-spilling for her. Just like Sil, that sense of perversity at enjoying the pain of others from a safe distance makes her that much more unsettling. 

Much praise must also go to Sheila Hancock. With her garish business suit, white clown-face makeup and silly wig, one would expect her to go ridiculously over-the-top with everything. Her character both looks and is quite ludicrous. And yet, somehow, she gets us to believe in her. She keeps her performance on the right side of sincerity so that we are able to feel for her as she reaches her undoing. 

The fall of Helen A is what truly wins her this title. I'm always impressed when a writer comes up with a better solution to the story than to just kill off the baddie in the final episode. Helen A's defeat is, easily, the most creative of all resolutions. The confrontation between her and Seven as she tries to slip away in a shuttle is one of the best hero/villain face-offs in the history of the show (how cool is it when Sylvester produces a coin from nowhere and professes: "Two sides - one coin!") We really don't know where things are going to go with these two. To all intents and purposes, it really looks like Helen A is going to make it aboard that shuttle with just a stern lecture from the Doctor. 

And then they drop Fifi on us. Fifi, who we thought was just a side-story to create more peril and make Helen A seem more twisted and bizarre, had a higher purpose, after all. As Helen A kneels before the dying Stigorax and bawls - we can't help but marvel at the brilliance of the moment. Helen A has truly lost. There could be no worse way to punish her. 

What could have been just a cheap political satire becomes one of the best-layered one-time-only villains in all of Doctor Who. Helen A is not only a great villainess, but she beats most of the one-time-only boy baddies that have tried butt heads with our favorite Time Lord throughout the years.

I adore her.  

We'll keep the countdown rollin'.....

Fifth Place:

Fourth Place: