WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?!
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:
TRAIT #1 THAT MAKES ME LOVE MEGLOS SO MUCH:
HE DOESN'T GIVE A RAT'S ASS ABOUT TIME TRAVEL
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.
TRAIT #2 THAT MAKES ME LOVE MEGLOS SO MUCH:
HE'S LEGITIMATELY FALLIBLE
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.
TRAIT # 3 THAT MAKE ME LOVE MEGLOS SO MUCH:
HE TRANSCENDS THROUGH SO MANY DIFFERENT REPRESENTATIONS
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.
TRAIT #4 THAT MAKES ME LOVE MEGLOS SO MUCH:
HE HAS THE COOLEST CATCHPHRASE!
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!
TRAIT #5 THAT MAKES ME LOVE MEGLOS SO MUCH:
HE'S VIRTUALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE
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:
Enjoy my lists? Here's my Top Five Guilty Pleasures: