Ironically, Hill appears in a story where a doppelganger plays a significant part in the plot. Despite the fact that Meglos is a rather mediocre story, Tom Baker does some nice work differentiating his characterization of Meglos from that of the Doctor. Sure there are a few shouty OTT moments, but the modulation he employs with his eyes is brilliant. Meglos is hard and determined. Baker also plays the Doctor's confusion at being accused of cactus's various crimes very authentically.
And if I could heap an extra helping of irony onto my plate, Sunday morning I watched The Almost People (second part of The Rebel Flesh). The two-parter, while being a very traditional story, offered some really interesting insights into identity. With various characters duplicated to perform dangerous mining tasks, the "Gangers" originally seem to be little more than extensions of the original humans (not unlike someone being projected as a hologram). Thanks to a handy dandy solar tsunami the Gangers begin to act independently. What is left extremely ambiguous is the nature of the raw "flesh." It appears to be alive in its own right -- there are discarded Gangers who appear to be in pain (at least Jennifer maintains it is).
Doubles figure prominently in the top 10 of popular sci-fi tropes, whether used superficially as a plot point , or mined for more philosophical purposes in terms of identity ( the movie Moon, the two Will Rikers on ST: TNG or the parallel universe in Fringe) .
Doctor Who has a staggering history of dealing in doubles:
- William Hartnell took on the role of the Abbot of Amboise (The Massacre) and along with Edmund Warwick portrayed a robot version of himself.
- The whole TARDIS crew discovered future versions of themselves (The Space Museum)
- Ben and Polly were duplicated by the Chameleons (The Faceless Ones)
- Patrick Troughton played the baddie Salamander (Enemy of the World)
- Spearhead from Space concerns an alien race trying duplicate various important figures with Auton doppelgangers
- Nicholas Courtney, Carolyn Johns, John Levene and much of the cast of Inferno play parallel universe versions of themselves
- The third Doctor and Jo briefly encounter future versions of themselves (Day of the Daleks)
- Ian Marter stepped out as a Zygon impersonator of Harry Sullivan (Terror of the Zygons)
- Tom Baker played an android copy of himself (The Android Invasion), as did John Levene, Ian Marter and Elizabeth Sladen
- Old Reuben the lighthouse keeper was impersonated by a Rutan in Horror of Fang Rock
- Mary Tamm practiced her needlepoint as the Princess Strella and her jerky-acting chops (The Androids of Tara)
- Lalla Ward's Romana uses the Princess Astra's likeness as a template (Destiny of the Daleks)
- The Tachyon Recreation Generator spit out a whole bunch of unstable doubles of the fourth Doctor (The Leisure Hive)
- Sarah Sutton traded one sort of posh for another as Ann Talbot (Black Orchid)
- Peter Davison (Omega duplicated the fifth Doctor's body in Arc of Infinity)
- Two versions of the Brigadier from different points in time illustrate the Blinovich Limitation Effect (Mawdryn Undead)
- Can I just say that Kamelion impersonates a bunch of people and leave it at that.
- The Daleks create a variety of duplicates including dormant versions of the fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough, as part of machinations (Resurrection of the Daleks)
- Sharaz Jek's duplicates of the fifth Doctor and Peri don't get to stick around long before being executed by a firing squad, and dear old Salateen's double had us all fooled (The Caves of Androzani)
- The Borad created a dummy double of himself to avoid getting pasted in a very lame twist (Timelash)
- Davros did the same thing in the next story but to much better effect (Revelation of the Daleks)
- Noel Clarke plays a particularly plasticky Auton duplicate of his character Mickey Jones (Rose)
- The Slitheen's habit of employing the skin of various full-bodied figures to create skin suit doubles (Aliens of London/World War III, Boomtown)
- The ninth Doctor and Rose briefly encounter past versions of themselves (Father's Day)
- Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, and Shaun Dingwall all play parallel universe versions of themselves (Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday)
- Freema Agyeman empathized with her Sontaran bred clone (The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky)
- David Tennant's Doctor grew a whole new version of himself from a severed hand (Journey's End)
- Prisoner Zero uses unconscious humans as forms to hide from the Atraxi (The Eleventh Hour)
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go throw my cactus down the garbage chute...
Original viewing date: November 24, 1984
Spirit: A double vodka martini
Music: "Cover Me" by Bruce Springsteen