My Thoughts on Story 034 – “The Macra Terror”

This was a strange story, and it’s a hard one to review. It’s got a lot of brilliant little moments, but the story itself kind of falls apart, and I still have no idea what the motivation of the Macra was.

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They’d be fantastic with a bit of melted butter, mind you.

There is plenty to like in this story. Jamie is as charming as he ever is, and in their penultimate story, Ben and Polly are given much to do. Plus Troughton has really settled into the “borderline crazy man” persona that the Second Doctor has become known for. It’s also interesting seeing this little dystopic society.

But there are significant problems, too. First off, the Macra don’t look great. That’s a minor complaint, but there you are. Second, I have no idea, even now, exactly what their plan was. Why were they controlling this colony? What did they hope to gain? I think they were after the gas or something, but weren’t there about twenty easier ways to do this? Like, for example, buying it?

Yet again, of course, the reconstructions don’t help matters much. They could be far worse, of course, and Loose Cannon did about as good of a job as can be expected, but ultimately they remain problematic. Still, they are better than nothing.

Overall this isn’t a bad story, but it certainly isn’t one that I feel the need to revisit.

Cast
Others
  • Peter Jeffrey — Pilot
  • Graham Armitage — Barney
  • Ian Fairbairn — Questa
  • Jane Enshawe — Sunaa
  • Sandra Bryant & Karol Keyes — Chicki
  • Maureen Lane — Drum Majorette
  • Terence Lodge — Medok
  • Gertan Klauber — Ola
  • Graham Leaman — Controller
  • Anthony Gardner — Alvis
  • Denis Goacher — Control Voice
  • Richard Beale — Broadcast/Propaganda Voice
  • Robert Jewell — Macra Operator
  • John Harvey — Officia
  • John Caesar, Steve Emerson & Danny Rae — Guards
  • Ralph Carrigan, Roger Jerome & Terry Wright — Cheerleaders
Production
Writer Ian Stuart Black
Director John Davies
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Dudley Simpson
Production code JJ
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing All episodes
Date started 11 March 1967
Date ended 1 April 1967

Next time: “The Faceless Ones”

Episode 156 – “The Macra Terror” – Part 04

In the last part of our story, we look to answer a crucial question.

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Does Jamie get lei’d?

Speaking of Jamie, we find him being menaced by the “surf” part of your next visit to Sizzler. That cliffhanger doesn’t resolve so much as it halts. Meantime, the Doctor and Polly are working do so…something involving gas control valves.

The guards are getting wise to something going on that shouldn’t be, and they try to crash Polly and Doctor’s little party. They get away, Jamie continues to fight the Macra and…we go on to a sing and dance rehearsal. Ok, then.

Then Jamie stumbles in, and we make ready for something that’s likely to be quite comic…should one be able to see the actual video. I suspect seeing it in photo form won’t be quite as good. I am rather amused by the line “gay and cheerful”, however. Jamie tries, and fails, to get away. He’s captured by Ben and some others.

As this happens, the Doctor and Polly wind up in a behind-the-scenes area where they can hear Control talking. They then wander into the same room where Jamie and Ben are hanging out. There’s an amusing moment where the Doctor pushes for peace and harmony, and says, “You can’t arrest us after we’ve given ourselves up. It’s against the rules.”

Control appears to be becoming more and more unhinged. It’s kind of like watching Trump debate Hillary. The Pilot ends up taking control over…uh…Control. He apparently plans to put an end to whatever the Macra are up to. That seems a bit odd. Normally the Doctor would try to talk with them and find out what’s up first.

The guards intercept them, and our heroes find themselves locked in a room with gas pouring in. Ben is on the outside, and they appeal to him to open the door. Ben finally snaps fully back to himself and begins activating some levers. As Control pleads for someone to stop him, he apparently turns off the gas, stops the bad guys, and saves the day.

We then rather abruptly cut to a scene with a cheerful little tune and our dancers dancing. Seems like we have victory! There’s a threat to make the Doctor the next Pilot, Jamie does his little dance, and we cut to the credits! A very cheerful end.

Next time: “The Faceless Ones”

Episode 155 – “The Macra Terror” – Part 03

When last we saw our heroes, they were being menaced by the Macra and by an oppressive evil government of evil!

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Though at least the annual steampunk convention was still a go.

Everyone, save Ben, is rounded up and basically sent to work in the mines. Ben continues to be brainwashed into working for the bad guys.

The Doctor and friends arrive in the mines and are introduced to what I take to be Dastari’s uncle. He tries to explain the situation to Team TARDIS, and is told to simply shut up and get them to work.

Kal shows up. He’s been mining. He cites his rights to have a supervisor, which seems a bit odd, but whatever. He requests the Doctor to supervise him, and that’s apparently approved.

The Doctor starts wandering around looking over the mine works, as Ben pops up. He starts to wander off, but the Doctor stops him and engages him in polite conversation. Meantime, Jamie and Polly are kitted out in their cosplay gear, and our steampunk convention is on!

You know, the guys at Loose Cannon really tried their best with this show. I give some heat to the reconstructions in general, and to some of theirs in particular, but they actually succeed more often than not. A great example is a scene here, where there’s a gas leak, and as people try to stop it, we see clouds of vapor going across the otherwise still screen. It’s a nice touch.

For his part, the Doctor has puzzled out some intricate formula. Along comes a supervisory type who questions him about it and tells him to clear it off. Math has never been so…*yawn*…exciting.

Jamie has entered some sort of Forbidden Zone, and Ben failed to report this. The Doctor takes that as progress. Meantime, Jamie seems to be encountering a Macra, and Polly is watching the Doctor do stuff. This is one of those segments that’s a bit confusing, but I think would probably be better if it were moving instead of in still photos.

Ben appears to be having a little meltdown, which is probably for the best under the circumstances. Ah, the joys of the brainwashed companion. I think that’s a well the series has gone back to more than just about any other.

Control seems quite concerned about people going into the Forbidden Zone. So much so that it’s even willing to let Jamie get away. But he’s being menaced by a Macra, so perhaps Control believes that won’t be an issue much longer!

AWOL

I confess, I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve been quite sick, and working on some other projects. But don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten this project. I’ll be back to this tomorrow! Thanks for your patience.

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Resting now, but back in action soon!

Episode 154 – “The Macra Terror” – Part 02

Last time we saw our heroes, they were facing off against what seemed to be crab people. This time? This time we get them facing off against…slash fiction writers!

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Hands up if you ship Ben and Jamie!

The Doctor and Kal are still cowering as the Macra is revealed. Right now we don’t know much about what they look like…and I suspect that’s not going to really change as we go through this story, since it seems like it’s probably one of those effects/props that were shot in darker settings in order to hide their crapulance.

Kal and the Doctor are quickly captured by the police squad. They’re brought to the Pilot, who seems pretty laid back. Kal tells the Pilot all about how the Doctor was innocent in everything, and had tried to convince him, Kal, to turn himself in. The Pilot accepts this, and the Doctor is freed.

Then we cut to some guy on a screen (the Controller, it seems. Sounds like we’re dealing with a couple of Time Lords), screaming about how the Macra don’t exist. Circus music kicks in, and we go to a shot of Polly sleeping while a voice tells her all about how everything in the colony is good and beautiful. I’m waiting for someone to start referring to her as Number 6.

Actually, all jokes aside, this is starting to feel like The Prisoner, which is kind of interesting. An idyllic location, sinister goings on, strange music, etc. That show began airing only a few months after this episode. I wonder if there was any inspiration?

The Doctor wakes up Polly, and orders her to forget basically everything that was in her mind while she was asleep. Then the two go to find Ben and Jamie. Jamie is fine, but Ben has clearly drunk the Kool-Aid.

Polly and Ben end up in a little confrontation with each other, which ends with him chasing after her. It’s a decent scene; very atmospheric and creepy. I can only imagine this would have played well in actual video. And she sees one of the Macra. Oh, yeah, they’re in this story. I’d almost forgotten.

Meantime, the Doctor is still talking with the Pilot, and trying to make sense of everything that’s going on. Ben and Polly arrive a few moments later, and Ben claims to know nothing of the Macra.

The Controller addresses our heroes and Jamie is convinced he’s not real. So we get to see the real Controller, and he’s…an old man. I’m not sure why that’s some carefully concealed secret within this society, but ok.

And then he’s attacked by a Macra!

Episode 153 – “The Macra Terror” – Part 01

So we begin another all-reconstruction serial. And in this case, it’s the first story to feature the Doctor’s face in the credits!

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This may be something of a mixed blessing.

We start off at what looks like the grand opening for some store or something, and then cut to the “It’s…” man running around on a beach perused by some guys with guns. Then the TARDIS arrives. I assume this will all make sense at some point.

As Team TARDIS disembarks, I realize that since “The Highlanders” they’ve been going non-stop. That story led directly into “The Underwater Menace”, which led directly to “The Moonbase”, which leads directly to this. Busy day.

The Doctor and friends run into the “It’s…” man and the police capture him. They take our friends to the local mall, where congratulations are given all around. “Well, this is gay,” I can swear someone says. Ahem.

Our heroes are given a tour of the colony they find themselves at, and I can’t help but remember Dorothy’s tour around the Emerald City. This may not be coincidence.

Polly gets a makeover, while Ben and Jamie get massages, and the Doctor is tossed into some odd machine. This whole spa treatment could be viewed as a reward for them having spent the last day so very busy.

Once everything calms down a bit, the Doctor wanders around and encounters the “It’s…” man, who he frees from imprisonment. The man had gone on about seeing some strange things, and the Doctor asks him about them.

The Doctor gets caught, and things seem briefly tense. In the end, the Doctor and his friends are sent off to do some work, but the Doctor quickly escapes, as he does. He finds the “It’s…” man again and tries to talk with him. The Doctor finishes his discussion, and unescapes, a trick really only the Doctor would try to pull off.

The curfew kicks in, after some dire comments about people possibly being killed for wandering around in the dark. So, yeah, one of those “not a utopia” kind of utopias.

Of course as soon as everyone is sleeping, the Doctor gets up and goes wandering. He hides from a patrol or two. We cut to the “It’s…” man, and since I’m tried of typing out that, and don’t want to call him by his actual name, because that’s boring, I’m instead going to start calling him Kal.

The Doctor finds him, and as the two hide in the darkness, we see…the Marcra! Being a terror!

My Thoughts on Story 033 – “The Moonbase”

There aren’t any truly great Cyberman stories. The closest we get are “Earthshock”, “The Invasion”, and “Tomb of the Cybermen”, and all three of those have some fairly large problems. But on the other hand, there aren’t really too many terrible Cybermen stories, either. Most, like “Silver Nemesis”, are kind of bad, but saved from true awfulness by little moments within them. “The Moonbase” is a lot like that.

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What to say about “The Moonbase”? The story itself involves the Cybermen invading the Moon to steal some sort of gravitational-based weather control technology. They need this for reasons. In the process they visit a plague upon the station because that’s easier than just going in and slaughtering everyone, apparently. Meantime, Polly makes coffee, Jamie lies down a lot, Ben does Ben stuff, and the Doctor gets some inner monologue.

The story is rather bland and doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The final resolution is a laugh and a half. But the story is saved from awfulness by those little moments I mentioned. Things like the Doctor’s inner monologue, where we first get some idea of how he thinks about what’s happening. There’s also the bit where the base personnel have to override various safeties in order to execute the Doctor’s final plan. I also quite liked Jamie putting the Cybermen into his own terms, and thinking that one that’s menacing him is a sinister piper, come to take him to the great beyond.

Those moments are few, but they do go a long way. It’s also nice to have the newer, improved Cybermen costumes, which are a far cry from what we had in “The Tenth Planet”, a mere four stories ago.

I’d also like to mention that the animation is much better in this story than it was in “The Reign of Terror”. Every single gesture in that one was way overdone. Here, everything is much more restrained, and that’s to the story’s benefit.

So I can’t hate this story, but it isn’t great. It’s a decent way to pass some time, and that’s about the best I can say.

Cast
Others
  • Patrick Barr — Hobson
  • André Maranne — Benoit
  • Michael Wolf — Nils
  • John Rolfe — Sam
  • Mark Heath — Ralph
  • Alan Rowe — Voice from Space Patrol / Dr Evans
  • Denis McCarthy — Voice of Rinberg
  • Barry Ashton, Derek Calder, Arnold Chazen, Leon Maybank, Victor Pemberton, Edward Phillips, Ron Pinnell, Robin Scott, Alan Wells, Mark Heath — Scientists
  • John Wills, Sonnie Willis, Peter Greene, Keith Goodman, Reg Whitehead — Cybermen
  • Peter Hawkins — Cybermen Voices
Production
Writer Kit Pedler
Director Morris Barry
Script editor Gerry Davis
Producer Innes Lloyd
Executive producer(s) None
Incidental music composer Stock music
Production code HH
Series Season 4
Length 4 episodes, 25 minutes each
Episode(s) missing 2 episodes (1 and 3)
Date started 11 February 1967
Date ended 4 March 1967