Doctor Who #155: The Macra Terror Part 1

"Nothing succeeds like success."TECHNICAL SPECS: Sadly, The Macra Terror is missing from the archives, and though I've experienced the Wills-narrated audio, I've used a reconstruction for purposes of this review. First aired Mar.11 1967.

IN THIS ONE... The TARDIS lands in a happy colony and get a make-over, but one man knows the truth.

REVIEW: What's immediately notable about The Macra Terror is the soundscape. The opening scenes set to suspenseful heartbeat. The happy jingles of the Colony. The echo effect added to voices to give a sense of scale. So it makes a good audio, but man, I still yearn for the video on this. The proletariat is pacified not only with music, but with majorettes. The comic business at the refreshing center, as the Doctor gets combed and pressed and panics until he can return to his frumpy self must've been highly entertaining. And what of Jamie, fighting off an army of manicurists so he won't be branded a metrosexual like Ben? The night scenes look moody from the tele-snaps, and might even make the monster acceptable. Not that it isn't, but these things are usually the least well realized elements.

The episode is all set-up, and it's really too bad that it feels the need to cheat. The Doctor takes an interest in Medok - who is either the only sane or insane man in the Colony - because he's seen the Macra claw on his time scanner in the previous episode. And yet, was that sequence even necessary? The colony is TOO perfect and its people TOO happy. A utopia is always suspicious to a man like the Doctor, especially one with elements so obviously pulled from Orwell's 1984! The episode would have been much more satisfying, in my opinion, if it had allowed the Doctor's natural curiosity to lead him to free Medok and then to the Macra. Now that the threat has revealed itself to the Doctor, perhaps we can forget this faux pas and get on with what is still up to now a well-produced story.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A few break from the norm, at least, for the companions who get pampered. Sounds great. Might have looked good too. Shame about the plot contrivance.


Anonymous said...

I watched the recon of this a year or two ago. It's nothing like the surrounding stories, basically it's a Sylvester McCoy story 20 years ahead of its time. Have to say the experiment didn't really work for me as I prefer the 'traditional' Troughton, but interested as always to read your thoughts.


Siskoid said...

I ask you: Where would McCoy be without Troughton?

It does have the whimsy of certain McCoy stories, but I think is still very much a Troughton era tale, with a monster at the gates of the base, so to speak, and mind control in the offing.


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