Saturday, 11 March 2017

153 The Macra Terror: Episode One

EPISODE: The Macra Terror: Episode One
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 11 March 1967
WRITER: Ian Stuart Black
DIRECTOR: John Davies
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume Four(1967)
TELESNAPS: The Macra Terror: Episode One

"I'm not the one suffering from delusions, it's you. All of you! You don't know what's happening in this Colony!"

First things first: new titles! Macra Terror 1 doesn't exist, but many other later Troughton episodes do so you can see what's going on. It's hard to describe exactly what's happening - so watch it.

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The major feature here is the inclusion of the Doctor's face which becomes a feature of the remaining sequences in the original series. I like the way the face dissolves into the logo too.

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Easily one of my favourite versions of the title sequence!

It's important to note that at this point the music is still that used for the original version: that subtly changes slightly later on. Should you wish to witness this odd pairing of new titles and original version of the music then The Faceless Ones episode one has it and can be watched on Doctor Who - Lost In Time disc 2.

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A man, Medok, stares straight ahead as a heartbeat like sound is heard. Elsewhere a band play and majorettes perform. One man, The Pilot, congratulates another, Barney, on his band for the competition. Medok pushes through the crowd pursued by guards. Barney calls after him assuring him the treatment is for his own good. Medok sees the Tardis materialise and is apprehended by Jamie and Ben. The guard leader, Ola, thanks them and takes them to the city where they are received as honoured guests by the Pilot. A picture of the controller appears on a screen and a voice thanks them. The travellers enjoy the colony's hospitality but elsewhere Medok is questioned: he believes he's seeing creatures invade the camp at night. The Doctor comes to talk to Medok but this allows him to escape. The Time Travellers are taken to the labour centre to learn more of the colony and what they do there. Medok is hiding there and explains to the Doctor that anyone who sees the creatures is detained in the correction hospital. At night the Doctor sneaks out avoiding the guards and find Medok. Together they witness a pair of glowing eyes emerging out of the mist and a giant claw snaps at them.

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Bit of an odd one this. As soon as you encounter the colony with it's sickly sweet holiday camp atmosphere and little songs on the public address announcements you know something can't be quite right. How it ties in to the crab claw we saw at the end of the last episode isn't obvious till the end of the episode. In an odd way this feels more like an episode of The Prisoner, still 6 months in the future at this stage, than an episode of Doctor Who.

The minor character Chicki is played by Sandra Bryant, previously Inferno bar manager Kitty in the War Machines, co-written by this story's author Ian Stuart Black. Chicki will reappear in episode 4 by which point something interesting will have happened.... I haven't been able to spot Chicki in the surviving telesnaps from this episode.

Amongst the Drum Majorettes is Maureen Lane who was previously in The Gunfighters 2 & 3, Don't Shoot the Pianist & Johnny Ringo as a Bar Girl. Somewhere in this episode is Anthony Gardner as Alvis, possibly one of Medok's friends that we can see bellow. He later appears in Blake's 7: The Harvest of Kairos as Captain Shad.

Two long running Who supporting artists make their debut in this series:

Ian Fairbairn, playing Questa, becomes a Douglas Camfield regular appearing first as Gregory in The Invasion, then in my absolute favourite Pertwee story Inferno as Bromley & the Penetration Announcer and in Camfield's Tom Baker swansong The Seeds of Doom as Chester. Camfield also used him for Paul Temple, Van Der Valk, Shoestring, The Professionals & The Onedin Line!

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Terence Lodge, Medok, will later appear in what's one of my favourite Pertwee stories, Carnival of Monsters, as Orum where he's directed by Barry Letts who then cats him again as Moss in the final Pertwee story, Planet of the Spiders, which largely features people who have previously worked on the show during the period Pertwee was starring as the Doctor and Letts was producing the show.

Medok appear in a brief section of location filing at the start of the episode where Associated Portland Cement Company Quarry in Befordshire serves as the planet's surface.

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