Saturday, 25 March 2017

155 The Macra Terror: Episode Three

EPISODE: The Macra Terror: Episode Three
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 25 March 1967
WRITER: Ian Stuart Black
DIRECTOR: John Davies
PRODUCER: Innes Lloyd
RATINGS: 8.5 million viewers
FORMAT: CD: Doctor Who: The Lost TV Episodes Volume Four(1967)
TELESNAPS: The Macra Terror: Episode Three

"The Colony. The Colony is happy to obey. The Colony is happy to obey!"

Polly screams that the Macra are in control. She, the Doctor & Jamie are sent to the mine where they were reunited with Medok. The Doctor supervises from the control room while the others go bellow. The Gas mined is poisonous to humans and Polly wonders what it's for. The Doctor deduces a formula from the gauge readings in the control room which infuriates the pilot claiming the formula is a secret known to only 2 people. Jamie steals keys from a guard and makes an escape into a sealed tunnel. Medok follows Jamie and is killed by a Macra. Ben is questioned because he failed to stop Jamie escaping. The Doctor discovers the gas is being pumped into the old tunnel for some unknown reason as Jamie, weakening in the poisonous atmosphere, collapses.

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Somewhat confusing in places. This episode has always been a bit of a struggle for me but watching with the telesnaps helps.

OK, so what's this business with the formula about? It's really not clear from the episode. The Doctor's found scrawling it on a wall:

PILOT: Where did you find it?
PILOT: The formula.
DOCTOR: In my head. You know.
PILOT: Don't lie. That is a secret known only to three people in the Colony.
DOCTOR: And you're one of them, I'd say.
PILOT: Naturally. And you're not asking me to believe that in a few moments you have been able to work out a formula which it has taken our combined computers years to perfect?
DOCTOR: It does seem rather a tall order.
PILOT: Yes, of course. I know what you've done. You've broken into our secret files, haven't you?
DOCTOR: I wouldn't know how to do that. Take a look.
PILOT: Well, you must have seen the document. That's the exact computation.
DOCTOR: Really? Huh. In that case
PILOT: Do you really mean to say that you worked that out by yourself?
DOCTOR: Well, I did have a little assistance.
PILOT: Yes, I thought so. Who was it?
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, no. Oh, no. No person. No. I simply mean that I took readings from the various dials. They appeared to be related, so I worked out the principle that controlled them. It was simple really. Like doing a sum backwards.
PILOT: Backwards?
DOCTOR: Yes. You know. Given the answer, what's the question?
PILOT: Wipe it away. Get it off there before anybody else sees it.
DOCTOR: Oh well, if you insist.
I'd always assumed it was some sort of chemical formula used on the dangerous gas which was being mined:
PILOT: The strangers are being sent to you for pit labour. Put them in the Danger Gang.
CONTROL: Your orders are correct, Pilot. The strangers must be sent to explore the new gas reserve. They are dangerous people. They must be disciplined.
OFFICIA: The Danger Gang will do as they are told. It's a punishment for their failure to cooperate.
MEDOK: We do all the dirty work. We go where the gas is worst.
OFFICIA: It's your own fault, Medok. If you obeyed Control...
MEDOK: All right. All right. Forget it. I prefer Control poisoning my lungs to their trying to poison my mind.
POLLY: What's it all for?
MEDOK: For a poisonous gas which we mine from the bowels of this planet, which kills us if we breathe it. No one knows what it's used for.
The Doctor works out what they're doing with the gas:
DOCTOR: Don't you see? Control are not pouring this poisonous gas into the old shaft to kill Jamie. They've quite another reason.
POLLY: Doctor, you've got to do something to help him.
DOCTOR: Before we act, we must think. Now, the Macra that have come to the surface of this planet have not found sufficient gas in the atmosphere, so they've had to get somebody to pump it up from down below.
POLLY: But if it's life and death to them, why do they waste it? Why divert it into the old shaft?
DOCTOR: That's obvious, Polly, obvious. Because there's something trapped down there they wish to keep alive.
So how does the formula the Doctor uncovered fit into the picture? and what is trapped in the old shaft?

Hang on didn't Ben & Jamie get captured and sent down a mine two stories ago in Underwater Menace? A tiny bit repetitive!

An amount of off screen 8mm footage survives from this episode, including a section of the new title sequence. We get to see sections from several scenes, including the Doctor condemning the jingle writer, exploring, trying to break Ben's programming, Polly & Jamie in the tunnels and Polly talking to the Doctor.

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John Harvey plays Officia, surely the laziest character name in Doctor Who ever? Take Official, his job title and lop the last episode off. Harvey previously appeared in The War Machines as Professor Brett. From that story Sandra Bryant, Inferno bar manager Kitty, appears as Chicki in episode 1 and it's co-writer Ian Stuart Black is also responsible for this story.

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Gertan Klauber, who plays Ola, has also been in Doctor Who before playing the Galley Master in The Romans episode 2: All Roads Lead to Rome. His name wasn't familiar to me but I've seen a whole load of other things with him in: He's got several Carry On appearances to his name as well as appearing in The Sweeney as Emilio in Queen's Pawn and two appearances in the James Bond films and Bubi in Octopussy and the Fairground Cafe Owner in The Living Daylights. He's in the final episode of Black Adder the Third, Duel and Duality, playing King George III, a mad Monarch. The thing I can really recall him in though is his appearance in Inspector Morse: The Last Enemy as a German Man mainly because the brief role stands out a mile and yet doesn't seem to have ANY bearing on the actual plot! Most odd.

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A couple of Ola's Guards have previous Doctor Who form: John Caesar was the 2nd Man in Market in The Romans 2: All Roads Lead to Rome, an Egyptian Warrior in Dalek Masterplan 9: Golden Death, Monoid Four in The Bomb and a Cowboy in The Gunfighters. He's back as a Pirate Guard in The Space Pirates episodes 1, 3 & 4, C.P.O. Myers in The Sea Devils episode six and the R / T Soldier in Invasion part one. His 4 appearances in the Sid James sitcom Taxi! caught my eye because two of them, - Sunday Mornings Are for Sleeping and It's a Long Way Home also feature Steve Emerson, another of the guards here on his Doctor Who debut. He'll be back as a Resistance Man in The War Games episode eight, a UNIT Soldier in The Claws of Axos episode four, a Retrograde in Frontios part one & four and a Guard in Revelation of the Daleks part two! The Doomwatch episode he appears in, Burial at Sea, as a Lifeboatman is one of those missing from the archives.

Richard Beale can be heard in this serial as the Broadcast/Propaganda Voice. He previously voiced the Refusian in The Return and The Bomb, the last two episodes of The Ark and appeared in The Gunfighters as Bat Masterson. He'll return to Doctor Who many years later as the Minister of Ecology in The Green Death episode three. Elsewhere he was Saymon in the Blake's 7 episode The Web and Ulf the barge captain in the second and third episodes of The Tripods series 2.

Operating the Macra is experienced Dalek Operator Robert Jewell who performed the role in The Daleks, Daleks Invasion of Earth, The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, Dalek Masterplan & Power of the Daleks as well as both Dalek Movies and the Daleks' appearance in the Out of the Unknown episode Get Off Of My Cloud. He also played Zarbi Operator in The Web Planet and appeared as the Clown in Doctor Who's first Christmas episode, The Daleks' Masterplan 7: The Feast of Steven. His appearance there resulted in the only visual record of that episode that we have. He'll be back as a Dalek during Evil of the Daleks and The War Games. He also appears in the film The Terrornauts as the Robot Operator but don't seek it out as it really isn't any good at all!

What do we see in the pump room? Yes, it's out old friends the Power Room Panels! Here's the one on the left in The Underwater Menace:

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The one in the middle is obscured a bit both times we see it but looks like another one we've seen in the Underwater Menace:

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We'll get a better view of it in a later story!

However the one on the right bellow looks new!


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