Doctor Who: The Macra Terror
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The original 1967 master recordings of 'The Macra Terror' were lost soon after the programme's original transmission. However, audio-only recordings have survived and have been used here to create a brand new fully animated reconstruction of this lost classic. With highly detailed hand-drawn animation carefully lip-synced with the original 1967 audio, this new production allows viewers to once again experience this Doctor Who chiller in full. The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and his companions (Jamie, Polly and Ben) arrive on a human colony in the far flung future. The colony outwardly appears to be happy and carefree. But behind it's cheerful exterior the colony has been secretly infiltrated by a race of giant parasitic crab creatures called the Macra. The Macra brainwash the human colonists to mine toxic gas in the levels below the colony. Ruling the colony from a control centre in the heart of the main city they scuttle down to the city at night looking for food. The Doctor's friend Ben is soon taken over by the Macra and under their malign influence, he turns against the Doctor. As more colonists are picked off in the night and as their influence spreads, the Doctor sets out to bring an end to the Macra terror. Disc 1- Color (1-4), Disc 2 -Black&White(1-4)
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For the most part the animation is good and I like it. Trust me, I'm a hard sell when it comes to something like this. In many cases the animators are working from limited to no reference material, so what they've been able to achieve is pretty incredible. As long as they continue to release these, I will continue to buy them. I also like the fact that these releases come with both colour and black & white versions, so you can watch whichever version you prefer.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I'm not a fan of the animators taking creative liberties with these and changing whole scenes to make them visually more interesting. This is very evident in The Macra Terror during the scene of Ben and Polly trapped by a Macra, and Polly being attacked by one of the giant crabs. This video clip does exist, but it's been completely changed by the animators to make it more "thrilling". I understand there may be a lot of people out there who find '60s Doctor Who a little boring, especially if they're new to it, but I also don't see the point of animating something if you can't stay true or accurate to the original look and feel of the story. The other problem I have with this particular story is that the BBC decided to excise the spa/beauty treatment scene. They stated this was done to keep the story flowing, but Polly's haircut now makes absolutely no sense in the context of the story. In the animated version the story opens up with a recap of the ending from The Moonbase with the Tardis crew seeing the claw on screen, except now Polly already has her haircut and is wearing one of her Macra Terror shirts (Note: Polly receives/wears two different shirts on the colony, but you only ever see the stripy one). This now makes absolutely no sense to the ending of the Moonbase because it doesn't match up at all. In the original televised version, Polly arrived on the human colony still wearing her Moonbase clothing and had her long hair. Cutting out what was, in essence, a very short but important scene really did mess things up in my opinion, and all because the BBC wanted to keep the story "flowing".
Admittedly, I'm not fussy about the awful artwork on these DVD releases either. They don't match the rest of the covers in the classic series range. Also, I don't understand why they're using the current new series logo on these releases. It's horrible and makes no sense.
I wanted to give this 5 stars - I really did, but I just can't. Despite the fact that I'm giving this 3 out of 5 stars, I still highly recommend getting this and other animated DVDs to fill the gaps in your collection. They really are well done, but the BBC and the animators really need to stop messing with these stories.
They land on a colony filled with propaganda and a great secret kept under control by a 1984 style Controller (idea of the President) speech.
The citizens are blinded by mesmerism in bed, or if it fails psychiatry or forced labor mines. During the discovery of this the doctor utters the statement, “Never just obey, think for yourself.” The moment of hearing this, I went, “Now that’s the Doctor I remember.”
Ironically New Who, the BBC even, has more been more of the villain in The Macra Terror.
I could say more, but if you want to have it spoiled, the Wiki sites will do it for you.
I can offer a riddle, when you have Gas got to Scratch, what do you get?
Animation is Archer style came with Color and B&W versions.
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While this story itself can drag in places (it would have been a two-part pulse pounder… four parts less so), the director used the medium to make some fun choices I really appreciated: the animation sequence where the macra first attacks Polly in the colony at night, lifting her off ground and shaking her about, is far bolder and a fun contrast to the surviving footage of the same sequence in the bonus features, where Anneke Willes can be seen lying on the ground working hard to look menaced and hold her ankle into a delightfully clunky prop claw which clearly isn’t grasping her at all.
Sure, nothing’s perfect: Polly’s hairstyle prior to landing on the colony seems to be a continuity error; I believe the shorter cut was intended to be a result of a visit to the colony spa later in the episode. This particular serial also has a lot of crowd and group scenes, and that doesn’t always translate well to animation. While overall, the animation is pretty dynamic, don’t let your eyes stray off the main cast too often. In some sequences, the extras and guest cast are close to still life… no movements; it can be a bit like the Auton Invasion come early.
The director also made some non-choices here and there which slowed things down: the two separate animated sequences where Jamie and Polly are each attempting to unlock/lock doors have both characters standing, nearly completely still blinking for up to 10 seconds. These are awkwardly long seconds on screen. I realize we’ll never know from the surviving audio alone, but one must assume the actors were making some kind choices here or the camera was cutting away to some other action (even just establishing shots of dials or something).
The set is two discs and you can view the serial in either color or black & white. Some nice extras as well. A few (sadly short) surviving footage clips and a tele snap recon of all four episodes that can be viewed either with, or without, linking narration by Anneke Willes (the choice is nice for the purists out there; I am very supportive of this offering). Also, there is a somewhat abridged animation of episode one of the serial “The Wheel,” featuring some great Jamie/2nd Doctor interplay, which I was delighted to watch.
This animated version, which uses surviving original audio, is as close as we may ever get to seeing the original. What's nice about the animation is that they could really make the Macra into large and menacing monsters. For the uninitiated, Macra are a race of intelligent giant crabs which have evolved to need smog to live. They have actually appeared twice in the Doctor Who canon. Aside from this story, they were brought back (briefly) in the episode Gridlock starring David Tennant. In that story they were living below New, New, New, New ... New York when the motorways were sealed to protect the drivers from a plague.
Now that I've seen the story, I wonder if the Colony from "The Macra Terror" was the site chosen for New, New, New ... New York sometime in its future. That would explain why there are Macra in the sewers feeding on the smog created by the motorway. See both and decide for youself!
To wrap up, this offering is a must-have for any true Whovian. For those who new to the Doctor Who Universe, I still reccommend beginning your tour with the John Pertwee Era (third incarnation of the Doctor) because this is where the show really found its feet and began laying down the first shaky rules of its show-bible. Also, there are no missing stories from "Spearhed From Space", John Pertwee's debut story, to "Survival" , the last episode of the original series. However, The Macra Terror is an important episode and belongs in the category of pre-Pertwee classics which include "The Daleks" (the second story with William Hartnell, the original actor to play the Doctor), the "Tenth Planet", "Tomb of the Cybermen" and "The Invasion" which deal with the Cybermen and a few others. It's my hope that we will see more of the Macra in future new episodes. And then it would be nice to see a Zygon story which features a Scarascan.
I was not a fan of the Power of the Daleks animation, principally because it seemed rushed, with the clickity-clackity movement of the characters. Many fans had the same complaint and it seems that BBC listened to us. I think the BBC executives actually left the animators alone and let them take the time to do a good job. Is management by milestone dead? Probably not, but this animation flows a lot more smoothly and it even steps out of the orthodoxy of restorations and makes the Macra creatures menacing. The character animations seemed richer. The animators gave them more facial movements, which takes TIME. I hope the BBC continues the practice of letting the animators have more time to do good work.
Additional activity was added, e.g. the scene where the Controller is carried away by the Macra. There is a surviving clip of this. In the clip you just see a big claw lunging for the controller. In the animation you see the active silhouette of the controller being dragged away. The original could not have pulled this off on the budget at the time and this should be considered as a scene rewrite. Is that ok? I think so. Those kinds of extra flourishes are welcome and help round out the story. Therefore, I would argue that this edition of Macra Terror is a remake, not a restoration. However, I would stop short of rewriting scenes or adding scenes as this would necessitate new dialogue.
The story follows the original soundtrack, which may be its only weakness. I say that, because there are sometimes pauses between the dialogue where there is action taking place, but the animation does not seem to replicate it well. That's understandable since all the animators would have is the old scripts, and maybe some telesnaps or surviving clips. If you can overlook these pauses it's an entertaining story.
If you're asking is this worth the $19.99, plus shipping and tax? I would say yes if it means it will get more missing episodes animated. The caveat is the quality needs to be as good as this release or better. I always vote better. Also, with this addition you get some good extras, as well as the commentary track, which fans have come to expect as standard. Oh, when will they release the SE Enemy of the World in North America!
The only thing that really annoyed me was the fact that they did not put the story number on the DVD case. That was very triggering for my anal retentive personality.
Anyway I've been buying these reproductions as they come out and can't wait for the next.
This episode reminds is why Doctor Who has become such a popular franchise.