DOCTOR WHO - Missing believed wiped? The Macra Terror - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO - Missing believed wiped? The Macra Terror

Christopher Morley jumps into a Type 40 TARDIS to travel back to 1967 to catch the missing Second Doctor adventure, The Macra Terror.

We find ourselves now at a useful jumping-on point for all Tenth Doctor fans. Remember those hulking great crabs lurking under the motorways of New New York in Gridlock? Long before Ten arrived there, he faced them in an earlier incarnation - they're the Macra! And who stopped them first time around, before devolution robbed them of their intelligence entirely? Why, twas his Second self who pitched up in the far future with Ben, Polly & new addition to the TARDIS crew Jamie McCrimmon, long before young Martha Jones was on the scene eight bodies later for the Doctor, after a tussle with the Cybermen ( The Moonbase).

Anyhow, let's not dilly-dally - we've a colony to go & have a look at. After a new title sequence which marries the Radiophonic Workshop's brilliant theme to the psychedelic accompaniment of the Second's rapidly materialising/dematerialising head (groovy, man), it appears the recorder enthusiast & friends have found themselves in a sort of space-age Butlins.

Everybody looks to be having a wonderful time, & his companions are probably soon going to be begging the Doctor for some spare change to go & get themselves ice creams despite the whacking great claw they've just seen on the TARDIS scanner. But before he can oblige & ask them to pick him up a Mr Whippy while they're at it, they're attacked!

Who's the clearly crazed loon who goes for them, though? He's Medok, one of the not so happy campers - and the cops are after him. He reckons without Ben & Jamie double-teaming on him during his escape bid, though, and the rozzers (led by Ola, the Chief of Police) quickly recapture him. Impressed, the foursome are offered the chance to have a look around the place & meet the Pilot - who, she assures them, will be ever so grateful for their help.

Turns out he is, too. Accompanying them on their way to the Refreshing Department - why they can't just call it a canteen like everyone else in the universe isn't explained - they quickly meet the Controller (well, at least his head & booming voice), the Pilot rapidly makes his excuses & departs soon after a strange chiming music makes itself heard.

That means its time for a shift change for the gas miners - & a chance for Medok's old mucker Questa to get some truth out of his friend now that he's back. Rumours have spread that he's been hallucinating strange creatures that only come out at night...which Medok confirms, correcting the 'hallucination' part to 'actually real, thank you very much'.

The Controller announces to everyone that he's throwing a bit of a do to welcome the Doctor & chums to the colony, but Medok won't be invited. Warming to his theme, the poor man's 'crazy talk' gets him thrown in the slammer. But before he's taken to a cell the Doctor gets a brief chat with him & is won over by his claims, later securing his release by picking a lock.

Which in turn means trouble for the Time Lord. With alarm bells sounding, the Pilot & Ola both want to know what he was playing at. Before he can bluff & tell them 'my recorder, actually.' it emerges the copper wants him sentenced to hard labour in 'the pits'.

Just when it looks like he'll have to add a miner's hat to his collection, the Pilot suggests he & his friends come & have a nosey at the Labour Centre. Mercifully not encountering a Mr Milliband or Blair, they learn that a different kind of hot air's mined here- gas. Nobody seems to know what it's for, mind. Which just adds to the intrigue after Polly notices the Doctor's managed to slip off. He wants to investigate, and quick.....

Medok's hiding at a construction site they passed along the way, & the Second wants answers. Just what are these creatures the fugitive claims to have seen? The clue that they're giant & with huge claws could be enough to have him pegging it back to his trusty old Type 40 post haste! Anyone else claiming to have seen them ends up in the hospital, no doubt tarred with the 'fruitcake' brush - and Medok quickly sends Two back to his chums before curfew. They're quickly consigned to hastily- constructed cubicles in the Refreshing Department, but the threat of guards on patrol isn't enough to prevent the Doctor going off to find his new friend once more, even if Jamie, Ben & Polly won't join him for an amusing Band On The Run - style montage should he be caught.

Luckily he evades that possibility, & in a further stroke of luck Medok spots one of those nasty beasties he's been so vocal about as the duo avoid capture & a possible spell as Porridge-style cellmates. At last, people won't think he's nuts!

A realisation which causes the happy nutter to give both himself & his partner in 'crime' away to Ola & her band of guards. Taken before the Pilot, the Doctor states his case as to why he believes Medok - a handy small-scale dress rehearsal for a rather bigger trial he'll face a good few selves later, when he's got himself a horrid rainbow eyesore of a coat. Enough to send shivers down the spine, isn't it?

Before he can contemplate the ghastly taste of carrot juice, though, Ola interrupts proceedings to reveal that Medok's made a clever bluff - telling all & sundry that the Doctor was actually trying to persuade him to give himself in to the authorities. With that, he's released. The Controller recommends a course of 'adaptation' (thinly disguised brainwashing) to get rid of any further questions they might have & make them just as subservient as everybody else.

Our companions three - Ben, Jamie & Polly- have already been subjected to small courses of such while they sleep, until the man with the TARDIS key arrives to disconnect it. Too late for poor Benny-boy, though- he's now under the crabby command of the Macra like everybody else....a fact the Doctor soon picks up on after hearing Ben's testimony on his capture of Polly - while she swears blind she saw a claw, Mr Jackson is oblivious to any such influence, & the Doctor & Jamie realise they'll have to get to the bottom of things.

And they do - a pit, sentenced to form part of a forced labour gang to mine the oh-so important gas, which they've established the Macra need for something now they know the crabs are in the driving seat of the whole colony. Bit of a pain, that. If only Ten could see them now! How much help he'd be is sadly a moot point, but surely having previously come across them in this very adventure he'd surely be a welcome second pair of hands & indeed legs. Back to the business at hand, though!

Whatever this gas is, its fatal to humans, as Polly & Jamie soon learn in the process of helping to stop a leak. Their two-hearted friend, having been elected site foreman, is busy doing some calculations as to the nature of the beast, while Jamie finds a door - an escape route! Medok quickly follows the canny Scot through it after the piper pinches a set of keys, the theft of which isn't noticed by Ben (who's been sent down to keep an eye on things).

While he's looking for Jamie, though, Medok's attacked by a Macra......the Controller promptly forbidding anyone to go where the two escapees have just fled. Turns out Ben knows who took the keys, too, but didn't say anything - the Doctor is pleased as punch to learn his young friend is at last making an attempt to fight back against his mental conditioning. Jamie makes an altogether less pleasing discovery, though.

Medok's body awaits him, as does one of the evil space crustaceans! The man he's come to see as a sort of substitute laird, meanwhile, is still having no luck analysing this damn gas. Where's your future self when you need him, he could conceivably curse - the whole business of undertaking such high science with no assistance whatsoever quite possibly getting to him. 

Getting too caught up in his own troubles won't help him now, though. He has to help Jamie out of a tight spot sharpish, the Controller having ordered gas to be pumped into the piper's hiding place. All of which is good news for the Macra, but not so the Caledonian bagpipe-blower. Just when it looks like all might be lost, the Doctor tricks the mine officials into telling him how to reverse the flow of the blasted gas.

This achieved, the Macra slumps into the sort of state Ten will be more than grateful to find them in in New New York years down the line & McCrimmon escapes before doing a Highland Fling quite literally into the arms of his captors.

While he's bungling, though, the Doctor & Polly find definitive proof the Macra are the big bosses in the Controller's chamber, and persuade the Pilot to go with them to see the truth of the matter - Ben proving himself the hero once his hypnosis wears off & sending the crabs to Kingdom Come, freeing the colony of their control & leaving the way clear for a stop at Gatwick (The Faceless Ones)...

Later today we look at the departure of William Hartnell and the loss of his final Doctor Who episode, part 4 of The Tenth Planet.

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