Doctor Who: THE MACRA TERROR Animated Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE MACRA TERROR Animated Review

“There is no such thing as Macra!” declares Moo.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what we have. Over recent years, missing episodes of Doctor Who, unseen since broadcast in the 1960s, have been reproduced through animation. We can actually watching stuff like The Reign of Terror, The Ice Warriors, The Power of the Daleks, and The Faceless Ones. Soon we’ll have Fury From the Deep. What a time to be alive!

In March 2019 an animated version of The Macra Terror was released, and it's this version that now allows us to revisit the story in a new form for the first time since the original was broadcast 52 years previously. Although it does seems like an unusual choice to animate, comparing to other Patrick Troughton era stories. The Macra Terror isn’t one that draws a huge amount of interest beyond the standard “missing episode” fare. So it’s interesting that this one should be the first to be brought to life in colour like this. But when you watch it, you quickly realise it’s actually really really good.

You have to appreciate the freedom given to the animators here. The decision to use full colour despite the black and white original is immediately a striking change (black and white is available for the purists, but why you’d do that I have no idea) and as it goes on you see more of the same reinvention. This is because they’ve been allowed to reimagine the whole story. The scenes are totally original, following the same script and soundtrack but with the ability to have a new look. The story has been reinvented and, if I may be so bold as to say so, it’s for the better. The animation quality is so good here, it looks great and moves so smoothly that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was always how it was intended to be seen instead of being a replacement.

But what of the story itself? Luckily it’s good too. It's standard enough – land somewhere, meet people, arouse their misguided suspicion, encounter monster, liberate people from monster – but the setting is very different. This is Doctor Who goes to holiday camp.

There’s a lot going on here. This holiday camp isn’t your usual Butlins, it’s got a sinister edge beneath the surface (okay maybe it is a bit like Butlins). There’s a Big Brother figure in the Controller, appearing on giant screens to give orders. There are drum troupes parading around the place and dance recitals happening. One highlight is when Jamie stumbles into a majorette troupe rehearsing for a show when he’s meant to be running away from the giant crab monsters. It’s a very surrealist story, and a welcome gem in the Patrick Troughton era that deserved to be brought to life like this so people could appreciate its hidden brilliance.

What of the Macra themselves? Apparently the original cast and crew were disappointed with them. The props simply did not work and the actors recall having to make up for it by hurling themselves into them and using especially loud screams to try and make them seem scary instead of laughable.

The animation goes a long way here. Now the Macra look great! They scuttle around and carry a genuine menace with them when they go. The animators use the freedom this medium offers to have them in the corner of the frame and casting their shadows over people in all kinds of creatively framed shots. I can’t watch it to judge, what with it being missing since 1967, but I don’t believe that the live action original could possibly compare.

So while it’s a shame we can’t see the original intended version of The Macra Terror, it’s a good thing that we have this version. The story is fantastic and the animation has brought it to life again. Please support these people and get hold of a copy so that we can see more and more of these stories being revived. This one especially deserves to be supported as proof that it doesn’t need to have the draw of a Dalek or Cyberman. These episodes need to be seen. Let’s do what we can to make that happen.

“Moo” is the pseudonym used by this Doctor Who fan. He can usually be found procrastinating by thinking about Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @z_p_moo for more of his unusual takes, but do so at your own risk.

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