The Macra Terror has a hard job following the excellent The Moonbase, and although it is a decent enough story it isn’t quite as good as the previous story, or as thrilling, or as exciting.
The TARDIS lands on alien planet which seems to be run along the lines of a holiday camp, but which is hiding something far more sinister which none of the inhabitants seem to be aware of and, those that do, are taken away and reprogrammed so that they easily forget about what they thought they might have seen and carry on as though nothing untoward had happened, a bit like what the current government would love to do to people who don’t believe their rhetoric.
I do think that setting it effectively in a holiday camp was a good idea as the majority of the people watching would have been able to identify with such a place with its dance troupes and majorettes and leisure facilities.
Once again it seems that there isn’t enough for all three companions to do and in this story Polly gets to scream quite a bit but does get quite a lot of screen time, and gets herself picked up by a Macra for good measure as one of the cliffhangers, but Anneke Wills is so engaging as Polly that even though she doesn’t get a great deal to do you do remember her being there.
Ben is quickly taken over the Macra and spends most of the story not really doing much other than spying and ratting on the Doctor, Polly and Jamie at least right until near the end anyway. Jamie gets much more to do in this episode, at least when compared to the Moonbase, and he also seems to work really well with the Doctor and they have a much stronger dynamic that he does with either Polly or Ben.
Peter Jeffrey and Gertan Klauber are the stand out guest stars in this episode with Jeffrey playing the Pilot (i.e the chief of the colony) and Klauber playing Ola, the head of security of the colony.
The Macra are not a bad idea for a villain and certainly and they are certainly different to most other alien racesfrightening enough for a Saturday teatime slot and the crew are certainly in peril for much of the story.
Troughton continues to impress as the Doctor as he is constantly underestimated by virtually everyone in the story and doesn’t take very long to work out that things are not quite right in the colony and how to sort it out whilst still making people think that he isn’t dangerous to them until they have worked out that he is more than how he looks.
This is another example of a story that portrayed a decent and believable alien world, like Underwater Menace before it but wasn’t quite as exciting and tense as The Moonbase was. I can’t say that it is bad either, as it isn’t, it is entertaining enough and the animation on the recent release helps a great deal with the enjoyment of the story but it is still not of Troughton’s best and certainly sees him settling into the role.