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This Loose Cannon production is no longer available in this original format.
Instead a new, updated version has been released - please see here for the latest version
.

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Loose Cannon Production 01
The Macra Terror
"The colony is in the hands of grotesque insects!"

     
BBC Production Details
Production Code: JJ
Original Transmission (UK): Saturday 11th March 1967 -
Saturday 01st April 1967
Season: 4
Number of Episodes: 4
Writer: Ian Stuart Black
Producer: Innes Lloyd, Peter Bryant
Director: John Davies
 

Cover not for downloading -
see latest version of Macra Terror

Loose Cannon Production Details
Production Release Date: April 1998
Episode(s) Reconstructed: Episodes 1,2,3,4
Source Material: John Cura's telesnaps
Audio recorded by Graham Strong
Surviving clips
Other authentic pictures
Tape length required: UK / Australia: E180
USA / Canada: T120
Special Note:    

No episodes of this serial are known to survive. If any should resurface and be released at a later date, please purchase such an official BBC video release to complement our reconstruction.

Support The BBC Video Releases.

     

++ UPDATE ++

++ UPDATE ++

++ UPDATE ++

This Loose Cannon production is no longer available in this original format.
Instead a new, updated version has been released - please see here for the latest version
.

++ UPDATE ++

++ UPDATE ++

++ UPDATE ++



Loose Cannon Says:

Rick seriously started the Macra Terror reconstruction back in December 1997. He chose Macra not because he loved the story, or because it had not been reconstructed at that point, but because it was the only set of telesnaps he had at the time. A fairly lame reason, but nevertheless the truth.

From the outset, the intention was to create a different style of reconstruction to previous efforts. To this end captions were included to explain parts of the story that could not be comprehended based on the pictures and audio alone. To keep the pictures as large as possible the captions were scrolled from right to left at the bottom of the screen. The project was actually a lot harder, and took a lot longer than expected. The telesnaps had to be rescanned, sometimes several times, and the video editing was extremely tedious and painstaking.

The project was completed after working almost every night and weekend for 3 months. The reconstruction also includes the cine clips which have been reunited with the soundtrack.

Please note, that being a conventional telesnap type reconstruction this tape provides an adequate representation of the original story. However, since this reconstruction was produced our production standards have risen above all our expectations. In particular, the quality of the source material and overcoming the loss in quality when converting to and from video formats. Not wanting to deter potential viewers from watching our earlier work by all means obtain and enjoy this reconstruction but please do not judge all our tapes by the standard of these early versions. For a balanced view of what we can achieve please be sure to check out the later reconstructions as well as the early ones.

Synopsis:

The colony is a utopian paradise that knows no fear or concern. Everyone is happy and works hard for the colony's benefit, each giving their part to a collective whole. However there are hidden masters in this paradise who control the minds and lives of the colonists for their own ends.

When the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie arrive on this futuristic planet they are pampered and given wonderful hospitality. Despite outward appearances, the Doctor senses something is drastically wrong when he talks to an escaped lunatic named Medok who claims to have seen strange crab like monsters, the Macra, lurking in the night. Soon afterwards the Doctor finds that Ben has come under the vile influence of the Macra and can no longer be trusted.

Betrayed and sent down into gas mines, the Doctor, Jamie , Polly and the mysterious Medok must work together to free Ben's mind, discover the secrets of the Macra, and expose their existence to the colony before it is too late...

Reviews:
Review by Charles Daniels

This is a review of the actual release version. As it stands I have a desk drawer filled with copies of the Macra Terror, several different versions and I'm expecting another copy of one I already have in the mail today or tomorrow. There are more versions of this reconstruction than their are different cuts of Bladerunner. I have seen this reconstruction more times than any other reconstruction and more times than many existing episodes of Doctor Who. Now it MUST say something about The Macra Terror story and the reconstruction that even with no existing episodes and just a few seconds of clips here and there I am STILL having great fun watching it. I have had the unique opportunity to see this project evolve from its initial review release phase to its ever so nicer finished released form.

In my first review I mentioned that the picture were scanned adequately but were blocky at places, this has been entirely redone and now the pictures are as good as I've seen them anywhere. Clear, recongisable, sharp images greet the eye and help the story move along at a excellent pace. There are also some great pictures of all the characters within the reconstruction so you really do get a clear idea of what even the extras look like.

Also the narrative part of the reconstruction, in the form of scrolling text, has been expanded and improved. It does clear up some scenes and lines that may not have been so clear in the review copy.

The audio is the same, of high quality, and has some nice extras Episode 1 starts with a "BBC 1" channel identification and the announcement in front of episode 2 about the Monkees was hilarious to hear. So hearty thanks to Graham Strong on this recording.

The new release form of the reconstruction gave me an even further understanding and appreciation of the story. I covered the basic storyline and themes in my original review and that should be available through Paul Cryer's site or by asking me for it at: cdaniels@calweb.com

The Bottom Line: The release version suffers none of the fall backs of the review copy and expands upon the concept wonderfully, we get to see such goodies as the TARDIS materializing! Everything really looks and sounds wonderful.

And what about the rebel reconstructor Rick? Oh, well, he'll be taken back to the hospital for correction. He'll be given another course of treatment. And when he returns to the Colony, Rick will be a changed man. He will cooperate and he will obey orders. He'll be just like the rest of us.

Review by Jerry Grefenstette

Just finished watching "The Macra Terror" last night, and wanted to pass along my congratulations.

I've seen all the stories with subtitles, and those without, and thought that your format was a very effective compromise. Nice decision.

I was also very impressed with the audio-syncing of all the surviving clips. Lining up the 8mm stuff must have been a nightmare.

Can't wait to see the new ones you're working on, but how are you going to get enough stills for "Myth Makers"? Very curious about that.

Review by David Butler

I have always found The Macra Terror rather "hard-going" when I have listened to it on audio tape, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed this video reconstruction of the story very much.

The only thing that lets it down is the poor quality of the telesnaps used. They are rather "fuzzy" and look as though they have been greatly magnified. While viewing the tape on a 24-inch TV screen, I was unable to determine what a few of the telesnaps were actually showing.

One element of the reconstruction that particularly impressed me is the way that old 8mm film clips from the story have been seamlessly integrated with the telesnaps, and in lip-sync! The presence of these clips greatly adds to the enjoyment of the story.

I understand that this was Rick's first attempt at a video reconstruction and, if so, he must be applauded for an excellent first effort.

Review by Keith Bradbury

Well, I just saw the Macra Terror reconstruction for the first time and thought I would give my thoughts.

I thought the reconstruction was good, overall. The scrolling text was nice, since it made it easier to read over the larger telesnaps. I thought the overall production was good, clean, and worthwhile.

Now for the story: I think the Macra Terror worked well and was everything Happiness Patrol should have strived for but failed to achieve. Many of the themes are the same (although perhaps not the subtexts), but Macra Terror was a much more serious, believable tale. The people are conditioned to be happy, friendly, encouraging one another, all the while, giving "treatments" to those who claim to see the Macra, the crablike creatures that are really in control. In Macra, there is a sense of mystery. Who is to be believed: the happy people of the planet, or the crazed man claiming to have seen the Macra? The happy people give no sign of hidden hostilities, they seem benevolent, even desiring to help the crazed man "recover." On the other hand, the crazed man seems violent, unruly... Of course, leave it to the Doctor to kind out what REALLY is going on. And the fact that Ben is swayed through thought control and hypnotism to conform with the "happy people" added to the growing realization that something terrible was happening on this otherwise peaceful-appearing planet.

Contrast this story to the Happiness Patrol, where you know who's bad from the start, people have to be happy or you die, etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah. Macra worked, Happiness Patrol fell flat. I was suitably impressed with Macra, far more than I expected to be.

Review by Tom May

Yesterday I finally sat down and watched your reconstruction of The Macra Terror, which I'd already had some exposure to, through the BBC Audio version.

COMMENTS

The audio quality was first rate (a lot clearer than on the BBC tape), the telesnaps were clear, the clips were installed well, the scrolling words on the bottom of the screen were a novel idea and the TARDIS materialization was a nice touch.

Above all, the reconstruction allowed me to get as close as I may ever do to an underrated and excellent story, a story that nobody would be at all disappointed with, if it was rediscovered. A truly fine reconstruction then Rick, and the question must be asked: Are you thinking of doing any more reconstructions?

Review by Matt Fitch

I received The Macra Terror from you the other day and it is quite good. To call it one of the best recons would not be an understatement. I must confess, I find Macra to be one of the 5 best Who stories so I may be a bit biased. I have waited since I saw the picture of the leader of the colony menaced by the claw in the 20th Anniversary special to "see" this story.

Now some comments:

Picture quality: Easily the BEST that I've seen so far, barring perhaps the new COI Power...However, as the images are full screen, I would place yours a step above. The only picture problem I have is the opening sequence. This appeared to be a bit jerky, as if taken from a computer with a slow processor. Just the same, this is hardly the most important part of a recon, so all is forgiven.

Sound: about average for a recon, not crystal clear but by no means poor. Nothing short of phenomenal though when one considers its source.

Captions: I actually prefer them scrolling right to left so extra points there. However, I did at times have trouble reading those in black against the black/dark backgrounds so perhaps a brighter colour could be used next time. I also found the captions created for the start of each episode unnecessary. The telesnaps are certainly clear enough for this to be read, aside from the fact that those are the sort of productions which the "hardcore" fans enjoy who would be able to tell which ep was which without these caps.

Summary: If you could use your scanner, Devilyn's titles and Robinson's Captions on a recon it would be much like watching the "real" thing!

Overall grade: A-

I hope you'll consider more recons in the future! The Faceless Ones is another of my favs which has yet to be reconned.

Review by Craig Fuqua

I received my copy of The Macra Terror telesnap reconstruction and thought I would pass along a short review (while waiting on Mr. Daniels for the full scoop).

For those of you who haven't been reading the posts, New Yorker Rick Brindell announced recently he's completed a reconstruction of The Macra Terror. It has some differences, good and bad, from other TRs.

First of all, I am a big fan of the audio, so I was excited to see the show and I wasn't disappointed by the TR.

On the plus side, Rick uses titles just to let you know what's going on when there's no dialogue. It's a nice middle ground between the Change of Identity (Bruce Robinson) reconstructions and those done by Robert Franks, Rich Devlyn and co. and by Michael Palmer. I would have liked a few more descriptions from Rick.

He has the titles scroll horizontally off the screen. I was skeptical when Rick told me about it, but I liked having them gone quickly so I didn't keep re-reading them instead of looking at the pictures. They're here; they're gone.

Also, the video clips are incredibly well-synched. Some are a bit wavy, and that may be a technical fault on Rick's part.

On the minus side, the first three episodes are flawed by pixelated (blocky) images. This was an equipment problem Rick solved by using a different scanner shortly into episode four. It has a tremendous improvement in picture quality, which makes me look forward to more work from Rick.

Despite the pixelation, it's easy to see what's going on in 95 percent of the photos. The notable exceptions are those that feature the Macra, which I suspect were filmed in murky circumstances to hide a bad costume.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this TR; I could tell what was going on and the soundtrack was very clear. It's a great first effort.

Having said that, I need to declare that I'm a friend of Rick's and am listed in the "thanks" at the end - apart from moral support, my major contribution was a suggestion that he add more contrast to the pics to get rid of some foggy areas.

 

Review by Pat Lynch

This story takes place well into the Second Doctor's first season. By now Patrick Troughton is as comfortable in his role as Paul McGann was in his borrowed shoes. He oozes confidence in every scene he's in, like Tom Baker he clearly was born to play The Doctor. The companions too are on top form. True, Polly is a bit of a screamer, but she gives her all in one of the best cliff-hangers the series has ever seen. Namely Episode 2 as she cries out, "They're in control!". Fair curdles the blood, I tell you. Jamie seems to spend the entire story in a constant state of mistrust in contrast to Ben (a great performance by Michael Craze) whose mind has been influenced by the voices in his sleep.

Of the supporting cast Peter Jeffrey must be given special recognition. Despite being the pilot of the colony he is a good man, always fair in his dealings with both The Doctor and friends and the other colonists. It's a very strong performance which may remind some viewers of Martin Jarvis' tortured Governor in Vengeance On Varos.

The story is an unnerving one. The colony is being slowly taken over by giant crab-like creatures brain-washing the colonists. One suspects that, visually, the Macra themselves were not the most convincing part of the production. However the concept of these creatures effectively eating away at the colony is one which could keep you up at night.

The story has it all. A creepy tale, humour in exactly the right places (Jamie doing the Highland Fling!), and a classic cliff-hanger. True Episode 4 seems slightly rushed, but that's a minor point.

One day these episodes will be rediscovered, they all will you know, and with commentary by Frazer Hines and Anneke Wills it would be a cracking DVD! Until then of course, we have the reconstruction...

This was not only the first reconstruction I have seen (bar the Beeb's Tenth Planet Episode 4), but also of course the very first Loose Cannon recon.

I am amazed at how watchable it is. It shouldn't really work, should it? Pictures taken off a TV screen nearly 40 years ago. A soundtrack recorded by some fan in his parent's front room. But it does!

How easily one can submerge oneself into the story! The telesnaps are, for the most part, perfectly clear with only the shots of the Macra themselves being too murky to make anything out. The TARDIS materialising in Epsiode 1 is a delightful touch and the surviving clips are wonderfully tantalising bonuses.

Rick uses captions to explain those moments that are unclear through audio and telesnaps alone. These are never overdone and scroll unobtrusively across the bottom of the screen. I, for one, cannot conceive of a better way of doing this.

The audio is far clearer than the original BBC audio-cassette release and is not too far off the quality of the newer CD release. I must re-iterate that we should all support the BBC releases. A really great way to listen to the BBC audios is to do so after you have seen a Loose Cannon reconstruction. The ability to picture what's going on is greatly improved.

Finally, it interests me to see that Rick is very keen to point out that the first recons he did are not of the same quality of the more recent ones released by him and his team. This being the case, just how good do they get? I can't wait to find out...

 

Review by Shaun Reid

Finally I got my hands on the first of the Loose Cannon productions, The Macra Terror. Despite the age of the construction it is still excellent.

The story reminded me of a weird cross between 1984 and the Prisoner. Brainwashed happy colonists obeying the orders of their leader. It is an interesting story.

An thus Loose Cannon was born.

 

Review by Jameson Lee

A remarkable story with definite hints of the Prisoner TV series. It all starts off with a march throught the town square as a fella runs for his life. And ends in somewhat the same way... only with Pat surrounded by majorettes. Also, we get to see Jamie in the action her mold. Poor old Jamie, getting all the Ian bits and having to run through tunnels. A classic!!

 

Review by Kane Baker

I found 'The Macra Terror' quite good. The recon is an excellent first effort, even though the pictures and sound were hard to make out sometimes - but the story wasn't so good. Sure, it was OK, but was no match for Troughtons usual standards.
I'd recommend the recon, but the story wasn't brilliant.

Story: 5/10
Recon: 7/10

 

Review by Jonathan Witchell

An excellent recon with the Australian censor clips adding spice to the story. The soundtrack was clear too - well done for a first recon!
The story itself, did leave me wanting more of the Macra, and it would have helped if the Macra had had their own inhuman voices. What I liked most about this one, was the mystery, and with so many clear telesnaps as a visual aid, this recon is a must-have for any Doctor Who fan!

Click the link to submit your own review.