Doctor Who: The Macros Review

The original run of Sixth Doctor Lost Stories comes to a close, and while we now have four more Lost Stories from this era after it, it’s still a shame to see this original series go out on such a crushingly dull end. The Macros isn’t a bad story, but it’s not a very exciting one either, managing to fall into that deadly area known as “forgettable”. Want to read more? Well, I’m not sure why after that opening paragraph, but sure! Let’s go!

Synopsis:

The TARDIS materialises on the USS Eldridge, after the Philadelphia Experiment has gone disastrously wrong. Most of the crew are dead, the ship is disintegrating, and the Doctor soon realises that the problem comes from another dimension…

As they attempt to find a way to get the ship home, the Doctor and Peri visit the distant planet Capron and meet its tyrannical ruler Osloo. But the search for a possible solution only creates increasingly dire problems. Osloo’s horizons have been widened – and space and time are hers for the taking…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Back to the tiny picture again, but given it’s just a ship with green fog I don’t feel like I’m missing much…

The core concepts at work here are perfectly fine, and in fact quite fun. The Doctor and Peri arrive on board the U.S.S. Eldridge after its infamous disappearance that conspiracy lovers claim was due to off-the-books experiments, which of course in the world of Doctor Who is exactly what happened! The Eldridge was tampering with Stealth Technology and ended up trapped between dimensions, having its every fibre slowly sucked dry by a nearby “macro universe” known as Capron. I like the idea of mysterious disappearing ships, multiple dimensions and even micro-universes, but sadly all these concepts aren’t well handled here, though I will praise the idea of time running differently in Capron compared to “our” universe, which causes some nasty side-effects to various characters during the story, including another horrible Peri near-death transformation cliffhanger, classic!

The opening half hour, with The Doctor and Peri investigating the crumbling ship and encountering the crew repeating the last 30 seconds before the Stealth Tech was turned on over-and-over like invincible ghosts was really good mood setting (ignoring a REALLY long monologue by The Doctor talking about the real history of the ship…) Sadly the story is two hours long, so that’s not saying much. There was a fun scene of The Doctor and Peri uncharacteristically going back in time to try and halt the experiments as well, even if it doesn’t work.

The Bad:

Once you get past the interesting bit at the start it all sort of becomes generic 80s TV Who. Capron is led by a dictator called Presidente Osloo (Linda Marlowe) whose entire character is just “selfish dictator” and never even slightly moves from that basic synopsis, and her stepson Ezz (Jack Galagher) and his love-interest Yka (Rachael Elizabeth) are helping a revolutionary force to try and over-throw her, and that’s about the limit of their characters too. On the Eldridge we have Professor Brian Tessler (Vincent Pirillo) who is the remorseful scientist who wishes to get back to his wife, and there were a few other generic crewmen who didn’t become frozen in a time loop who say a few lines then vanish into the background. That’s about your lot! It’s just popping back and forth between universes, trying to help out both sides, then Osloo tries to use the universe she’s already sucking dry to gain more power but ends up being reverted to the age of a newborn baby, paving way for the revolution to take over, and Tessler and the crew are unfortunately doomed.

So what starts off as an interesting mystery soon turns into a generic “The Doctor helps a group of rebels overthrow the Dictator in a foreign place that looks and acts a lot like Earth” story. I guess this would’ve helped get the story made, budget-wise, but for these ears this story was just… dull, and entirely forgettable. If someone asked me what this was about before this second listen I would’ve just said “Something about a ship and a micro-universe? That’s about all I remember”, and I doubt it’ll be much different if you ask me again in a year or two…

The Continuity:

No monsters on this cover… Well, Osloo was the villain, but she’s not exactly scary…

Osloo’s fate of being reverted to a newborn also happens to Margaret the Slitheen in Ninth Doctor TV story “Boom Town”. The Doctor mentions having taken a battery from Rev. Foxwell’s lab in “The Hollows of Time”, and Peri name drops a bunch of her past adventures while talking to Yka.

Oh and Peri recovers from her time-displaced predicament via the Zero Room, first seen in the Fifth Doctor’s debut story “Castrovalva” and has made several other appearances since (despite being jettisoned in the same story!)

Overall Thoughts:

As you probably could’ve guessed just by the opening paragraph of this review, I’m not a big fan of The Macros. When I was planning this Lost Stories / 8th Doctor Comics marathon and wrote out the original eight Lost Stories I remembered quite a bit about each one, for better or worse, but I’d completely forgotten about this one, and now I know why! It’s just dull… It’s not awful, but sometimes being boring is worse than being terrible because at least if it’s that bad it’s fun to make fun of it! Oh well… Best left unlistened too, unless you want to be able to say you’ve listened to the whole range or something (I know what that’s like…)

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