THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
BIG FINISH AUDIO
DRAMAS "THE SONG
OF MEGAPTERA" AND
"WHISPERS OF TERROR."
INGRID PITT &
BIG FINISH 'LOST
RELEASED IN JUNE 2010.
The TARDIS LANDS
ON BOARD the USS
Experiment has gone
Most of the crew are
dead and the Doctor
soon realiSes that
the problem comes
from a DIFFERENT
As they attempt to
find a way to get the
ship home, the Doctor
and Peri visit Capron
and meet Osloo, its
But the search for a
solution only creates
horizons have been
widened – and space
and time are hers for
(2 55-MINUTE EPISODES)
The last of Old Sixy’s Lost Stories comes from the pens of buxom horror star Ingrid Pitt and her partner Tony Rudlin. After appearing in the fifth Doctor serial Warriors of the Deep, the seductive Queen of Horror quickly put pen to paper and submitted a number of story ideas to the production office, one of which - The Macromen – was commissioned for Season 22 before eventually being dropped, for what this release suggests might have been budgetary reasons. But more than twenty-five years and two hard drive crashes later, the late withdrawal of Michael Feeney Callan and his Children of January from Big Finish’s inaugural Lost Stories run finally offered The Macros a chance to see daylight.
Like many of Doctor Who’s most memorable stories, Pitt and Rudlin’s adventure offers a science fiction explanation for a real life mystery – in this case, the disappearance of the American naval destroyer, the USS Eldridge, which was lost during the Second World War in what conspiracy theorists claim was an “invisibility experiment” gone awry. However, as fascinating a starting point as this “Philadelphia Experiment” is, The Macros never really gets out of first gear. The opening scenes set on board the Eldridge are suitably spooky
and evocative, but once the story’s extra-dimensional antagonists are introduced, matters are soon drawn into a quite mechanical and unsurprising rut. This is a real shame, as the fate of the Eldridge is wonderful Who fodder, as is the great idea of microscopic humanoid creatures from an infinitesimal universe encroaching upon ours. Regrettably though, there is something lacking in the execution - something nebulous, but nonetheless something key.
Above: A wonderful catalyst for the mind’s eye... the striking graphic design of Alex Mallinson
It doesn’t take long for the Doctor to work out that the Eldridge’s power is being inadvertently drained by a microscopic universe and make his over way there to ask them nicely to stop. But when he arrives, he isn’t a giant – a ‘Macro’, as it were - he just fiddles with the TARDIS controls and alters his and Peri’s dimensions to suit the divergent universe. And whilst this admittedly leads to a dramatic cliffhanger and even rather a neat climax, I couldn’t help but feel that one of the story’s chief opportunities had been missed.
With no discernable size difference
between the humans and the people
of the microscopic universe, there is
nothing to set them apart beyond the
audible fact that one lot speak with
Baltimore accents, and the other in
the Queen’s English. The characters
on the Eldridge’s side of the rift are little more convincing than their miniature counterparts,
who for the most part comprise a generic bunch of despots and would-be rebels. The only
‘Micro’ to really stand out is Linda Marlowe’s Presidenta Osloo, and that’s only because her
outrageously hammy traits completely overwhelm all opposition.
themselves admirably, although the script isn’t kind
to their characters at all. Sixy is unusually meek, not
to mention ineffectual. In The Macros, the Doctor has
the knowledge, but doesn’t seem to be able to put it
to good use – he’s too busy getting himself locked up
or trying to rely on hand-written notes to save the day.
And Peri fares worse still: at times, the young botanist
is portrayed as being painfully naïve – her degradation
before Osloo stands out in particular – whilst at others
she’s pushy and gung-ho, be it through marching up to
the Presidenta’s guard demanding entry to the palace
or racing straight out of the TARDIS before the Doctor Above: Ingrid Pitt, the original Vamp
has re-stabilised her dimensions.
The production itself, however, is another matter. Richard Fox and Lauren Yason’s sound design is one of The Macros greatest triumphs - the electro-score is 1980s Who though
and through, and the effects themselves do a magnificent job of helping to create stunning images in the listener’s mind. They are aided in doing so, as ever, by the striking graphic design of Alex Mallinson, whose CD booklet centrefold once again serves as a wonderful catalyst for the mind’s eye.
In the end though, the sixth Doctor’s Lost Stories season has saved one if its worst offerings for last, serving up an audio that, whilst far from being poor, leaves an awful lot to be desired – rather like many 1980s Doctor Who serials. There’s an irony there, somewhere.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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