Having settled the Doctor’s character, Innes Lloyd and Gerry Davis finally drop a new title sequence, four months after Hartnell left. It’s similar – howlaround patterns – but more symetrical, less disconcerting, and incorporates a very benevolent photo of Troughton, reflecting the show’s more familiar, less weird tone.
So it’s not entirely appropriate that it debuts with The Macra Terror, which, after the solid base under siege The Moonbase, is almost as oddball as The Underwater Menace. The unease is established from the off – which opens on the darting eyes of a disturbed man fleeing from the fizzy celebrations of a futuristic colony, out into the wilderness.
As this is by Ian Stuart Black, it’s not surprising this should share some similarities with his earlier script for The Savages. In both, a falsely idyllic society is built on exploitation and evil. But The Macra Terror goes a step further, having the citizens of the colony unaware that they are being exploited: their Prozac happiness is a prison. They are both the Elders and the Savages – complacent slaves, unaware there’s anything to rebel against.
As usual, Jamie’s common sense insight tells him that these are ‘a weird sort of folk’, and the Doctor isn’t fooled for a minute – all the drum majorettes and Beauty Presidents in the world can’t hide the fact that order is imposed by Ola and his impassive, blank-faced guards (whose costumes must surely have been inspired by the Robomen in 1966’s Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.):
It’s a real shame this episode hasn’t survived, as the tiny fragments that do still exist suggest this was atmospheric – and the loss of the scene of the Doctor being scrubbed up (and rejecting this attempt to turn him into a happy little clone) is only exacerbated by the animation’s decision not to attempt it. Even so, the episode’s juxtaposition of Medok’s terror, and the creeping horror of the Macra with the fixed grins and bland platitudes of the colonists make it an uneasy watch.
Next episode: The Macra Terror – Episode 2