Viewing posts tagged the macra terror

This Irregularity Has Been Recorded

Doctor Who frequently did stories which critiqued capitalism to one degree or another.  But there's an interesting dialectical twist to this, which is that it usually cloaked such critiques in the aesthetics of (for want of a better term) 'totalitarianism'.

It begins, arguably, with 'The Macra Terror'... though so much of what that story does 'first' is actually just being done openly and consciously for the first time.  Other examples include (most graphically) 'The Sun Makers', 'Vengeance on Varos', and 'The Happiness Patrol'.  I'd argue for a few others to go on the list, but these are the most obvious examples.  'The Beast Below' carried on the tradition, as did 'Gridlock' before it (albeit mutedly).  Yet many of these stories have been subject to readings which interpret them as right-wing and/or libertarian attacks on aspects of socialism and/or statism (often assumed to be synonymous).  I might even (overall) support such a reading in some cases.  'The Beast Below', for example, is a story which critiques aspects of the capitalist world, but which (to my mind) ends up supplying more alibis than indictments - partially through its use of totalitarian/statist ...

May is Macra Madness Month (Shabcast 5)

Fraternal May Day greetings to all workers by hand or by brain, all socialists, and all anarchists.  Have a good one, comrades.  And implacable hatred, opposition and ill-will to all capitalists and their class allies.  Boo, hiss, etc. 

This month, both the Pex Lives Podcast and the Shabogan Graffiti Podcast are covering the classic 60s Doctor Who adventure 'The Macra Terror' by Ian Stuart Black, sadly junked long ago, and represented nowadays only by a soundtrack and a reconstruction

Shabcast 5 (download or listen here) sees me joined by my longstanding online buddy, actor Elliot Chapman, who also happens to have recently been cast as the new Ben Jackson by Big Finish.  The Early Adventures will be available soon, and will feature Elliot alongside Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines.

Elliot is so smart and erudite that he seems to be on some kind of mission to singlehandedly disprove the old stereotype about actors being thick.  And he likes my blog, which proves he's clever.  Our chat was fantastic fun, and I've had to edit it down savagely to make the episode anything approaching a reasonable length... but this means I ...


The Doctor, Polly and Jamie have been condemned to the pits, to the 'Danger Gang', for the crime of proving to the Pilot that his world is run by secret things that constantly order him to not notice them. 

The trio are entering the pithead to begin their work as miners, mining the deadly gas that the Colony collects for its unseen masters.  One of the Colony's jolly little work ditties plays in the background.  A loud, insanely chipper voice sings lyrics about how happy everyone should be to work and serve the Colony.

The Doctor groans as if in terrible pain.

"What's the matter?" asks Polly.

"Ooooh, dreadful!" exclaims the Doctor, "Did you hear that rhyme? The man who wrote that ought to be sent to the Danger Gang, not us!"

Jamie laughs.

The Doctor's concern isn't for the danger of the mines.  It's for the ugly, crass, aesthetic banality of tyranny; for its kitsch horrors; for its lack of imagination.  This might seem like a failure of proper priorities... until you remember that such crassness is a symptom of the infection in the social wound, the same wound ...

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