Incremental progress meets Zeno’s Paradox

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. BatmanAoD
    May 9, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

    As usual, fantastic post, but I can't help but point out that the Macra, even though they are indeed seen in Gridlock, are still really not actually much more than a "name check"…calling them the "primary monster" of the story seems like a bit of an exaggeration, even though there aren't any other "monsters," per se, with whom they compete for that title. Their main purpose seems to be to provide a single short action scene that's actually kind of pointless in the context of the story. (Not that I'm not glad that Davies brought them back, because they are rather cool.)


  2. danrachelcleasby
    May 10, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    I haven't seen Gridlock since it aired, but aren't the Macra really used as a vehicle for a commentary on the current (and potentially future) state of pollution?


  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 10, 2011 @ 7:02 am

    BatmanAoD – It's true that "primary monster" is a bit of a lackluster title in a story that is intently non-monster focused. That said, the Macra actually have a similarly marginal role in this story – they provide some cave chases and little else. The story is firmly about the colony, with giant crabs thrown in for color and to make it more Doctor Who. All you needed was someone or something that was controlling the colony. The decision to make it "giant crabs" was ultimately arbitrary.

    danrachelcleasby- The Macra are turned into a polution analogue in Gridlock, but given that they've always fed on poisonous gasses, that's not a particular stretch.

    Everyone – Those who want a deeper sense of why Gridlock namechecks this story in particular should read the entry and then watch Gridlock, and in particular compare it to the other two stories in the New Earth trilogy in terms of how common everyday people are represented. The hymn, in particular, is very Macra Terror.


  4. landru
    May 10, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    Firstly, this story, or rather the presentation of the story, is bonkers. It's all a bit 60s and Prisoner-esque (was the Prisoner on yet?) I came to it through the novel, but didn't really care until the Reconstruction. I was a dubber for a long time and this was one of the first I saw. At that time (probably when most did) became fascinated with the early series' music … and this one is right on the line for most interesting and most irritating scores ever. However, it does exactly what it's supposed to do and you point this out well. Even as an American, I get the whole Holiday camp thing, though maybe the class aspect with Ben was a bit of a revelation. It makes sense, considering we assume he's smarter than Jamie.

    The Gridlock connection: I think these two stories, when viewed in social contexts of their times are very similar. When the best you can hope for is the carpool lane, your life is, at best, a sad denial (with hymnal and all.)

    Good one.


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 10, 2011 @ 10:20 am

    The Prisoner was not on yet – it started in 1968, I believe. I forget when exactly, in no small part because I haven't come anywhere close to figuring out when the heck I'm dealing with it in the blog. 🙂


  6. landru
    May 10, 2011 @ 10:21 am

    The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series first broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968 …

    I was looking it up.


  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 10, 2011 @ 10:26 am

    Well there you go. I knew it was a Season 5 issue, in any case, and I'm only just now figuring out where the extra entries in season 5 go. (I figure the news that there will be a Prisoner entry is news only in the loosest sense of that word.) So while clearly related in a broad cultural sense to The Macra Terror, this is yet another case where Doctor Who quietly got there first and got nowhere near enough credit for doing so. 🙂


  8. landru
    May 11, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    Exactly. I merely mentioned it because there really isn't any better sort of example of the type of weird show this represents.

    Man, the music in this … it really freaks me out. Even by itself.


  9. Alex Wilcock
    May 11, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  10. Alex Wilcock
    May 11, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    Though the lovely Gridlock takes care to clear up 1967’s ambiguous background to the Macra (‘no, they were nasty invaders, so the Doctor wasn’t being a git that time’), it also blows out of the water something I came up with a few years ago – it chimes in with where you’re going in your last few paragraphs, though, so you might like to take a peek at my analysis of the Macra as the Colony’s psychosis made manifest , which may be stretching a point but suggests that, actually, things may not get any better at all once our heroes have left, and that perhaps there really are no such things as Macra.

    Spot on about this crystallising the series’ liberalism, too – I’d say that this and The Evil of the Daleks are perhaps the most blatantly liberal messages the show ever had. But I’ve already linked to myself once, so I won’t add in my much-beaten-up essay How Doctor Who Made Me A Liberal as well…! And, d’oh, despite discussing the politics of it at great length, I still missed the point of why Ben in particular should be susceptible to holiday camps…

    Splendid post, anyway, and a brilliant story. I just wish more people loved it (or could see it, thrilling as the later Recon is).


    July 10, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

    Love your work.

    Just a correction: the pope you refer to was Paul VI, not JP II.


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