January 2, 2013

Fables of the Reconstruction: MACRA TERROR

One of the many tragedies about being a Doctor Who fan is that there are a great number of episodes missing from the BBC Vaults. It's a shame, especially since Patrick Troughton's Doctor is the one most affected. However, I hesitated in watching one of Loose Cannon's fan-created reconstructions (made with photos, soundtracks, and the occasional snippet of animation).

When the opportunity came to watch a full-on reconstruction (via a Who-loving pal) of a story I always wanted to see - The Macra Terror - I jumped at the chance. After all, I never heard the audio, and at ninety minutes, this seemed to be the "perfect" story to check out, especially since I had sampled other partial reconstructions in the past (such as The Ice Warriors, The Invasion, and The Tenth Planet) and enjoyed the stories despite hating the fact that episodes were "missing".

With The Macra Terror, I have to say that it was a mixed bag - although I liked the story, I have to admit that I really don't have much of a love for reconstructions.

It's not Loose Cannon's fault - the reconstruction cleverly mixes audio, photos, small bits of CGI animation and censor footage from New Zealand to make it less a slideshow-with-a-soundtrack. In fact, the overall story is a sharply written, almost Prisoner-esque tale of defying authority and asserting one's individuality. It's a well-written tale with at least one companion acting chillingly in character, and is more than just "giant crabs take over a planet".

However, much of my issue with the construction is just that....it's not just the frustration of having missing Doctor Who episodes. It's also the fact that by nature, reconstructions are a more intensive viewing experience, as watching both the reconstruction - and mentally picturing how the episode might have looked - was a bit daunting. I don't blame Loose Cannon for this - I think I'm probably more used to listening to the BBC's audio reconstructions on stories like The Web of Fear and Fury From the Deep that I might not be able to appreciate a visual reconstruction.

So for me, a mixed bag on reconstructions - I would recommend them for people so immersed in Who lore that they're willing to take a risk, but for most common people....you're better off hunting down BBCs audibook versions.

But Macra Terror as a story - great. Easily a lost "classic"....lost thanks to a lack of foresight.

And that, my friends, is the real source of heartbreak. 

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