1/09/2010. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 100 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-451-1)cast: Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Linda Marlowe, Jack Galagher, Rachael Elizabeth, Vincent Pirillo, Stewart Alexander, Paul David-Gough and Matt Addis.
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When the TARDIS malfunctions mid-manoeuvre, the Doctor and Peri arrive on board a very strange ship. The World War II destroyer is surrounded by a strange green mist which is gradually destroying the structure. Peri is unable to communicate with several crew members and she gradually realises that they are merely memories running on a continuous loop. She finally meets two crew members who are still alive but like the Doctor and Peri are trapped in the time distortion. This is the opening of 'The Macros', another of the Colin Baker lost stories from the season that never was in the 1980s.
The Philadelphia Experiment is a long believed conspiracy theory. It is said that the US navy ship USS Eldridge was the subject of an experiment that left it suspended in time and unable to return to its original place in the naval dockyard of Philadelphia. This theory is the basis of the story of 'The Macros'.
Unable to get the TARDIS away from the groove it is stuck in, the Doctor realises he must take drastic action before all the power is drained, destroying the ship and the TARDIS. He must visit the planet Capron in its pocket universe to attempt to persuade the inhabitants to switch off the machinery that is sucking the power from the ship. Unfortunately, the female dictator of Capron is quite keen on extending her empire. It's going to take more than diplomacy to stop this iron lady.
With its roots in the 1980s, it's hard not to think of the then Prime Minister of Britain as the inspiration for the ruler of Capron, the vile Ooslo, and the actress Linda Marlowe is superb. She certainly brings Margaret Thatcher to mind. Another interesting point is that the story was written by Ingrid Pitt which is pretty impressive credentials for a little old television show.
This would have been hideous as presented by the BBC in the 1980s and I'm relieved they didn't have the opportunity. With the new 'Sixie' this is much more fun. Peri gets to use her initiative and sing. The first of which is fine but as we discover Peri doesn't sing too well-
There are nice little plot touches and supporting characters that add some colour. There are even little historical touches that make you check what the true history is. The supporting characters play it properly and not as over the top as it would have been done with Beryl Reid or Janet Brown-
This is a better stab at using the Philadelphia Experiment than the 1984 film but still is Doctor-centric rather than dealing with the people who are torn out of time. These people are filler for the main story of the Doctor's adventures on Capron and the two plots don't always sit easily side by side. It's another variation on time travel which effectively traps the Doctor into a loop. I'm not sure if they have used 'Groundhog Day' for inspiration yet but I'd like to hear it.
I think the whole story about the USS Eldridge is cheaply used and discarded. I would have liked to get something more out of it than as a staging post to travel to a pocket universe. On the subject of pocket universes, I can't help thinking that 'Horton Hears A Hoo' might have been another influence. Conspiracy theories and Dr Seuss, never ask a writer where they got their ideas from, that way madness lies.
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