Big Finish Folly, Part 63 – The Macros, by Ingrid Pitt and Tony Rudlin
The USS Eldridge disappeared in 1943 during top secret experiments, never to be seen again. But the ship still exists, in a nether-realm of trapped time, the crew destined to repeat their final actions forever… until the arrival of the Tardis, at least. Because while Professor Tessler has managed to get one of the ship’s generators working, intending to reverse the experiment, something is drawing power hungrily from this dimension, and now the Tardis is trapped too. Now the Doctor has only to convince the omnipotent Presidenta of a micro-universe that co-operation is the best way forward…
This Lost Story is absolutely full of concepts, and it isn’t afraid to use them. The Philadelphia Experiment, multiple quantum realities and dependent micro-universes, the terrors of authoritarian rule, the dangers of attempting to change time, alternative power sources… this is high-concept Who at its best. Unusually for a story that originated in the 1980s, the humour is far more muted, giving Linda Marlowe and Vincent Pirillo room to play out the full drama of their characters’ arcs while Peri and The Doctor desperately attempt to stop the experiment ever having gone ahead in the first place.
The scenes aboard the Eldridge almost deserve a story of their own. It’s a Myst-style mystery situation, that could be given the same creepy treatment that Fang Rock received, perhaps. The idea of echoes of long-dead crewmen, forced to repeat their last moments for eternity is very effective, especially as they keep playing constantly underneath the other dialogue. The introduction of the micro-universe is a little less successful, being quite generic in nature as far as other worlds go (city, walls, guards, dungeon…), but the force of the Presidenta’s character makes up for that, and she literally drives the play to its conclusion (which, to be honest, you can see coming the moment she steps aboard the Tardis, but the inevitability doesn’t hurt the narrative at all).
Not the season-ending spectacular you might have wished for, but an ambitious and mostly successful story nonetheless.