Doctor Who: The Ark
(Story No. 23/BBC DVD)
C+ Sound: B- Extras: A Episodes: B-
Hartnell holds a special place in the hearts of many Doctor Who fans as the first man to play the titular role.
It’s a credit to his performances in the role that so many of his stories are
remembered so fondly, because in many cases the show was still finding its way
during these formative years. Plots were often silly or confused, special
effects and monster presentation suffered terribly from minuscule budgets, and
the Doctor’s companions were sometimes not the most likable of
sorts. In The Ark, the
Doctor (Hartnell) and companions Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane) and Steven Taylor (Peter
Purves) find themselves on a mysterious space ship so huge that it carries a
fully realized environment complete with wild life and exotic plants.
Their TARDIS mishap has left them millions of years in Earth’s future, and they
soon come face to face with a group of people acting as the custodians of the
last remnants of human race.
meet the Monoids. These unfortunate aliens sport 1960’s mod haircuts and
act as a servitor race to the human custodians (called Guardians). The
aptly named Dodo manages to infect both Monoids and advanced humans with her cold,
a virus they have never been exposed to. The malady spreads like
wildfire, and it falls to the Doctor to find a cure, and he delivers, after a
fashion. Once everyone seems better, the Doctor and his cohorts leave in
their TARDIS, but they are almost immediately catapulted back to the ship at a
point even further in its future, and things have changed for the worse.
The cold virus apparently returned in the interim, killing many in its wake and
creating a power vacuum. Now the Monoids hold the power, and they are not
a benevolent bunch.
Who villains go, these guys are pretty lame, and despite the fact they confine
Steven to their Security Kitchen, he manages to motivate the servitor humans
there to assist him in plotting against the one-eyed aliens. Meanwhile,
the Doctor and Dodo travel with a Monoid “away” team to a planet targeted by
them as their new home base. There one of the Monoids tries to get at the
planet’s disembodied current residents by engaging in petty acts of vandalism.
Did I mention the Monoids have a Security Kitchen? Right. Moving on then. The Doctor eventually
manages to out maneuver the Monoids and set things to right, and it is with
good reason that these guys were one and done adversaries.
extras live up to the usual high BBC standards, and include features on the
making of the story, commentaries, and images from the production. Folks
possessing a limited budget for building their Who collection might want to
bump this story to the bottom end of their lists. Of course, hardcore
Hartnell fans will want this one, as his First Doctor is not without his
charm. Let us hope that the Monoids themselves are also at the bottom of
any list of potential new foes for the modern series!
- Scott Pyle