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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Ark (Story No. 23/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Ark (Story No. 23/BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: A     Episodes: B-



William 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.   


They also 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.   


As Doctor 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.   


The 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


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