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Doctor Who: The Ark (Story 23)

 Unrated   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 30.98
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Doctor Who: The Ark (Story 23) + Dr. Who Ep.27: War Machines + Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus
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No Doctor Who collection is complete without this rarely seen, vintage 1966 episode of the venerable British series's third season, and starring William Hartnell, the first incarnation of the cosmos-hopping Time Lord. But even if you are a recent initiate into the Who universe, you will find this episode contagious.

The TARDIS, an interplanetary time machine that on the outside resembles a police call box, lands Doctor Who and his companions, the chirpy Dodo and forthright Steven, on a spacecraft called the Ark. They learn that Earth is about to plunge into the sun. The Ark contains all human, plant, and animal life and is bound for the planet Refusis. But Dodo has a cold, against which the Ark's Guardians and the slave race called Monoids have no immunity.

The Doctor is able to overcome the Guardians' fears and suspicions and finds an antidote. The TARDIS is allowed to take off, but it returns, seemingly seconds later. Actually 700 years have passed. The time-traveling trio is stunned to discover that a mutant strain of the fever has led to an evolutionary shift--the Guardians are now the slaves and the Monoids rule.

The Ark is disarmingly stagey (some of the actors step on each other's lines and others stumble over their dialogue), but it is a precious relic from television's longest-running sci-fi series, and one for which its devoted fans will gladly make time. --Donald Liebenson


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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent classic Hartnell adventure Sept. 4 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This video was actually the first William Hartnell tape that I managed to get my hands on when I started collecting the Doctor Who videos, I waited a long while before actually watching it, but it was definitely worth the wait. This awesome story, and somewhat reminiscent of The Planet of the Apes, in which the roles are reversed kind of thing, those who were once the servants become the masters, that sort of thing. Especially in the cliffhanger at the end of the second episode when the TARDIS crew arrive 700 years later and find that the statue is completed, but it has the face of a Monoid. That part reminds me of the twist ending they had at the end of both the original Planet of the Apes movie and Tim Burton's re-imagining, very effective, and very chilling. All in all, an excellent adventure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No warp drive here. Only impulse power. July 2 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This story was originally broadcast between March 5 and March 26 1966, and it addresses an issue raised on a number of occasions by a few science fiction writers, that of travelling through the universe at speeds less than the speed of light.
As I write this review in July 2002, the BBC news has reported that scientists have managed to teleport a molecule across a room. Clearly the technology has someway to go before the creation of a trans mat but it is a first step. Others have postulated the hyper drive but so far the hard science has been against them. Obviously too, with social scientists having enough to do figuring out the problems of today's society, there has not been much research done on the practical issues involved with the slower than light speed travel to other worlds.
The first of the Doctor Who Ark type stories addresses that by the miniturisation of the majority of the human race and earth life and a life of luxury for the crew, served by a race of Monoids. This is particularly reminiscent of the 'Planet of the Apes' concept. The arrival of the Doctor and his companions brings an unseen enemy into the ark - that of the common cold to which the crew have no reistance.
The TARDIS leavs, only to return at journey's end, and as in 'Planet of the Apes' the Monoids have taken over and hold the humans as slaves. The treatment of the humans reflects the feelings of the Monoids for their perceived abuses in the early years. Happily, the Doctor, with a little help from outside reolves the situation to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned.
As a drama this particular episodes addresses a social issue which was gaining ground in England at the time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Two Stories Pretending To Be One March 13 2002
Format:VHS Tape
(Note: Warning! Spoilers ahead!)"The Ark" is one of three stories remaining from William Hartnell's third season in Doctor Who. And I must admit it is one of his weakest. Thin on story, especially in the first two episodes, this tale gives us a view of Humanity in the very far future. Millions of years on, in fact. A long time after man has conquered space, the remnants of Earth's native sons are on a huge space craft inhabited by all forms of remaining life on Earth, who flee from the planet's imminent destruction, to colonize a planet they have never even set foot upon.
The Doctor and company arrive with new companion Dodo (picked up in the final moments of the previous story "The Massacre"), who has an illness unknown to Human science of the 57th Segment of Time, the common cold. The illness quickly spreads throughout the population of both Humans and their friendly servants, the alien Monoids, killing a number of both species. After some debate as to whether the TARDIS crew have brought the illness on purpose or not, the Doctor is finally allowed to search for a cure, using Steven (who has also somehow attracted the illness which he should already have an immunity to!) as a guinee pig.
Well, of course the Doctor finds the cure and saves the day. The TARDIS dematerializes and then suddenly RE-materializes in the exact same spot, only 700 years later. Things on the Ark have changed significantly, as now the Monoids have become the masters, enslaving Humanity as the Ark approaches the long sought planet for colonizing. The Doctor and crew must find a way to free the Humans from the Monoids, and prevent the extinction of man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is Why Special Effects Mean Nothing Jan. 22 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I hesitate, as usual, to recommend any Hartnell Doctor Who to the uninitiated, because frankly the basic formula of the series was not into place yet. Having said that, "The Ark" despite several flaws is one of the most-well written serials from the early years and probably one of the more "daring" storylines in the show's history. Here the Doctor and his companions set in motion the conflict by contaminating the ship. It is the direct effect of the time travellers that puts so many lives in danger. The story plays very well especially the first two episodes (the 2nd becoming a little more standard when the Monoids become "baddies"), but it is still great fun. The music is pretty tight in that 1960's sci fi kind of way and the major complaint is the ridiculous Monoid costumes. But as DW continuously proves, effects don't make the story. George Lucas take note.
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