- Actors: Various
- Directors: Various
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English
- Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
- Release Date: March 8 2011
- Run Time: 97 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00272NJ7U
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,298 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Doctor Who: The Ark (Story 23)
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Doctor Who: The Ark (Story 23)
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. Shortly after the second world war, Britain was faced with a labour shortage which resulted in the government taking out advertisements in the West Indies asking for people to come to Britain to work. This drew a lot of healthcare workers, later followed by their families, from the West Indies to live and work in Britain. As long as the golden years of the British economy continued then there was a need for workers for jobs which, quite frankly, British workers did not want to do. As the 1960s progressed however, economic difficulties became more common and the number of people who were unemployed began an inexorable rise and with that came an increasing number of racial incidents in all sorts of areas. Some politicians, such as the Conservative, Enoch Powell, drew attention to the issues but mostly it was avoided. This particular Doctor Who story reflects the growing concern with the problems of an emerging multi-cultural society and issues of tolerance and fairplay. It is a metaphor for British society and it's attempt to achieve a harmonious and peaceful resolution. Because of that it makes for one of the most thought provoking Doctor Who stories of them all.
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.
A very thin story indeed, with the Monoids being very unconvincing villains, as they have limited movement, and end up waddling rather like ducks, which is far from menacing. On the positive side, William Hartnell is clearly relishing his return to being the star/hero of the hour, and delivers a very enthusiastic performance. New companion Dodo doesn't really establish herself so well, however, but Jackie Lane does her best under the circumstances. Unlike the previous story where he took centre stage, Steven is left with very little to do as he contracts the new strain of fever, but gives it his all in the few scenes he has. Over all this is not the best of 60s Doctor Who, but should please die hard fans, and nostalgia freaks alike.
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