Doctor Who: The Ark In Space
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Doctor Who: Ark in Space, The (Episode 76) (DVD)
The Doctor, Harry and Sarah accidentally land on a space wheel where survivors from Earth lie in cryogenic suspension waiting to begin a new life.]]>
Tom Baker's second outing as the renegade Time Lord is a solid entry in the venerable British science fiction series' history, and its overall quality is well-matched by the wealth of supplemental material on the DVD. Fan favorite Robert Holmes penned "The Ark in Space," which places the Doctor and his companions Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter) on a seemingly deserted space station many years in the future. Station Nerva is not as empty as it appears, though; onboard are the cryogenically preserved survivors of Earth's destruction, as well as an insectlike alien race, the Wirrin, which are determined to use the humans--and the Doctor--as hosts to grow their monstrous larvae. Holmes's well-paced script (which, like Alien, bears a resemblance to the A.E. van Vogt story "Black Destroyer") allows Baker to flesh out his well-loved take on the Doctor, as well as considerable suspense. --Paul GaitaSee all Editorial Reviews
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Tom Baker had already "seized" the role in Robot and this episode further solidified his hold on the role as he would become the greatest Doctor of the original series.
Great writing and great production gave this episode a hook that is unforgettable. It's one of the top ten or twelve of Tom Baker's career. Materializing on a space station the Doctor and his companions discover that there is something amiss. Barely surviving zero oxygen, they discover that the station has been sabotaged by Wirrin, a Wasp-like species that seek to "absorb" the humans. Along with Vira, Lysset, Libri and Rogin, the Doctor and his companions do their best to thwart the evil aliens. Eventually with a bit of technical knowhow and
I loved this episode and I highly recommend it. The next episode called: The Sontaran Experiment is an indirect continuation of the events seen in The Ark In Space. Buy this and you won't be disappointed. I'm the 119th to give this story a Five star Rating and the 161st overall to review it.
A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
That's really where The Ark In Space suffers. Aside from Baker trying to find his footing in this new role-- Play it always for laughs? Tone it down severely? -- the script found new producer Phillip Hinchcliffe straining to bust out but not being fully able to do so yet. (That would come with "Genesis of the Daleks" which is frequently considered one of the best of any Who season.) The scenery was shared with the episode "Revenge of the Cybermen," amortized across the budgets of two serials to get a better space station set they wouldn't have ordinarily been able to afford. It still looks pretty rough.
So does this DVD. A bare-bones edition with only two interview segments and not much else, the purchaser is duly warned. There are better "special edition" versions of this story on DVD, but the Amazon descriptions are so generic across the run, it is hard to tell which version is which. You spin the wheel and try your luck.
Now, in almost stark contradiction to what I just said, this story has several plusses to commend it. The most "blah" Baker stories are often still a lot of fun. The rapport between this Doctor and companions Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan is a lot more jovial than some previously in the run. For Who fans, while this is not one of the most essential stories (Genesis, Talons of Weng Chiang, City of Death, you get my drift), it's still worth the cost. Just make sure you're certain of the version you're purchasing.
I'd say that this is a pretty good starting point if your introduction to Doctor Who have been the recent Doctors (9-12) and it'll make you curious about what other sci-fi goodness is in these past eras. The special features on this story is definitely a main point of why fans should buy this. I loved the commentary and the insight on what these actors thought at the time, and how they reflect on this particular episode after so many others. Just fascinating stuff that deserves to be watched.