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|the Traveller, Poking Hatman...with a stick (sharp one)
|Friday 16 June 2006
PLOT: When the TARDIS takes its crew to a spaceship named The Ark, Dodo accidentally passes on a cold virus to the humans and their servants - the Monoids. Returning to The Ark years later, they find that the Monoids have seized control...
William Hartnell gives a very good performance, the Monoids are well-designed, and the effects are surprisingly well achieved. Unfortunately, these good points are marred somewhat by the slowness of the story, the Monoids giving away pieces of the plot in repetitive conversations which they have in earshot of the humans, and Dodo's wildly inconsistent accent that seems to change in nearly every scene. Despite this, The Ark is enjoyable to watch, and it is evident where the budget has gone in this ambitious classic Hartnell adventure.
|Ambitious and Imaginative
Production of The Ark was a somewhat ambitious undertaking in its day. The setting the TARDIS arrives in is a huge spaceship that includes a large wild animal habitat and living areas for the last humans from Earth, who are leaving because the time has come (some millions of years in our future) for the death of the planet. They have with them the one-eyed alien Monoids, who are their servants. The slightly creepy, mop-headed Monoids are very intriguingly designed, with their single eye where a human's mouth would be, animated by the actor's tongue, apparently. They're rather fascinating to look at. The action all takes place beneath the vast dome of the ship, a nicely achieved effect.
The story is divided into two parts, the first two episodes having to do with a deadly outbreak of disease created by the introduction of Dodo's foreign cold virus, against which these people of the future have no resistance, and episodes three and four take place 700 years into the future, as the ship nears the end of its journey to the planet the humans and Monoids will be colonizing. The ability of the TARDIS to locate the ship again in a different part of space, at that particular point in the future, is rather interesting, as at this point, the Doctor still has no control over where his ship goes. When they arrive, they see that the colonists' giant statue has been completed. The plan was for it to be a statue of a human, but it now has the head of a Monoid, making for a fairly impressive cliffhanger for the end of episode 2. The visual effect of the completed statue is, again, an ambitious element for that period, nicely done. Other visual effects, such as the scenes in space and the Refusians' invisibility, were also nicely done, considering when this story was produced.
In some ways, The Ark deserves a very high rating, but points come off for some occasional sloppy work with the sets and costumes, and for some dumb script elements. At one point, the dome ceiling of the spaceship is seen billowing a bit in a breeze, and on a couple of occasions, we see the zipper on the back of a Monoid costume. These troubles could've been avoided with a just a little more care. As for the script, both the future humans and the Monoids are written to be pretty stupid at times, and that rankles a bit, considering that at least the humans should be a pretty intelligent bunch, if they have the ability to make such a journey across space.
But overall, this was an innovative story, nicely executed, and one that still holds up fairly well, over 30 years later.