Thursday, September 15, 2005

'The Ark'

4 episodes

Didn't seem like much at first, but slowly built into something pretty good. There is another new companion (they're going through them like nobody's business at the moment), Dorothea 'Dodo' Chaplet, acquired at the end of the previous, missing story 'The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve' - a reputedly outstanding historical that gave William Hartnell an acclaimed dual role as both the Doctor and the sinister Abbot of Amboise, and is regarded in many quarters as the best ever Doctor Who story. Alas, it is long since lost to us, but I must definitely get around to listening to the audio CD of that one sometime...

Like the story, I wasn't impressed with Dodo at first - in fact, she was downright irritating in her opening scenes: to the point where, if I didn't actually wish upon her the same fate as her namesake, I at least wanted to give her a pretty good slap... but, she grew on me too by the end. This time, the TARDIS lands upon a giant spaceship in the far future, carrying the last departees from Earth shortly before it was due to be consumed by the death of the sun, on a 700-year voyage to colonise the planet Refusis. The fact that, while most of the human and animal populations have been miniaturised, the Guardians are keeping some animals in 'wild' environments allows for some spectacular jungle set design (including an actual Indian elephant!) and for Dodo to mistakenly believe they are at Whipsnade animal park... She is bothered by a recurring sniffle, which while no more than an inconvenience for her turns out to be fatal to the spacefarers, who have (like Steven) long since lost their immunity to such things since these were cured generations ago. Exactly how long ago is a matter for conjecture: though the general implication from comments made by characters is several miilion years, the Doctor estimates "ten thousand" as if it were a massively long time - and common sense would say around five billion years, as that is the likely actual time scale until the sun expands into a red giant. Thinking about it, that is exactly what the new series of Who did stipulate in 'The End of the World'... Anyway, the first two episodes revolve around the TARDIS travellers being put on trial for their bringing the disease, then being allowed to help find a cure. This accomplished, they return to the TARDIS and depart, in a very neat false finish - as moments later they reappear on the same spot, to find that almost the whole voyage has elapsed and the Guardians' descendants have been overthrown and forced into subjugation by their formerly peaceful (and slightly Wookiie-like) Monoid servants. When they reach the planet the companions are finally split up - surely a record wait for this to happen - and the Doctor is in the first group to land on the new planet. There are some clever shenanigans involving the native Refusians being invisible and helping the humans, while Monoid civil war decimates much of the oppressors' population, and in the end everyone agrees to coexist in peace and the TARDIS' occupants go on their way... again.


Episodes watched: 77
Episodes still to watch: 645

11 episodes today so far - already my best yet...

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