The Ark in Space

Talk about Doctor Who when Tom played the Doctor (1974 - 1981).

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The Ark in Space

Postby Toothy Grin on November 10th, 2009, 2:24 pm

After the Pertwee left-over that was Robot, The Ark in Space is the first story that showed the new direction that Dr Who was going in, under the helm of Hinchcliffe and Holmes. This is certainly one of the most chilling stories in Dr Who's history, with some very grisly concepts (the parasitic Wirrn in particular) and a very mature and adult approach. The scene with Noah holding up an arm wrapped in green bubble wrap should be laughable but is actually very disturbing, thanks to the actor's totally comitted and convicing performance. The set design is amazing, with the curving corridors of the Ark and the cryogenic chamber having a sterile clinical-ness and a real feeling of futuristic isolation. A very claustrophobic story indeed, Ark in Space succeeds due to it's excellent performances, convincing setting, thought-provoking story and creepy atmosphere. Tom Baker really steals the show here, in one of his best ever performances, and the Wirrn, while admittedly a little clumsy looking, are still one of the most horrific aliens due to their wasp-like nature. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Ridley Scott got some ideas for 'Alien' from The Ark in Space.
Apparently Tom's own personal favourite story, it's easy to see why.
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby TARDIS-Tara on November 11th, 2009, 5:01 am

Ark in Space will always be in my top ten favorite Doctor Who stories.

I have been terrified of wasps for as long as I can remember.

The idea of giant wasps that laid eggs in dormant people haunted my dreams for years.


That episode had everything. Pathos, love, joy, friendship, courage, and unbounded optimism.

All of the best things in Doctor Who.
"Pity about the scarf-- Madame Nostradamus made it for me-- a witty little knitter. Never get another one like it--" The Doctor, Ark in Space
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby John on November 11th, 2009, 6:22 pm

The first thing you notice when watching The Ark in Space are the beautifully designed and constructed sets. Designer Roger Murray-Leach, in his first brief for Doctor Who, succeeded in creating one of the most ambitious and best loved sets in the shows history, his highly acclaimed split-level cryogenic chamber becoming the main focal point for much of the story.

Philip Hinchcliffe’s strategy when taking over as producer was simple. For Doctor Who to maintain its popularity it should appeal to a broader audience, this would mean stories of a more mature nature that would appeal to both children and adults. The results of this policy can be seen very clearly in The Ark in Space.

Working at breakneck speed, and with barely eighteen days to write all four episodes, Robert Holmes tense space thriller is a far cry from anything that had come before it. Based largely on the 1958 film The Fly, Holmes storyline depicts horrific scenes of bodily mutilation as Noah, desperately struggling in vain to maintain his grip on humanity, slowly succumbs to his metamorphosis into a Wirrn. A stifling sense of claustrophobia and desperation is conveyed throughout this story, and as the invaders lay siege to the Ark and the stakes grow ever higher, we learn of the grisly fate of technician Dune and the Wirnn’s gruesome plans for the sleepers.

As in all of his scripts, Holmes writes his characters very real and caters to the companions particularly well. Having initially fallen foul to the tradition of the female assistant getting into trouble and having to be rescued, Sarah gets some very nice scenes. Having narrowly escaped suffocation, she winds up half sedated on the processing couch, from where she hears the sweet calming melodies and wonderfully haunting tones of the Earth High Minister informing her of the supreme sacrifice she is about to make. Later in the story, Sarah steps up to the plate and suggests a plan to secure the cryogenic chamber from the advancing Wirrn, however when it transpires that the conduits necessary for her plan to succeed are too narrow for a man to negotiate, Sarah tackles the arduous task herself.

Embarking upon his first trip in the TARDIS, and having inadvertently influenced their ultimate destination, the charmingly bewildered Harry -- having incurred the wrath of an irritated Doctor -- provides a nice source of humour early on in the story. Despite his clumsiness having created a bad impression early on, and having endured the time lords put downs, Harry stands up for himself by demonstrating his bravery and medical prowess. Despite her protests, Harry was fiercely protective over Sarah and the two travelling companions develop a nice relationship, with the surgeon assuming the traits of an old fashioned gentleman, qualities which over the course of the season would define his character.

The Ark in Space was a huge success for the new production team with episode two attracting over thirteen million viewers, a figure which hadn’t been achieved since 1965. With Tom Baker growing in confidence, and Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes exciting new formula for the show, the most popular era of Doctor Who had begun.

Rating: 5 Tom's out of 5
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby Graham Sutton on May 1st, 2010, 11:10 pm

The Ark in Space was terrific story and a great example of where Philip Hinchcliffe as producer would take the programme during his tenure as producer. It was also a very good precurser to 'Alien' (1979) with the Wirrn gestating inside a human host. Yes, all in all classic Dr Who.
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby tch on May 3rd, 2010, 4:15 pm

Liked how this story started slow, giving us plenty of time to get to know the three leads and a feel for the idea that we were in a mysterious, alien setting.
Then, once things start happening, they never stop.

One of my favorites and a prime example of how to do a 'Who' story. Shame Harry didn't stay longer, as he Sarah and the Doctor worked really well together.
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby mikotyk on May 27th, 2010, 8:29 pm

The Ark in Space is one of my favorite episodes as well. I remember a lot of Tom's early shows being very horror themed. I've got a fear of insects so this show was particularly chilling.
Someday, my ship will come in, but with my luck, I'll be stranded at the airport!
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby Marcello Cristiano on August 18th, 2010, 10:16 pm

My favorite TOM era was the Hinchcliffe tenure much more so than the Graham Williams era(definately way more than the John Nathan-Turner era). Probably because it was more serious and scary in tone, even if it did take some well known ideas from certain Horror novels and movies. 'The Ark In Space' was a great example of when Doctor Who is done right. It was the very first TOM era story I saw, and for that it will always remain special to me. I can vividly remember how creeped out I was by the Wirrn and the green hand of Noah's coming out of his pocket. It's only years later as an adult I can laugh at the painted green bubble wrap. Other than that the story has aged well and stands up well against today's best WHO episodes.
" 'Wibbsey' would be a wonderful word for pillow talk, wouldn't it? Especially if you said it softly..."

Doctor Who Magazine #425 (Interview)
Marcello Cristiano
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby Gold Usher on August 21st, 2010, 6:16 am

Considering I was watching on a fuzzy WGBH out of Boston up in Maine, the Wirrn was fairly believeable at that time. The imagination to use bubble wrap was pretty good actually, it look frothy and gooey from where I was sitting in black and white.

It was the Doctor's speech when they found the cryo chamber that sealed it for me...I liked that guy with the hat and slightly scorched scarf.
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby Marcello Cristiano on August 23rd, 2010, 4:33 am

The first time I saw "The Ark In Space" I remember having a battle keeping the rabbit ears of the T.V. set at the proper angle at my grandmother's house. Rabbit ears. Those were the days. Ahh...the 80's. Sorry. I'm feeling all nostalgic right now. Nothing tops the first time you see an episode. Especially when you see an episode thru a child's eyes as I was then. :)
" 'Wibbsey' would be a wonderful word for pillow talk, wouldn't it? Especially if you said it softly..."

Doctor Who Magazine #425 (Interview)
Marcello Cristiano
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Re: The Ark in Space

Postby DoctorWhoMAD on September 6th, 2010, 2:59 pm

I love The Ark in Space, it is a great Doctor Who Episode. I think that it was really well thought out, the way it was set in the future. Overall I LOVE IT!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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