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The Sontaran Experiment >

The Ark in Space

Rating Votes
10
16%
19
9
40%
46
8
28%
32
7
12%
14
6
3%
4
5
0%
0
4
1%
1
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Average Rating
8.5
Votes
116
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Latest Community Reviews

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User Rating:
10
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Replay Rating:
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 12/2/18 5:17 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Whether there is a direct influence from this on Ridley Scott's 'Alien' I do not know but either way it clearly foreshadows ideas seen in that film. It has humans in stasis for space travel, a claustrophobic atmosphere on a space vessel under attack, 'body horror' as aliens attack humans parasitically and a strong and intelligent female crew member taking a lead role. It is striking how this story has many similarities with that famous film which came a few years later and all those similar aspects are really good ones.

This story is top notch Doctor Who. It is intelligent, very entertaining, sometimes very funny, sometimes very scary (particularly for children), atmospheric and exciting with brilliant scripts by John Lucarotti, overseen by the show's greatest script editor Robert Holmes. It is superbly acted by the whole cast.

The Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry arrive by accident on the space station Nerva which is an Ark of human knowledge, Earth history, culture and life. It contains specially selected representatives of the human race sleeping in stasis and being sent out from Earth at a time when the planet was threatened by solar flares. The time in stasis has gone way longer than intended (10,000 years) due to the station being attacked and sabotaged by an alien creature. This creature is a giant insect called a Wirrn. It has laid larvae on board and the Wirrn are multiplying and attacking with the intention of absorbing the humans and gaining all human knowledge into their collective intelligence. The human leader is touched by a Wirrn larvae and begins to slowly metamorphosise into a Wirrn.

The space station set is superb and the production in general makes the best of cheap effects. The story itself is interesting and thoroughly good quality throughout. The characterisation of the guest characters is excellent with the convincing acting and clever characterisation of 'Noah' who is being gradually taken over by the alien parasites as well as the aforementioned strong female guest lead character (which in addition to the wonderful Sarah Jane gives us two top class female roles), and technician Rogin.

This is a top class story and a true classic with Tom Baker really establishing himself as an incredible Doctor in only his second story.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
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Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 12/1/17 12:26 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Doctor who meets alien in toms spooky first off earth adventure.
It’s a classic and the wirrn are truly freaky!
Bless the bubble wrap!
I really admire the similarities to alien and what’s crazy is this aired first and a few years earlier at that !
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 4/8/17 5:16 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Ark In Space is arguably a Doctor Who serial that has had some influence over the 2005 revival. It was the first serial to have a setting - the Nerva Beacon - which the Doctor returns to later in the series to find one of his major enemies - the Cybermen in Revenge of the Cybermen - have appeared. Fast forward to 2005 and the Doctor arrives on Satellite Five in The End of the World, then in The Long Game and finally returns in Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways to find the Daleks are behind the 'Game Station' (Satellite Five's new name) company the 'Bad Wolf Corporation'.

The Doctor's initial appearance on The Ark In Space is quite simply brilliant. The Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives with his companions on the Nerva Beacon after Harry (Ian Marter) gave the helmic regulator 'quite a twist'. Pressing a switch, Harry accidentally traps Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) in a control room with little oxygen. Sarah recovers on a couch she finds and is teleported into a chamber, where she is placed in cryogenic suspension among future survivors of the human race. One of the humans awakes - Vira (Wendy Williams) - and begins reviving Sarah and the others. They soon discover a Wiirn invasion onboard the ship and the TARDIS crew work to stop it before beaming down to future Earth for the next serial The Sontaran Experiment.

Whilst yes, the bubblewrap is clearly bubblewrap on Noah's (Kenton Moore) hand the special effects in this serial are generally very impressive for a shoestring budget. It's amazing how they managed to create the human suspension chamber room on such a minuscule amount of money:

It is hugely convincing and to me even rivals some of the production sets on the new series. Even the shot of the Nerva Beacon in space is visually impressive:

I have no idea why they decided this serial needed replacement effects on the DVD releases because it's on the higher end in terms of the classic series' special effects. There are much worse classic series effects that didn't get replacement ones if they really needed to create replacement CGI effects for classic series serials.

The monsters of this serial are equally brilliant. The Wiirn is a great idea; they are basically intergalactic vermin who have sabotaged the base whilst the humans have been asleep. However as they are from space they are more intelligent than your standard vermin and have the capability to talk. Their insectoid look like all the best Doctor Who monsters makes them appear closer to home and the idea that these creatures could sabotage the surrounding environment whilst you are asleep is a generally unnerving one. I could imagine many kids after this serial aired probably went to bed worried that the Wiirn would appear and try to sabotage the electronics.

I love the Doctor and Harry Sullivan's relationship with each other here too. It's definitely Tom Baker at his best. They clearly have a somewhat fractious friendship (in fact, I'd say there's rivalry between them over Sarah - not in a romantic way though) but deep down you can tell the Doctor cares about Harry (even if he is a bit of a dick to him at times, especially during the helmic regulator line). Ian Marter does well with the material he is given, however it's never particularly strong compared to the stuff Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are given to say. The problem with Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan is that he just feels like he's there. This is likely because they wrote his character thinking somebody older than Tom Baker would be playing the Doctor and that there would need to be an Ian Chesterton-style character to take part in the action sequences this Doctor wouldn't be able to do. Tom Baker was cast and the rest is history.

I do really like Kenton Moore as Noah too. You really feel for him when he discovers his hand has turned green, signifying his slow metamorphosis into Wiirn kind. He appears like a tragic figure, despite his rather antagonistic behaviour towards the TARDIS crew. As I said earlier: yes, it's bubblewrap but who cares? Who says bubblewrap can't be deadly? By using your imagination, that bubblewrap in your house could easily be signs of a Wiirn infection.

Overall, The Ark In Space is a classic series serial with brilliant monsters in the Wiirn and impressive special effects for the classic series. It also features great companion chemistry between Tom Baker and Ian Marter as the Doctor and Harry Sullivan and an amazing performance by Kenton Moore as the tragic Noah. If you never watch this classic Doctor Who serial, then you must be in cryogenic suspension.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: TheBigChurroReview Date: 2/9/17 6:36 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

2009; a casual fan of New Who, only Doctor I had seen was Tennant. I went to the local video store and came across a Doctor Who DVD, I thought it was old, an old movie that would be crappy compared to the sci/fi drama I knew. I asked Dad to hire it, and he told me of his childhood, growing up watching this man called he also knew as Worzel Gummage and that guy on the cover, Tom Baker. As soon as we got home, I put "The Ark in Space" in the DVD player, about to have my first experience of Classic Who. 2 hours later, I had finished it. I thought it looked cheap and was incredibly dated, slow and boring. I then came across something more familiar in a shop; Destiny of the DALEKS, and I brought it in hope of it being better than the last. I wasn't disappointed.

Fast forward to now, I have seen "The Ark in Space" 5 times, and each time my appreciation and enjoyment for it has grown until now at this point I think it is a great story, a genuine classic. I'm almost ashamed I didn't show much appreciation towards it, I have this story to thank for implanting Tom Baker and the concept of a Classic series of a show I loved in my head and leading to my obsession the next year. "The Ark in Space"is a highly recommended serial from the Classic series as it is a genuine CLASSIC.