Friday 16 December 2011

389 The Ark in Space Part Four

EPISODE: The Ark in Space Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 15 February 1975
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: Rodney Bennett
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Ark In Space

Vira attacks the Noah Wirrn allowing the Doctor to escape. The Noah Wirrn airs his race's grievances against the humans who destroyed their breading colonies. They desire to bread in the humans to gain their technological knowledge. The Doctor proposes electrifying the cryogenic chamber and Sarah proposes using the Ark's transport ship's power. Sarah agrees to take the cable through the ducting, but gets stuck and only wiggles free when the Doctor taunts her. They link the cable and repel the Wirrn trying to access the suspended animation chamber. Noah offers them safe passage off the Ark threatening to cut off the oxygen supply. The Doctor appeals to the human part of Noah but he refuses. Wirrn attempt to board the transport ship but Rogin drives them off by running the engines. The Wirrn spacewalk round the Ark to the transport ship. The ship's controls are set to automatic and the humans retreat to the Ark. Rogin sacrifices himself to save the Doctor and launch the transport ship. The human part of Noah seizes control and destroys the transport ship. Vira begins to revive the rest of the humans on the Ark, while the Doctor use the Ark's teleport system to travel to Earth to repair a power fault on the system......

That's not a bad episode at all, though the eventual solution of luring the Wirrn into the shuttle then launching it is a bit pulled out the hat. The concept of Noah fighting the Wirrn from within has been present throughout the story so it's nice to see him make one final bid to stop them that succeeds.

Several people have pointed out over the years the strong resemblance of this story to Alien: crew in suspended animation, alien growing inside human, crew all killed until only one woman is left alive.... I like Ark in Space as a story, it's competent enough, but doesn't do it for me like other stories do. I am aware though that it's a great favourite of many.

Ark in Space was the first story novelised by Ian Marter. It was repeated as a 70-minute compilation on 20th August 1975 starting a series of summer repeats for the program that would last until the mid 1980s. It was was released on Video initially as a compilation edition and then later episodically. The DVD release was the first to include optional computer generated shots to replace contemporary model work - see The Restoration Team website's Ark In Space article for an example. It works well here, but some other shows haven't had such good or subtle replacements.

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