The triple DVD set Lost in Timehas been my constant companion since the sixth serial of Season Two, The Crusade.106 episodes of Doctor Whoare currently listed as officially missing from the BBC Archives. My use of the words “officially missing” are quite deliberate as rumours continue to swirl throughout Whofandom of the alleged recovery of multiple episodes. With neither a confirmation nor unequivocal denial by the BBC, these rumours are unlikely to dissipate in the near future.
Episode One of The Crusade is the first orphan episode on disc one of Lost in Time
Tonight I had the great pleasure of finally removing disc three of Lost in Timefrom my Blu Ray player, putting it away in its case, and then reshelving the set. Having watched the extant episode two of The Space Pirates,and the Loose Cannon reconstructions of the remaining five episodes, I’ve just completed one of the greatest challenges of a Doctor Whofan – to watch reconstructions of all 106 missing episodes and the 18 full orphan episodes released on Lost in Time. What a relief it is to have straddled the last hurdle in the seemingly unending race towards the final episode of Doctor Who’smonochrome era, The War Games.Henceforth, there are no missing episodes of Doctor Whoand only 10 black and white ones remaining. The end of an era is fast approaching and I will certainly miss Patrick Troughton’s “Cosmic Hobo” Doctor.
Episode Two of The Space Pirates is the last orphan episode on disc three of Lost in Time
Watch out for my review of The Space Piratesin the next day or two, and The War Gameslater in the week. The first post in my 50 Day Countdown to the 50th Anniversary will appear on Friday 4 October and will be rather unimaginatively titled The Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes.Please join me then for a fun romp through 1960s Doctor Who.
A Doctor Who Magazine front cover on Missing Episodes
The 1960s saw the dawning of Western interest in Eastern religions. Perhaps premier among the spiritualities investigated was Buddhism. It was in 1967 that a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemane, Thomas Merton, published his collection of essays, Mystics and Zen Masters. More than 40 years later, two of the top five Google search results on “Merton and Buddhism” return a conservative Catholic article entitled, “Can You Trust Thomas Merton?” Yes, there are still many orthodox Catholics who would prefer to imagine that the Second Vatican Council never occurred, and fear that enlightened spiritual writers such as the late Fr Merton are a threat to the very fabric of Christendom.
Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Doctor Who should enter into this stream of consciousness with its Tibetan tale of Buddhist Monks and Yeti, The Abominable Snowmen. Five of the six episodes of this serial are among the 106 currently missing from the BBC Archives. Thankfully the good people at Loose Cannon Productions have come to our rescue, yet again, with their masterful reconstructions. Episode two is available on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. An excellent precise of the serial was provided by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker in their 2003 publication, The Television Companion. The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who. Rather than reinventing the wheel I’ll let them summarise the plot for you:
Songsten, Khrisong and a fellow monk
“The TARDIS arrives in Tibet in 1935 and the Doctor visits the remote Detsen (sic) monastery in order to return a sacred bell, the ghanta, given to him for safe keeping on a previous visit. There he meets and Englishman, Travers, on an expedition to track down the legendary Abominable Snowmen or Yeti. It transpires that the Yeti roaming the area are actually disguised robots, which scare away or kill anyone who approaches. The High Lama Padmasambhava, whom the Doctor met hundreds of years earlier on his previous visit, had been taken over by a nebulous alien being, the Great Intelligence, which has artificially prolonged his life and is now using him to control the Yeti by way of models on a chessboard-like map. The Intelligence’s aim is to create a material form for itself and take over the Earth. The Doctor banishes it back to the astral plane, allowing Padmasambhava finally to die in peace”.
David J Howe & Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing
The Abominable Snowmen’s writers, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, sought to authenticate the serial by utilizing some real life names from the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The Master of the monastery was Padmasambhava, so named after the eighth century Buddhist Master who is said to have brought Vajrayana (tantric) Buddhism to Tibet. History names Padmasambhava as the author of Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State (Bardo Thodol) which is known colloquially in the Western world as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Given that the Bardo Thodol is in effect a treaty on how to ensure an absolute death and escape from the cycle of reincarnations, it is profoundly ironic that Padmasambhava of The Abominable Snowmen should be caught in a state of suspended life for hundreds of years. His death at the conclusion of the serial is more in accord with Buddhist philosophy as Padmasambhava at last finds peace in absolute death.
An image of Padmasambhava
The name of monastery’s Abbot, Songsten, is taken from seventh Century Tibetan Empire founder, Songtsän Gampo, whilst the young monk Thonmi is so named after Thonmi Sambhota, the person traditionally credited for the invention of the Tibetan script. When the script was novelized by Terrance Dicks in 1974 as Doctor Who and the Abominable Snowmen, it was on the suggestion of Doctor Who’s then producer, Barry Letts, that these names should be changed. As a Buddhist Letts considered the appropriation of the names inappropriate and accordingly they were slightly amended to Padmasambvha, Songtsen, and Thomni . At face value it appears that perhaps the Abbot’s name would best have remained as Songsten, as that is further from the real spelling of Songtsän than Songtsen.
An image of Songtsan Gampo
An image of Thonmi Sambhota
Whereas The Tomb of the Cybermen was resplendent with crazed archaeologists, The Abominable Snowmen instead has a “mad anthropologist”. This at least is how the fictional press of the serial refer to the explorer Travers as. Incidentally Travers is played by Jack Watling, the father of companion Deborah Watling. Watling reprised his role of Travers three serials later in the sequel, The Web of Fear. Watling, the elder, did a fine job in the serial, as did Deborah who was quite mesmerizing in the scene where she speaks the same phrase automatically whilst under Padmasambhava’s trance.
Jamie, Victoria and the “mad anthropologist”, Travers. Jack Watling, the father of Deborah Watling, played Travis
Victoria emerges from the TARDIS and is shocked by what she sees
The necessity for compassion is perhaps the integral moral of this story. Although the monk-warrior Khrisong is murdered by the Abbot, Songsten, he is forgiven of his crime by both the victim on his death bed, and by his fellow monks thereafter. As the young monk Thonmi rightly concludes, Songsten had been put under a trance by the Master, Padmasambhava. He was but a puppet, as was Padmasambhava whom the Doctor identified as also being controlled. The entity that was the source of this control was the Great Intelligence. This theme of forgiveness is not restricted only to Buddhism, but also to Christianity. Khrisong’s final words are reflective of one of Jesus Christ’s seven final sayings, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Judeo-Christian links in this story can also be gleaned from Padmasambhava’s use of the words “I am” on several occasions when describing himself. Padmasambhava at one point states, “But our brother must not be allowed to depart in the knowledge that I am other than what I am”. “I am that I am” is the common English translation of God’s response to Moses when asked for his name (Exodus 3:14).
Khrisong is unforgiving to the Doctor as he is put out as Yeti bait. In death, however, Khrisong forgives his murderer, Songsten
The Doctor and the young monk, Thonmi
The Great Intelligence returned, like Travers, in The Web of Fear, but the character would not be reprised for a third time for over 44 years, the longest period in abeyance of any monster, alien or foe in Who’s history. Manifesting itself as snow in the 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen, the Great Intelligence planned to invade the earth with Snowmen in lieu of Yeti. The Great Intelligence eventually gained control of Walter Simeon’s body and would appear again as the Doctor’s main protagonist in the 2013 episodes The Bells of Saint John and The Name of the Doctor. A brief history of the Great Intelligence from The Abominable Snowmen to The Name of the Doctor is set out in the video below.
The Great Intelligence Through the Ages 1967 -2013
The character’s long dormancy was most probably a consequence of the rift between its creators, Haisman and Lincoln, and the producers of Doctor Whofollowing the pair’s ill-fated third Who script, The Dominators. Interestingly, no acknowledgement appears for Haisman and Lincoln as the creators of the Great Intelligence in the final credits of the Series 7 episodes in which the entity appears. Monsters created by other freelance writers, such as Terry Nation’s Daleks, are still credited to their originators to this day.
Haisman and Lincoln’s creations, The Yeti, taking a stroll
A final fascinating note on the Great Intelligence is that its appearance in The Snowmen predates chronologically its presence in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. With the Abominable Snowmen set in around 1935 and The Web of Fear in the UNIT era, which is probably sometime in the 1970s, the Victorian tale of The Snowmen well predates the Troughton era stories. John Hussey in his article on the history of the Great Intelligence published in Doctor Who TV, posits that the Doctor’s battles with the Great Intelligence in The Snowmen could have actually been the inspiration for the two earlier stories. As evidence Hussey directs the reader’s attention to the London Underground map which the Eleventh Doctor showed the Great Intelligence. In outlining to the Intelligence the weaknesses in the system the Doctor may in fact have been responsible for Intelligence’s subsequent (but shown on TV, earlier) attack utilizing the London Underground in The Web of Fear.
The Eleventh Doctor shows the Great Intelligence a map of the London Underground in The Snowmen
A snowman from 2012’s The Snowmen
Being so critical of racism in the last serial, The Tomb of the Cybermen, I would be remiss not to point out that the Tibetan characters in The Abominable Snowmen are all played by Caucasian males. Unlike other Who serials such as the Third Doctor’s Planet of the Spiders and the Fourth Doctor’s The Talons of Weng-Chiang , the characters’ facial make up isn’t overtly reminiscent of Asian identity. This early example of the Doctor Who production team erring in its moral duty to employ a more multi-cultural cast could perhaps, in this instance only, be overlooked if the viewer chooses to regard all the monks as Western converts to Buddhism.
The Abominable Snowmen’sPadmasambhava
An unfortunate example of racism in the Third Doctor’s Planet of the Spiders
White men were still being cast as Asian males in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a Fourth Doctor Adventure
I couldn’t fail to conclude this review without saying a word or two on the most loveable of Doctor Who monsters, the Yeti. By the writers’ making these mythical Himalayan creatures robots, the designers were given the most perfect excuse for their creation of a less than realistic monster. If the Yeti looked pair shaped and cuddly, rather than mammoth and scary, the designers could always claim that realism was not their intention. Perhaps they could retrospectively claim that the Monoids of The Ark were really robots! All told, The Abominable Snowmenis a cracking good yarn and comes highly recommended. By me at least!
The Yeti were so cute as to attract children during the filming of The Abominable Snowmen in Wales
Perhaps The Ark’s Monoids should have been robots. It would help explain their appalling design!
Episode 2 of The Abominable Snowmen is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.The Abominable Snowmen was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 September and 4 November 1967.
Only one episode of the seven part serial, The Evil of theDaleks,is held in the BBC Archives. Episode 2 has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. For the purposes of this marathon I watched Loose Cannon’s reconstructions of Episodes one, three, four, five, six and seven.
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 1 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 1 Part 2
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 3 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 3 Part 2
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 4 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 4 Part 2
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 5 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 5 Part 2
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 6 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 6 Part 2
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 7 Part 1
Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks,Episode 7 Part 2
The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967. Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time
In the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200 Poll of Doctor Who stories, The Underwater Menace was voted the seventh least popular. Coming in at an appalling 194, it was one story above another long derided Patrick Troughton serial, The Space Pirates. Throw in The Dominators at 191,and the Second Doctor has three of the ten least popular serials. That even beats Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor, each of whom had two serials each in the bottom 10.
Two Fish People resplendent in their sequin costumes
So why is The Underwater Menace so lowly regarded? That until late 2011 only one of its four episodes were held in the BBC Archives may provide part of the answer. In fact, nearly two years after episode two’s return, it has yet to be released on DVD. Episode three was first released to the public on VHS cassette in 1998 and subsequently reissued on the 2004 DVD Lost in Time.
Damon in his funny head gear
Without the context of the previous two episodes, episode three of The Underwater Menace must look extraordinarily bizarre to the casual viewer. The classic disparaging comments dished out to Doctor Who, including bad graphics, wobbly sets and atrocious acting might, to the uninitiated, appear spot on. The Fish People, who are enslaved by the Atlanteans, are surgically modified humans. Having gills, flippers and scales, which are none other than sequins stuck to their faces, the Fish People farm the plankton that they, and the Atlanteans, are reliant upon for food. Being apparently bereft of refrigeration, this food source lasts only several hours before deterioration, thereby requiring the slave labour force to work around the clock to provide a constant fresh supply of stock. Polly narrowly escapes being operated upon to become a Fish Person in the episode one cliff hanger, which thanks for the ever vigilant Australian Censorship Board, we still have for our viewing pleasure.
Polly narrowly escaped being turned into a Fish Person
Polly and Damon. Polly’s Atlantean gear is just fab
Almost universally condemned for their costuming, I personally think the Fish People look fabulous, in a trippy, 1960s sort of way. The Fish People swim around gracefully in an extended performance of synchronized swimming during episode three. I’m not entirely certain what the sequence’s purpose is however it looks completely wild. I can even excuse the trapeze wires that hold up the swimming Fish People up as they elegantly swoon around. Spotting the wires holding up space ships has always been one of my favourite parts of watching Doctor Who (there are some great strings to be spotted in The Dalek Invasion of Earth). This is just a logical extension of that peculiar interest! That the Fish People decide to go on strike after having their humanity questioned by some enslaved miners is a bit farfetched, but hey, the reverse logic worked.
A rare colour photo of the Fish People
Not all Fish People wore sequins. Given that The Underwater Menace went so over budget, the BBC mustn’t have been able to afford more sequins for this poor Fish Person
Joseph Furst’s acting as the insane Polish Professor Zaroff is frequently the source of criticism. Episode three ends with his classic manic cry of “Nothing in ze world can stop me now!” That Zaroff is a parody of the mad scientist, and clearly meant to be played in a hammy, over the top fashion, appears lost on most critics. Where’s everyone’s sense of humour gone? Zaroff’s plan to drain the oceans into the Earth’s molten core, thereby causing the planet’s explosion from overheated steam, is also dismissed as ludicrous. Sure, he only wants to destroy the Earth because he can, and will also die in the resultant explosion, but that’s what mad scientists do. They wouldn’t be mad scientists if their plans were rational. As Philip Sandifer states in Tardis Eruditorum, Zaroff’s scheme is no crazier an idea than the Daleks’ plan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth to drill the core out of the centre of the Earth and use the planet as a space ship. And that second Dalek serial isn’t dismissed out of hand as some form of corny atrocity.
The mad scientist Professor Zaroff. “Nothing in ze world can stop me now!”
The Doctor and Zaroff
The Underwater Menace sees the Doctor take the lead in saving the Earth without recourse to dressing up continuously, although he does look rather cool when briefly dressed as some sort of tambourine playing hippy with sunglasses and bandanna. We are even afforded the opportunity to see a snippet of the Doctor’s good conscience when he decides that he just can’t let Zaroff drown at the end of episode four. A rock fall blocks the path to rescue, although at least the Doctor’s intentions are good. In this story the Doctor begins to display the characteristics that become his staple for the duration of his tenure.
The Doctor is disguised as a tambourine playing hippy
Polly, however, is denied the forthrightness of previous outings, and plays the screaming damsel far too often. Having been buoyed by her characterisation in The Highlanders, Polly’s inability to assertively take control of her own destiny in this serial was more than a little disappointing. She can, however speak “foreign”, as Ben refers to it, and is conversant in German, French and Spanish. Ben displays a good rapport with the Doctor and Jamie appears surprisingly unaffected by being dragged out of the 18th Century Scottish highlands, and into an underwater world of Fish People, temple worship and mad scientists. Ben and Jamie spend much of the time running around in black wetsuits. The synthetic rubber of the wetsuit must have been an unusual sensation against Jamie’s highland skin, but remarkably he is not seen to make a comment about it.
Jamie and Ben spend much of their time in black wet suits
The Underwater Menace ends with the mad scientist dead and the Atlanteans saved from Zaroff’s dastardly plan, although the city of Atlantis is flooded. No more Fish People will be made, and presumably they are freed from servitude. Religion, however, will be no more. Damon believes that priests, superstition and temples made the Atlanteans follow Zaroff’s crazy plans and the temple should be buried forever. Quite how this conclusion is reached is never stated and is certainly a very superficial solution to the Atlanteans’ problems. All told, however, The Underwater Menace is a fun romp and nowhere near as bad as its reputation. Watch it with an eye for the ridiculous and you won’t be disappointed.
The Underwater Menace was originally broadcast in the UK between 14 January and 4 February 1967. Episode 3 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time
It’s somewhat bizarre to “watch” a serial in which all four episodes have been lost but miraculously, all the violence is intact as tiny snippets of film. Such is the case with the opening story of Season 4, The Smugglers. Always to the rescue in the event of missing episodes, Loose Cannon’s reconstruction is resplendent with John Cura’s famous telesnaps, authentic photos taken during production and snippets from an amateur film of the production. Most startling, however, are five short clips courtesy of Australia’s Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. Discovered in the National Archives of Australia in October 1996 by Doctor Who fans Damian Shanahan and Ellen Parry, the clips had been excised by the Film Censorship Board and retained as evidence of the edits. At some point they had been transferred to the National Archives, presumably in accordance with government agency retention policies.
Elroy Josephs, who played the pirate Jamaica, was the first black person to have a speaking part in Doctor Who
Always broadcast during children’s television times in Australia, Classic Series Doctor Who was subject to government classification prior to airing. Segments deemed too terrifying or violent for children were routinely cut. It was for this reason that The Daleks’ Master Plan was never broadcast in Australia. Who’s most violent story to that date, the cuts required to The Dalek’s Master Plan were so extensive as to make it incomprehensible to the ordinary viewer. Thanks to Shanahan and Perry’s research, together with the Censorship Board’s hardline policy of the 1960s, a number of clips from otherwise totally lost episodes and stories have now been returned to the BBC’s archives. Perhaps the most iconic of these clips is from 1968 Second Doctor serial, Fury from the Deep. A full 54 seconds of a clip survives in which Quill and Oak suffocate Mrs Harris by breathing deadly gas from their mouths. Stayed tuned for my review of that Season 5 Serial 6 story to see the outstanding film clip.
Once of the most iconic images from the Second Doctor’s lost adventure Fury from the Deep. Almost one minute of this clip survives thanks to the Australian Film Censorship Board
A listing of The Smugglers clips recovered from Australia can be accessed from this page of Loose Cannon’s website – http://www.recons.com/clips/clips-lc30.htm Particularly valuable is Steve Phillips’ “The Doctor Who Clips List”. Here you will find photographs and a short description of all recovered snippets – http://dwclips.steve-p.org/ An interview with Damian Shanahan is included amongst the special features of Lost in Time. Linked below for your viewing pleasure are The Smugglers clips, together with extracts from the amateur video.
The Smugglers – Missing clips and amateur film
The Smugglers was William Hartnell’s last historical story, and the first Doctor Whoserial requiring the cast and crew to embark on a journey to the seaside for location shooting. Filmed at Cornwell, the serial is sure to have looked superb. Without the visuals, however, it’s somewhat difficult to state much at all about the serial. Whilst perfectly enjoyable, The Smugglersis by no means extraordinary. The story of the Doctor and his new companions arriving on a late 17th Century Cornwell beach, and finding themselves immersed in the deadly games of piracy and smuggling, is profoundly simple. The story could’ve been taken from any Boys’ Own Adventure book. Save for the Doctor, Polly and Ben arriving and departing in the Tardis, there is no science fiction in the story. Nor is it based on a real, or even mythical, historical event.
Ben and Polly take their first trip in the Tardis
As many clichés as possible were thrown into The Smugglers’ mix, such as an evil pirate captain with a hook for a hand; the drunken former pirate who becomes a drunken church warden; the local Squire who’s actually a small time crook; and the locals being insanely superstitious. For the first time ever a black actor has a speaking part, although Jamaica, the pirate crew member, is quickly dispatched by the evil Captain Pike for allowing prisoners to escape. The pirates are more interested in drinking the smugglers’ loot than retrieving it for their Captain, and most interestingly, the Doctor drinks some wine with Captain Pike. It was only in The Gunfighters that the Doctor repeatedly vowed that he was a teetotaller.
The evil pirate, Captain Pike
Ben and Polly’s first trip in the Tardis provides from some comic interludes in the serial’s first part. Unsurprisingly the new companions have difficulty accepting that the Tardis travels through time, although they are less puzzled by the Ship’s ability to transport them from London to Cornwell in a matter of minutes. Convinced that they are still in 1966, Ben and Polly immediately set off to find a train station. Ben’s principal concern is returning to his boat in time. This is despite him stating in The War Machines that he was on 6 months’ shore leave. Perhaps the Crew had been put in a state of suspended animation for six months because in The Faceless Ones, Ben and Polly’s last story, they are returned to London on the same day that they left. Needless to say, our new companions soon realize that it is not the 20th Century and quickly lose their sense of astonishment. That is, of course, until Polly is repeatedly mistaken for a “lad” because she’s wearing trousers. Even being locked up in a cell after being charged with the murder of the church warden, Ben and Polly are still decidedly calm.
Ben and Polly find appropriate clothing for 17th Century Cornwell. Because she wears trousers Polly is mistaken for a “lad”
The Doctor, who is referred to as “Saw Bones” by the sailors, admits to his new companions that he is unable to control where and when the Tardis materializes. He displays a skill for tarot reading and a strong need to assist the local villagers. When Ben seeks to quickly depart in the Tardis the Doctor advises Ben that he has a moral obligation to save the villagers from the rampaging pirates. The Doctor’s ethics have changed considerably from his first adventures with Barbara, Ian and Susan. In The Daleks he placed his Crew at risk to satisfy his desire to explore the Dalek city, and was just as quickly prepared to decamp from it without Ian and Barbara. No longer entirely egocentric, the Doctor is slowly developing into the universe saving character that we all know and love.
Captain Pike and Jamaica, just prior to the Jamaica’s murder
Our next serial, The Tenth Planet, is Hartnell’s last journey in the Tardis as the Doctor. Join me for my next review in which the Cybermen make their premiere appearance and Doctor Who’s first regeneration unfolds before our confused eyes.
Loose Cannon’s VHS cover art for The Smugglers Reconstructions. The Smugglers was originally aired in the UK between 10 September and 1 October 1966.
In terms of seasons, I’m now an eleventh of the way through my Doctor Who marathon – three seasons down and only 30 to go! William Hartnell has only two serials remaining as the Doctor, The Savages and The Tenth Planet, before Who’s first ever regeneration. I look forward to continuing my marathon with the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, even though every serial in Season 4 is incomplete. Thank goodness for Loose Cannon’s superb reconstructions and the orphan episodes on Lost in Time. Please join me for Season 4, as my journey through Doctor Who continues.
I let out an audible “Hooray” as I checked Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide and discovered that the next serial, The Ark, was 100% complete. For the first time since The Time Meddler, which was the last serial in Season 2, I could sit back and relax after I’d put the shiny DVD into the Blu Ray player. After two seasons with all but two serials alive, kicking and released on DVD, it came as somewhat of a drag to be confronted by an almost continuous stream of missing episodes and reconstructions. The BBC did a superb job in reconstructing the three missing episodes of Galaxy 4in condensed form which appeared, together with the recently found episode three, on The AztecsSpecial Edition. Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, the epic 12 part The Daleks Master Plan, and The Massacre were all viewed on YouTube using Loose Cannon’s splendid reconstructions. Only three episodes in that 21 week run from Mission to the Unknownto The Massacreare no longer lost and available for our viewing pleasure on Lost in Time, the triple DVD set of orphan First and Second Doctor episodes.
Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guideprovides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial
It would be fair to say that The Ark doesn’t have the best reputation. Frequently dismissed as not a great deal better than utter nonsense, it is nonetheless praised by some, such as Rob Shearman and Toby Hadoke, for its originality and brilliant direction by Michael Imison. It’s generally the second half of this four part story which attracts the greatest criticism and it has been posited by Ian K McLachlan that the serial is actually “two two-part adventures stitched together.”
Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark
Episodes one and two of The Arkare set in the far future, the 57th segment of Time, on an enormous space ship (the Ark) headed for the planet Refusis 2. The Doctor estimates that they may be up to 10 million years in the future. As was the case with all of the First Doctor’s adventures, the Doctor was unable to programme the Ship’s route and it landed slap bang in the middle of the Ark. On board the Ark are the sole survivors of Earth who have left the dying planet for the safe refuge of a new planet. Refusis 2 is 700 years travel from Earth and yet the closest planet with similar atmosphere and vegetation. To ensure the human race’s survival millions of humans have been miniaturized and stored on trays for reanimation upon arrival at Refusis 2. The humans are not Christian, Jewish or Muslim as they do not know the story of Noah’s Ark. Also travelling on the spaceship are an assortment of animals and the Monoids, a peculiar mute race whose most distinctive feature is their one eye. This single eye is in their mouths, or at least what would’ve been their mouths if they had human anatomy. These eyes are actually painted ping pong balls which the actors held in place with their mouths. Now that’s ingenious small budget special effects for you! On the top of their heads is a long Beatles style mop top wig, whilst the rest of their bodies are clothed in green ill fitting garb. They have webbed hands and feet and move slowly.
The Ark is so large that it even has a jungle full of a vast array of animals, including this elephant
The Monoids are the servants of the human occupants of the spaceship. The humans are referred to as the Guardians, so named for their responsibility maintaining the human race. Not surprisingly for the 1960s, all of the Guardians are white and hardly representative of the earth’s racial diversity. One can only assume that there are non Caucasians miniaturized and stored for later reanimation. In the eyes of Doctor Who they clearly can’t be trusted to staff a space craft. The Guardians are of the belief that they treat the servant Monoids with respect, however their inferior status is profoundly obvious when the common cold, introduced by the new companion, Dodo, begins to decimate the population. The common cold had been eradicated in the 20th Century and as such none of the occupants of the spaceship have an immunity to it. Such diseases are said to have been one of the contributing factors to the decimation of indigenous societies upon the arrival of Europeans. Even Steven, who comes for several hundred years later than Dodo, has no immunity. Notwithstanding the earlier death of a Monoid, it isn’t until the first death of a Guardian that the humans take action against the perpetrators of this crime against them, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo. It is only with the Doctor’s assistance that a cure for the common cold is found and both the humans and the Monoids saved from extinction. The Doctor and his crew are quickly forgiven for the destruction that the cold virus had wrought.
The Doctor tends to the ill Commander. Beside the Commander is his daughter and behind the Doctor is a Mark 1 Monoid sans voice box
A very obliging Mark 1 Monoid assists the Doctor as he attempts to find a cure for the common cold
Having effectively overcome the damage they had caused, the Doctor, Steven and Dodo depart the spaceship, which is now known affectionately as the Ark, at the end of episode two. It is with surprise, therefore, that upon the Tardis materializing it is immediately evident that the Ship has landed in the very same spot it had left from. Making their way back to the control room of the Ark, the Tardis Crew are unable to find any of the Guardians. It is only upon seeing the enormous statue that the Guardians had been building that they realized that something was very wrong. During their first visit to the Ark, our heroes had been advised that the massive statue would take 700 years to construct. The statue which the Doctor and his companions were now staring at was not only complete, but had a head of a Monoid, rather than a human’s. At least 700 years have passed and the Ark must now be nearing its destination.
The statue, which took 700 years to carve, has been completed with a Monoid head
All is soon revealed. The Monoids can now talk. Not having a voice box (presumably because they have an eye in their mouths) an artificial one was invented by the Guardians during their time as overlords. The voice box looks not unlike a badly made paper necklace. The Monoids are now in control and their usurping of the Guardians was not, as one might expect, the consequence years of oppression but rather because of a mutation of the common cold which in same way had effected the will of the humans. The Doctor and his companions, therefore, have more to answer for than originally thought.
A Monoid complete with voice box
The tables have been reversed and the humans are now enslaved by the Monoids. Most have been killed, although a small number have been spared and are imprisoned in the “Security Kitchen.” That has to take the cake for the most imaginative portrayal of a prison. In the Security Kitchen the humans cook for the Monoids, although preparation is now more efficient. There’s no need for real potatoes as a tablet dropped into water immediately produces beautifully peeled ones. The special effect is very well realized and made me wish for my own bottle of food producing tablets! Any humans that are out of line are executed, without trial, by the Monoids’ heat guns. The Monoids use of martial law evidences the deterioration of order in the society and their “payback” for the years of enslavement to the Guardians. The manner in which they treat the humans is far harsher than the Guardian’s treatment of them previously.
The Guardians, with their appalling dress sense, are now slaves of the Monoids
So aggrieved are the Monoids at their past treatment that they intend to relocate to Refusis 2 without the humans, and to blow the humans and the Ark up with a bomb which has been hidden in the head of the statue. In cute looking shuttles the Monoids and a few human slaves leave the Ark to scout out the previously unseen Refusis 2. Unknown to all, the planet is inhabited by benevolent (at least to humans) but invisible creatures. Needless to say, the arrogance and aggressiveness of the Monoids soon sees them almost embark on a Civil War, with Steven contemplating that they might soon wipe themselves out. From being rather quaint non-threatening creatures in episodes one and two, the Monoids have become the typical malicious monsters. Perhaps because speech is such a new phenomena to them, the Monoids have the most annoying trait of explaining their devious plans out loud. Intelligent creatures they certainly aren’t.
The Monoids have placed a bomb in the head of the statue
Having won the confidence of a native Refusian, the Doctor has the invisible creature pilot one of the space shuttles back to the Ark. It is there that the Refusian’s incredible strength comes in handy as he lifts the statue from the ground and throws it out of the escape chute. It explodes in space shortly thereafter. The humans have been saved from destruction, but how will they deal with the murderous Monoids on Refusis 2? The Refusian and the Doctor both offer the humans some advice.
Steven and Venussa. The Doctor has advice to offer the Guardians
REFUSIAN: We’ll do everything we can to assist you in settling on our planet.
DASSUK: Thank you.
REFUSIAN: But one thing you must do.
VENUSSA: What’s that?
REFUSIAN: Make peace with the Monoids.
DOCTOR: He’s right. A long time ago, your ancestors accepted responsibility for the welfare of these Monoids. They were treated like slaves. So no wonder when they got the chance the repaid you in kind.
REFUSIAN: Unless you learn to live together, there is no future for you on Refusis.
DASSUCK: We understand.
DOCTOR: Yes, you must travel with understanding as well as hope. You know, I once said that to one of your ancestors, a long time ago. However, we must be going. Goodbye.
After facilitating peace our heroes depart. Dodo, the Doctor and Steven.
And so ends The Ark. The above was a succinct summary of the story’s moral however it was all rather unsophisticated and infantile. We have no idea if the Monoids would accept the need to co-operate with their former overlords. Given their actions in episodes three and four it’s just as likely that would maintain the rage and continue their devious plots for vengeance. One can only hope that the human’s enhanced understanding of stewardship will facilitate a reciprocal abatement of hostilities by the Monoids.
The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966