Tag Archives: The Ark

The Faceless Ones

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If you’d tuned into Doctor Who in March or April 1967 you’d be excused for thinking that the programme’s production team had a real issue with holidaying Brits.  Firstly The Macra Terror compared  Butlins style Holiday Camps to a colony governed by giant mind-controlling crabs. Then the next serial, The Faceless Ones, took a shot at the bourgeoning package holiday market and groups of 18 to 25 year-olds jetting off  from Gatwick Airport to European destinations such as Rome, Dubrovnik and Athens.   Participating in such tours could find you miniaturized, shot 150 miles into the air in a aeroplane which transforms into a spaceship, and finally stored away indefinitely in a drawer after an alien has replicated and taken on your form. It’s enough to turn anyone off taking that next holiday!

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

Mind control and losing one’s identity were issues of great concern to the writers of Doctor Who in the late 1960s. Together with The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones, such themes were also addressed in a number of other stories.  In the Cybermen serials there was the ever present threat of being upgraded and becoming one of them.  In the Underwater Menace you were at risk of being turned into a Fish Person, and miniaturization and long time storage had been canvassed in The Ark.

The four members of the Tardis Crew before the scatter at Gatwick Airport

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport

The Faceless One marks the real beginning of the classic pairing of Jamie and the Second Doctor.  In his previous outings in the Tardis Jamie had been almost a tacked on afterthought.  Written hastily into the series after his first appearance in The Highlanders, Jamie paraded around in a black wet suit in The Underwater Menace, moaned in a half conscious state about the “Phantom Piper” in The Moonbase, and showed his resilience to mind washing in The Macra Terror.  Jamie’s amazement at the technology of the 20th Century is at last played upon in this serial.  Large passenger aircraft are “flying beasties”,  £28 is a fortune and Gatwick Airport is a world unlike any that he’s ever seen. The audience is left wondering if the Highlander from 1746 is literate as he hides behind The Times newspaper which he holds upside down. They must also wonder what sort of fools the people searching for Jamie are, that they don’t notice the hairy legs of a kilted lad beneath the paper.

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

It is not until this outing that Jamie is paired principally with the Doctor, although he does spend a fair amount of air time with the Liver Bird, Samantha Briggs. The Liverpudlian character, whose brother was lost on one of the Chameleon Tours, was played by Pauline Collins and would have become the new companion had Collins agreed to the offer. I have little doubt that there were no regrets as her career progressed to stellar heights. Collins was not to appear in Doctor Who again until the 2006 Series 2 story, Tooth and Claw, in which she played Queen Victoria.

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who is searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who was searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collin's next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Pauline Collins’ next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Jamie’s rapport with the Doctor is incredible but is only the beginning of a steadfast relationship which will mature during Seasons five and six.  This partnership, however, is at the expense of Ben and Polly who depart the Tardis Crew at the end of episode six.  Ben’s days were numbered from Jamie’s arrival in The Highlanders and it was unfortunate that the dynamic between the two modern day London companions was lost.  Anneke Wills chose to relinquish her role as Polly once Michael Craze’s departure became known.

Jamie's addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben's expense

Jamie’s addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben’s expense

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Ben and Polly’s farewell was not much better than Dodo’s in The War Machines, which was incidentally Ben and Polly’s first adventure with the Doctor. Absent from episodes three, four and five, they only appeared in a pre-filmed segment at episode six’s close.  A ten month companionship spanning  two Doctors ended abruptly when the couple realized that it was 20 July 1966, the very day that they’d stumbled into the Tardis at the conclusion of The War Machines.  Although visibly upset, Polly was pleased to be able to get back to her own world.  The Doctor said how lucky they were because he never got to return to his.  Exhibiting a marked sexism the Doctor stated, “Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben”.  What a life.  You could tell it was 1967!  After Polly enquired as to whether the Doctor would be safe, Jamie assured her that “I’ll look after him”.

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

The Second Doctor’s first present day serial, The Faceless Ones,  is sure to have influenced Mark Gatiss when he wrote the Series 2 story The Idiot’s Lantern. In that 2006 Tenth Doctor story an evil entity, The Wire, existed only in the form of energy.  She transferred herself  between television sets and fed off humanity’s mental signals as people innocently watched the telly.  In stealing the humans’ energy The Wire hoped to one day  regain a corporeal form.  Her victims, however, were robbed of their faces and minds, although they still retained consciousness. Faceless the victims became, but nowhere near as grotesque as their predecessors in The Faceless Ones.

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006's The Idiot's Lantern

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Faceless Ones and am saddened that only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  The Second Doctor serials are just such a delight and it’s appalling that there are only a handful of complete Troughton serials remaining.  As the Doctor and Jamie walked off at the story’s end, looking for the stolen Tardis, I contemplated how pleased I was that Doctor Who is a British and not an Australian programme.  Jamie would never have had his Scottish accent stolen, and replaced by a Received Pronunciation one in the Chameleon-Jamie, if the show was made in Australia.  Nor would the actor who played the Police Inspector Crossland experience such difficulties in gaining and retaining a Scots brogue. Most importantly, however, the humans who were replicated by the Chameleons would never have been left hidden in cars.  Residing in such a hot environment we’re all too schooled  in the “dogs die in hot cars” commercials to ever contemplate leaving a human in one!  Join me next time as Season four comes to an end with The Evil of the Daleks and Doctor Who gets its newest companion, Victoria.

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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The Savages

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The Savages - Book

Watching The Savages was somewhat of a rare treat.  Not only was it a serial that I’d never before watched, but also one that I’d neither read nor heard spoken about.  I entered its viewing, therefore, with no preconceptions and an entirely open mind.  I’m very pleased that I did because I was thoroughly taken by this 1960’s tale of morality.  I enjoy looking for the political in serials, even if a message was not intentionally left.  The Savages, however, proudly flaunts its political design.  Whether it was intended to be a tale against South Africa’s apartheid regime, the association of eugenics with Nazi Germany, or a cutting condemnation of the British Class system, it matters not.  What is important in my mind is that The Savages is as equally as relevant today as it was in 1966.

The "Savage" inhabitants of the planet.  They are humans, just like the Elders, whoever they are considered barbarians

The “Savage” inhabitants of the planet. They are humans, just like the Elders, however they are considered barbarians by the Elders

The Doctor and his companions find themselves on an unnamed planet amongst a civilization which the Doctor considers highly advanced. Although the landscape is somewhat arid and populated by people leading an almost caveman like existence (the Savages), there is built on the planet a sparkling city.  Freedom is afforded to the city’s occupants sufficient to allow them as much leisure time as they so desire.  Their wants are always met, however they are unable to exit the city to the real world.  The city is entirely enclosed with no access to natural air, light, sun, rain or wind, however the occupants don’t consider themselves to suffer materially or physically as a consequence.  The occupants of both the city (the Elders) and the outside world (the Savages) are human and save for the vast differences in their qualities of life, are nonetheless identical physically and psychologically.

 Steven and Dodo are confronted by a Savage.  They run to the Tardis for cover


Steven and Dodo are confronted by a Savage. They run to the Tardis for cover

The Elders consider themselves superior in all ways to the Savages, who are treated as barbarians.  The Elders welcome the Doctor’s arrival and claim that they have been tracking the course of his spaceship for many eons. His arrival is considered a time of momentous historical importance. The Doctor is treated as a folk hero and a man of very high regard,  and is afforded the honorary office of High Elder. The Council of Elders, however, is nonetheless surprised that the Doctor is travelling with companions.  Dodo and Steven are welcomed and given gifts of a mirror inlaid with precious gemstones (for Dodo) and an ornamental dagger (for Steven).  The mirror plays an important role in the story at a later stage.

The Doctor and Jago, the Elder's leader

The Doctor and Jago, the Elder’s leader

The Elders are proud of their intellectual and scientific progress and extol its virtues to the Doctor.  Jano’s discussion of race perfection is chillingly reminiscent of eugenics:

“Doctor, do you realise that with our knowledge, we can make the brave man braver, the wise man wiser, the strong man stronger.  We can make the beautiful girl more beautiful still.  You will see the advantages of that in the perfection of our race”.

Nanina is a Savage whose life force the Elders use to make their own people more beautiful

Nanina is a Savage whose life force the Elders use to make their own people more beautiful

Whilst initially impressed by the Elders’ “vast scientific research” and their race of “great intelligence”, the Doctor soon became suspicious and had an uncomfortable feeling about this  place which otherwise evidenced a greatly advanced society.  On coming upon one of the Savages in the Elders’ facility the Doctor was quickly cognisant of what was occurring.  The Elders had “discovered a way of extracting life’s force from human beings, and absorbing it into themselves, leaving the victim, as you see, almost dead”.

The Elders escorting Nanina from their laboratory following a transference

The Elders escorting Nanina from their laboratory following a transference

Once aware of the horrors that were perpetrated against the Savages, the Doctor was quick to condemn the travesty.  In doing so, however, he found himself an unwilling participant in the Elders’ immoral “medical” procedure.  The Doctor’s powerful conversation with the Elder leader, Jano, is worthy of quoting verbatim.

JANO:  We do not understand you, Doctor. You have accepted our honours gladly, how can you condemn this great artistic and scientific civilisation because of a few wretched barbarians?

DOCTOR: So your rewards are only for the people that agree with you ?

JANO: No. No, of course not.  But if you are going to oppose us.

DOCTOR: Oppose you? Indeed I am going to oppose you, just in the same way that I oppose the Daleks or any other menace to common humanity.

JANO: I am sorry you take this attitude, Doctor.  It is most unscientific.  You are standing in the way of human progress.

DOCTOR: Human progress, sir?  How dare you call your treatment of these people progress!

JANO: They are hardly people, Doctor.  They are not like us.

DOCTOR: I fail to see the difference.

JANO: Do you not realise that all progress is based on exploitation.

DOCTOR: Exploitation indeed!  This, sir, is protracted murder!

JANO: We have achieved a very great deal merely by the sacrifice of a few savages.

DOCTOR: The sacrifice of even one soul is far too great!  You must put an end to this inhuman practice.

JANO: You leave me no choice.  Take him away, Captain.  And tell Senta that we have an emergency.  I shall be sending him special instructions.

The Doctor is placed on a gurney and strapped down.  Wheeled into the vaporization unit, the Doctor undergoes transference.  This procedure is considered by the Elders to be the most impressive ever undertaken because no person of such high intellect has previously been subjected to it. The Doctor is rendered unconscious and upon waking he is weak, groggy and disorientated.  He is unable to speak for the rest of the episode.

The Doctor is an unwilling donor in the Elders' life force extraction

The Doctor is an unwilling donor in the Elders’ life force extraction

Given the unique nature of the Doctor’s transference the Elder leader, Jano, volunteers to be the recipient of the Doctor’s life force. Unbeknownst to all, Jano receives more than he bargained for.  Perhaps because of the Doctor’s non-human DNA, Jano develops a conscience and the speech mannerisms of the Doctor. Rob Shearman argues in Running Through Corridors that this was a ploy by the Doctor Who production team to see if the Doctor could be performed by someone other than William Hartnell.  In my review of The Celestial Toymaker I noted that Hartnell was lucky to have escaped the chop during that production run.  Shearman goes on to state that Frederick Jaeger, the actor who played Jano, was unsuccessful in pulling it off.  Had he done so, and replaced Hartnell, then the series is unlikely to have lasted more than a short period of time.  It was the radical reworking of the title character in the form of Patrick Troughton, Shearman argues, that secured Doctor Who’s future.

Dodo in the tunnels of the Elders' city

Dodo in the tunnels of the Elders’ city

It is the emergence of Jano’s conscience that facilitates his treason against the Elders and support of the Doctor, his companions and the Savages in the destruction of the Elders’ scientific equipment.  The Doctor’s acquiescence to the wilful destruction evidences a distinct change to his previous “no interference” policy.  The Doctor is changing history and quite proudly doing so.  The devastation of the equipment is undertaken in a most luddite like manner and is perhaps a hint that this serial is just as much about the perils of technology, and its effect upon the working classes, as it is about issues pertaining to racism or eugenics. Given that the writer, Ian Sturt Black, died in 1997 we are unlikely to ever know for sure.

The Doctor and Exorse, one of the Elders. Note Exorse's less than flattering head gear

The Doctor and Exorse, one of the Elders. Note Exorse’s less than flattering head gear

It has been argued that The Savages is essentially the same story as The Ark. Both involve a society residing in an artificial environment in which one group oppresses the other.  There is no logical basis for this discrimination and in both serials the oppressed rise up and usurp their overlords.  Both end with the need for co-operation between the former enemies.  When reviewing The Ark I noted that there was no guarantee that the Monoids would accept the Guardians’ proposals for peace.  In The Savages, however, peace is assured by the intervention of an independent third party as mediator.  Much to Steven’s  dismay, the Doctor volunteered him to remain and facilitate the transformation to a fair and just society. Although initially hesitant, Steven quickly accepts the challenge and the Doctor and Dodo depart to the Tardis. Although Steven’s retreat  is only slightly less hasty than Vicki’s, at least he is not the victim of a quick romance and marriage.  As our next serial, The War Machines, will show, there are a lot worse companion exits to come.

The Doctor says farewell to Steven as the distressed Dodo looks on

The Doctor says farewell to Steven as the distressed Dodo looks on

For the record, The Savages is the first serial to not have its episodes individually titled. Henceforth the viewers are better able to know when a serial starts and finishes.  Unfortunately for diehard fans of the series it also means that there will no longer be any arguments on what the serial’s correct title is! A sign of the more innocent times of the 1960s can be seen in the Doctor’s unique calculating apparatus – a Reacting Vibrator.  Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again. This serial is also unique in that there are absolutely no monsters.  The inhumanity of humans to their own kind is monstrous enough. The four episodes of The Savages are among the 106 episodes that are no longer held in the BBC archives.  This marathon was undertaken by viewing Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstructions.

The Doctor and his strangely named RV - Reacting Vibrator.  Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again?

The Doctor and his strangely named RV – Reacting Vibrator. Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again?

Loose Cannon's VHS Cover art for their The Savages reconstructions.  The Savages was originally broadcast in the UK between 28th May and 18th June 1966

Loose Cannon’s VHS Cover art for their The Savages reconstructions. The Savages was originally broadcast in the UK between 28th May and 18th June 1966

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCE:

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),

The Gunfighters

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Recently released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor WhoCelebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every broadcast episode of Who.  Available as a free PDF download from http://celebrateregenerate.weebly.com/ this mighty tome features a page long article on every serial.  The authors of The Gunfighters article, Mike Greaves and Andrew Boland, succinctly summarize received fan wisdom on this Western adventure. Dreadful, terrible, boring, and badly made are some of the words and phrases used by Greaves and Boland to describe the average fan’s dismissal of this tale.  So convinced were they that the viewing experience would be tortuous and entirely unenjoyable that once viewed, they questioned whether  they’d watched the right serial.  Were there two 1960s Doctor Who Westerns, they wondered.   There was indeed only one and clearly there was something peculiar going on. Greaves and Boland had actually thoroughly enjoyed The Gunfighters.

Edited by Lewis Christian, Celebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every Doctor Who episode

Edited by Lewis Christian, Celebrate Regenerate is a fan produced chronicle of every Doctor Who episode

Phil Sandifer in his book Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell examines this received wisdom in depth and identifies three distinct stages of fan criticism.  The first he describes as 1980s fandom; the second as the Great Re-evaluation of the 1990s; and the third, the Reconstructionist era beginning in 2002. The first era occurred in a time when there was neither video releases of Doctor Who nor the internet.  Fan opinion was derived from memories of the programmes when originally broadcast and a limited number of books, the most notable of which was Peter Haining’s 1983 Doctor Who: A Celebration. This coffee table book was almost seen as the Bible of Who and its critical analysis of episodes taken as Gospel.   Haining’s review of The Gunfighters was scathingly negative and it is most probably from this source that received fan wisdom grew.

The Doctor and his companions visit Tombstone, Arizona

The Doctor and his companions visit Tombstone, Arizona

The Great Re-evaluation that followed the release of stories on VHS cassette was not so much a detailed reappraisal of stories, but rather discussions to produce a general consensus on the relative merits of each story.  It was not until all existing stories had been released on VHS, and Loose Cannon had completed their reconstructions, that what Sandifer describes as the democratization of fan criticism began.  The ordinary Who fan was now in a position to access the stories for themselves and with the re-launch of Who in 2005, new fans had little concern for what the Classic Series critics of old said. With the pervasiveness of the internet and instant access to television programming everyone had become a media critic.

Steven and Dodo enjoy dressing up as Cowboys and Cowgirls

Steven and Dodo enjoy dressing up as Cowboys and Cowgirls

It is from this new position of fan criticism that The Gunfighters has been reappraised.  That the story is unique cannot be denied.  It is the only Doctor Who story with a sung narration, in the form of The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon. Sung by Lynda Baron, the Ballad is heard at times of climatic tension throughout the serial.  The lyrics change to reflect the action and it’s also sung by Steven and Doc Holliday’s girlfriend, Kate, in the saloon.  It’s the latter renditions that are posted below for your viewing pleasure.

The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon

Written by Donald Cotton, the author of The Myth Makers, the serial has a similar comedy format to Cotton’s previous Who outing.  Again it mirrors the events in Troy when episode four descends into tragedy. The Gunfighters  is set in 1881 America and follows the film The Gunfight at the OK Corral  as one of its primary sources.  Doctor Who would not return to the American Wild West until the Eleventh Doctor’s 2012 adventure A Town Called Mercy. Having broken a tooth eating one of the Cyril’s lollies in The Celestial Toyroom, the Doctor uses his unexpected arrival in the American mid-west to procure the services of the local dentist, Doc Holliday. He is immediately mistaken for Holliday by the town’s residents and hunted down by the Clanton family. Throw into the mix the Earp brothers, Virgil and Warren, and add Johnny Ringo (who historically wasn’t involved in these Tombstone, Arizona events), and you have a ripping good yarn.

The Doctor has a tooth extracted by Doc Holliday

The Doctor has a tooth extracted by Doc Holliday

William Hartnell absolutely shines in The Gunfighters, undoubtedly because it was a comedy and the genre in which he most enjoyed to act. The Doctor is given some fabulous lines and rarely does he stumble on them.  Except, of course, when he refers to Steven as a “she”!  Peter Purves does a superb job, as always, and Jackie Lane, as Dodo, is at last afforded the opportunity to act.  Her scene with Doc Holliday when she threatens him with a gun is just fabulous.  The set work was superb even if the stair railings did wobble when Ike Clanton fell to his death. The Doctor Who production team must have recently found the services of an animal wrangler.  Less than two months earlier they’d had an elephant in the studio for The Ark and this time a horse.  I wonder what the cleaners thought at the end of the day’s filming!

The Doctor in Doc Holliday's dentist chair.  Beside the Doctor is Kate, Doc's girlfriend

The Doctor in Doc Holliday’s dentist chair. Beside the Doctor is Kate, Holliday’s girlfriend

There are a couple of interesting facts to note in this serial.  The original working title was The Gunslingers, and as anyone who has viewed the Series 7 episode, A Town Called Mercy, would be aware,  there’s a character by that very same name. The Gunfighters  also stared the Thunderbirds voice artists, David Graham (Brains) and Shane Rimmer (Alan Tracey). Graham played the unfortunate barman, Charlie, and Rimmer the character of Seth Harper.  Lynda Baron, the off camera singer of The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon appeared in the Series 6 story Closing Time as Val.

The working title of The Gunfighters was The Gunslingers.  That name was not forgotten and the character, The Gunslinger, appeared in 2012's A Town Called Mercy

The working title of The Gunfighters was The Gunslingers. That name was not forgotten and the character, The Gunslinger, appeared in 2012’s A Town Called Mercy

Guess which two Thunderbirds voice artists appeared in The Gunfighters

Guess which two Thunderbirds voice artists appeared in The Gunfighters

The Gunfighters was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 April and 21 May 1966

The Gunfighters was originally broadcast in the UK between 30 April and 21 May 1966

The Gunfighters DVD was released with the Fifth Doctor adventure The Awakening in the Earth Story Box Set

The Gunfighters DVD was released with the Fifth Doctor adventure The Awakening in the Earth Story Box Set

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Lewis Christian (ed), Celebrate, Regeneratehttp://celebrateregenerate.weebly.com/, 2013.

Phil Sandifer, Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell. Self published, 2011.

The Ark

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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 4  in condensed form which appeared, together with the recently found episode three, on The Aztecs Special EditionMission 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 Unknown  to The Massacre are 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 Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides 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

Monoids and Guardians together in the control room of the Ark

Episodes one and two of The Ark are 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 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 him is the commanders daughter and a Mark 1  Monoid sans voice box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ark was originally broadcast in the UK between 5 March and 26 March 1966

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Mark Campbell, Doctor Who: The Complete Series Guide (Robinson, London: 2011).

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),