Monday, 15 April 2013

The Ark

A curious story is this one. It’s very enjoyable for one main reason – it exists! All episodes exist! I didn’t have to watch a reconstruction! So naturally I was happy about that. The story starts off really well and seems to fall slowly from there. The first episode is clearly the best written, acted and directed. We open with elephants, lizards and tropical birds in the amazing Ark set which apparently was made with mostly potted plants. The scale is incredibly impressive, like nothing we’re seen in a previous episodes.

Many Monoids
The Monoids are, as I have heard many found, a disappointment. Elements of the costume are good, the skin looks great, but the costumes are too loose fittings, the wigs stupid and they don’t have a mouth. However, they work well in the first two episodes as friends of the humans. The humans, who have left Earth for the final time before the planet explodes, are journeying for thousands of years to find a new home – Refusis Two. They have taken new friends the Monoids with them.

The Doctor, Steven and new companion Dodo arrive in the jungle area of ‘the Ark’. It would have been nice to get one or two exterior shots of the Ark moving through space. It was supposed to be spherical, like a planet and thusly shouldn’t have been too hard or expensive to do. However, arriving in the jungle with the steel sky is a nice start to the piece, and the director (who was apparently fired just before episode four was shot) Michael Imison really does a great job getting different angles and concealing the extremities of the set. He deserves a lot of credit for his work.
Jackie Lane has a word or two to say to the Monoid
I want to return to the character Dodo. As her accent slowly changes and morphs, I can’t help but feel the addition of her character is very disappointing in so much as we don’t learn anything about her, she runs aboard the TARDIS in the previous story, right at the end, and now it’s like she’s been travelling with the Doctor for a while. I like Dodo, played by Jackie Lane, as a companion. She proves to be bubbly and curious and in her first story is the crux of the plot in her first two episodes as she brings a virus on board that threatens to kill everyone. They are so far in the future they have no resistance to the virus. It’s a great idea, as is the Ark, wonderful science fiction ideas brought to life in the script by Paul Erickson.

Courtroom drama or courtroom farce?
However, episode two descends into a very poorly written and played out courtroom drama. It seems Erickson had no other ideas and needed to fill the 25 minutes somehow. One character, Zentos, is determined to bring down the Doctor and his companions, where as  the controller (Eric Elliot) is fully supportive of the Doctor watching sick through a monitor uttering poorly scripted lines. In the end the Doctor finds a cure and they are released. It’s all a bit ho-hum. They leave the Ark, but then return, 700 years later. They look up at a statue that was to be finished by this time, and instead of a human it has a Monoid head. A truly wonderful cliff-hanger, the best episode ending the series has produced to this point.
The Doctor, Dodo and Steven are thrown into... the SECURITY KITCHEN!
Unfortunately, the story now plummets to pure farce. The Monoids have taken over, but worse than that – they have become stereotypical stupid villains with ridiculous voices. They keep a few humans prisoner, working for them, in the ‘Security Kitchen’. They are bombastic and egotistical and when they travel to Refusis II and encounter the invisible Refusians, are soon defeated. It’s really embarrassing, cheap writing to be honest. The ideas of episode one which impressed me are totally undone by turning the Monoids into atypical stupid monsters.
Hello I'm an evil Monoid making crazy plots. And I find eating very difficulr.

Forget the poor design, these creatures would have held up better if they had kept their friendship with the humans. It was a breath of fresh air to see they weren’t treated in the typical way in the first half, but the last two episodes? Aye aye aye aye.


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