The Ark In Space – 1975 – S12 – E2/5

imageNumber : Season 12, episode 2 of 4.

Which One : Who’s take on ‘Alien‘.

Cast : Doctor Who -Tom Baker
Sarah Jane Smith : Elizabeth Sladen
Harry Sullivan : Ian Marter
Kenton Moore : Noah
Wendy Williams : Vira
Richardson Morgan : Rogin
John Gregg : Lycett
Christopher Masters : Libri
Stuart Fell, Nick Hobbs : The Wirrn
Gladys Spencer : High Minister’s Voice

Written By : Robert Holmes

Produced By : Philip Hinchcliffe

Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.

First UK Broadcast : 25 January – 15 February 1975

Plot :During a Tardis trip around the moon, Harry accidentally sends the Tardis into the far future. Where they find humanity in cryogenic suspension aboard a space station – called Nerva, being harrassed by the Wirrn Swarm.

Whats good : Really strong sci-fi episode, with strong horror overtones. The Wirrn in principle, are horrificaly realised. Noticably bigger budget set design reused in later season.

Whats bad :The Wirrn look like floppy turds with Mr Potato head attachments. The mutation and the grub phase looks like green bubblewrap.

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Review With Spoilers : The Ark In Space is the 2nd episode of season 12 and features the beginning of a seasonal story arc, involving events in and around the spacestation; Nerva.

There is a lot of good things going on here, too. It is surprising that Ark In Space isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Pyramids Of Mars or Genesis Of The Daleks. As Ark In Space is among the best Who’s ever conceived and was penned by Who supremo Robert Holmes.

The horrific Wirrn have to be considered some unwitting inspiration for the Xenomorph in Alien, 4 years before Ridley Scott and company came along.

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They impregnate unfortunate humans and their offspring burst out of the victims stomach, following their gestation period. Before going through a quick growing stage, till their final adult insectoid stage.

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“Homo Sapiens! What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few millions years since they’ve crawled out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenseless, bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague, they’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts, and now here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life, ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable! Indomitable!” – Fourth Doctor

The siege element – featuring the humanities last stand, is well realised here. With the Doctor’s help, the humans manage to fend off the Wirrn from their still sleeping humans compatriots; without substantial weapons.

Baker is in fine form – as the moody, stubborn orchestrator of the human resistance. We also have Baker’s signature “Indomitable” speech here, as he laments on his favourite hobby; the ingenuity of the human condition.

New companion Harry, nicely settles in between the Doctor and Sarah-Jane and some nice companional interplay ensues – from this new dynamic.

Ark Leader; Noah (Noah’s Ark – geddit?) is nicely played by Kenton Moore who tows the line between benevolent ruler and later, tormented victim of the Wirrn – as his human side is overcame.

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Set design has to be appreciated in this and Spacestation Nerva is well realised, for a Who production. It appeared again in Revenge Of The Cybermen at the season finale.

Infact, Spacestation Nerva (as a concept) serves as the central story arc for the whole of season 12 with Ark, Sontaran Experiment and Revenge Of The Cybermen, revolving around it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who


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