Number : Season 4, Serial 6 of 10.

Which One :One-eyed moptop aliens.

Cast : The Doctor : William Hartnell
Dodo Chaplet : Jackie Lane
Steven : Peter Purves
Commander : Eric Elliott
Zentos : Inigo Jackson
Manyak : Roy Spencer
Rhos : Michael Sheard
Mellium : Kate Newman
Baccu : Ian Frost
Guardians : Stephanie Heesom, Paul Greenhalgh
Maharis : Terence Woodfield
Dassuk : Brian Wright
Vennussa : Eileen Helsby
Yendom : Terence Bayler
Refusian : Richard Beale

Written by : Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott

Produced By : John Wiles.

First UK Broadcast : 5 – 26 March 1966

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Episodes :
1) “The Steel Sky”
2) “The Plague”
3) “The Return”
4) “The Bomb”

Plot : The Tardis lands on a huge space freighter, called the ‘Ark’, in 10,000,000 AD. Which is transporting the human race (and their Monoid servants) – to a new homeworld, far from Earth. Dodo brings a common cold aboard the Ark and it begins to kill the unprepared humans.

Whats good : Nice, strong Sci-Fi concept episode. Future humans having no resistance against the common cold. The subservient Monoids, turning the tables on their human masters.

Whats bad : The Monoids look ridiculous.

Review With Spoilers :The Ark is the sixth serial of Season 4 and is one of the most thoughtful Sci-fi stories, featured in Hartnell’s run.

It has strong, thought-provoking science-fiction warnings and cause and effect outcomes, which wouldn’t be out of place – in a Frank Herbert or Iain M. Banks novel.

The humans, having destroyed Earth, are on their way (in a massive spacefreighter) to colonise a new planet – many light years away. They have also enslaved a bizarre looking serventile Alien race; called the Monoids.

The Ark serves as a tale of caution and a morality piece, for human ingenuity – and arrogance. Do humans have the right to trash their own planet and then choose another, without thought for the indigenous Renfusian life? Is the Monoid uprising and subsequent bloody war, the fault of the humans – for treating them so badly?
For all of man’s technological achievements, they are all nearly killed by a simple common-cold virus; which is brought aboard by Dodo. As a result, the Doctor and his companions are put on trial – for murder.

“Guardians! Monoids! before it is too late, before we are stricken by the fever ourselves, we must make the strangers answer for the terrible crime they have committed…!!” Zentos

The Monoids are interesting monsters, initially obediant – but with secret intentions – to take the human’s new intended homeworld; as their own. By rising up and overthrowing their human masters.

The Monoid appearance is downright ridiculous, though, with a ‘Richard The Third’ haircut, one eye and big green flippers. Nevertheless, as a concept; they are an interesting amtagonist – in this; not entirely without justified motivation. As the humans are as much to blame, for their behaviour and for their poor treatment, of the Monoid race.

Hartnell is authoritive in this one, taking less of a backseat role and directing proceedings accordingly. Firstly, in defence – against the humans and secondly – against the Monoids, after they take over.

The Ark, easily rivals anything from the excellent Tom Baker/Hinchcliffe era. With its thoughtful quandries and epic space-operatics, it stands up as one of the best Hartnell Sci-Fi numbers; amongst the period dramas.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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