Doctor Who – The Ark in Space (Special Edition)

I seem to be in full on catching up with myself mode, so I’m going to make a start on some classic Doctor Who DVD reviews. This is another of the improved releases – the original came out in 2002, and was a little light on extras.

This four part story, first shown in January/February 1975, was Tom Baker’s second story as the Doctor, following on from Robot. He’s accompanied by Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Ian Marter as Harry Sullivan. The TARDIS, in typically random fashion, arrives on a space station in the far future. It turns out to be full of people in suspended animation – they left Earth before it was devastated by solar flares which rendered it uninhabitable. Unfortunately, the system that was supposed to wake them all up after a suitable interval failed. Even more unfortunately, Something Nasty has got on board – a Wirrn, a giant space insect that has nasty reproductive habits involving taking over the bodies of other lifeforms. Something like an ichneumon fly, only bigger and more intelligent, which is not something you’d want to wake up to after thousands of years asleep.

There’s lot of the usual running around, Sarah getting into trouble several times, and the Doctor being very Doctorish. Indeed, it’s quite impressive to see Tom already getting his characterisation more or less perfect. Good stuff.

This being a revised special edition, there’s a pretty good selection of extras, spread over two discs. These include:

  • A new frontier – a new making of documentary 
  • Doctor Forever! – Love & War The first in a new documentary series about how Doctor Who was kept alive during the brief unpleasantness while it was off the air. This one looks at the books initially published by Virgin, then by BBC books, and includes contributions from some of the authors. Some of them went on to have some involvement with the revived TV series, including Russell T Davies and Mark Gatiss.

There are also lots of little effects pieces, some 2002 CGI sequences, TV news clips, the usual production subtitles and much more.

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