PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Who by Two in 'Doctor Who: The Ark'

There are bad stories, goofy aliens and lousy special effects littered throughout the Doctor Who series, but stories like this help us keep the faith.


Doctor Who: The Ark

Distributor: BBC Warner
Cast: William Hartnell, Peter Purves, Jackie Lane
Network: BBC
Release date: 2011-03-08
Amazon

When Noah brought the animals on his ark they came two by two. This fact makes for a fun bit of singing and wordplay for children first learning the story, but what’s missing is the why. The story isn’t told to children to explain animal husbandry, though, it’s told to extoll the virtues of faith, that listening to and obeying god is the only path to salvation. The image of the animals pairing off and boarding the ark along with Noah and his family also evokes another theme that runs deeper than faith: survival.

With or without Noah, the flood story persists around the world and across religious and cultural traditions. Aboard the TARDIS it transcends time and space. When the TARDIS materializes in a lush forest the Doctor (William Hartnell), Steven (Peter Purves) and their new companion Dodo (Jackie Lane) are sure they’ve landed on Earth. Despite the presence of lizards, birds, elephants and even people, they learn they’re actually aboard a spaceship, traveling along with refugees from a dying Earth, ten million years from the present.

The majority of people aboard the ship have been miniaturized and placed in stasis for their 700 year journey to the planet Refusis. Those remaining are called the Guardians, and they’re assisted in their duties by Monoids, refugees from another world.

Doctor Who: The Ark makes great use of the time travel conceit, moving the characters through the entire arc of the refugee’s journey to their new home. The story is split into halves, the first of which centers on the specter of disease, something the Guardians have eliminated over the centuries. It comes via Dodo, whose minor case of the sniffles turns deadly and quickly spreads throughout the ship. This gives Steven pause, and he utters a horrifying line: “Has this happened before?” Traveling to other eras and other planets, the Doctor and his companions could spread disease anywhere, wreaking havoc across the universe, an idea that could spawn a whole series of stories.

This idea of the Doctor’s legacy of disease is forgotten when a cure is found and order is restored, but for the Guardians traveling to Refusis, the legacy of their actions lingers long into the future. After the TARDIS leaves the ship it materializes again in the exact same spot as before, only seven hundred years later. The planet Refusis is in sight and the Monoids have taken control of the ship.

The second half of the story overshadows the first both in scale and excitement. The Doctor and his friends find a complete reversal of the world they’d only just left. It’s a wonderful bit of narrative sleight of hand that proves why the show has endured. Time travel doesn’t have to be about killing the dictator or righting some historical wrong. It allows us to peek ahead to see what comes next.

Doctor Who: The Ark marks the Monoids only appearance on the series. As goofy-looking villains go these guys are formidable. They look like stalks of broccoli wearing Beatle wigs and, when they gain the ability to speak, their voices are Dalek-lite. The transformation from servants to masters and their single, unblinking eyes give them enough depth and menace to make them convincing.

Among the brief but satisfying bonus features is the featurette “One Hit Wonder” which explores the Monoids’ status among other single appearance aliens, and the strange appeal of their ridiculous and scary look. “Riverside Story” details the making of the story and gives viewers a tour of the sound stage where it was filmed, and “All’s Wells” marks Doctor Who’s debt to the works of H.G. Wells.

Doctor Who: The Ark is a story of survival and endurance, something the creators of Doctor Who and its fans know a little about. There are bad stories, goofy aliens and lousy special effects littered throughout the series’ history, but stories like this help us keep the faith.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.