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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Doctor Who: The Ark In Space - Special Edition [DVD]
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on 2 March 2017
Another Excellent Release From The BBC Featuring The one and only Tom Baker starring as Dr Who. from 1975 often cited as The Golden era of The series. and certainly from a Time when The BBC dominated Saturday Night viewing The Ark In Space finds The intrepid Time lord and his companions landing on a seemingly Deserted space station as with Dr Who all is not what it seems. production values for The Ark In Space were really Quite High even back Then for This story you can really see The vast open space as Tom Baker and companions Elizabeth Sladen & Ian Marter walk around The splendid built set of The Ark. This was actually Tom Baker's second story following on from his classic introductory story Robot so it's all here in its Glory from That long scarf and floppy hat To Baker's eccentric portrayal of The character. This release of The Ark In Space is billed as a special Edition and it shows. audio commentary on all four episodes featuring Tom & Liz Sladen a 70-minute compilation of The story which is really were yours Truly first came into contact with The story on The home entertainment front. The usual popular location footage of Then and now often featured with The Dr Who releases is olso included. Nice little Documentary celebrating Dr Who in The paperbacks and yes some archive footage of Tom Baker in costume and character switching on some Christmas lights which rounds out an impressive set of extras for This release. you are all probably wondering why I have not given an actual review of The story. I Think Dedicated Who fans have reviewed This a lot better Than I can give you and really Does it need any introduction.
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on 27 April 2017
Nicely acted. Another great classic Doctor Who. Good story for Tom Bakers second.
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on 25 July 2017
Great DVD
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on 1 September 2017
A great classic fourth Doctor adventure.
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on 6 March 2015
A great favourite of mine and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) is gorgeous (of course)
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on 27 August 2017
Excellent service and quality
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 February 2015
An essential story that revealed a new vision for `Doctor Who', the full magnificence of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor, the dark imaginings of Robert Holmes and the indescribable horror of frothing, green, alien, multi-nucleate bubblewrap... 5*

Amazon have bundled together reviews of all versions of `The Ark in Space'; this reviews the 2013 Special Edition with the new extras. If this story is new to you, then it's one you really must see; everything that makes the Tom Baker years so popular is right here, in only his second broadcast story. If you already have the earlier release, then the picture quality of this Special Edition is superb - the all-studio video production is incredibly crisp, bright and colourful. I think it's the best quality I've seen to date and it looks brilliant when upscaled on an HD TV. The new DVD extras are enjoyable too, including an excellent `making of' feature.

The DVD sleeve notes say firmly that this story is a classic - and they're right. New producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor (and here also the writer) Robert Holmes lifted the series back out among the stars, to the home of many First and Second Doctor adventures. Robert Holmes only had a few weeks to fill an unexpected gap in the production schedules, after other scripts were thought impractical, but the results are excellent with a very strong story and great writing.

The space-station setting is starkly lit and gleaming white for the most part, but with moments of gloom and shadow appropriate for what might be called the first `Gothic' story. It began this most famous era with a simple but horrific idea. There are certain wasps on Earth that lay their eggs in caterpillars so the larvae have fresh, *living* food - the Wirrn are giant `wasps' and they need something large for their grubs to eat - something about the size of a person ...

This story has a well-known `fault' which I personally don't find a problem at all - the Wirrn in their putrescent larval stage are made from green bubblewrap. In 1975 this wasn't obvious, people mostly sent parcels wrapped in cardboard and brown paper and even tied up with string, so bubblewrap wasn't widely known. Even today, this doesn't spoil the illusion for me any more than, for example, imagining we can see "the vasty fields of France" on stage during `Henry V'. Here we are out in the infinitely more vasty starfields of space and imagination can work overtime.

As well as the strong script (years before `Alien'), this story works for three reasons: superb sets, fine direction by Rodney Bennett and excellent acting. Roger Murray-Leach's sets may have been built on a small budget, but they don't look it - or sound it, with their cathedral-like production acoustics. Forty years later, Space Station Nerva still looks impressive; back in 1975 it was astonishing. In the first episode the Station almost becomes a character itself, as the three regulars carry the story along on their own with great performances, exploring the mystery of an intact, seemingly abandoned space station with only the merest hint of a `monster' - until the unforgettable first cliffhanger!

Tom Baker is utterly magnificent. When he first appeared in `Robot', I liked the new Doctor but it seemed odd seeing a new actor in what was obviously the sort of UNIT story that had been home to Jon Pertwee, my Doctor, for five years. This story is different; with a futuristic vision and really great writing, Tom Baker creates a new, delightfully alien Doctor of sheer brilliance. His soliloquy on humanity in episode 1 is perhaps the best this Doctor ever delivered for the awe and wonder it evokes, and his humorous, slightly spiky interaction with Harry Sullivan is another highlight.

Ian Marter gives a great performance as the unflappable naval Surgeon-Lieutenant, acting as a foil for the Doctor's wit and hardly turning a hair as alien horrors surround them on this, his first trip in the TARDIS. He's such a good companion and so well written that Sarah is actually sidelined for the first half of the story, though this is partly for good plot reasons. Elisabeth Sladen mentions this on the commentary and was apparently unhappy about it, but as the story unfolds Sarah establishes an entertainingly jokey friendship with Harry and shows just what she's made of, putting herself deliberately and literally into a tight spot to help the Doctor's plan.

The guest cast are few but very good. First Medtech Vira (Wendy Williams) emanates cool intelligence - a product of a constrained society in crisis: "there was not much joke in the Last Days" - but we can tell there is a caring person behind the professional façade. EngTech Rogin (Richardson Morgan) is a complete contrast, with his clever and matey engineer's personality and annoyance that his prediction of a "snitch-up" has come true. There are two more Techs, Lycett and Libri - also well played and at least they are around long enough to get names and some lines ...

Kenton Moore is excellent in a monster of a role as Commander `Noah'; at first ruthlessly efficient and really unlikeable with his eugenic talk of `regressives' and the `gene pool'. But it's another very unsettling idea in the background of this story - if you could only save a few hundred people from Earth, how would you choose? His `breakdown' (and worse) is very well played and it was originally even better than we see it.

Because while I don't find the bubblewrap `makeup' a problem, what still disappoints me about this story is the ugly cut made in episode 3 at the climactic encounter between the Doctor, Noah and Vira. As the commentary explains, it was filmed, looked great, must have been emotionally intense and would have been very memorable - but it was cut on grounds of `taste'. A great pity, especially as this made Noah a less sympathetic character, since we lost the full poignancy of his and Vira's doomed love-story. Ian Marter's excellent `Target' novelisation shows what we missed here and also at Lycett's literally sticky end.

The Doctor and his friends certainly help a great deal, but the ultimate heroes of this life-affirming adventure are the five awakened humans of Space Station Nerva - all of them - willing to make any sacrifice and proving that they are indeed members of, as the Doctor says, "an invincible species".

This is a terrific story where Tom Baker really took off as the all-new, truly regenerated Time Lord and the legend of the Fourth Doctor was born. 5*

Thanks for reading.

NOTE: You'll probably want to navigate to the second page of the `Special Features' Sub-menu and select `Alternative CGI Effects'. These impressive effects, inserted seamlessly into the story, make the exterior views of Space Station Nerva look as good as the interiors have always done.

DVD Special Features
On Disk 1:
The commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Philip Hinchcliffe is as entertaining as you'd expect and also has a lot of fascinating background information.
NEW: `A New Frontier' (30 min) is a really good new `making of' documentary, with Philip Hinchcliffe and director Rodney Bennett, plus the actors' perspective from Wendy Williams and Kenton Moore, enjoyable and very interesting.
NEW: A very good photo gallery including some fun informal and rehearsal pictures.
`Roger Murray-Leach Interview' (10 min): the designer talks about his work on several memorable shows during the Tom Baker years, very good.
Several small items: The original and CGI replacement effects sequences, original BBC trailer, schematics of `Nerva Station', an impressively bleak `TARDIS-Cam' short animation.
Two `Easter Eggs'.

On Disk 2:
NEW: The edited `movie' 70 minute version, unrestored. This is how we were sometimes (rarely) allowed to see a `Doctor Who' story repeated, at Christmas etc. Really an item for completists, but it does demonstrate the leap in quality to the final restored version.
NEW: `Doctor Forever! - Love and War' (30 min): Fans of the Virgin range of `Doctor Who' novels will love this history of the Doctor's survival in print from 1990 to 2005, with an excellent group of contributors.
NEW: `Scene Around Six' (10 min): BBC News film of Tom Baker's visit to Northern Ireland in 1978, cheered by huge crowds. Anyone who still underrates classic `Doctor Who' and its impact should see this: vox populi.
NEW: `Robot 8mm Location Film' (1 min): short but good film of the stars on location in Tom Baker's first story.
Several items as PDFs:
Radio Times listings, two product promotions and a fun, 69-page `Technical Manual' (1983) covering the Doctor's own technology and the fully or semi-robotic characters from K-9 to the various types of Dalek and some very obscure characters indeed. And plans for making a card model TARDIS!
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Tom Baker’s earliest ‘outer space’ serial in the title role of Doctor Who was this, a tale of giant insect-like aliens invading a space station where thousands of humans are being ‘stored’ in cryogenic sleep, awaiting the day when they are to be re-awoken – the day when the Earth is once more inhabitable after being ravaged by solar flares. When the Time Lord, along with travelling companions Sarah-Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan arrives on Space Station Nerva however, the Wirrn have already insinuated themselves into the infrastructure, and are busy devouring the sleeping bodies of the blissfully ignorant people, swelling their own numbers and preparing to take over The Earth itself.
Of course, it’s easy to decry the ‘not-so-special effects’ and poorly-realised monsters on display here, however to do that I think misses the point entirely. Although I’d say that the model shots of the ‘ark’ as well as its clinical interior are both excellent and would stand-up today, what really makes this serial is good old Uncle Tom. Love him or loathe him (and to be fair most fans seem to love him), he embodied The Doctor’s ‘alien-ness’ like no-one else before him, and surely like no-one else ever could. His sudden bursts of energy, maniacal grin at any hint of danger, and his innate remoteness (whilst somehow still displaying his fondness for Sarah and Harry), are just some of the things that make this so much more than a run-of-the-mill base-under-siege classic Doctor Who story. On top of this, the late-lamented Ian Marter plays old-fashioned naval surgeon Harry Sullivan as an immensely lovable duffer, and it would have been good to see him travel with The Doctor and Sarah more regularly. Say what you like about the bubble-wrap, the supporting cast are all superb, and the whole package is immensely satisfying for an ageing Whovian like me.
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on 27 May 2006
fundamentally, this is a good story.

dated by todays special effects and pace, but must have been quite striking at the time.

the show is the start of a seasonal four story arc, which technically ends with Revenge of the Cybermen, (the sontaran experiment and genesis of the daleks saandwiched between them).

Naturally, this was to save money during a very tight season, presumably, most of the cash was spent on Genesis, as technically, that story seemed better.

Typical dr who, bubble wrap sprayed green must have been extremely fearful in the mid-seventies, i still to this day feel sorry for the actor who had to endure these scenes, dressed in plastic like he was... ;-)

still, its an enjoyable dr who romp, and well worth a buy
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 August 2011
"Doctor Who: The Ark in Space" was only the second serial that Tom Baker starred in, but his instant ease in the role shows why he was one of the best Doctor Whos ever. This serial has very hokey special effects, but the story is a pretty solid, straightforward sci-fi alien-invasion story.

The TARDIS randomly arrives on a space station in orbit of Earth, thanks to Harry fiddling around with the controls. And after Sarah is briefly put in suspended animation, the Doctor discovers that this station is called the Ark -- it's a sleeper station with the last remnants of the human race, since Earth has been rendered uninhabitable.

However, something sabotaged the station's power, leaving the suspended animation lasting for thousands of years longer than intended. Yeah, it's obvious what happened as soon as a giant bug falls out of a closet.

The Doctor soon discovers that there are more giant insects -- known as Wirrn -- infesting the ship, especially since one of them laid eggs in a now-dead crew-member. And the ship's commander is beginning to act strangely as an alien consciouness turns him into a giant mass of green bubble-wrap.

Yeah, the weakest part of this serial is the special effects, which are rather hokey even by old "Dr. Who" standards -- the giant dead Wirrn looks like somebody's science project. Buuuutttt... fortunately, that is the biggest problem this serial has.

One of the best parts is the depiction of the 29th-century humans -- cold, rigid, repressed, and apparently big fans of eugenics. Example: Noah immediate reviles the newcomers as "regressives" who could contaminate their perfect genetics. What, he thinks they're going to go on a mad babymaking spree?

But to the writers' credit, they don't get preachy on us. And despite the hokeyness of the Wirrn, there are some genuinely creepy moments as green ooze and larvae overcome the station's power systems.

And of course, there's Tom Baker. He was pretty new to the role, but gave this story a lot of intelligence as well as kooky humor (the scene where he verbally abuses Sarah as motivation). Elisabeth Sladen gives a nice solid performance, but Ian Marter is... well, he's just there to be an extra pair of hands.

"Doctor Who: The Ark in Space" is a solid sci-fi adventure, and a lead performance that reminds us why Baker is still one of the favorite Doctors ever.
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