I do really like the premise of this story. It feels a little bit like two, two-parters. We get the Tardis landing in a massive spaceship – or ark to be precise; carrying every animal and human towards a planet similar to Earth on which to live. The Doctor’s new companion Dodo (who for some reason is dressed in a strange leotard) has a cold which the people on the ark can’t cope with. This means that the Doctor, Steven and Dodo get put on trial for trying to murder the humans.
The humans have aliens called Monoids working for them, though they treat them fairly. I love how quaint the Monoids look. I’m not such a fan of the big hair to hide the actor’s eyes and nose; but I love the fake eyeball in the actor’s mouths, being wiggled around by their tongues. I didn’t realise how it was done at first, but once you see the eyelids as lips, you can never un-see it.
The Monoids seem very happy to be subservient to the humans. When Dodo’s flu spreads around the ship, it is treated like an epidemic.
Once they are cleared of the offence, they are allowed to go back to the Tardis and are given a lift on the Monoidmobiles (not actually called that – but they should be). This is the halfway point in the story where it feels like a natural ending but the whole premise gets flipped on it’s head.
Due to a timey-wimey cock up, the Tardis lands in exactly the same place, around 700 years later. The Monoids can now talk thanks to the humans developing translator necklaces. They have also overthrown the humans and make them work for them. They have now almost reached the planet Refusis II. The Doctor realises something is wrong and they lock the time travelers in the ‘Security Kitchen’.
I fucking love the Security Kitchen. Not often something you hear about very often. I don’t know why more bad guys don’t keep prisoners locked in kitchens. What could go wrong?
The Monoids send the Doctor and Dodo down to Refusis II to check it out – for some reason, along with a single Monoid. They encounter the Refusians who are invisible. It transpires that the Monoids have put a bomb in the head of the giant statue on the ark, so that only they will make a new home of the planet.
Steven and the other humans break out of the deadly food preparation area and one of the Refusians lifts it out of the airlock. The Monoids then make peace with the humans again and are all allowed to live on Refusis II with the Refusians. And they all live happily ever after.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if at some point in the future, the Doctor landed on Refusis II and checked up on how the three species were doing? I’m not saying that it would be that great to do now, but if Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker ended up there, I would have quite enjoyed a sequel.
As a side note, it is so great for me to watch a fully complete story again after watching so many reconstructed episodes lately. Back to more reconstructions next though for The Celestial Toymaker. It really does add another dimension to the experience if you can watch the full episode or story. Just the difference in how much more I enjoyed Hartnell’s Doctor made me aware of this.
I like the outer-space ‘Noah’s Ark’ idea, and it is the first time that Doctor Who had done it. I also like the shoestring budget realisation of the Monoids eye; although it doesn’t always work, it is quite different. Unfortunately the existence of the Refusians feels a little bit tacked on and that they may have only been added to get rid of the massive statue and to give the Monoids and humans a reason to be civil again. At 4 parts long, it is about the right length and doesn’t feel too long. For these reasons I’m giving The Ark six Monoid monoliths out of ten.