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Doctor Who: The Ark In Space- Special Edition DVD Review

Doctor Who- The Ark In Space- Special Edition DVD

“The Ark In Space” is a fun Fourth Doctor adventure.

The story: The Doctor, Harry, and Sarah Jane arrive on a space station satellite (the Nerva Beacon) that turns out to be a sort of Noah’s Ark that houses the surviving members of the human race. The cryogenically frozen humans were meant to be awakened after a certain time period, but something went wrong which caused them to oversleep. The culprit? An alien insect species known as the Wirrn. Of course, in typical Who fashion, the humans suspect that the Doctor and his friends are responsible for the malfunction which leads to plenty of angry confrontations and accusations. Can the Wirrn be stopped? What are the Wirrn’s plans and what exactly are they capable of? You’ll have to see for yourself Whovians.

As with many “Doctor Who” fans, I was introduced to the Whoniverse by the new series (specifically the Ninth Doctor era). After getting hooked on the Timelord’s adventures through time and space, I decided to check out classic Who. I could have started with “An Unearthly Child,” but I randomly went with “The Ark In Space” instead. Naturally, ‘Ark’ holds a special place in my heart because of this. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the more memorable classic Who 4 parters to boot.

Despite the silly talking Wirnn and the fact that Sarah Jane is a bit too whiny and troublesome here, ‘Ark’ is the perfect first non-Earth adventure for both Harry and the Fourth Doctor. Having been stuck on Earth with U.N.I.T. for far too long, writer Robert Holmes goes all out here by giving us an action-packed adventure filled with giant bugs, weapons, a futuristic space station, a solid and well developed sci-fi story, and plenty of humor.

On the subject of the humor, Tom Baker’s trademark humor is fully on display in his second full outing. We really get a sense of the boastful, free spirited, quirky, confident personality of his Doctor in scenes involving everything from Jelly Baby eating to discussions with himself. While “Robot” was a fine opener for Tom Baker, THIS is the type of episode that really shows us why Tom Baker is so fondly remembered after all of these years.

Video/Audio:

‘Ark,’ which is presented in fullscreen, looks adequate. Short of a Blu-ray release, this is as sharp as the episode will probably look.

The Dolby Digital Mono audio track is impressive. The audio is crisp and clean throughout.

Extras:
* “Doctor Who” series 7 and “The Aztecs” trailers, photo gallery, info text, alternative opening titles, Radio Times Listings, “The Ark In Space” trailer, alternative CGI sequences, 3D Technical Schematics of technology in ‘Ark,’ the Doctor Who Technical Manual PDF, Promotional Materials For Crosse and Blackwell and Nestle, and CGI and model effects rolls (footage).  
* “Tardis-Cam No. 1”- Model F/X work.
* An 10 ½ minute interview with production designer Roger Murray-Leach.
* “A New Frontier”- A half-hour making of containing the usual cast/crew interviews, discussions about the new Tom Baker era, the characters, the sets, the ‘Ark’ script, etc.
* Commentary by Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Philip Hinchcliffe. Any track with Baker is worth listening to.
* Brief 8MM Location Footage from the filming of the “Robot” episode.
* “The Ark In Space- Movie Version”- A condensed 70 minute version of “The Ark In Space.”
* “Scene Around Six”- News footage of a huge crowd coming to see Tom Baker’s public appearance in Northern Ireland.
* “Doctor Forever! Love And War”- In this installment of “Doctor Forever!,” the focus turns to books. Mark Gatiss, RTD, Paul Cornell, Gary Russell, and others discuss the Target novelizations, the more adult 7th Doctor Virgin Publishing books, the Bernice Summerfield character, the book and TV adaptation of “Human Nature,” the missing  adventure books, and the 90’-00’s BBC range of books (including the 8th Doctor books). I would have like to have seen more about the current range of ninth, tenth, and eleventh Doctor books, but this is still a fantastic extra nonetheless.   

Summary: If you haven’t picked up “The Ark In Space” in its first release, check out this Special Edition set.

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May 9, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , ,

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