Part One

The Ark in SpaceSue: So what’s gone wrong with the credits this time?

It’s a very good question. For some strange reason the title sequence for Part One has been rendered in sepia tone. We both agree that it looks terrible. In fact, the only good thing about the titles as far as Sue is concerned is the sudden appearance of Robert Holmes’ name.

Sue: What’s an inflatable toy doing floating in space like that?
Me: Are you going to be like this all the way through?
Sue: Struck a nerve, have I? I can tell you like this story before we even start.
Me: How can you tell?
Sue: Well, first of all, you were the one who suggested that we watch Doctor Who tonight, instead of it being me; secondly, I heard you trying to coax Nicol downstairs, promising her that “it’s brilliant, honestly”; and thirdly, you are very defensive and we’re only one minute in.
Me: I just thought we’d passed the point where a slightly dodgy special effect could cloud your judgement. That’s all.
Sue: We have. I just enjoy winding you up.

The Ark in SpaceIt’s working. We have finally arrived at a story that I genuinely love and having my wife mock it isn’t a particularly pleasant sensation. I have some very fond memories of the last two Pertwee seasons but they are nothing more than fragmented vignettes. The Ark in Space is where I became invested in this show, and having its magnificence called into question by your significant other many years later isn’t something that I’d recommend.

Sue: Nice TARDIS materialisation.
Me: I could be wrong but I think it’s the first time we see the camera moving as the TARDIS lands. That’s because they didn’t use the traditional ‘roll back and mix’ technique. They just turn up the lights a bit.

We watch the sequence again, just to be sure.

Sue: Yes, it works. Well done.
Me: I told you it was brilliant.
Sue: Are you going to be like this all the way through?

The Ark in SpaceAs the adventures gets underway, Sue feels the urge to talk about Harry.

Sue: I’m not impressed with him so far. He’s far too posh and he’s a bit of a berk. Oh, and he looks like a young Michael Ball, which is a bit of a problem. I’m trying to ignore him, to be honest.

As our heroes explore the Ark, they gradually realise that they are running out of oxygen.

Sue: I think they’ve seen enough of this place now. If it’s so uncomfortable there, why don’t they just sod off back to the TARDIS and try again. Oh, and when does the Doctor’s TARDIS start working properly? They keep promising me a working TARDIS and they keep failing to deliver one.

Before very long, Sarah finds herself being hypnotised on a bed.

Sue: Sarah Jane is clearly off her head on drugs in this scene. Ecstasy by the look it. They should be playing some Floyd rather than this pompous classical music, though. That would be far more relaxing.

Meanwhile, Harry is busy having his shoes obliterated.

Sue: Does Harry end up like Bruce Willis in Die Hard? Do his shoes form an important plot point later on?

The Doctor manages to disable the Ark’s security system, but with great personal cost to his scarf.

The Ark in SpaceSue: So, does the Doctor always have burn marks on his scarf? And do the fans who knit their own versions of the scarf put the burn marks in as well? I’m pretty sure that his scarf is full purl, by the way.
Me: Yeah, thanks for that.
Sue: Oh look, Sarah Jane is having a nice sauna, now. Have they arrived at a futuristic spa?

When the action moves to the Ark’s circular corridor, Sue perks up considerably.

Sue: Now that looks great. That’s probably the best set design that I’ve seen in this show so far. It really is quite impressive for 1975.

It’s about bloody time!

But it doesn’t last.

Sue: The problem with Harry is the last time I saw sideburns that big, Noddy Holder was attached to them. And I’m pretty sure he was taking the piss.

The Doctor and Harry enter a huge cryogenic storage facility.

Sue: The bodies look plastic. Are the Autons up to no good again? Am I close?

I have to hush her as the Doctor begins an indomitable speech.

The Ark in SpaceSue: Nice speech.
Me: It’s so good, David Tennant’s Doctor paraphrases it in the new series.
Sue: Really? I don’t remember that.
Me: Tennant probably burped in the middle of it so it would have been easy to miss. Anyway, could you imagine Jon Pertwee delivering a speech like that?
Sue: Not a chance. He would have insulted the human race, probably.

The episode concludes with our first good look at a Wirrn as it topples out of a cupboard.

At this point, Sue simply turned to me, smiled a slightly condescending smile, and gently shook her head.


Part Two

The Ark in SpaceWhen it is revealed to us that the Wirrn is just a corpse, Sue still isn’t impressed.

Sue: It looks like a giant poo with green bits sticking out of it.

Suddenly, a woman named Vira awakens from her cryogenic sleep.

Sue: Oh, the polystyrene was a bit too squeaky when she stepped out. They should have thought that through a bit more. Hang on, is that… is that Sue Lawley?

Vira demands to know who Harry and the Doctor are.

Sue: I love the line about Harry only being qualified to work on sailors. Tom Baker is practically laughing his head off as he says. He seems to be enjoying himself.

Vira attempts to revive Sarah by injecting her with some antiprotonics. Vira claims that Sarah now has a 50-50 chance of survival.

Sue: She could have told them the odds before she stuck that thing in Sarah Jane! And her bedside manner is appalling.

The Ark’s commander, Noah (who’s real name is Lazar), is the next occupant of the Ark to be revived.

Sue: His real name is even sillier than his nickname. How does that work?

As Harry and the Doctor argue with Noah, a maggot-like creature can be seen entering the inner-workings of the Ark.

Sue: I’m not even going to comment on that. But I have noticed something interesting: Tom Baker has a very odd shape.
Me: What?
Sue: I wouldn’t call him fat but he appears to be carrying a lot of weight around his mid-section.
Me: That’ll be all the crap he’s carrying around in his pockets.

Noah is worried that the Doctor and Harry will corrupt humanity’s gene pool.

Sue: Do they really believe that Harry is going to start shagging unconscious women in their plastic containers? It’s a bit of a leap.

Finally, Sarah is revived from her enforced sleep and she quickly re-enters the fray.

The OsmondsSue: The outfit she came out with is a lot better than the one she went in with. Actually, I’m sure the costumes in this story were influenced by the Osmonds.
Me: Are you mad?
Sue: The Osmonds were a very influential group. I’m pretty sure they wore white uniforms on stage just like that.
Me: That’s weird, even for you.

When the Doctor investigates the Ark’s solar stack, he encounters a large writhing green thing with a single eye bubbling away in a tank.

Sue: Giant tadpoles. That’s quite unpleasant. Even Tom Baker looks as if he is genuinely freaked out by it.

The Doctor tries to reason with Noah, who is now acting very strangely indeed after a close encounter with some green slime. So strangely, in fact, he shoots the Doctor dead when he’s in mid-sentence.

Sue: So has the Doctor just been atomised? That was a very short run.
Me: Still longer than Paul McGann’s.

When Baker later regains consciousness, he picks up the sentence where he left off. I turn to Sue and I notice that she is grinning from ear to ear.

The Doctor describes the Wirrn’s reproductive habits in gruesome detail.

The Ark in SpaceSue: So this is basically Alien?
Me: There are certain similarities, yes.
Sue: How did they sneak this idea into an afternoon tea-time slot? The concept is pretty horrific.
Me: This story scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. I couldn’t hide behind a sofa, though – ours was pushed up against the wall – so I had to use a cushion instead. In fact, I’m fairly certain that The Ark in Space gave me nightmares.
Sue: Yes, and you’ve been terrified of bubble wrap ever since.

Another crew member named Libri is revived but he detects a problem with Noah. So Noah kills him.

Sue: What’s with the star-jumping death, mate? I’m glad he’s dead – he couldn’t act his way out of a plastic bag.

The episode concludes with Noah realising that he’s not feeling himself.

Sue: Now, that is going to **** up the gene pool.


Part Three

As Noah struggles to overcome the Wirrn inside him, Sue can’t decide if she should be impressed or incredulous.

The Ark in SpaceSue: I know I really should be laughing at this but the actor’s performance is selling it to me. But it’s still just some bubble wrap sprayed painted green, you know. There’s no getting around that fact.
Me: You have to remember that bubble wrap was probably quite exotic in 1975; it wouldn’t have been so familiar to the audience back then. Give them a break.
Sue: You never got this defensive when I criticised some of the monsters in Jon Pertwee’s stories.
Me: Yes, but this is an incredible performance from Kenton Moore as Noah. Just look at the anguish etched into his face. It’s incredible!
Sue: Well, it was. Now he looks like Rod Hull practicing his act in his bedroom. It doesn’t help that if you look at the bubble wrap pattern you can make out a little face. Look! Can you see its eyes and nose? But full marks to the actor for banging his hand on the desk without popping it. It is a great performance.

As Noah succumbs to the Wirrn, Vira laments his passing.

Sue: Maybe they can pair bond Harry with Sue Lawley. Does Harry stay behind to revive the human race? That would be a nice end to his story.
Me: You don’t like Harry, do you?
Sue: I just don’t see the point of him.

I think this could be a new record when it comes to Sue wishing that a companion would be ejected from the TARDIS.

The Ark in SpaceSue: Oh look, there’s someone in a sleeping bag that has been spray-painted green. But what can you do, eh? And as long as the actors believe it, I can go along with it. And Tom Baker looks as if he really believes it. He is very good, I have to admit.

When the Doctor and Sarah are attacked by the beast, the story reaches a new low point for Sue.

Sue: You could easily run away from that thing! It’s moving like a snail – literally like a snail.

The Doctor decides to plug his mind into the brain of a Wirrn corpse while the rest of the crew keep the “Hungry Caterpillar” at bay. The Doctor eventually discovers that electricity is the key to their salvation.

Sue: Why couldn’t the Doctor have worked that out from what happened to Harry’s shoes? They should have guessed that ages ago. It’s so obvious – they spent an episode trying to switch the bloody thing off.

The episode concludes with Noah reaching the final stages of Wirrnhood.

Sue: I could have done without the shaky dissolve. In fact, I can’t say I’m impressed with the direction in this story. It’s alright, but it’s nothing special.


Part Four

The Ark in SpaceSue: Okay, it’s stopped being like Alien, now. I don’t remember the crew stopping to have a long chat with the monster in that film.

I can tell that something else is bugging her.

Sue: I’m sorry but the monsters are rubbish. What were they thinking? How did they think this would work? I’m sorry but I just wish it looked a little better. I think part of the problem is that this story is lit far too brightly. Nothing can be that scary when it’s under strip lighting, and they should try to hide these aliens as much as possible.

When searching for a means of escape, the Doctor realises that the Ark’s matter transporter works both ways.

Sue: You can reverse anything in this programme. Everyone knows that.

As a crew member named Rogin climbs onto the magic bed, Sue finds fault with the Ark’s ergonomics.

Sue: They should have worked out a better access route to that bed. You know, like some tiny fold-a-way stairs. If they had to clean somebody’s piss up, they’d have to trample over all the expensive machinery just to get at it.
Me: What possessed you to think of such an eventuality? Jesus!

The Ark in SpaceThe Wirrn put a spanner in the works when they instigate a massive power failure.

Sue: This is much more like it. Why didn’t they cut the power ages ago? It’s a lot more scary now. They should have lit the whole thing like this.

As the Doctor concocts yet another plan, Sarah tries to interject but the Doctor shuts her down.

Sue: Here we go again. Nothing ever changes.

But, just a few seconds later, the Doctor is sweetness and light as he asks Sarah for her input.

Sue: Okay, fair enough. That is a big difference. Pertwee wouldn’t have behaved like that. Still a bit rude, though. And does Tom Baker ever blink? I don’t think I’ve seen him blink. He’d be good against the weeping statues in the new series.

When the action moves to the Ark’s shuttle, Sue is impressed by the scene’s ambience.

Sue: Oh, I like the lilac lighting. Why didn’t they shoot the whole thing like this? The lighting in the first three episodes was terrible but this is really nice.

In the mist of all this insanity, Sarah and Harry start bickering with each other.

Sue: You can see how Amy and Rory’s banter may have been influenced by Harry and Sarah Jane. They have a similar chemistry. I just hope they don’t start shagging each other in the TARDIS.

As Sarah makes her way through the Ark’s ventilation shaft, Sue is once again struck by the story’s similarities to a certain sci-fi blockbuster.

The Ark in SpaceSue: It’s definitely turned into Alien again. When was Alien released?
Me: 1979.
Sue: So Ridley Scott could have seen this before he made Alien?
Me: It’s entirely possible.
Sue: Maybe he showed it to his crew and said, “I want it to look like that, but with decent lighting, sets, monsters and music”.

When Sarah finds herself stuck in the shaft, the Doctor decides to taunt her out.

Sue: I knew he was just pretending to be mad at her. If this had been Pertwee I would have believed him. Maybe that’s why Sarah believed him – maybe she’s used to it.

The Doctor and Sarah reach the control room but a Wirrn attempts to interfere with their progress.

Sue: Just walk away from the grill! Sarah Jane is starting to irritate me a bit now. Get a grip, girl!

The Wirrn are lured in the Ark’s shuttle but the Doctor is denied an opportunity to nobly sacrifice himself when Rogin decides to intervene on his behalf.

The Ark in SpaceSue: What a nice man. And it’s nice to know that cockneys wills survive in the future; at the beginning, I thought it was just stuck-up pompous twats who were going to repopulate the planet; there’s hope for us all yet.

The story concludes with the last vestiges of Noah’s humanity reasserting themselves long enough for Noah to blow up the shuttle, killing all the Wirrn in the process.

But instead of returning to the TARDIS, the Doctor volunteers to fix the Ark’s T-Mat instead.

Sue: I thought you said this story was only four episodes long? Why hasn’t this ended yet?
Me: It’s a return to the formula of the early days where the stories would flow into each other.
Sue: So, they will come back to the Ark later, then?
Me: Of course they will, they’ve left the TARDIS there.
Sue: So, The Ark in Space has an arc in space? Can you see what I did there?
Me: Yes, very good.

As our heroes prepare to leave, Sue suddenly becomes very animated.

The Ark in SpaceSue: Hang on a minute – I recognise this. I’m sure I’ve seen this before. I recognise Sarah Jane’s yellow coat and bobble hat.
Me: I believe you are experiencing your first memory of watching Doctor Who with me – almost 19 years ago to the very day. But we’ll save that story for another time.


The Score

Sue: It was good but it wasn’t great. I admit that Tom Baker was brilliant and the overall concept was okay (although I’m sure the story could have been told in a much better way), but the direction was a bit flat and the acting ranged from the very good to the completely bizarre. It could have been a lot scarier, too. And I’m very sorry but the monsters looked ridiculous. Having said that, it flew by. It’s a tough one to score but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.


Me: That was our first story from new producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes. Could you tell?
Sue: It did feel a little different. I couldn’t imagine Jon Pertwee appearing in that story. I can imagine Patrick Troughton doing it but not Pertwee. I’m glad that Robert Holmes is a regular feature now – his scripts are always a cut above the rest – and the tone does seem to have shifted a bit. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet but it’s definitely an easier programme to watch. And no CSO either, which was nice.




  1. Paul Gibbs  March 22, 2012

    Oh thank god. I have never “got” this story. Part one feels like a Hartnell holdover and it’s just all so dull!

    • Robert Dick  March 22, 2012

      There’s some nice dialogue in Part One and the three leads are good. Otherwise it ties with Deadly Assassin as the most over-rated story ever. And the “Indomitable” speech has never excited me.

      • Dave Sanders  March 22, 2012

        God, I wouldn’t like to see you two as TARDIS companions if you’re just not getting the childlike sense of wonder at exploring strange new tactile environments. It would be like, “Are we there yet?” “Shut up or I’ll turn this TARDIS around,”

        • Dan  March 22, 2012

          Isn’t Tomb of the Cybermen supposed to be the most overrated story ever?

          • Robert Dick  March 23, 2012

            I was only talking about from my POV, not a consensus of any kind.

            I like Tomb though.

          • Dan  March 23, 2012

            Fair enough.

        • Doc Whom  March 23, 2012

          Yeah – less worldly cyncism, please. Oh, and Poshwatch alert!

        • Robert Dick  March 23, 2012

          I get plenty childlike wonder from Dr Who, thank you, just not from that story.

          I’m glad you enjoy it. It, unlike most Who, has always left me cold.

    • Nathan  March 22, 2012

      No I’m not keen either, but I do like Part One precisely because it does feel like a Hartnell hold over. We should have had more of that sort of thing.

      And it was Dan O’Bannon who ripped it off rather than Ridley Scott – or was it a beachball with claws?

  2. Dave Sanders  March 22, 2012

    I’m guessing Sue never had Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ when she was a nipper.

    • Neil Perryman  March 22, 2012

      She did. Hence the reference to it in the write-up.

      • Dave Sanders  March 22, 2012

        Oh, is that why she was so dismissive then? I was tempted to write ‘you try doing better on a 1975 shoestring subject to 25% inflation’ in response to the bubblewrap but that would have missed the point just as much.

  3. matt bartley  March 22, 2012

    Did she not spot the blinking extra?

  4. Lewis  March 22, 2012

    Aw, the Wirrn are great monsters. No comment on when they’re attacking the Ark? That’s a brilliant scene. Glad she’s warmed to Tom, and it’s a shame she doesn’t like Ian but his character was introduced in case they cast an older Doctor, so, yeah, he is a little redundant. He gets some good things to do though 🙂

    Sue seems to be quite enjoying this run so far, and I think I can guess her reactions to the rest of the season. I only hope she cuts “RotC” a little slack…

  5. John Callaghan  March 22, 2012

    I remember hearing that this title sequence had the option of using coloured filters to change its look. Because episode one is the first story of a new age, so to speak, it’s coloured gold.

    A shame they didn’t do more with that idea, if it’s true (which seems likely). Every season could be colour-coded, or the tunnel could change depending on the mood of the story.

    Another enjoyable review, and I’m guessing Sue will soften to Harry considerably. The line “murdering swine!” should do it.

    • Dave Sanders  March 22, 2012

      Either that, or “Yes I know it’s vital, but we don’t want them to know that, do we?”.

  6. Ian Marchant  March 22, 2012

    Every Doctor Who fan should be made to watch their favourite stories in the company of a non fan at least once for you do then get to see it with new eyes and it’s not always an easy process. We, as fans, are only too happy to ignore the deficiencies in production values (Hello Blake’s 7 I’m looking at you) but for the average punter they are all important and Sue’s reactions mirror my own wife’s as we watched this story, one that i personally adore (I even bought the damn laserdisc of it)

    The parts I thought were soooo good were received with comments like ‘It’s bubble wrap, good god’ or ‘Why do they never show their legs?’ etc and this only served to emphasise the really bad bits (the acting can be terrible, the lighting is simply dire) but in the end the script did win her over despite the fact she finds Tom Baker very scary. (It must be a Geordie thing)

    The only major difference was that my wife adored Harry and his old school mannerisms (to say nothing of his sideburns)

    • Jamie  March 23, 2012

      Hmmm…have you ever considered watching old Doctor Who stories, alongside your wife, on a regular basis and noting down her comments for the entertainment of others?

  7. Dave Sanders  March 22, 2012

    That ‘first memory’ must be a certain BBC2 repeat…

  8. Jazza1971  March 22, 2012

    I thought that “Sue simply turned to me, smiled a slightly condescending smile, and gently shook her head” would be the quote of the review and then you hit me with “he looks like Rod Hull practicing his act in his bedroom” which had me laughing out loud.

    A good start to the TB era proper, I can’t wait to hear more from Sue.

  9. Alex Wilcock  March 22, 2012

    Like Neil, this story gave me nightmares – recurring nightmares, in fact, that I can still remember all these years later. And before videos and DVDs, they were my main way of seeing Doctor Who again so I loved them (my parents didn’t).

    Some Sue moments…

    Something everyone will have asked before:
    “What’s an inflatable toy doing floating in space like that?”

    Something no-one will have asked before:
    “Does Harry end up like Bruce Willis in Die Hard?”

    Something Sue will be asking a lot more from now:
    “How did they sneak this idea into an afternoon tea-time slot; the concept is pretty horrific.”
    She should read Ian Marter’s novelisation. That might change her mind about Harry.

    I have to disagree with two friends above though (hi! You know who you are) in loving the story then, and loving it now. And, like Robot, again as I said in my Doctor Who Season Twelve review, the Season’s shared themes are very vivid: another blasted world, one that really happened this time; more chosen few, another scientific elite; again raiing the question, does humanity deserve to survive? And though you don’t notice it in the far future and with the lights up (mostly), it’s the start of Hinchcliffe and Holmes’ obsession with the Gothic: crawling through catacombs; inheritance; lashings of religion, though hidden. This Season and this story are blatantly great favourites of Russell T Davies’, too – just look at how much of them turn up in his 2005 stories, from looking down from a space station on the end of the world through to an implicit criticism of the end of this story in Noah’s / Harriet Jones’ ‘Belgrano moment’.

    And for me it’s one of Tom’s best ever performances, as well as – again, building on Robot – a crucial change in the series’ point of view, and the Doctor’s, back to the alien. After years when the previous Doctor was exiled to Earth constantly to save the place and harangue us into looking after it, the new regime starts off with a future where the Earth’s been destroyed and the Doctor doesn’t bat an eyelid. Subtle.

    • Frankymole  March 22, 2012

      Noah retains just enough hmanity, for just long enough, to sacrifice himself and destroy the Wirrn (and save the human race). The Wirrn can live in space (merely returning to planets etc to breed) – how is it a “Belgrano moment”? It’s not like Harriet Jones and the Sycorax (though they too may have returned in force).

      • Alex Wilcock  March 23, 2012

        That depends on whether the Wirrn were coming back or not; surely leaving by spaceship means Noah could have taken them to another world, armed with his and Dune’s knowledge to have the next generation of Wirrn take the technological jump they want? The way it comes over on screen to me, he’s already saved the human race by driving off with the Wirrn. Blowing them all up seems like vicious revenge (when the Wirrn had come for the humans in revenge in the first place). That’s why, with all the many similarities between 2005 and 1975, and with Russell’s professed love for this story, I find it easy to see the Doctor’s reaction to Harriet Jones as a critique mixed in with the love-letter. I may be wrong, of course, but there’s nothing on screen to say the Wirrn were revolting against Noah and coming back.

    • Robert Dick  March 23, 2012

      >I have to disagree with two friends above though (hi! You know who you are) in loving the story then, and loving it now<

      You, unlike some others, weren't rude about it.

      Thanks for that!

  10. Lewis  March 22, 2012

    Also, when Sue disagrees with Neil (and especially when he loves a story) is a great thing because it makes for an interesting experiment. If it were “I love this / Yeah, I agree”, it’d be boring.

  11. charles yoakum  March 22, 2012

    Ouch. even with the 7/10 on the story, sue’s comments certainly put the story in its place. In other productions, she’s been able to shine on the poor effects because she was involved in the story ala Green Death, here its very clear that she’s no involved nearly as much and its a painful read. unlike the original two posters, in consider this story in my top 10 of all time stories and i’m a little bummed out that she wasn’t more engrossed.

    Ah well. This then is the experiment, isn’t it?

  12. encyclops  March 22, 2012

    My girlfriend could never look past the bubble wrap, either. I’ll admit I even have trouble with that sometimes; this is another of the stories I read and reread the novelisation of before I had a chance to watch it. But the story’s strong enough to win out and this is still one of my favorites. And I’m floored every time I think about the Alien similarities.

    I can’t remember if I liked Harry then, but I like him now. I’m surprised Sue doesn’t find him easier on the eyes; I think he’s much better looking than Ky.

    • Daru  March 23, 2012

      I just watched this tale with my partner Beith. She was totally entranced – as I was – by Tom. Neither of us were put off by the bubble wrap – especially with the first cliffhanger shot of Noah holding his hand up and feeling himself transform. The acting TOTALLY sold that moment for us both!

  13. Dafyd  March 22, 2012

    Not about the story: if I use the above link to buy this on Amazon and I buy some Davison stories at the same time, will you get a cut of them as well?

  14. Neil Perryman  March 22, 2012


    • James C  March 23, 2012

      Good to know! And thus, I’ve just clicked through and spent up for the cause. Which took some effort after seeing that Osmonds picture. (Hmm. Just typed ‘Osmondas’. Typo? I think not…)

    • robert dick  March 26, 2012

      Bother – I’ve just bought a pile and didn’t know that.

      There’s another splurge due in a month or two once some more prices have dropped. I’ll do it then.

  15. Mag  March 22, 2012

    “That’s weird, even for you.”

    *grin* And that was coming from Neil!

  16. John G  March 22, 2012

    I can sympathise with Sue’s scepticism about this story, as the first time I saw it I wasn’t especially impressed. Subsequent viewings, however, have left me firmly of the view that this is one of Tom’s best, and one of about 3 or 4 genuine classics that the somewhat overrated Hinchcliffe era produced. Whatever the deficiencies of the effects, the concept and storytelling are gripping. Tom is on absolutely stunning form, the Doctor’s love of humanity and relentless determination to save us shining through, while Baker’s rapport with Marter and Sladen is also great. It is also good to see the show move into darker, more challenging territory again after the safeness and cosiness that tended to characterise much of the later Pertwee era.

    The mention of Ridley Scott reminds me that he was the original choice to design the first Dalek story, only for him to pull out and be replaced by Ray Cusick. It’s facinating to think how the Daleks might have looked if Scott had designed them…

    • Alex Kershaw  March 22, 2012

      How interesting, didn’t know that about Ridley Scott.
      Makes one think that if the daleks hadn’t looked so brilliant and been so successful, whether the show would have carried on for a quarter of as long as it did!

      • Frankymole  March 24, 2012

        Hard to say (it might not have reached its fifth story) but when the show was facing its real cancellation crisis in 1969/70, the Daleks were not even in the picture.

  17. James Gent  March 22, 2012

    The experiment continues! A major delight of this experiment – other than the wonderful banter between Neil and Sue – is never knowing how Sue will take to a story and this was no exception. I have absolutely no idea how Sue is going to find Tom’s era, and each new production team’s take on things so I think things will get very interesting from hereon (not that they weren’t before, but you kind of know where you are with previous Doctors’ eras once you recognise the familiar ingredients).

  18. Simon Harries  March 23, 2012

    “Tennant probably burped in the middle of it so it would have been easy to miss.” Let’s hope he’s not looking in 🙂

  19. Harry  March 23, 2012

    I must admit to having found it a bit harder to read Sue’s more negative comments on this story than the previous one, for obvious reasons, but a 7/10 score is quite good, and, as others have said, she has clearly warmed to Tom Baker as the Doctor. I think she will prefer the (almost) Harry-less season 13, and probably most of Season 14 (Leela was a strong character in her first few stories), but anything after that, I have no idea. Only time will tell…

  20. Wholahoop  March 23, 2012

    So basically the same score as Robot which had 2 points off for dog snuffings?

    If I recall correctly I did see a doco somewhen about the programme which when talking about this story described bubble wrap as a new and exciting innovation at this time, so the idea of spraying it green would have been ultra revolutionary

    • Fuschia Begonia  March 23, 2012

      If I remember correctly, it’s also mentioned on the DVD commentary for this episode.

      I love Harry – he’s so hopeless & hopelessly old-fashioned, a man out of time even in his own day. Although I have only very vague memories of watching these stories as a child, rewatching them reminds me why I became a fan in the first place, for all their faults.

      • Frankymole  March 24, 2012

        Yes, the bubble wrap usage here is a bit like the heavy reliance on the weird newness of Astro Lamps (“lava lamps”) and weather balloons in “The Prisoner”. Astonishing then, ludicrous now.

  21. Daru  March 23, 2012

    My partner and I are just a couple of stories ahead of you Neil, but roughly concurrent with your journey as we are sometimes a bit slower! We don’t have the need though of writing up a full blog about it all. I am really LOVING the experience of seeing Tom Baker again. I have not watched these tales since I was child, and sharing them with her anew for the first time since that point is a wonderful experience that’s both full of nostalgia and joy at experiencing Tom with fresh adult eyes.

    I have to say, I am totally captivated by him again!

    Neil – any chance of ever having in the future the function to view pictures that you post at a larger scale as you did before on the previous site?

  22. Chris Too-old-to-watch  March 23, 2012

    When I watched this at the time, I was bowled over by it, mainly because of the absolute difference from Pertwee’s stories. Compare sets/effects from this to Death to the Daleks. It looks bright,clean and new: a real start to a new era.
    Admittedly, this causes problems with the menace of the Wirrn, but nothing that a good bit of direction could have solved. We may have been naive, but we didn’t know what bubblewrap was: in the playground the main criticism was how did the adult Wirrn walk?

    • Frankymole  March 24, 2012

      Roger Murray-Leach is a fantastic set designer. He wasn’t bad at models either (Liberator…)

      Of course, the Pertwee era never really had anything as egregious as later Tom Baker (Underworld) though. So although designers like Jim Acheson (who’d been around for several Pertwees) got to make their real mark on early Tom Baker, the new era of fresh energy sadly didn’t last… things got very ropey indeed during 1977-79 with the look of the show becoming one of its main failings (Tom Baker hideously parodying the part of the Doctor becoming another failing, almost in parallel).

  23. Stuart Ian Burns  March 23, 2012

    “Me: Still longer than Paul McGann’s.”

    Stop trying to make me angry.

    • Neowhovian  March 23, 2012

      Does that mean you like McGann? Because if so, I’m with you there. (I’ll save the gushing for when the Experiment gets to the end, though.)

      • Stuart Ian Burns  March 23, 2012

        He’s my favourite Doctor. Was the reason I became a fan.

        • encyclops  March 24, 2012

          Stuart, I hope you elaborate on this when we finally get there. The story surrounding him was the reason I nearly became a NON-fan, and the reason my hopes were so low for the 2005 series at first. It’s really a shame, because his casting and performance were pretty excellent.

  24. BWT  March 23, 2012

    The Osmonds! Now we have a real threat. What was it, Arnold Rimmer said on “Red Dwarf”? “Never tangle with anything that has more teeth than the entire Osmond family”…? The Wirrrn (yes, three “r”s – the book version) should pose no problems then…

    I love this one but am waiting with bated breath to hear Sue’s thoughts on the next one: one of my all-time Baker faves…

  25. Paul Mudie  March 23, 2012

    I’m awfully fond of this one and remember being terrified by it when I was 5. Sue is right about the Wirrn though. They’re a nice idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Like The Web Planet, this shows that you need a proper effects budget to deliver giant insects effectively!

  26. Ratbag  March 23, 2012

    This was the point where I started watching Who, and it’s still one of my favourite stories now. Even I winced a bit at the washing up liquid bottle derived space station though, watching it again 30 years later… (the new CGI bits on the DVD help enormously in that regard.)

  27. DPC  March 23, 2012

    It’s a good story, or at least a lot of great set-pieces lumped together.

    The TARDIS w/camera pan doesn’t get real treatment for another 6 years, at which point technology finally made it possible to do it without keeping the lights off and slowly brightening them (but the low-tech method in ep 1 was very effective…)

    Most of the grub mode scenes for the Wirrn work fairly well even today (save for the one where the opening allows one to look inside to see the head of the operator, oops), but the full adult-stage bug costumes definitely don’t hold up. As a kid I didn’t notice anything too ‘fake’, but young kids rarely would…

    And the show definitely did produce some great speeches, that would be regurgitated decades later as some “homage” moment that really isn’t necessary… 🙁

    As always, thanks for these cool reviews!

  28. solar penguin  March 25, 2012

    If there was a fight between the people aboard The Ark In Space and the people aboard The Ark from the Hartnell era, which would win? Would it make any difference if the Monoids joined in too?

  29. Farsighted99  April 29, 2012

    I do like this story, and yes, it’s creepy like Alien was, but the monsters were just dreadful. The green bubble wrap was almost laughable and Noah doing battle with his wirmy self made me think of Pertwee and his fight with the giant Octopus in Spearhead. LOL! And the metamorphosized Wirm looked like an actor wrapped in an army blanket with a giant mosquito head hanging in front like a Chinese lantern. Oh well. Loved Tom. That scene with Sarah in the ventilation shaft was scary. Hope the Wirm never come back.

  30. hayleyscomet  May 10, 2012

    Psst… it’s “purl.” 🙂

    I started reading a few months ago and I’m ALMOST caught up….