Doctor Who: The Ark (Story #23)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun story

Cheesy effects


I wish Dodos were extinct

The Doctor (William Hartnell), Steve Taylor (Peter Purves), and his new companion Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane) arrive in the future where they discover a spaceship they nickname the Ark that is transporting humans, a race called the Monoids, and the last surviving species of Earth to Refusis II to create a new society.  When Dodo accidentally brings a fever to the people who have no immunity, the Doctor, Dodo, and Steve are labeled as terrorists until the Doctor can save them…a quick jump to the future proves that the Doctor’s actions have lasting effects that could doom humanity.

Doctor Who:  The Ark aired in the third season of Doctor Who and aired in four parts from March 5, 1966 to March 26, 1966.  Each part has their own title with Part 1 “The Steel Sky”, Part 2 “The Plague”, Part 3 “The Return”, and Part 4 “The Bomb”.  Following Doctor Who:  The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, the serial has been collected in The William Hartnell Years as Story #23.


Time to get your Monoid on!

The series is pretty fun.  The first and second halves of the story almost work independently of each other, and that makes it seem not as long as some of the other Doctor Who stories.  The first half deals with the Ark, and the Doctor, Dodo, and Steve being accused of bringing the plague to the Ark.  It is a good idea, but the Doctor never seems to worry about the idea after this episode.  I think this would constantly be a threat for the followers who could either catch a disease or pass it on.  The second half of the serial involves the Monoids’ takeover of humanity, and the Doctor’s attempt to liberate humanity for their new home on Refusis II.

The Monoids are typically goofy like many Doctor Who creatures.  Their mop-top hair and eye (which was just held in the actors’ mouths) are still fun, and I kind of wish that they would show up again.  They look a lot like rip-offs of the 1960 Time Machine‘s Morlocks, but they are still good.  The whole episode actually looks a bit better than some of the ’70s episodes, but I think that many of the ’60s episodes in black-and-white actually benefit from the old style that forces more experimental shots.


“Oh no…a Morlock! I mean a Monoid!”

I don’t know that I’m crazy about Dodo as the Doctor’s new companion.  This is her first real appearance since Doctor Who: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve is one of the lost Doctor Who episodes.  She’s just a bit too plucky and not a great actress.  She feels like a stage actress and over acts her role.

Doctor Who:  The Ark is a good old Doctor Who to check out.  It does conflict a bit with later Doctor Who episodes in the timeline, but there is all sorts of speculation why in a series that usually does a good job of keeping its timelines in order.  Doctor Who:  The Ark was followed by Doctor Who:  The Celestial Toymaker.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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