Saturday, 19 March 2016

109 The Ark Episode 3: The Return

EPISODE: The Ark Episode 3: The Return
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 19 March 1966
WRITER: Paul Erickson & Lesley Scott
DIRECTOR: Michael Imison
PRODUCER: John Wiles
RATINGS: 6.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Ark

"Take them away to the security kitchen"

The Monoids have taken over the Ark, enslaving the Guardians who were left weakened by the virus, and creating a technology to allow them to speak. Steven is imprisoned in the security kitchen and put to work while The Doctor & Dodo are sent with Monoid 2 and a Guardian on the landing party to Refusis.The Doctor & Dodo are befriended by an invisible but powerful Refusian who inhabits a castle that was built for the expected human visitors. Monoid 2 flees the castle, kills the Guardian and is killed when the landing pod explodes. Meanwhile the Monoids plan to abandon the humans on the Ark and then destroy it using a bomb built into the statue.

While the pace of the story is little pedestrian in places this episode, watching it with the production subtitles on makes me realise what a technical achievement these episodes are with lots of clever camerawork, effects & model sequences.

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One thing this episode does is for the first time the Doctor is confronted with the consequences of his actions on a previous visit:

DOCTOR: Well, er, yes. But when we were here some time ago we also were friends of your forebears. They were called Monoids. Things were very different then.
YENDOM: These strangers, they
MONOID 2: You speak of the distant past. Following the recent revolution we are now the masters.
DOCTOR: I see, and the human beings?
MONOID 2: They work for us. Is that not true, Yendom?
MONOID 2: We conquered and you obey. And these strangers, they will also obey. Now you will come with us.
STEVEN: Where?
MONOID 2: To our leader
So whatever happened is actually quite a recent occurrence.
MONOID 1: According to the history scan you brought a strange fever that killed many of our ancestors.
DODO: But we also helped to find a cure, didn't we? I mean, the Doctor did.
MONOID 1: He thought he did.
DOCTOR: And what do you mean by that?
MONOID 1: You controlled the immediate impact of the fever, but a mutation of it developed later on that sapped the will of the humans.
DODO: You mean that it was our fault that you took over because of the fever?
MONOID 1: In part.
STEVEN: There were other reasons?
MONOID 1: The main reason was the Guardians themselves. They were a simple people. They actually encouraged the research from which we developed our voice boxes and heat prods. They were totally unprepared for the conflict when it came.
DODO: What happened to them?
MONOID 1: Many were killed. The rest are prisoners. A fact that you will shortly see for yourselves! Two, take them away to the security kitchen and then call a Grand Council.
So what happened to the Monoids to encourage them to revolt? Did their treatment become harsher as the journey progresses? Or did they merely sense and opportunity and grab it? They evidently want to blame the Doctor for the fever so maybe some grudge has been harboured in the Monoids community all these years for the deaths 700 years ago.

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THE SECURITY KITCHEN ?????? WHAT ????? Secure kitchen maybe but Security Kitchen? Mad!

Note the upside down Phone Hood on the Security Kitchen's wall ! Then we have the invisible Refusians. Was it so wise to attempt an invisible monster so soon after the Visians in episodes 5 & 6 of the Dalek Masterplan, just 12 weeks previously. The are given marvellous presence by the booming voice of Richard Beale later to return as Bat Masterson in all four episodes of The Gunfighters, the Broadcaster/Propaganda Seller in The Macra Terror and the Minister of Ecology in The Green Death episode three.

DOCTOR: And that was their aim, to land there and recreate life on this planet.
REFUSIAN: Yes. We've known for some time of the journey of the vessel you call the Ark and we welcomed it. That is why we built places like this.
DOCTOR: I see. Just to make us comfortable? I didn't think you needed places like this for yourselves.
REFUSIAN: No. Once we had a shape and form something like you. Then there was a galaxy accident. A giant solar flare. Now, we no longer have a being that you can see or recognise.
DOCTOR: But can you see each other?
REFUSIAN: Not even that. Oh, we can sense one other but that is all. That is why it would have been good for Refusis to be inhabited again by life and the signs of life, provided that the beings that come to take our place are peaceful. Child, you are worried.
Still, unlike the Visians on Mira, the Refusians do seem to be friendly and welcoming, even going to the trouble of constructing dwellings for those that will soon share our world. It's a big contrast from the hostile attitude that Zentos was expecting in the first two episodes.

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Last episode we had one of who's most frequent Guest Stars appear for the first time. Here we get the first appearance of arguable Doctor Who's best, certainly most prolific, voice artist: Roy Skelton makes his debut as some of the Monoid voices. He'll be back in a short while for The Tenth Planet, providing probably the best version of the Cybermen voices, which is a role he repeats in Wheel in Space. He provides voices during The Ice Warriors (Computer voice) & The Krotons (Kroton voices), appears in front of camera in Colony in Space (as Norton), Planet of the Daleks (briefly as Wester who he also supplies the voice for), in The Green Death (as James - a role taken on in an emergency as we'll see later) and under make-up in The Android Invasion (as Chedaki) and The Hand of Fear (as King Rokon). His most famous Who role is a recurring one voicing the Daleks in (deep breath) The Evil of the Daleks, Planet of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, The Five Doctors, Revelation of the Daleks & Remembrance of the Daleks plus the Children in Need special The Curse of Fatal Death. But beating even that for fame, he's the voice of Zippy & George in Rainbow, which he demonstrates to great effect on the Doctor Who - The Cybermen - The Early Years Video.

The ill fated Monoid Two is played by Ralph Carrigan, previously an Extra in The Myth Makers 4: Horse of Destruction. He'll be back as a Cheerleader in The Macra Terror episode 4, a Robot in episode 1, 4 & 5 of The Mind Robber episode 1 and a Cyberman in The Invasion episodes 6-8.

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We've seen, or rather should have seen, the actor playing Maharis before: Terence Woodfield was the second Celation in The Dalek Masterplan appearing in episode 8 Volcano and episode 11 The Abandoned Planet.

Terence Bayler, who appears as Yendom, returns as Major Barrington in The War Games Episode One but has cinema immortality for his role in the Monty Python film Life of Brian where he gifts us the following gems:

Gregory: I'm Brian, and so's my wife!

Brian: Please, please, please listen! I've got one or two things to say.
The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!
Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't NEED to follow ME, You don't NEED to follow ANYBODY! You've got to think for your selves! You're ALL individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We're all individuals!
Brian: You're all different!
The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!
Man in crowd: I'm not...

I saw him in the Polanski version of Macbeth, where he played Macduff. This film greatly amused my class because we clocked Keith Chegwin playing Banquo's son! Toby Hadoke interviews Bayler for Who's Round 74 which is well worth a listen.

Since we're now 700 hundred years in the future we've got a new crop of Guardians in the background for the next two episode: Royston Farrell is back as an Elder in The Savages episode 1, a Technician in The Seeds of Death episodes one & two, another technician in The Claws of Axos episode four and a Guard in The Curse of Peladon episode one. Alan Norburn & Victor Munt are both Inferno Customers in War Machines One (good lord, there's gonna be a lot of extras to list when we get to that episode) plus Munt returns as UNIT in Doctor Who and the Silurians episode 3. Michael Osborne was an extra in Small Prophet, Quick Return and returns in the speaking role of Sorak in The Horns of Nimon.

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