20 January 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott

RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 14th February 2011

Reviewed By: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 20th January 2011

Right from the off, The Ark is a story that grips the viewer, owing to the magnificent jungle set that gives us a sense of scale - not to mention the striking sight of the eventual villain, all within the first 60 seconds.

But all is not what it seems in this serial, that packs some shocking twists and suspenseful builds, to what turns out to be an incredibly intelligently constructed adventure.

The twist that comes at the end of Episode Two in particular is a direct example of the intelligence in the script. Throughout the first two episodes, the viewer simply accepts the fact that the Monoids are essentially slaves to the humans of the Ark. And only when the situation is flipped in Episode Three, do you suddenly realise the poignancy of this acceptance and how actions have consequences.

There are several morals within the story, but perhaps the most painstakingly obvious one is never time travel if you have a cold!

The DVD is rounded off with some connecting features that compliment the story.

The 'Commentary' is moderated by Toby Hadoke and features Peter Purves (Steven) & Michael Imison (Director). Toby does an excellent job of guiding the guests, of which both contribute evenly with some great stories and memories. One such story tells us how unaccommodating the BBC was to the Elephant (seen in Episode One) at the time, and how the director had to keep it in a van outside of his house, overnight.

'All's Wells That Ends Wells' looks at Doctor Who's connection to H.G. Wells, and the inspiration taken from his work. In particular looking at the similarities between The Ark, and H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Sleeper Awakes and The War of the Worlds. It includes interviews with Matthew Sweet (Historian & Writer), Kim Newman (Novelist & Critic), Dominic Sandbrook (Historian & Writer), Tony Keen (Research Associate, Open University) & Graham Sleight (Editor, "Foundation").

Even fans of Wells' work will be surprised at just how much influence he appears to have given to this story.

'One Hit Wonder' casts a light on why some Doctor Who monsters only appeared once, with a spotlight on The Monoids, in particular. The feature includes interviews with Jacqueline Rayner (Author), Dominic Sandbrook (Historian & Writer), Kim Newman (Novelist & Critic) & Matthew Sweet (Writer & Historian).

This feature could have been a little longer, perhaps focusing on some of the other 'one hit wonders' such as The Zygons, The Sensorites or The Axons.

'Riverside Story' is a 20-minute feature that looks at London's Riverside Studios; Doctor Who's temporary home from 1964-1968.

Presented by Matthew Sweet as he brings Peter Purves back to the location, we learn about some of the challenges that The Ark faced, not to mention, how to build a Jungle within a spaceship!

The documentary also features sit-down interviews with Peter Purves and Michael Imison (Director).

Apart from the main story itself, this documentary is the set piece in The Ark DVD, adding newfound respect for a building that was instrumental in one of Doctor Who's most important periods.

The 'Coming Soon Trailer' is for the Mara Tales box-set. It's a terrific trailer, cut perfectly together with a slick soundtrack and CGI titles that will have you counting down the days until its release. The final spoken line in the trailer sums up the imminent release perfectly... "The Mara's waited a long time for this return, I think it plans to be spectacular".

As with previous releases, there are the usual 'Radio Times Billings', 'Photo Gallery' and 'Production Information Subtitles'.

Overall another solid release from 2|Entertain, with some excellent value added material. If the DVD could benefit from one thing, it would be a feature on the costume and make-up behind the visually stunning Monoids.

A more than worthwhile purchase for any fan of Doctor Who, H.G Wells or big wigs and one-eyed monsters!

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