Episode 23: The Ark
Companions: Steven, Dodo
Written by Paul Erickson and Lesley Scott
Directed by Michael Imison
The Steel Sky
Ten million years in the future, before the Earth is destroyed by the expanding sun, the Doctor and his companions meet the last survivors of the planet.
First of all, can we talk about how much I adore Dodo. What a breath of fresh air compared to Steven’s dourness. Her interactions with the Doctor brought a much-needed levity that had been missing since Vicki’s departure. It’s not entirely Steven’s fault; it’s just the way he’s been written. I liked the balance between Steven and Dodo and I hope that it continued in future episodes. (Though Steven’s interactions with the humans without the Doctor and Dodo were great.)
This episode was fun. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst. I found myself distracted throughout the various parts but still able to pay attention to the plot lines. There really wasn’t much of the episode that seemed to stand-out. The aliens, the Monoids, were great but I was distracted by the wigs.
In terms of the plot, I really liked the use of Dodo’s cold. I was reminded of The War of the Worlds as the Martians were defeated by the common cold. It brings up an interesting point in that we don’t always see the different implications the Doctor and his companions have with diseases and immunities. What airborne diseases are the human companions taking back with them when they leave the Tardis? Has this issue been brought up in future episodes? Does the Tardis have a decontamination process before each departure? Do companions have to go through a series of immunization shots before traveling? Questions. Questions. Questions.
This serial also had the best cliffhanger so far when the Doctor and companions find themselves returning after a considerable amount of time. There was some great world building in these four episodes and it was fun to watch the show play around with group and race dynamics. I can’t help but wonder how this episode concept would play out in modern Who?
And how wonderful is the last moments of the last episode? A disappearing Doctor? Yes and please!
This is the first adventure with Dodo Chaplet.
The first mention of the Earth’s destruction due to the Sun’s expansion. This concept would be later explored in the Ninth Doctor episode “The End of the World.”