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Doctor Who XII.5-8: The Ark in Space (DVD, 'Special Edition')

February 25th, 2013 (11:46 pm)

The new edition of 1975 serial The Ark in Space arrived this morning; and me being me, it was straight to the production information subtitles, a new set having been written for this release by Martin Wiggins, whose written commentary is rightly described in the notes as "a masterclass". The individual episode titles from John Lucarotti's version of the scripts are all in the public domain now (I've seen 'Puffball' and 'Golfball' mentioned before). Episode one was 'Buttercups', and I'll leave episode three unspoilered, though not for any particular reason. There are many quotations from Robert Holmes's graphically visual descriptive passages, full of suppuration, giant staring eyes, and in one case an earwig with a human face. I'd not realised that the Doctor's put-down, "Harry here is only qualified to work on sailors," is quite as rude as Robert Holmes probably intended it to be. Attention is drawn to the sources of The Ark in Space, including earlier Doctor Who stories, Invasion of the Dinosaurs in particular (though I don't think there was a reference to The Green Death), the Quatermass serials and the film Horror Express, a connection of which I had not heard and which now makes me curious about that film (edited to add: it's in the public domain, or at least it is in the United States; I suspect this is not true of other territories).

The new 'making of' documentary is excellent, demonstrating again that during Doctor Who's most successful periods everyone concerned understood the programme as a serious job of work. It's rewarding to see Kenton Moore talk about his portrayal of Noah and how recently it made him the epitome of cool among his grandsons' friends. Wendy Williams comes across as forthright and no-nonsense despite the obvious debilitating effects of a recent stroke; I'd not realised that she had been married to Hugh David, who was not only the director of The Highlanders and Fury from the Deep but at one stage down to play the Doctor before Verity Lambert replaced Rex Tucker as producer-designate. The only down side is that the makers of the documentary didn't source a copy of Futura Extra Bold for their mock-title sequences, lending those for 'Space Station, by Christopher Langley' and 'The Ark in Space, by John Lucarotti' the air of late 1980s BBC Video releases.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/583335.html.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 26th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Interesting: I knew about Puffball, but assumed Golfball was another Miles/Wood error/bad joke.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 26th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)

More intriguingly, this isn't (as I and others had always supposed) a legacy of John Lucarotti's memories of writing for the Hartnell era, but seems to have been a reflection of Holmes's intention to return to the custom of giving each episode an individual title. Some other serials commissioned in 1974 apparently have them too.

'Golfball' refers to the climax of the Lucarotti version of The Ark in Space, where the Doctor practices his golf swing on the autonomous heads of the fungal Delc, having electrocuted their bodies and left the Ark smelling of fried mushrooms.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 26th, 2013 01:12 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Also interesting! I like the individual episode titles of the Hartnell era and was glad to see them return in 2005 (even if it did lead to new fans treating two-part stories as two separate entities...) and would have been interested in an earlier return.

the Doctor practices his golf swing on the autonomous heads of the fungal Delc, having electrocuted their bodies and left the Ark smelling of fried mushrooms

I can see why Holmes re-wrote it...