Monday, July 18, 2011

"The Ark" wrapup

Hello everyone, the Historian here, on the horns of a dilemma. How to go back and wrap up a story that we finished watching just over a month before? I am still determined to catch up, however, and I owe you all a post for this story!

When I say "story," I, of course, mean two small stories joined by a single setting in the scripts written by Paul Erickson (though joint credit was given to his wife, Lesley Scott, everything I've read says she didn't actually do much writing). The idea is fine; as others have pointed out, in the days when an audience had no idea how many parts a story would last (no internet! at this point, no full story titles, even!), the idea of the crew seeming to finish the adventure, leave and then come back hundreds of years later was surprising and fun! Unfortunately, in practice, you get a nice little, if oversimplified, two-parter with minimal characterization, followed by an overstuffed two-parter with, essentially, no characterization. (And, of course, with one of the most ridiculous lines ever spoken on Doctor Who: "Take them to the Security Kitchen.") As I've mentioned in the episode posts, I'm pretty sure that this is the first Hartnell story I ever saw in full and I have fond memories of it being charming and fun, many of which were borne out in seeing it again this time. But those memories don't make me blind to its shortcomings either. I'll direct you to the episode posts for more details. As a final story note, the elephant scene, even seeing it all these years later, is still absolutely magical!

On the production side, this story marked the end of the tempestuous tenure of producer John Wiles. As the second producer of Doctor Who, Wiles had the uncomfortable task of taking over from Verity Lambert around the same time the original cast had broken up, all of which reportedly upset William Hartnell terribly and the star (according to all reports) took a lot of that out on his new producer. Wiles hadn't really wanted to produce the show in the first place, and had been especially unhappy at being stuck with the twelve part Dalek story, and his relationship with Hartnell had put the finishing touches on his unhappiness. With this story, he joins story editor Donald Tosh (whose last televised credit was on "The Massacre") in leaving the show in new hands. Those hands, producer Innes Lloyd and story editor Gerry Davis, would see Doctor Who through some of its most important days to come...

But, enough of that! Here are the individual episode posts, so you can see what the Project team had to say.
"The Steel Sky"
"The Plague"
"The Return"
"The Bomb"

Here's the official BBC episode guide for the story and, for the full story I alluded to above as well as other behind-the-scenes info, here's the "Brief History" page.

Next up, one of the odder stories of the Hartnell era, and one where there was some division in the Project team's opinions! Posts coming very soon! Until then, I remain


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