Doctor Who: The Ark – is a four part serial from 1966; showcasing William Hartnell (Doctor Who), Peter Purvis (Stephen Taylor) and Jackie Lane (Dodo Chaplet) as they land on a spaceship
in the 57th Segment of Time. The spaceship is carrying tiny molecules of 1 million human beings, and is govern by humans and Monoids – one eyed monsters.
[DVD FEATURES] – rated from Best to Worst.
1. PRODUCTION INFORMATION SUBTITLES
Normally, the least looked at special feature on a DVD, these subtitles, which appear along the bottom of the screen, reveal original, eye-opening information about the cast, crew and design of the film.
The information is revealed regualarly (every 20 seconds or so) and is relevant to the image on the screen.
Key bits of information revealed that was surprising for me include;
+ Inigo Jackson, who played Zentos, starred opposite Peter O’Toole in ‘Becket’.
+ this episode was Doctor Who’s lowest ever rating
+ identifies bloopers on set – Eric Elliot walking the wrong way , a stage hand moving out of shot, Kate Newman losing her shoes on the ladder , microphone shadow on the wall, incorrect camera setups.
+ Michael Sheard who plays a doctor in this episode, would go on to play Hitler in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’.
It is so far the best onscreen Production Information subtitles feature I have seen on any DVD release.
2. AUDIO COMMENTARY
Commentary by Peter Purves, Michael Imison (director) and Toby Hadoke (radio host).
They give personal insight into the difficulties of filming the serial and the professional releationships with the main charcters.
Peter Purves talks about acting opposite Eric Elliot (The Commander) and his difficult with long speeches (but strangely Peter doean’t talk much about his on set memories himself)
Most are very critical of the design of the Doctor Who monsters, and the matte paintings.
They keep the commentary free flowing and interesting and keep a controlled discussion that is enlighting.
I recommend to get the most out of this DVD, to activate the Production Information Subtitles at the same time the Audio Commentary is activated.
3. RIVERSIDE STORY
A 15 minute look at the studio the serial was shot in. Contains a really enjoyable history of studio filming by the BBC. Also includes interviews with directors, historians and Peter Purves as they give critical
feedback about William Hartnell’s performance.
4. ONE HIT WONDER
A very brief 5 minute look at Doctor Who monsters who never made it past one serial. Contains interviews with University researchers – but ultimately is a feature that gives little insight.
5. ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELLS
A look at the influence of H G Welles on the Doctor Who series. Quite a blrand documentary, with many talking heads who offer opinions on the level of Welles influence. Most contradict each other, and this feature seems strangely disconnected from the serial.
Running Time: 2 hous 18 minutes
Black and White. Remastered.
Overall, this is a strong DVD release by ABC DVD and Roadshow. The Production Information Subtitle feature is worth the price of the DVD alone. The image is as expected for a TV serial on tape in 1966. The audio is clear and the Menus are easy to navigate.