” Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable. Indomitable.”
Writer: Robert Holmes
Director: Robert Bennett
Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe
No. of Episodes: 4
Season: 12, episode 2 (5-8)
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter)
Summary: The Doctor and companions are on the Nerva Space Station. Thousands of years ago, solar flares have rendered Earth inhospitable. A group of selected humans have been placed in suspended animation aboard the station, so that when word is received that Earth is livable again, they can start the human race over. There’s just one problem: the station has been overrun by giant insects called the Wirrn, who’ve also taken over the station’s leader, Noah.
Review: I’ve been watching Diamanda Hagan’s review of each season of Classic Who. In her episode for Season 12, she said the cliché “The Simpsons did it first.” should be changed to “Doctor Who did it first”, because many famous movie plots were actually done by Doctor Who long before they were movies. “The Ark in Space” basically the same plot as Alien, but four years before the movie was made! (and on a smaller budget with bugs made out of bubble wrap) The story is one of Holmes’s best, with some great humor and pacing.
Sarah is well-written here and I love the scene where she crawls through the tunnels of the space station like they’re trying to do a classic Star Trek Jeffries Tube crawl. Her feisty side gets some good laughs, especially with Harry’s slightly chauvinistic attitude.
This is a great story to watch, even with the now-laughable aliens. Ed Wood, eat your heart out.
Overall Review: 10/10
Continuity: This story leads into “The Sontaran Experiment”. “Revenge of the Cybermen” is also set on Nerva, but a century before “The Ark in Space”. Big Finish’s first Fourth Doctor story “Destination: Nerva” predates both of these stories. “The Beast Below” is set in the same timeline as “The Ark in Space”.
Trivia: I wasn’t kidding, the slugs really were made out of bubble wrap. Part One’s title sequence was tinted pink and green, giving it a brown background rather than the standard blue one. This was never done again.