Friday, March 5, 2010

12.2 "The Ark in Space" Reaction Post

So because I'm totally obsessed, I'm going back and watching Classic Who on Netflix, to widen my knowledge. I could go in order, but that would require a whole lot of effort, because One and Two stories are terribly hard to find... so Netflix instant play it is. (And to be honest, I'm a hell of a lot more interested in Four anyway.)

Anyway. I'm documenting my watching experience here mostly because I just like talking about stuff, but partly so that I can eventually go back and put all my thoughts in order, re-arranging all of these posts to the way they should be, so that I can get a proper sense of narrative arc.

This is going to be a running commentary, as I'm writing down my thoughts while I watch. It'll be some quotation-collection, some character analysis, and some MST3K-style sarcasm, I'd assume. But I'm not Jacob, so don't expect, y'know, mentions of the other side of grace, or any kind of coherency. I assume it will be disjointed at best.

A warning: this has spoilers (duh) for the episode in question, as well as New Who.

Another warning: I'm doing this—going back and watching the old series—not because I really love cheesy contrived plots and bad special effects, but because I'm terribly interested in the Doctor's past, and because I freaking love Companions. They are my favorite type of people. So this "recap" (if you could call it that) is going to be very Sarah Jane-centric, because that's where my focus was.

Starting stats: 12.2, The Ark In Space
Doctor: Four
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan

(This is, perhaps, a bit of an awkward place to start. It’s the second "episode" in Four's first season; I maybe should have began when he did. Too late now. In any case, it makes certain things much clearer: for example (and by that I mean "the only thing I care about stemming from that statement is"), the Doctor's relationship with Sarah Jane would obviously be, if not strained, then a bit uncertain. Which makes me feel better.)

We open on a long shot of a space station, which is quite obviously a miniature on a string in front of black felt with holes poked through it. I will never complain about the CGI in End of the World again.

Doctor: "Not a lot of oxygen… still. Nothing to worry about." [starts playing with a yo-yo]
Sarah Jane: "Suffocation is nothing to worry about?"

Awwwh. He was using the yo-yo to test for gravity.

Doctor: "We're obviously on some kind of satellite; now isn't that interesting?"
Sarah Jane: [has done this before] "Not very."
Doctor: [delighted] "Well I think it is!"

(I already adore them.)

*a door opens*
"Hey, Doctor--"
"Hold on."
"But, Doctor--"
"In a MINUTE, Sarah."
*Sarah wanders through door while the Doctor is distracted*

Three guesses what happens next, first two don't count.

Aaaaaaand now she's suffocating. Well done. (And he called Rose jeopardy-friendly?)

Doctor: "Where is she?"
Harry: "In the TARDIS?"
Doctor: "Couldn't be; I've got the key."

Oh, Doctor. You've got to share your keys. Keys are trust and keys are affection. And keys are also a way home. Let her in.

Moving swiftly onward.

… Well, on the bright side, they've found her. The downside is that now they're all trapped and suffocating. Oh, show.

And now, something I loved. Four is amused. He smirks and says: "heeeeee." It was so very Tennant. Or, I suppose, the other way around. But I love continuity like that.

[3/4/2010 5:31:37 PM] Leah: so Sarah Jane is kind of whammied right now—in a trance—and the Mysterious Voice was just like "greetings, lower being!" and she waved. and it's SUPER CUTE.
[3/4/2010 5:31:41 PM] Leah: *snuggles classic who*
[3/4/2010 5:33:31 PM] Leah: meanwhile, the Doctor is crawling around under a plastic box.
[3/4/2010 5:35:38 PM] Marlena: of course he is

Doctor: "Don't you realize what this is? I—aren't you feeling better?"
Harry: "No, I'm not."
Doctor: "Well pull yourself together, man, this is FASCINATING!"

Awwwwh, Harry is starting to ask Excellent Questions! And the Doctor is proud of him! ...almost. ("Your mind's beginning to work!" he says. "All my influence, of course, you mustn't take any credit.")

[upon finding Sarah Jane "dead" for all intents and purposes]
Doctor: "Sarah—oh, Sarah Jane..." [stands completely frozen]

By this point, Sarah Jane is most definitely my favorite part of the show. Lis Sladen is reallysupercute. (Though she kind of has to be, in order to balance all the wtf and the cheese). Admittedly she's kind of all over the place, but in a rational, "do I contradict myself? Well then I contradict myself. I contain multitudes" human, sense-makey way. Scared of a giant bug one moment (and who wouldn’t be?), poking about and showing it to other people the next.

Also, yeeeeeeah, Sarah's definitely totally in love with the Doctor. *pets her* And I give her lots of credit for putting up with him; he was so much more rude back then.

...Oh my god is that bubblewrap? It is. The villains of this piece are rapidly-mutating insects (Wirrn) that… can turn humans into members of their species? Or perhaps just need to lay their eggs inside living flesh? They're a bit inconsistent on that front. Anyway, slime and membrane is depicted via dark-green bubblewrap. Oh, show.

[Random Engineers gape as the Doctor spews technobabble]
Sarah Jane: "He… he talks to himself, sometimes, because there's no one else who understands what he's talking about."

[Harry has been ordered to stay behind. The Doctor exits.]
Sarah whispers: "Good luck!" and scoots, but then, from off camera:
Doctor: "and Sarah? You stay behind!"
She huffs.

Unrelated note: I love Tom Baker's hair. The swoops and swirls of those curls… wonderful. I also highly approve of his eyes. He's not a looker in the conventional sense, certainly, but he's not without his bit of pretty.

Wow. The ray gun/particle gun effects are particularly awful. I could do better on iMovie. (But not, to their credit, MS Paint.)

Awwwwwh Sarah saved the Doctor! Several times. She also has quite a set of pipes on her. She's got Rose's devotion but only a fraction of her cheek—she lets him intimidate her. But... the way she always looks to the Doctor, the way she always finds his eyes... her hyperawareness and silent support may not be as adorable as the hand-holding, but the essence remains. (Unrelated: she must weigh, like, two pounds, because both Four and Harry are able to pick her up like it's nothing.)

There's a moment where the Doctor has to go off by himself, and Sarah Jane stays behind. But Lis Sladen does a very clever thing—she takes one step forward, as if her instinct is to follow, before pulling back. It's a tiny moment, but it gives Sarah a little bit more spunk. I doubt it was in the script.

(Heeeee. But then after the cliffhanger before Part 4, he's saved by a shot from Vira's gun. Sarah made her follow him. That's my girl.)

Harry Sullivan, by the way, is sweet but unmemorable. And also a bit of a chauvinist.

Harry: "Something must have happened to them."
Random Engineer: "And if we go out there, it will happen to us."
Harry: "Well I want to investigate!"
Hee. Okay, two points, Harry. I love companions.

"Anyone for a jelly baby?" It took almost an hour and twenty minutes for the first offer! Good job, Doctor.

AHAHAHA and then Sarah Jane figured out the mystery. Again with the "Doctor—but Doctor, LISTEN—" stuff, which could get old fast, but I like that she's clever and I like that he has to be reminded. It makes me think of The Idiot's Lantern—how Rose saw the solution to the problem (the TV aerials) straight away, and mentioned it to the Doctor, and he wasn't paying attention. Of course, then she had her face stolen and he guilt tripped like crazy, but it's a nice bit of character continuity. And the fix Sarah suggests—rerouting the separate power supply of a shuttle into a fried system—was used again by the Captain in The Satan Pit. Oh, show.

However, while in Satan Pit the process was as easy as a flip of a few switches, in Classic Who it's all analog—the cables need to be connected by hand, through cramped ducts. But how? Well of course:

Sarah Jane: "Why don't I take the cable through, I’m about that wide." Oh, that's my girl.
"That's hardly a job for you, Sarah—" shut up, chauvinist Harry.
Angle on the Doctor, eyes widening in a bit of surprise and no small amount of pride: "Good girl, Sarah."

Harry: "How're you doing, old girl?"
Sarah Jane: "How do you THINK I'm doing, twit?"

(See, some of Sarah's lines—she said "vamoose" earlier—well. She could choose to be a lot harder than she's coming off. It all feels like good-natured ribbing, which I like.)

The piping is miserable, by the way. It’s a good thing Lis is teeny tiny. I wouldn’t be able to slip through.

Sarah Jane: "I don't think I can go on much longer—I keep getting stuck."
Harry: [to the Random Engineers] "That's the thing about old Sarah. Terrific sense of humor."
[Sarah rolls her eyes]

She hears the Doctor at the other end, gets stuck. Whimpers. And then Four does something I expected, but wished he wouldn't:

"Stop whining, useless girl!"
"Oh, Doctor!"
"'Oh Doctor,' is that all you can say for yourself? Stupid, foolish girl. We should never have relied on you, I knew you'd let us down. That's the trouble with girls like you: you think you're tough, but when you're really up against it you've no guts at all. Hundreds of lives at stake, and you lie there blobbing."
He's grinning now, moves to help her out as she emerges. She flails. "I CAN MANAGE I DON'T NEED YOUR HELP."
(He's never loved her more.) "Yes you do. Yes you do. Yes you do." Smiling widely, he wraps her arms around his shoulders and yanks her down.

"You've done marvelously, I'm very proud of you."
"What?!" [realizing] "Conned again. You're a brute."
"Brute? Don't be ungrateful, I was only encouraging you. Come on."
(And here's where they should have hugged, but didn't.)

I get why he does it. Nine might've, too. But I wish he weren't so abrasive.

"Your resistance is useless!" Oh, villains. Oh, Britain. Oh, show.

Sarah Jane: "I dunno if it's my imagination, but it's getting a bit stuffy in here."
Doctor: [dismissively] "It's your imagination."
Sarah Jane: [muttering] "You'd say that anyway."

[And then there's a whole business with getting the Wirrn onto the shuttle and setting it off, and it requires the Doctor and a Random Engineer to be in the blast zone:]
Doctor: "No point in both of us being killed. Get back inside!"
Random Engineer: "You'd get in trouble with the Space Technician's Union, Doctor. That's my job!" [knocks out the Doctor, puts him in safety lock, finishes flipping switches]

Awwwh, human beings.

Vira: "They must have both died instantly..."
[Sarah just shakes her head.]
Harry: "Now come on, Sarah, he'd have wanted you to be brave."
[She tries not to cry; a helpless twitch of the mouth that’s trying to be a smile.]

And then the Doctor stumbles in. It's all very Satan Pit.

"Doctor, you're safe—" she goes to him, ecstatic, clutches at his arms, but... still no hug. Why no hug? This very same situation made for the most adorable hug in series two of New Who, observe:

But here... nothing. And it's not about shipping, not at all. It's about intimacy. (DAMN I promised I wasn't going to do that.) I know Four and Sarah are still kind of new to each other, so I hope this situation improves over time. I miss the physical affection. Without it, the Doctor seems that much more alien.

Doctor: [hands Sarah a key] "Fetch me a coat from the TARDIS, will you?"
She beams.

(That's more like it.)

[Three to beam down ala Trek, all in adorable coats and hats:]
Doctor: "I don't remember inviting you two."
Sarah Jane: "Ah... no. You didn't. But here we are." [beams at him. As we recall from Rise of the Cybermen, the Doctor is helpless against feminine wiles in the form of adorable smirks]

Oh, show.

All in all, this makes me very curious about Sarah Jane Adventures, and also makes me rethink some of the things that happened between her and Ten in School Reunion. I think I'll have to watch it again, after I've seen a bit more Classic.

Ending stats:
Jelly baby offers: 2 (and a third reference by Harry)
Displays of unrestrained physical affection: 0
Speeches by the Doctor about how awesome humans are: 2.5


  1. I haven't seen that one myself, I'm sort of buying the classic series in order, Not completely though, I'm buying the DVDs (or soundtracks in the case of wiped stories) of any companion or Doctor's first story/adventure and leaving story. Did you know that although a big chunk of episodes are missing, all the episodes had their soundtracks recorded off air by viewers as they were transmitted and these off air recordings were fixed up and released on CD and download by the BBC with narration from a member of cast (something akin to audio descriptions for hard of sight on DVDs)
    You should check out the 'Archive' button on the BBC Doctor Who website where you'll find a few hidden gems, such as an animated adventure for the 8th Doctor, photo novels of missing stories for the 1st and 2nd Doctors and eBooks from the time that Doctor Who went off the air (including Paul Cornells original 'Human Nature' story.)

  2. I have all of the DW episodes. All 200GB of them. But since you have an annoying firewall thingy, I'm not sure if I could pass along individual episodes to you or not. Plus, for some reason you want to skip Doctors? I still haven't had a chance to watch more classic DW, and it looks like I won't until the Summer, so I'm going to save reading your reaction for awhile.