How many of you remember distinctly what your first Doctor Who story was? The bet here is that it’s more than you might think. Certainly this fan does, and 28 or so years later it certainly made an indelible impression.
That story was The Ark in Space.
This is not to say that I was instantly hooked on Doctor Who based strictly on this one magnificent story, that took a little while longer (perhaps until Terror of the Zygons) but this was Tom Baker’s true first story (Robot is, let’s face it, quite atypical for early Baker) and it delivered.
Peril from the first moment of the story, airless rooms, officious, even hostile, survivors, and big bugs that went bump in the closet. Tom Baker made the signature speech of his tenure speaking into a room full of sarcophagi and Liz Sladen became, in this story, a much better fit as a companion with Tom than the somewhat strained paternalistic relationship she had with Jon Pertwee over a full year.
Of course, when it all boils down, The Ark in Space is a base-under-siege story, but I would argue never done better than here. It was certainly a great, if unintentional, introduction to the series. The question which occasionally comes up in fan circles about what the best story to introduce someone who knows nu-Who but is only vaguely familiar with anything pre-Eccleston, I would nominate The Ark in Space.
There are other, better stories (though not many) as the Countdown will continue to attest, but those stories may not be as useful in this regard as The Ark in Space. It’s unsurpassed. — David
The 50 for 50 Countdown has now truly entered the home stretch with #5 … next week.