Doctor Who: The Ark, a.k.a. Dodo gives the Monoids SARS-CoV-13

Well, no new Doctor Who for a while now so I thought it might be fun and topical to review a story from the third series in the classic run as a tie-in with the modern Covidapolis. The Ark was is the modern name for the collection of 4 stories which ran in March 1966, pretty much 54 years ago from today. In a sense, though, it is precinct because in The Steel Sky and The Plague (parts 1 and 2 of The Ark), Dodo Chaplet gives a race of humans and Monoids a coronavirus. Yes, technically that’s exactly what she had since the common cold is a coronavirus. But it’s easy to speculate the variety she has is actually some form of SARS-CoV-2, so let’s just say it’s SARS-CoV-13—we’re skipping 3–12, which is just as well as SARS-CoV-7 was really nasty. But I digress.

The Steel Sky

Doctor Who: The Steel Sky
This is a scene from the first episode of the Doctor Who serial known collectively as The Ark. The Leader is tended to by his daughter as he meets the Doctor. © 2020, The BBC

The story starts out with the TARDIS landing in a jungle with a mix of animals from Central America, South America, and India. The Doctor, Steven Taylor, and Dodo Chaplet even pet an Indian Elephant’s trunk.

The problem is, Dodo has SARS-CoV-13, or so I assume. The story takes place four billion years, or ten million years, or whatever this story misinterprets the age of the Earth to be at the time the Sun becomes a Red Giant (hint: it’s four to five billion). In that time, the human race has lost all immunities for most illnesses, having long ago eradicate them.

Meanwhile, the rather docile Monoids have also lost their home planet and are friendly companions to the last humans. The do act subserviently but the humans also see the Monoids as friends and defend the Monoids when, Niash, a human, is negligent in the beginning of the story and sentenced to suspension for seven hundred year of miniaturization. Strangely, this red herring is never seen again, even in the later episodes that take place when his sentence would have been served.

Also, why do they all drive hovercrafts on a spaceship? Wouldn’t an electric car work better? But I digress.

The Doctor and his companions—we called them companions in those days, though I’m sure they were friends—are brought by the Monoids to meet the humans. The leader of the humans welcomes them. However, Zentos—the Freshmaker—remains uneasy and fails to trust the travelers. Zentos is the second in command, and was the prosecuting attorney in the trial above.

The Leader takes a shining to the strangers and even shows them a statue they’re building of a human holding a globe. The statue, though, is barely built, with only its feet complete.

So Dodo goes around touching a lot of things, failing to wash her hands, sleeping with her head on the table, spreading her SARS-CoV-13 everywhere. Eventually, the leader gets the virus and the Zentos hears the Doctor tell Steven he feels guilty for bringing the virus there. Heck yeah, Doc!

The Plague

Doctor Who: The Plague
This is a scene from the second episode of the Doctor Who serial known collectively as The Ark. Suddenly Zantos is all chummy with the Doctor. © 2020, The BBC

As if things weren’t bad enough, the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo are put in jail and forced to watch a sham trial lead by Zantos. Everyone seems to be coming down with SARS-CoV-13, Monoids and Humans alike!

When Steven is called to the stand, he is shown—having clearly touched Dodo too much—to have contracted SARS-CoV-13. He collapses on the stand. Zantos assumes this to be an admission of guilt but saner minds agree that the Doctor wants to help cure the plague and they agree to let him try to experiment with a cure on Dodo.

Meanwhile, the Monoids start stroking animals in order to get samples for the Doctor to formulate his cure.

One wonders just what form of virulation he was trying to conduct. After all, can Iguanas get SARS-CoV-13 even? But I again digress.

Some timey wimey jiggery-pokery stuff happens and the Doctor’s cure works. First, Steven thrashes about, but then he his fever is down and he’s alright. The Doctor then orders the virulation to be performed on everyone.

I think it’s important to stop here and get a little sciency for a moment. Virulation is a form of early vaccination and vaccines only work on people who don’t yet have the virus. or who are at an early stage of infection such that the antibodies for the virus can have time to build up before the virus reaches a critical threshold. If someone is already at an advanced stage of SARS-CoV-13, like the leader, would the virulation even work, or would the disease have progressed too far already.

Anyway, the Doctor’s cure works and Zantos is not longer getting fresh with the time travelers. He thanks them and a Monoid takes them back to the TARDIS.

The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo are off on their next adventure, which just happens to be the same jungle environment from before. They’re back on the Ark. Only this time, the that statue of feet is complete. The whole body is as normal and originally designed, but the head is the head of a Monoid.

The Return

Doctor Who: The Return
This is a scene from the third episode of the Doctor Who serial known collectively as The Ark. Juan is lording over his domain. © 2020, The BBC

We learn that the Doctor and his companions have arrived seven hundred years later, when the Ark is near its destination of Refusis-II. We don’t know where Refusis-II is as the story Refuses tell us, but we guess it’s close to Spiradon. Niash is nowhere to be seen. He must have been trapped in a plot hole.

The Monoids can talk now, and they have taken over and are lead by a ruthless leader, Juan. Juan wants to claim Refusis-II for the Monoids and leave the now enslaved humans on the Ark to wither and die. Juan captures the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo and puts them to work in the kitchens, the most menial of slave labor jobs. Apartnely, the Monoids have huge appetites. Then again, cooking seems to simply consist of a bullion cube being dropped in water to turn the contents into potatoes or chicken. I guess Rey had the same thing on Jakku. But I again digress.

Some humans are considered collaborators and work more closely with the Monoids. The regular humans don’t like them.

Steven tries to attack Monoid number 2 but fails and a human dies. The Monoids are brutal since they stopped using Sign Language.

Juan is worried about landing on Refusis-II, so he sends a collaborator, Monoid-, the Doctor and Dodo to the surface to make contact with the natives and figure out if they will be easy to subdue.

The Refusis-II people though, you never see them. Turns out, they’re invisible. Monoid-2 is no match for the Refusian and is easily disarmed, though he escapes and tries to warn Juan and the others. Unfortunately, the collaborator human dies in the struggle.

Monoid-2 makes it to the shuttle only to have the ship detonate with Monoid-2 on board.

The Doctor and Dodo are stranded. And Juan has left a bomb on the ship, to detonate when all the Monoids have left and only humans remain.

The Bomb

Doctor Who: The Bomb
This is a scene from the fourth and final episode of the Doctor Who serial known collectively as The Ark. The Doctor saves the day, as usual. © 2020, The BBC

Juan is suspicious and he and Monoid-3 decide to execute the Monoid Evacuation plan. They’re convinced the bomb in the head of the statue will never be discovered.

Juan’s personal servant hears about the bomb and decides to join the resistance. Steven uses him to help him and the other humans escape from the kitchens.

Meanwhile, Monoid-4 is not happy with Juan’s leadership. When all the Monoids get to Refusis-II, they try to find the Refusians but they only find the Doctor and Dodo. Juan is irate but Monoid-4 rebels and takes half the Monoids back to the ship to return to the Ark. Juan warns them about the bomb but Monoid-4 doesn’t care.

Juan decides to ambush Monoid-4’s party on the way back to the ship and a civil war erupts. Monoids are dying left and right. Eventually, only Monoid-4 is left. The Doctor, Dodo, watch the battle and find out the bomb is in the head of the statue. They return to the ship and message Steven, then return to the ship.

The thing you need to know about Refusians, they’re hecka strong. The Refusian lifts up the megatonne statue and chucks it in the airlock, then the prop just sort of teeters out of the ship, falling down toward Refusis-II before exploding in space.

On the ship, all is well. Juan is dead, and Monoid-4 and two of his companions are captured. The Refusian chastises the humans for enslaving the Monoids and the humans agree to treat the Monoids as equals.

Having made they agreements and prepared their landings, they take a hovercraft back to the TARDIS and get on their way. Steven wears my favourite striped shirt, and Dodo wears her zero camisole and skirt. But the Doctor disappears, captured by The Celestial Toymaker…