Oooh, I’ve gone all sporty the last few days with my blog entries, but it’s time to get back to my Doctor Who review project.
Sadly what that means is that it’s time for another horribly bland JNT era story.
For anyone watching Doctor Who in sequence, there’s a stopping off point at the end of Time Flight where you can enjoy the distraction of the Big Finish audio stories. The ones with The Doctor & Nyssa are a mixed bag, with some of them being average and others – like Spare Parts and Creatures of Beauty – being better than pretty much anything served up on TV by this point.
Rather than go into great detail about these audios individually, I think what I’ll do is write up a more general article about them once I finish the Davison era.
So now, sadly, it’s back to the grind-stone with a review of Arc of Infinity.
Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity Review: What’s This One About
It’s double the fun with riveting scenes taking place both on Gallifrey and in Amsterdam.
Omega – despite being pretty definitively killed off in The Three Doctors – is back and…that’s about it really.
Thoughts – Let’s Redo The Keeper of Traken
When you realise the Arc of Infinity is written by Johnny Bryne, you can’t help but notice the similarities between the structure of this story and his last attempt at writing for the show – The Keeper of Traken.
You’ve got the old villain coming back, the mystical influence that the society works around (The Matrix instead of the Keeper), the unpleasant guard captain and a rather feeble council that include an old woman and an inept bloke that do very
But unlike the Keeper of Traken, this doesn’t have a good plot to work around these set pieces, nor does it have as strong a cast.
Indeed, I think this story is horrendous.
I get why writers go for twists and surprises; it can make something quite exciting.
But the Arc of Infinity has two of the lamest ones you’ll ever see.
First of all you have the reveal that The Renegade is Omega. I don’t know why they don’t just say it’s Omega from the start; I mean, for anyone who remembered The Three Doctors, I imagine that it was fairly obvious who he was, considering he was from the world of anti-matter, and if the viewer hadn’t seen or remembered that story, the reveal would carry no value anyway.
But what’s worse about it is that the reveal doesn’t come with him unmasking or anything like that, and it’s not like The Keeper of Traken where the Master didn’t actually appear on screen until later on in the story. Instead we just see him all the way through the story and then in Episode 3 someone says “Aye, that’s Omega up there”. Big whoop.
The other supposed surprise is that the traitor is Councillor Hedin.
I think that by counter-productively helping the Doctor, and playing up that the two of them are mates, we’re not supposed to realise it is him, but – much like Bernard Horsfall in the Deadly Assassin – it’s immediately obvious that the voice belongs to Michael Gough, and therefore there is absolutely no shock value. There’s confusion, because his red-herring behaviour makes no sense, but there’s no shock value.
Incidentally, this is the second Gallifrey based story in a row where there’s a shock reveal that an authority holding Time Lord is the mastermind behind it all. It won’t be the last either.
My Least Favourite Actor In Doctor Who History
Plenty of bad actors have appeared in Doctor Who over the years, including the likes Jenny Laird, Freddie Aldo, the Ogron who said “No Complications” and Rick James. There have also been a few actors who aren’t necessarily terrible at their
craft but that I passionately dislike, like John Dearth in Planet of the Spiders.
But I think the only actor who combines being both terrible at his job and utterly loathsome on top of that is the boy who plays Robin, Andrew Boxer.
My god, this guy has nothing going for him.
For a start, the character he plays is an arse anyway. I mean, he’s a backpacker who gets his mate to sleep in a crypt with him because he’s lost his passport. And when his mate gets taken captive by what looks like a giant gun toting chicken, he won’t go to the police because of that either. Never mind that his mate night be dead, he doesn’t want to report a missing passport because…well…they might find it for him? Or they might send him home and it would ruin his holiday? Whatever the reason, it’s unbelievably selfish.
Also, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “Vanished” and “Is in exactly the same place as where I left him”, but we’ll let that slide.
What’s worse about him is…well…the guy playing him.
He manages to be both the sort of person you wouldn’t expect to see cast on a TV show and exactly the sort of person the general public would associate with Doctor Who at the time. Basically he combines looking geeky and slimy.
Urgh. Come on man, sort your hair out, get the anorak off and stop prancing about.
And that voice!!!! Oh my god. He actually has The Nerd Voice, the sort of exaggerated nasely voice you’d do when taking the piss out of some nerd at school.
And his eyes bulge more than is comfortable to watch too.
I’d ask how he got the job, but I guess he must have been John Nathan Turner’s type…
It’s In Amsterdam. That’s All I Need To Know
There are plenty of things that don’t make a lot of sense in the Arc of Infinity – not least that I don’t really know what Omega’s motivation is – but the one that gets me most of all is how the Doctor managed to get to Amsterdam.
He goes into the Matrix to find out where Tegan is and she says that she is behind at a brand of youth hostel (even though she isn’t) in Dutch capital.
The Doctor has the whole of time to work with here, and yet without any explanation is able to land the TARDIS on the correct day at the correct time, within walking distance. Come on! I could accept it if they said that they could back trace where and when Omega is through the Matrix, but they went to the trouble of getting the Doctor to ask Tegan where she is.
The Fifth Doctor Timeline
Ok, so the events of the first season lasted around a fortnight, but – although is remains unsaid – I think it’s safe to say that a fair amount of time has passed between Time Flight and the Arc of Infinity.
For a start, Nyssa looks like she’s aged a good five years since we last saw her, and that would fit in – before the fact – with the Big Finish stories.
Also, considering the straight line writing style probably suggests they’ve been separated from Tegan for exactly the amount of time Tegan has been left on Earth, I think we’re supposed to believe that it has maybe been a year or more since the events of Heathrow.
- The Ergon…where do you start? Why is it designed like a giant chicken? Why is it even in the story? How does the Doctor know what it is? Why didn’t they just have the blob things from the Three Doctors?
- I won’t bother trying to make sense of how Omega still lives, but how come he changed costumes? I think he had it bang on the first time.
- Where did he get a TARDIS from?
- What actually is the Arc of Infinity?
- Why does Omega need to use the Matrix?
- How come Nyssa, the Doctor and Tegan were never out of breath despite running – possibly for miles – through the streets of Amsterdam?
- And did Nyssa consciously change into flat footwear before going on this run?
- Are we supposed to be happy that Tegan has returned, even though it’s very clear the Doctor isn’t?
- How does the Doctor know what Omega is wearing based on the dead gardener? Do gardeners have a universally acknowledged outfit?
- What’s the point of the scene where the Doctor remembers the Presidential passcode?
- What sort of devil-may-care lifestyle does Borussa lead to regenerate so often?
- If they wanted to bring back old villains, why recast Omega and also have the Celestial Toymaker in it playing someone completely different?
- Nyssa might well be the most trigger happy companion the Doctor has ever had.
- Tegan has strange priorities; the Doctor asks her to help look for the only thing that can destroy Omega and save the universe from a massive explosion, but she needs to look after her cousin?
- It’s Paul Jerrico as the Castellan. I can’t be the only person who watched this after seeing the Five Doctors and been shocked to see he has blonde hair,
- He’s not very good at his job though.
- And I have to say, based on this performance, how the hell did Colin Baker land the job of the Doctor? Oh of course, he told good stories at a party.
- Sarcasm Filter on: The Arc of Infinity really benefited from being filmed in Amsterdam. That was a great use of the BBC’s money. Sarcasm Filter off.
- Omega should have given that rude little child who pushed past him a smack round the head.
- Why does Nyssa assume the Doctor must have a coin for a payphone in 1980s Amsterdam?
- DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: #177. That’s at least 13 too high.
Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity Review: Final Thoughts
It’s a boring story that makes no sense and has acting ranging from poor to horrific.
There’s nothing to like about the Arc of Infinity, and I’m glad I’ve got past it.
I would rate this as “Serious Recommendation To Avoid”
One of my least favourite stories of all time.