Monday, August 28, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Arc Of Infinity"

Written by Johnny Byrne
Directed by Ron Jones

Nyssa (re High Council): “To kill you? Is that why they brought you back?”
The Doctor: “Possibly.”

It’s serials like this that show you why The Doctor is so resistant to stay on Gallifrey. With the kind of people running the High Council on The Doctor’s home world like this lot, I’d want to be as far away from the lot of them as possible. Maybe that’s also why Doctor Who works better without constantly visiting Gallifrey.

Given that Tegan has just departed, both The Doctor and Nyssa seem to be getting on with things ever so well in her absence. In fact while I might be craving for a scene where at least one of them wonders about her well being, both of them are distracted by repairing the TARDIS.

Granted the TARDIS needs the work but it’s somewhat annoying that Tegan isn’t touched upon as a subject. Still with someone nicking The Doctor’s bio data from the Matrix on Gallifrey at least the opening serial to Season Twenty is trying to be eventful.

The problem is that just like “Time-Flight” no amount of danger covers the fact that this is something of an underwhelming serial. Yes The Doctor’s in danger, an old enemy has returned and the High Council of Gallifrey are the most malignant bunch of twits you’ll ever encounter but still something’s a little off with this one.

With The Doctor and Nyssa both working effectively as a team, their TARDIS repairing gets back seated first by a creature attempting to take over The Doctor and then by the High Council summoning the TARDIS to Gallifrey.

Set to play The Doctor in another year and a half, Colin Baker is cast as the abrasive Commander Maxil. Although the character doesn’t seem to have any dimensions, it’s a credit that Baker makes him into such an interesting foil for The Doctor and Nyssa. He’s unsympathetic to both of them and follows his order to hand The Doctor over a little quietly.

Of course he’s not the only who fares negatively in this serial. With the exception of Hedin, the Council themselves are less concerned about The Doctor being used by the creature who took his bio-data and are more eager to execute him. Even Lord President Borusa fails to convince that killing The Doctor is a hard choice for them.

In fact we all know that The Doctor has rebelled against the council several times and maybe there’s a part of them that wants to use this execution as their own personal punishment for The Doctor’s past behaviour. Castellan certainly seems to exhibit the most amount of animosity for The Doctor above everyone else.

Without Tegan by her side, Nyssa is sort of forced to be the rebellious one. Both she and Damon make several attempts to prove that there’s a traitor in the council and Nyssa even tries to get a little trigger happy in a doomed attempt to stop The Doctor from being executed.

To be honest Nyssa needn’t have bothered. The Doctor’s execution seemed merely a ploy for the creature in question to get him and when Maxil and Castellan both do their own investigation and realise that The Doctor is alive, this creature attempts to use Tegan to keep The Doctor from interfering.

The second major development in the episode is Tegan’s return. Despite a decent change of clothing and a new haircut, Tegan’s pretty much the same girl. She’s quickly embroiled with Robin Stuart in a bid to rescue her cousin Colin Frazer in Amsterdam but soon enough the both of them get captured by the creature.

Tegan’s return is probably the biggest selling point of the episode and as a viewer who loves the dynamic she has with The Doctor and Nyssa, a part of me wanted them to get reunited sooner than they did. Tegan was used a few times to keep The Doctor on side but it took a while for The Doctor to actually believe she was really Tegan.

As for the creature itself, well it’s Omega who looks nothing like he did back in “The Three Doctors”. Ten years after his first altercation with The Doctor, both he and Hedin conspired with each other to acquire a new body. Using The Doctor had proved to be rather challenging but Omega did temporarily succeed in using the Arc Of Infinity to control the Matrix.

He also managed to get a decent transformation when ended up looking like The Doctor himself. If there’s one place where the serial succeeds it’s seeing Peter Davison flit back and forth as The Doctor and Omega. There’s even a moment where Davison delivers one of the creepiest smiles as the latter makes an attempt to integrate.

Unfortunately the face-off between The Doctor and Omega in Amsterdam isn’t quite as compelling as what we saw in “The Three Doctors”. With so much padding at the start of the serial, Omega’s defeat is a little too quick for my liking. It’s a shame to lose him yet again as he could’ve been an intriguing recurring villain like The Master.

Still the episode does have on bright point. With Nyssa admitting to the fact that she missed Tegan’s company, the fiery air stewardess practically invites herself back onto the TARDIS. Still it would’ve been nice if The Doctor sounded a little more excited at the prospect of spending more time with Tegan, right?

Also in “Arc Of Infinity”

Also we got see some nice images of the place, the only significance Amsterdam had was the fact it played some part with the Arc Of Infinity.

Robin: “Trust me, Colin. Have I ever led you astray?”
Colin: “There’s always a first time.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I can’t be the only one who thought that Colin and Robin were a couple. They were kinda flirty at the start of the serial.

Damon: “Why are you treating The Doctor like a criminal?”
Maxil: “I am simply following orders.”

Hedin (to Zarach): “We sent armed guards when a friendly face would’ve sufficed. Is it any surprise he resisted?”

Hedin was played Michael Gough who also played the Celestial Toymaker and Alfred in the Batman movies.

Castellan: “What are you suggesting Doctor?”
The Doctor: “I thought that would’ve been obvious.”

Borusa: “Have you nothing further to say?”
The Doctor: “I have a great deal to say.”

Both Leela and Romana were mentioned in passing during this serial. The Council aren’t pleased that Romana is in E-Space.

Maxil: “I have my orders.”
The Doctor: “You don’t have to relish them so much.”

Omega: “You knew this would happen?”
The Doctor: “I guess. I was hoping it would give me the chance to meet you.”

With the previous serial concerning The Master, Omega’s identity wasn’t revealed until Part 3. It worked a little better here to be fair.

Tegan: “Yes I’m a friend of The Doctor’s.”
Omega: “We are both fortunate.”

Nyssa (re Omega): “You’re dealing with a Time Lord, Doctor. You won’t find anything in there.”
The Doctor: “We’ll see.”

How exactly did Omega survive his death/defeat in “The Three Doctors”?

Tegan (to Nyssa): “What job? Didn’t I tell you I got the sack so you’re stuck with me after all?”
The Doctor: “So it seems.”

This was released in August 2007 with “Time-Flight” and Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton do a terrific commentary for the story.

Something of an underwhelming opening to the 20th season, “Arc Of Infinity” is a little disjointed in some places. Omega is a great villain but this serial isn’t quite as strong for him as his earlier one was.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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