Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Infinity Quest"

Written by Alan Barnes
Directed by Gary Russell

Martha (re Balthazar): “I know he was rotten to the core but still.”
The Doctor: “Oh I left him a way out.”

One of the cool things about a show like Doctor Who is how unrestricted the storytelling can be. Not only do we have spin-offs, audio plays, books and comic strips to compliment the weekly televised adventures but now we can also the pleasure of an animated feature along with it.

Designed as thirteen three and a half minutes episodes that were aired weekly on Totally Doctor Who, The Infinity Quest is something a lighter tale with The Doctor and Martha as they take on the nefarious Balthazar and his quest for the infinite. The infinite of course being the nifty concept of getting your heart’s desire.

Of course The Doctor doesn’t really believe in the infinite but it doesn’t stop him and Martha from opening the story by stopping Balthazar from destroying earth and free a giant robotic bird named Caw either way.

However despite a brief stay at Volag Noc, Balthazar is no sooner out of the intergalactic slammer when he uses Caw to trick The Doctor and Martha in aiding his quest for the infinite. They have to find four data chips in order to get the exact location and Caw doesn’t exactly have to go to great lengths in order to get them interested in doing Balthazar’s dirty work.

Nope, it seems just the thought of actually stopping the baddie from achieving his goal is enough to do and soon enough The Doctor and Martha nab the first data chip in the middle of an oil war between pirate lady Captain Kalico and her treacherous matey Swabb.

Of course the flipside to this then is that Kalico is killed as they collect the first data and this also happens when they land in their next location with the less savoury Mergrass. The common thread in this quest is that The Doctor and Martha seem to be caught in the middle of big galactic wars.

In the second one, it’s a war between mankind and a bug like alien race known as the Mantisphid. There are some ethical moments between whether or not the Mantisphid are deserving of living after they’ve slaughtered the majority of the human race to claim ownership of the land they’ve acquired.

Although in my opinion The Doctor doesn’t owe the Mantisphid anything, he does decide to save them from extermination by posing as a pirate and pretending he was responsible for all the carnage. This is probably the only part of the story that made me visibly cringe. David Tennant’s very funny but he does get a little too OTT with this particular segment.

Fortunately things pick up much better when The Doctor and Martha wind up as prisoners on Volag Noc. Now I know The Master may have quipped about The Doctor being a menace but I was genuinely impressed with the number of convictions he managed to notch up in his 900 plus years of existence. Jail sentences on Volag Noc are certainly harsh though.

Martha on the other hand is her awesome. Without The Doctor for a few minutes she deduces that Gurney isn’t the real governor at all and we also don’t have to wait long for The Doctor to get assistance from real governor Locke in escaping the joint. However there is a brief moment when The Doctor does have to save the other prisoners from being completely wiped out.

As for Balthazar, well it doesn’t take him long to re-emerge and take The Doctor and Martha prisoner before Caw winds up dying. The flipside for The Doctor is that he is left to perish in the snow while Martha is forced to find the infinite with Balthazar, who as a villain isn’t that particularly original.

Nope Balthazar’s heart craves for destruction and loads of riches. Martha’s meanwhile craves for The Doctor and her crush on the Time Lord is really emphasised here like it has been in many Season Three episodes. Of course when she spots the real Doctor, she’s smart enough to snap out of it and not believe anymore.

Balthazar on the other hand just winds back in Volag Noc. Well Caw did have to find a way to redeem itself and this was a perfect way to achieve that. The Doctor and Martha on the other hand just decide to head to a new location given that the infinite seemingly no longer poses a big concern.

Also in “The Infinity Quest”

As an episode this got the same opening and end credits as the series does, except for the animated TARDIS.

Kalico: “You two might want to hold on tight – to the rail.”
The Doctor: “Ay, ay Captain.”

Martha got scolded by The Doctor for her pirate impression. In all fairness, it was his that was really bad.

The Doctor: “These are warplanes?”
Mergrass: “What do you expect in a war zone?”

Kelvin: “I don’t want to die.”
Martha: “Well you didn’t.”

We got a mention of the Nestene from “Rose” and the Racnoss from “The Runaway Bride”. I’m not sure where the great vampires’ part comes from though.

Mantisphid Queen: “What have you done, Doctor?”
The Doctor: “Taken the rap for you and ended your war.”
Martha: “They’ll never believe you.”

Scanner: “No scanning of criminal activity.”
Martha: “Well obviously.”

So in his 902 years of existence, The Doctor has managed to acquire an outstanding 3005 convictions which included traffic violations, evading library fines and planetary demolition. Naughty boy!

Gurney: “Don’t you get it? He’s escaped; your friend let him out.”
Martha: “We’ve only been here five minutes. Nice one, Doctor.”

The Doctor: “How did you find us? It’s very tricky tracking a TARDIS.”
Balthazar: “I had insider information. Have you met Squawk?”

Balthazar was played by the wonderful Anthony Stewart Head who appeared in the Season Two episode “School Reunion” as Mr Finch.

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “This isn’t a taxi.”
Balthazar: “Set the controls or Miss Martha here gets skewered.”

Martha (re The Doctor): “He’ll be back.”
Balthazar: “He’s a thousand light years away in the cold.”

The DVD of this had trailer for Season 3 on DVD, Season 1 of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures’ episode “Invasion Of The Bane as well as interviews with David Tennant, Freema Agyeman and Anthony Stewart Head.

Martha (re heart’s desire): “What did it show you by the way?”
The Doctor: “Doesn’t matter. Didn’t work anyway.”

This serial is supposedly set after the televised episode “42”. To be fair, I don’t think there was really any references to the adventures that Martha has had with The Doctor so far anyway.

As a set of thirteen mini-episodes, this is okay but when viewed together as one big thing, “The Infinity Quest” is a mixed bag. On the positive side the animation is terrific (and life like) and there are great performances from David Tennant, Freema Agyeman and Anthony Stewart Head and there’s an overall sense of fun. On the flipside, the story isn’t terribly exciting and Balthazar does feel too much like a one note villain, despite Anthony going above and beyond to make him interesting. Still points for the effort and the overall sense of fun that was clearly had in the making of this special.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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