Doctor Who: Revisiting ARC OF INFINITY - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Revisiting ARC OF INFINITY

Moo gets lost in Amsterdam.

1980s era Doctor Who is a strange beast, and Arc of Infinity is a microcosm of all its best and worst qualities in one story. It’s a bizarre adventure and it's very understandable if you were to say you dislike it. That does seem to be the majority view and I can’t really argue.

Take its portrayal of Gallifrey, Time Lords, and Omega. All of these, as they appear here, feel significantly inferior to what’s come before and since. Gallifrey is just a bunch of people sitting around discussing stuff and being either terribly ineffective or effectively terrible. That’s not new, it’s essentially what we saw before in The Deadly Assassin and The Invasion of Time, but it’s not as sublime as Assassin or well-intended as Invasion. It’s a return to Gallifrey, not with a bang but with a whimper. Once Omega reveals himself as the villain you realise you’re not just watching an inferior rehash of both of those stories but also The Three Doctors. It doesn’t help that he looks ridiculous.

The storyline is also kind of dumb. From Omega’s chicken-monster on the loose in Amsterdam for some reason, to the Doctor going on trial once more, it’s kind of hard to get invested. Peter Davison is fantastic throughout but that’s usual for him. In 99% of his stories, he’s the best thing in them.

But not this time.

This time the best thing is his successor Colin Baker. Baker plays a Time Lord commander named Maxil, and he steals the show. It’s fun to see him interact with Davison, much more than when Peter Capaldi shows up in a David Tennant story. Where Capaldi is a great character actor, Baker is a scenery chewer and he does that with aplomb here.

Also on fine form is Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. Her character showed potential from the beginning but was never really able to deliver on it. Arc of Infinity, however, starts with her as the Doctor’s only companion and as such she isn’t burdened by an overcrowded TARDIS for once. With this focus on her, we get the character’s greatest on-screen story. Thankfully Big Finish have exploited the gap to tell more stories with just her and the Doctor, easily becoming the best companion to the Fifth Doctor, and that all begins here.

Unfortunately for her, she’s not alone. Tegan’s return is laughable in this story. After leaving at the end of Time-Flight one story earlier, she’s back here. So what was the point of that exactly??? I have no idea. Janet Fielding presumably simply changed her mind just in time to be written back in? It’s very poorly implemented and the coincidence is such an absurd storyline. Was this the best they could do?

There’s a lot of handwaving like this. For instance, Omega’s survival from his last story is unexplained. And I’m still not sure what the titular Arc of Infinity actually is.

So there’s a lot wrong with Arc of Infinity. I can’t really defend it. But I happen to rather enjoy it. It’s not a good story by any means, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time with it.

Peter Davison and Colin Baker are both on fine form and Nyssa gets a good showing proving the potential that she never gets to have elsewhere. The use of Amsterdam as a setting is utterly pointless, but it is nice to take the Doctor’s contemporary earth adventure away from the UK for a change. I’ve barely mentioned Gallifrey, but it’s always good to go there and the sets for it are as good as ever making it visually appealing while we’re there.

Watched with an open mind, Arc of Infinity can be enjoyed. Just don’t mistake that for it being any good.

“Moo” is the pseudonym used by this Doctor Who fan. He can usually be found procrastinating by thinking about Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @z_p_moo for more of his unusual takes, but do so at your own risk.

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