The Arc Of Infinity: Doctor Who: Season 20








Arc Of Infinity SYNOPSIS: 

On Gallifrey an unseen Time Lord has stolen the Doctor's bio data extract and delivers it to an alien being who seeks to bond physically to the Doctor. The Tardis is recalled to Gallifrey as the creature attempting the bonding is made of anti matter and was trying to cross into this dimension. 

The anti matter alien has landed on Earth shielded from matter by the arc of infinity, the gateway to all dimensions, situated beneath Amsterdam. The Doctor tries to convince the Time Lord High council his bio data was stolen and given to the anti matter renegade, but the high council's resolution is to have the Doctor executed to prevent further bonding to the creature. 

The execution is prevented by the Time Lord traitor and through the Doctor the alien finds a way to control the Matrix itself. Nyssa, the Doctor's Time Lord friend Damon and even the reluctant Castellan believe the Doctor was right and try to find where the Doctor's body has been hidden. 

Once returned to his body, the Time Lord high council traitor Hedin reveals the renegade is Omega the very first Time Lord who is returning from the anti matter world and now has the power to transfer across. The Doctor must locate Omega on Earth and free his former companion Tegan before Omega's arc of infinity shielding deteriorates and matter and anti matter annihilate each other. 

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Arc Of Infinity DETAILS: 



Run Time

Viewership (In Millions)

Part One




Part Two




Part Three




Part Four




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Arc Of Infinity CAST & CREW

The Doctor: 
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) 
Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) 

Guest Stars: 
Leonard Sachs — President Borusa 
Elspet Gray — Chancellor Thalia 
Michael Gough — Councillor Hedin 
Paul Jerricho — The Castellan 
Max Harvey — Cardinal Zorac 
Colin Baker — Commander Maxil 
Ian Collier — Omega/The Renegade 
Neil Daglish — Damon 
John D. Collins — Talor 
Alastair Cumming — Colin Frazer 
Andrew Boxer — Robin Stuart 
Maya Woolfe, Guy Groen — Hostel Receptionists 
Malcolm Harvey — The Ergon 

Production Staff for Serial 6E: 
Writer - Johnny Byrne 
Director - Ron Jones 
Script editor - Eric Saward 
Producer - John Nathan-Turner

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Arc Of Infinity REVIEWS 


Didn't mind Arc Of Infinity. Back at a more innocent age of the early 80's I had no idea who Omega was or where Amsterdam was either just enjoyed seeing how the Doctor. & Nyssa would get out of their latest perilous predicament. It was the first time I saw Gallifrey and did think it was populated by a lot of stuffy old people who all wore dresses for some reason. Still... 
The inclusion of something old really doesn't affect Arc Of Infinity overly much, think it's around part 4 we find out the villain is Omega and this sort of made sense as to why an outside alien had wanted to bond with the DNA of another Timelord and not just any old person so it could cross into this dimension. After all what alien from another dimension would want to take over the Matrix or go to boring old Gallifrey? 
As for Gallifrey least they did attempt to populate it with more than just the High Council chamber and although the attempt was nice but just throwing a few 20th century lounge room couches in some corridors to give it the Timelord cafe feel didn't really do it. Maybe it was the overly bright lighting? But the actual Timelords acquitted themselves well in the acting stakes except the old fool playing Borusa this time round. But Elspet Grey was good as the chancellor and Michael Gough good as councilor Hedin and Colin Baker does mean, nasty but cocking up all the time as the Commander really well and even the Castellan is believable. 
Davison and Sutton work well as a team and their acting really lifts Arc Of Infinity when the pace is slowing down or has hit a dry spot. Can see why the Doctor. wasn't that worried about Gallifrey blowing up in the Time War years later, his people only seem to give him the time of day to put him on trial, blame him for something or to execute him or to sort out their problems they don't want anything to do with. This their greatest champion. Which is why the part 2 cliffhanger was so good. As a kid I couldn't believe the Doctor. was just submitting to execution and gets vaporized! It's definitely a "what the?" moment. 
As for Omega, nice to see he's developed beyond a fairly one dimensional raging demi God who tried the "look everyone I'm coming back and having my revenge in the process" character to a "hmmm, maybe a more subtle plan to return to my original dimension would be better this time round, won't alert them this time" works. He's actually still mad but more sympathetic despite the bizarre costume change. And because Davison gets his first doppleganger outing playing the Omega in his form he really assists with the sympathy you feel for this character who suddenly seems to be at peace now in flesh form again wandering round Amsterdam. The chase sequence is memorable as well. 
The Amsterdam setting is a nice change from aliens only seeming to focus on London or southeast England quarry pits although the explanation of why Omega went there was sort of a loose link but still worked. Viewing this one not long ago, remember the cast all saying in the Arc of Infinity dvd commentary that it stretches belief that Tegan just happened to be in Amsterdam at the same time all this alien stuff is going on but it's good to see her again, especially as we are now getting to see more of her physically. 
Tegan must be the first companion we get to see family members of such as her Aunt and her cousin Robin (Aunt Vanessa's son?) and she really has toned down the whini-ness and come into her own as a spirited, if opinionated companion. And Davsion's reaction in the very last shot as Tegan tells him he's stuck with her is priceless, seems he agrees with you Grob. As for the Ergon, seems they still have the same shite alien costume designer working on the program who gave us equally unbelievable monsters the previous two years. Give Arc of Infinity an 8.1/10. 


Arc Of Infinity 
I'm actually listening to the commentary track on the DVD of Arc Of Infinity while I write this. just to jog the memory of what is going on in this one. Before writing I remembered that I didn't actually like Arc Of Infinity all that much, but since Tim (our "Moderator") occasionally asks me to back up my claims of "This story is shite!" or "This one deserves a zero out of ten" or "Colin Baker is total rubbish!" I thought I better put the effort into it. Being the first episode of a new season and all. Okay, the story is shite and it does deserve a zero out of ten and Colin Baker is total rubbish. Just kidding Tim.... 
The two main "features" of Arc Of Infinity; the Amsterdam location and the return of Omega don't actually make a lot of sense. Like THE CITY OF DEATH before it and THE TWO DOCTORS in a couple of years time, filming abroad is in reality just an excuse to go overseas and film the regulars running around past famous landmarks that have nothing whatsoever to do with the story. Arc Of Infinity could have been set anywhere and it would have made no difference. In fact if it was set in London it would have made the whole "meeting up with Tegan" scenario a lot less of an improbable coincidence than it actually appears. There is (apparently) a minor subplot about Amsterdam being X amount of metres below sea level but its so minor that Arc Of Infinity may as well have been set in London.
The return of Omega is also a pointless plot device. There isn't a lot of explanation about WHO Omega is and what there is of him is bogged down in a humongous info-dump of Time Lord mythology. Imagine being someone turning on the TV and deciding to watch Dr Who for the first time and copping Arc Of Infinity. You would be wondering who the hell is Omega? Who the hell are the Time Lords? Why are they wearing funny costumes? Who is this Leela and K9 and Andred that get mentioned? For me, this is where the the series started going "fannish" and started to focus more on the series' past than on its future. Sure it was the 20th anniversary year and so forth, but I would have been happy if we just had a normal series with original monsters and stories than something from the series past in each story. Save the self-indulgence for the Five Doctors instead. 
Omega is a character that worked well in The Three Doctors (I watched this story on the weekend too so there is my homework done Mr Long!) and I think he should have stayed there. He was more mythical, had greater presence and was better portrayed. Again, new viewers would be wondering why is he getting around in some ridiculous headgear (not explained in this story) and why is he always in negative? If nothing can be properly explained (or built upon) why have the character there in the first place? And speaking of design flaws, I would just like to add a quick mention to the Ergon; the rubber chicken that has been stretched over a skeleton and had a pair of testicles placed on top of its head. Classy. 
The world of Gallifrey carries on its tradition of being incredibly dull. Yes; the Doctor left it for that very reason but here it is dull for the viewers at home as well. The High Council of Gallifery is made up of a bunch of has-been pantomime actors who are being wheeled out of the retirement home cos the Producer of the show has a hard-on for Light Entertainment. 
And now to the regular cast. Peter is still very good and he's even better when he is dashing about the corridors of Gallifrey or the canals of Amsterdam. Sure, the scripts in this season weren't the best but its what an actor like him can do with them that makes it count. You still believe he IS the Doctor and he really gives a sense of urgency to every situation - even if it is totally ridiculous. Sarah Sutton gets a chance to shine as the sole companion for this one and she even gets a chance to fire guns and stun guards (so much for her peaceful Traken upbringing!) The return of the dreadful Tegan is something I could have done without, she wasn't likable before and is less so now. She spent the entire last series whining about wanting to go home and now she's there she whines about going back to travelling in space again! In fact in the very next story she does just that! 
I better mention Colin Baker cos Tim will hanging out for what I have to say about him. I'm not his greatest fan considering the lousy, one-dimensional, over-acted and boorish stint that was his Sixth Doctor portrayal. However, here as Maxil he is actually quite good. Its a small part but Colin does make the character quite watchable as he (Maxil) bumbles from one screw up to the next as he gets ordered all about by various Time Lords while he tries to prove himself. Maybe Colin just isn't "leading actor" material but here he does turn in a good job of a pretty thankless part. 
In all, Arc Of Infinity is only a runaround story that relies to much on knowing too much about the series past - or at least one part of it. That's good if you're a fan but for the casual viewer its off-putting. 6/10 


I think there are two types of fans... those that like Gallifrey stories, and those that hate them. I like soap opera - so I like them, in particular Arc Of Infinity! I also like the idea of bringing back Omega for the first story of series 20 - after all, 1st stories are generally more a bit of fun than anything too hard hitting - and I think they really get the right balance here. 
That's not to say Arc Of Infinity is perfect though - there are certainly faults... 3 main ones I think. 1) What is that thing coming out of Maxill's hat? It ruins an otherwise flawless performance (the first of many) from Colin Baker. (OK, I'm picking Grob had a go at him in his review, so I'm returning fire!). Actually, I couldn't remember any of Arc of Infinity at all from its first run, and when I saw it listed in the Green Guide for the 4:30AM run, I was excited thinking that it was going to be some never seen (by me) before Colin Baker stuff... and when I stopped the tape 1/2 way through rewinding and saw Colin Baker, I was sure I'd found gold... then when I sat down to watch it after Uni, I found out for the first time that Colin Baker was also Maxil... but still, he is very good - and as he says, he's so nasty as he's "just doing his job"! 
Now where were we... oh yes, 3 bad things. One is Robin... man, what the hell? Colin (although clearly a New Zealander) is at least watchable, but this guy playing Robin is awful! From his creepy "why aren't you taking your clothes off", to his just odd interaction with the girl at the backpackers, he's crapola.. they could have easily decided to have Omega trap him, and then when Tegan rocks up Colin could have had Tegan look into the disappearance of his weird mate! Two - The Ergon. That's just fricken odd... and looks as effective as having a bloody sesame st character as your assistant. I'd rather have seen a return of the gel guards! And three - the ending is a little bit shit. The running around Amsterdam is just kind of there to run around Amsterdam, and then the showdown with the pissy gun and fireworks going off in bizarro Davison's cloak is, well, a little bit shit. 
And I don't like Tegan's hair.... never a fan of short hair...But I still like it - and the Amsterdam stuff itself is fine and makes sense (it's where the arc of infinity is to power Omega's transformation... or something)! The stuff on Gallifrey is great - always when the Doctor returns they want to kill him, but the first cliff hanger when they actually do, is frightening! How many times have we seen a cliff hanger that has the Doctor at gun point, only to have something stop it at the last minute? 
OK, so there was a fair chance that it was set to stun, but it's still a very effective ending - as are the other two. The scenes inside the Matrix aren't quite as imaginative as the previous use of the matrix, but having Omega taking it over works very well - as does the deception of one of the timelords (of course it was always going to be the one that's the Celestial Toymaker!) to bring Omega back. And the realisation of Omega is cool too - I like that it wasn't kept from us at all - we see him in the first scene. I also like that they kept a lot of nice continuity there - the Romana storyline and the "How's Leela" are all nice little nods to fans. 
Performance wise Nyssa kind of looks a little lost by herself at times - although at other times she is trying to be as haughty as Romana could be... I don't know if she looks all that comfortable with a gun though... she looks pretty relieved when Tegan rejoins at the end (anyone wonder what Tegan got fired for?). And Davison is good as always - and he gets to do the traditional Doctor doppleganger here - and does it really well... he's far more dramatic and "posey" when he's Omega and running around a lot (and falling apart). All up, a fun way to start the 20th year - and a good solid story is Arc Of Infinity. 

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