THIS ANIMATED STORY
TAKES PLACE BETWEEN
THE TV EPISODES
"EVOLUTION OF THE
DALEKS" AND "THE
'THE INFINITE QUEST'
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
The Doctor FOLLOWS A
BUT THE DOCTOR AND
MARTHA ARE NOT ALONE
IN THEIR QUEST - THE
EVIL BALTAZAR IS ALSO
AND WANTS TO USE ITS
DESTROY EARTH AND
WILL THE DOCTOR AND
30TH JUNE 2007
(50-MINUTE ANIMATED EPISODE)
The Infinite Quest is certainly a strange beast. Originally aired as a series of
three-minute episodes over the course of the 2007 season of Totally Doctor Who, Alan Barnes’ first contribution to the revived series is a story that seems far more at home under the auspices of CBBC than it would be on BBC One’s Saturday Night prime time line-up.
Overall I was very impressed with the quality of the production. Gary Russell – an inspired choice for director, by the way – has done a sterling job in overseeing David Tennant and Freema Agyeman’s transition into the animated world. Their performances are in no way curtailed by their reduced input, which should not be surprising really considering that Tennant has a number of Big Finish audio dramas under his belt. Furthermore, Murray Gold’s score also helps to smooth the transition to animation – if you close your eyes it
might as well be a Saturday evening at 7pm.
And, as with the recent reconstruction of The Invasion, Firestep’s animation is absolutely first-rate. I love the style in which it is done; distinctive, but not too experimental or manga. The Doctor and Martha are recognisably the Doctor and Martha. The TARDIS is recognis-ably the TARDIS. Even – in the fifty-minute ‘omnibus’ version at least – the title sequence
is exactly the same as usual, only animated where appropriate.
In fact, were it not for the dumbed-down content, The Infinite Quest could have easily been as good as any live action episode. Regrettably though, this production feels much more like an out and out children’s cartoon than it does a ‘proper’ episode of Doctor Who and yes – I know – it is an out and out children’s cartoon and not a ‘proper’ episode of Doctor Who, but that’s no excuse!
“You invaded this planet for dung?”
I don’t think that the blame can be laid at the door of Barnes though. If you have to structure
a story around a cliffhanger every three minutes and, more importantly, string together a plot that will not lose the viewer over the course of thirteen weeks, you’re hardly going to bash
out the most intricate and compelling of scripts. And in fairness to the man, Barnes has at least thrown in as many bits of fanwank as he could get away with to appease sad gits like me who sat through Totally Doctor Who for three months (by the way, wasn’t the winning
team’s prize a bit rubbish? Blackpool indeed...) just to watch this cartoon. Barnes’ script
is littered with references to “Relics from the dark times”, the Nestene Consciousness, the Racnoss, the Great Vampires, the Earth Corporations, and even the Great Old Ones from the novels and audios. It’s a small reward at least for the loyal viewer.
Barnes has also really let rip with his imagination, too - a skeleton crew with lightsabers; walking oil rigs that look like something from Paul Leonard’s old Virgin novel Toy Soldiers
or, perhaps, even Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones; giant insects at war; frozen
underground prisons; space pirates. None of it original, all of it well executed.
There are some brilliant supporting performances too – Liza Tarbuck as Kaliko, Tom Farrelly (of Big Finish’s Medicinal Purposes) as Swabb, Lizzie Hopley (another grizzled
Big Finish veteran) as the Mantisphid Queen, and, of course, Anthony Head
as Baltazar. The entire cast manage to give solid and serious performances – even Totally’s own Barney Harwood doen’t send it up during his cameo.
And I suppose, within the larger story of the series, The Infinite Quest does make at least one meaningful contribution. When Martha finds the wreck of the Infinite and is granted her heart’s desire, you can guess what it is. Or should I say Who...
“Searching for your heart’s desire. Never gonna be all its cracked up to be.”
All told I found the The Infinite Quest to be a whimsical little diversion, and I never expected anything more. I do think that it should have been at least a little bit more mature, and to be frank I would have preferred it had Firestep spent their time animating another brace of lost episodes instead, but I guess that these days the children watching outnumber us lot, and as such they have to be pandered to. Scary, isn’t it?
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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