Written by Johnny Byrne and Sydney Newman
Directed by Ron Jones
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television series which has been around off and on since 1963. The main character is just known as “The Doctor” and is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. This means he travels through time to various places. One of his favorite places to visit is Earth. Typically, he has a companion traveling with him, usually female, sometimes male, sometimes one of each. He travels in a time machine known as a “Tardis” which is disguised as a British Police booth.
A Time Lord can regenerate if fatally wounded, which has accounted for all the different actors who have played The Doctor throughout the years. In this episode, the Doctor is portrayed by Peter Davison. He is traveling with Nyssa (portrayed by Sarah Sutton) who is a native of the planet Traken. Tegan (portrayed by Janet Fielding), a stewardess from the U.K. of the 1980s, is a former companion who was left behind on Earth during one of the previous adventures but reappears during this story-arc.
Confronted by an anti-matter creature who has traveled through the dimensions and somehow managed to latch onto the Doctor, the Time Lords on Gallifrey use a recall circuit – something rarely used in their history – to recall the Doctor when they realize the threat posed to him from the creature. He is kept under security only to manage to outwit all the safeguards until confronted by one of the Gallifreyan military, Commander Maxil – portrayed by Colin Baker (who will be the next Doctor).
The Doctor is sentenced to death because of the threat that the anti-matter creature poses. Never mind that he has been set-up and betrayed, the Council feels that protecting the universe from the creature is more important. Once the sentence has been carried out, the Doctor appears to not be dead but instead caught between dimensions where the creature is also present. The true identity behind all of the havoc is then revealed to be an old enemy…
Arc of Infinity was a surprisingly well-done story-arc from the tenure of Peter Davison on the show. One of the things that made this stand out from many of the other stories was the location shots in Amsterdam. Reading the synopsis, it doesn’t sound like there would be many shots, but it really fits into the story nicely as Tegan and Nyssa are dealing with things on Earth while the Doctor is on Gallifrey.
Speaking of Nyssa, I didn’t believe this was Sarah Sutton at first. She seems different. Where previously her personality was bubbly, and at times she appeared to be not bright, this one seems a bit more reminiscent of the original Romana. She and Tegan together work better as they both seem to be more mature than previously, rather than flaky airheads. Much has to do with this being the first story-arc of the twentieth season of the series and there were more than nine months in between the airing of the last episode of Time-Flight in the season prior to this and Arc of Infinity.
Davison still gives an excellent performance as the Doctor. He slides back into the role fairly easily and it’s a lot of fun watching him in the location shots with Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding. If there’s one huge complaint it’s that the location shots seem too long and drawn out, as if the BBC were trying to make sure it got its money’s worth out of the shots.
The story itself, written by Johnny Byrne, is a strong one. The special effects aren’t half-bad either, making for a strong selection when coupled with acting that had matured over the years.
The DVD is really good. I’ve yet to be disappointed with the work put into the Doctor Who DVDs. This includes a commentary track with the series stars and it’s nice to hear Colin Baker and Davison talk about the show together. There’s an isolated music track as well as information text and whole host of other extras crammed onto the disc with the four-part story-arc. Picture and sound quality are good, but there’s not as much of a restoration job with this story from 1983 as there are from many of the older shows. Still, it’s quite obvious that the BBC has made the effort to give fans a quality product.
Arc of Infinity was a good story-arc, although I definitely feel it’s one where people have to know the background of the story between the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan for it to really work best. I always say if you want to get people hooked on the older shows check out the Tom Baker years first, but going forward from then Arc of Infinity is a strong entry into the Peter Davison era.
• Commentary with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Colin Baker, Janet Fielding
• Isolated Music Track
• Anti-Matter from Amsterdam
• The Omega Factor
• Deleted Scenes
• Under Arc Lights
• CGI Effects
• Info Text
• Photo Gallery
• Doctor Who Annual
• Radio Times Listings
• Coming Soon Trailer