Before we start the final spinoff series of Doctor Who, there were a few noteworthy contributions to the last decade that warranted mention. The first was the animated adventure The Infinite Quest. Back in 2007, when Doctor Who was still getting people super-excited for any scrap of the Time Lord’s life, there were two shows that lived alongside the main series: Doctor Who Confidential and a kids show called Totally Doctor Who. While we can see the cutdown episodes of Confidential on DVD, I have never seen them released as a complete set. By contrast, Totally Doctor Who seems to have been forgotten completely, which is an enormous shame because I think it was doing more to create future fans than we ever saw in all the years of the show’s long life. It gave kids a chance to not only see how the show is made, but to partake in some of the production. They would learn how the choreographers got actors to walk like Cybermen or how they would make the sound of an airlock out of household equipment. I think it’s tragic that this show was canceled, even if it was aimed at a younger audience. But one side effect of it that lives on is The Infinite Quest.
It was a very clever idea: take an animated adventure and release it over 13 weeks – one for each week of the series. (Back in my day, we had 13 episodes of Doctor Who per year, along with 13 Confidentials, and 13 Totally‘s! Nowadays, you whippersnappers only get 10 episodes… and maybe this year only 8. Oh for the good old days again!!) Now, if you do the math, to get 13 episodes of something that isn’t even an hour long, you’re dropping a lot of cliffhangers where they are not necessary but that’s alright because when you create a fun story, it doesn’t really matter. I can see how it appealed to the children, but it has an appeal for the adults too, even if it’s not that strong a story.
David Tennant and Freema Agyeman reprised their roles as the Doctor and Martha with the villain, Baltazar, played by Anthony Head (the lead Krillitane in School Reunion). Baltazar is a pirate looking for a ship called the Infinite, which can grant him his hearts desire. The ship is from “the dark time” as all cool things are but the Doctor is determined to stop Baltazar from getting it. (Considering all the dude wants is gold, one wonders what the big deal is!)
What I found interesting, watching it again after all these years is more about the production. The colors stand out: the pirate planet is all sandy and yellow, the reptile world is verdant green, with deep purples and glowing lights at night to represent the bug population. The prison world of Volag-Noc is bright white for the icy landscape with light blue and red on the robots. The voice acting is spot on. Anthony Head has a brilliantly villainous voice and Tennant is always at the top of his game. The whole cast is fantastic. Then there’s the music. I realized early on that many of the best tracks from the first three series were playing throughout the story. And there are some great lines, but my personal favorites featured a “skeleton crew” and an “accessory to murder”. (Which was funny since no one was actually murdered. I mean it was a kids show, for goodness sake!)
The moment I found funniest was probably not intentional but I’ve been watching a lot of classic Star Trek lately, so I saw something probably on absolutely no one else’s mind at the time. The pirate ship is being blasted so Captain Kaliko (Liza Tarbuck) tells the Doctor and Martha to “hold on”. Maybe the Doctor had been watching some of the same episodes of Star Trek, but the Doctor was shown holding Martha pretty close! I mean, the Doctor is a fan of Star Trek, based on the evidence of Fear Her, right?
No, I can’t deny, this isn’t award winning material, but if you’re a fan of Doctor Who and want a little something different, it’s a good story with characters we love and it won’t chew up so much of a night that anyone is going to feel like they lost that hour. For long term fans, just the mention of the Nestene and the Great Vampire might make it worth the effort. I think the thing that gave me the best feeling though, was hearing the theme again. I love every version of the Doctor Who theme, but there was a certain excitement sparked by the newness of the Ecceleston/Tennant theme that I have very much missed. Check out the trailer from… oh time lord… 13 years ago! ML