Doctor Who #761: The Infinite Quest

"Sorry, full up. There'll be another one along in a minute."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Animated serial that debuted as 13-minute segments during Totally Doctor Who between Apr.2 and Jun.30 2007. Now available on DVD as a 45-minute omnibus. This is where I think it best fits in continuity.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor and Martha get animated.

REVIEW: Using the same style of animation we saw in The Scream of the Shalka and the recreated episodes of The Invasion, The Reign of Terror, etc., The Infinite Quest can go a lot further than those efforts, with more environments, more strange aliens, and more effects. Shalka was a relatively primitive first effort mean to work on yesterday's Internet. The missing episode recons were limited to scripts produced in the 60s. Here, there are not such constraints and we can go on a tour of various planets - making Martha the most well-traveled companion of the RTD era, I believe - that would not be possible in live action. I love that they kept the house style anyway, and for me, it's when Doctor Who's side projects go CG that I lose complete interest (I'll still review Dreamland, don't worry). So yeah, giant mechanical birds, oil pirates, a giant praying mantis who invades for dung, an underground prison manned by cool robots on an ice world, an abandoned and atmospheric hulk drifting in space... They can do it all. Though the animation is better at doing mechanical stuff, so there's lots of vehicles and robots, as opposed to characters with faces.

It's pitched at a younger audience, sure, focusing on frenetic, visual adventure as opposed to the limited acting the animated characters can do, but that doesn't mean it's a vapid Care Bears story. The villain, Baltazar (Anthony Head once again showing up in a Doctor Who project), follows the Doctor, quietly murdering guest characters along the way. Caw, the giant bird with a literal heart of gold in Baltazar's service, dies after bonding with Martha. There's a scared kid in a battlesuit sent to fight the bugs and scared out of his wits. And for 'shippers following Martha's unrequited love for the Doctor, the Infinite shows her a pliable Time Lord as her "heart's design" (then the real Doctor arrives, awwwkward!). So while it's a jaunty adventure with lots of banter (animated Tennant runs off at the mouth as much as the live action one), and amusing jokes like the Doctor's long criminal record, it dares to gives kids darker moments and soap opera. After all, they're the same kids watching the actual show.

One of the moments that feels the most "of a piece" with regular Who is when the Infinite tries to show the Doctor HIS heart's desire. Something glitters behind him, and he says "don't even think it" to this ancient power, refusing to even acknowledge the illusion. We don't see what it is. Gallifrey? Rose? That's up to us. It was the former for me, but could be the latter for you. The Infinite Quest isn't referenced on the live action series later, at least its events, people and places aren't in any scripts, but the look of the skeleton crew WAS reused in live action as the astronauts animated by the Vashta Nerada in Silence in the Library. (And that creepy Doctor simulacrum with its glowing eyes and mouth sure looks like the Network zombies in Edgard Wright's The World's End, which also references the Autons, so not sure it's a coincidence.) The story DOES reference the series itself, of course, talking about the early universe as a battleground for Old Ones, Racnoss and Great Vampires. And we nerds do love our little continuity references.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A nice palate cleanser, The Infinite Quest isn't (and can't be) required viewing, but it's awful fun, and quite beautiful to look at.

2 comments:

Craig Oxbrow said...

Equally, they could both be referencing Big Trouble In Little China...

Siskoid said...

That's true! I haven't seen BTLC in so long it never occurred to me!

That's probably where Wright swiped it from.

 

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