Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: The Infinite Quest (Part 3)

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Well, that I didn’t expect.

The most difficult thing about this is the shape of it, really.

We’ve already established by now just what The Infinite Quest actually is – a series of three-minute shorts for Totally Doctor Who. While it does make up a ‘proper’ 45-minute episode of Doctor Who in the end – and that’s the form it’s collected in usually – that’s not really what it is. Indeed, it’ll be interesting to watch it in that omnibus edition eventually (I feel committed to it at this point) because it’ll no doubt be an entirely different experience to what this is now.

Because at the minute, The Infinite Quest is primarily just a series of set-pieces and exposition, dispensed at great pace, before ending on a cliffhanger. Obviously, as an animated series, it’s able to throw in a few great visuals too as part of these set pieces, but that’s more or less the extent of it. As a result of the format it’s in, it is inherently limited.

Which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. Limited perhaps connotes a greater level of negativity than is accurate – constrained might be a better word to used. There’s not really anything wrong with that, because this is working to a fairly specific brief. Much as a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, there’s very little reason to criticise a cigar for being a cigar.

And it is worth noting that The Infinite Quest was actually successful at its job. It’s one of those odd little things that did make quite an impression on me back in the day – akin to an explanation of how they made the theatre foreman in The Shakespeare Code drown on Doctor Who Confidential, or odd little anecdotes from magazines, The Infinite Quest is another one of those idiosyncratic memories that I’ve got from back in the day.

It’s this episode particularly that stood out – and understandably so. (Well, this plot arc might be more accurate.) While there’s not a lot going on plotwise, there are quite a few interesting ideas – the oil corporations, the pirates, the robots, and the skeleton crew. It’s all quite well animated, with some impressive visuals, too. Captain Callico stood out the most, though; an intriguing character, caught between admirable Robin Hood-esque motivations and a rather more cutthroat disposition, she’s exactly the sort of fun and broad character who’s right at home in an animated special like this.

This third part is probably the best of the three we’ve seen so far, in that it begins to step beyond pure exposition for the rest of the series; it has something more of, if not a plot, but ideas that are interesting in their own right. I’ll be glad to see more of it over the next few weeks, because here The Infinite Quest has set up something quite imaginative that can be sustained over a couple of weeks – which is exactly what it needs to.

So, while I might be taking exactly the wrong approach in terms of how to write about The Infinite Quest, I do think I’m going about the right way of watching it – an unfolding little oddity that revels in how imaginative it can be, week on week. It’s “week on week” that’s the important part there, though; I can’t help but feel it’ll be diminished when watched in one go.

(I am still, more or less, managing to maintain my target of ~600 words per post. That, I suspect, is a minor miracle – albeit one I only managed to meet with this sentence of waffle at the end.)

Related:

Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor Reviews

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