A business proposition? Is that what you’re calling it?
Let’s try to engage with this seriously for a moment, because it’s always worth giving that a go every so often.
The sixth part of The Infinite Quest sees the characters in their first new location in a while, and once again The Infinite Quest does make an impressive attempt at trying to be a version of Doctor Who that you couldn’t necessarily achieve on the actual television. Certainly, the swarms of bugs, the giant insect queen, and the frog man aren’t something you would have been able to see onscreen in Series 3 – yet at the same time they still feel at home there, growing organically from Russell T Davies’ somewhat singular fascination with aliens that are based on animals. (I’ll have to ask him about that someday.)
It still faces the limitations of the genre, though – naturally it does. Cosgrove Hall are reliant on a particular form of Flash animation that basically means the people characters are all very static; there’s none of the visual fluidity and kineticism needed to make these creatures really stand out. The insect queen fares a little better, actually, as they make the interesting choice to blend in some 3D animation – though, at the same time, it is a bit distracting. You almost wish they’d been able to do something in a more Simpsons or Tom and Jerry art style; this is fundamentally limited in motion in a way that you don’t want a Doctor Who story to be.
It’s perhaps an overly simplistic way of looking at it, but it occurred to me while I was watching this one – we haven’t seen the Doctor and Martha running in this story, have we? Given that’s something of a hallmark of Doctor Who, you’d expect it to be here; particularly given that, if this is meant to be for kids, it’s probably going to aim for the same sort of tone as the monster two-parters at the beginning of each series, which are always based on running around a bit.
That in turn supports my increasing belief as I’ve been watching these – that they’re not actually for children. Not really, not in any meaningful sense. I can’t imagine a huge part of the Totally Doctor Who audience responded to this in a really positive way; the vaguest recollection I can muster was being a bit disappointed the first episode, and watching it once as an omnibus version. And I was watching Totally Doctor Who every week! For this to have made so little of an impact say something, no?
But if it’s not for kids, then who is it for? I started to get the impression that actually it might have been for older Doctor Who fans, watching the show with their children. (Or just because obsessively consuming everything to do with the show is what we do.) Certainly, there are ideas within it – oil pirates, war profiteering – that are a bit more mature than you’d expect in something like this, to the point of feeling a bit out of place and underdeveloped. So, is it for them?
Well, no, to be honest. It’s a bit of throwaway nonsense created so the BBC Red Button service had something prestige to show itself off for, that also got attached to Totally Doctor Who.
And that shows.