The Infinite isn’t real!
I’m cutting it pretty fine with this one – twenty minutes to the deadline. I think, if I found the Infinite, my heart’s desire would be the ability to manage my time better. (Certainly, no one could ever argue that The Infinite Quest doesn’t have an alluring idea at the heart of it! I think the last Doctor Who MacGuffin that I wanted this much was those sleep pods from Sleep No More, because I would love to not have to sleep as much as I do.)
This instalment opens with Cor, the golden bird from the start of this miniseries, flying in – and dying. That’s one of the things I did remember from The Infinite Quest, the fact that the bird died. And the fact that it had a slightly confused system of morality and was a bit of an inconsistent character, but hey. It seems that everyone’s a critic, even when they’re young.
Regardless, though, this moment does demonstrate something of a difficulty with The Infinite Quest. Essentially, you can’t make emotional moments land. That’s just an obvious result of having literally two-dimensional characters – not only is there not a great deal of facial expression, there’s not a huge amount of vocal work to carry these moments. Freema Ageyman gets, I believe, a lot of undeserved criticism for her acting, but I do feel like voice acting isn’t exactly a strength of hers. (Though it’s probably also worth noting that she likely wouldn’t have had a lot of preparation time for The Infinite Quest, and probably hadn’t gotten particularly far into filming series 3 and actually performing as Martha anyway – I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job with Big Finish when the time eventually comes!)
From there we move into the TARDIS. There’s an odd little quirk there actually, where the animation just gives up and they do a fade shot – which, interestingly, happened the last time they had to go into the TARDIS too. Is it particularly difficult to animate a movement across rooms? It feels like it shouldn’t be something that’s too hard – but again, if it is, it’s something that perhaps makes you question this style of animation. It’s really just not fluid enough.
(Of course, though, my lack of knowledge about animation is probably on full display at this point. I just do not know enough about it – how much more expensive is it to give us the more expressive, more fluid style of animation? My understanding is that this sort of flash animation from Cosgrove Hall was favoured by the BBC because not only was it good with likenesses, it was cheap – and I can certainly understand the cost cutting motive. If it was just for the likenesses, though, I’m not sure it was worth it – much better to go for visual style than accuracy, I’d say.)
Ultimately, then, this is a bit of a duff instalment. But, with the return of Balthazar, it does seem as though next week’s episode might be something a little more impressive…