Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: The Infinite Quest (Part 11)

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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…

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Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: The Infinite Quest (Part 10)

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It’s the only way.

Conveniently for me, there’s some rumours afoot that BBC Worldwide want to put forward a new Doctor Who spinoff (presumably disappointed with Class), and that it’s likely to be an animated series.

At the minute, they’re quite unfounded rumours – I’d be quite dubious of reading much into them, to be honest, and there’s not really any concrete confirmation, or much likelihood they’re necessarily true. (Although having said that, depending on the form they take, they could tie in quite nicely to the fresh start under Chibnall – not too dissimilar to the TARDISODES they tried out when David Tennant started, or the minisodes and general ephemera at the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure.)

But in any case, it’s a nice springboard for me to talk about something that’s tenuously connected to The Infinite Quest, without actually having to talk about The Infinite Quest very much, because this week’s one was rubbish again. Which rather neatly leads me to my grand point about how to do animated Doctor Who (which I’ve touched on previously) – don’t try and serialise it.

Or at least, don’t try and serialise it if you’re only doing three minute clips, because that’s not really going to sustain a proper narrative. The Infinite Quest you know always had one eye on the omnibus edition, but it was created for these weekly instalments. Any Doctor Who animated show would presumably fall in the same basic format – I’d be very surprised if they announced there were going to be proper half hour stories, because that’s surely too expensive – and so it needs to be pitched in a way that it can work in a self-contained manner.

Basically, a Doctor Who animated cartoon would have to be the longer Simpsons couch gags – a mini narrative, but still something quite creative and with a distinct identity of its own. It’d likely be well placed to draw from the backlog of Doctor Who comics that are out there, which have basically adapted quite well to the limitation of “short Doctor Who story, making use of a primarily visual medium without the actors”.

It’d also likely have to have the incumbent Doctor; the furthest you could diverge from that would be one offs about the monsters and suchlike, rather than bringing back Paul McGann, which everyone seems to want. I know there were plans for a Doctor Who animated programme, akin to what I’m describing, albeit with classic Doctors again – I’m not so sure about that. I know I’d love it, but… actually, I’ve almost changed my mind mid-sentence. It could work! But I think that’d have to be something you build up to, for a possible second series, rather than being part of the premise from the start. (But then, maybe I’m wrong.)

I also suspect it’d need to be relatively light in tone – frothy and fun, rather than dark and depressing. I’m sure animation can carry those themes, but I’m not wholly convinced that that’s the place to try and do dark Doctor Who. You would also have to sacrifice photo accuracy for fluid animation – one of the big problems with The Infinite Quest is how static it is. Something like this, where the characters are stylised yet still recognisable, is basically perfect.

Having written all this, I’ve actually managed to convince myself an animated Doctor Who type thing (which would definitely go on CBBC and YouTube) could actually be quite fun. So long as they learn from The Infinite Quest and make something… well, something that’s entirely the opposite, I suppose.

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Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor Reviews

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