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22 December 2017 @ 09:43 pm
The Randomiser: Arc of Infinity  
The most notable thing about our watch of Arc of Infinity was that the Teenager joined us for episode 4. To our surprise she was totally smitten. The 80s are the coolest. They have the coolest costumes and the coolest Doctor Who episodes. Given episode 4 of Arc of Infinity is little more than an extended chase sequence through the streets of Amsterdam, I am somewhat at a loss to explain the enthusiasm. Maybe it really is the 80s costumes.

To be honest, the 1980s committed far worse stories than Arc of Infinity. It is mostly pretty solid, even the Amsterdam chase sequence while clearly mostly there to show off the fact that they're filming in Amsterdam, is at least passable. Tegan's cousin Colin and friend Robin may not be played by the best actors ever to appear on the show, but they are by far from the worst and while slightly wooden, they are at least believably awkward and useless. The separation of Tegan from the Doctor and Nyssa for most of the story gives Nyssa a chance to shine where she is often over-shadowed by Tegan's more ascerbic character. The Time Lords are, well, 1980s Time Lords which means they are fine as far as they go. I think one could argue that the Time Lords rarely work that well in person, in either the old series or the new. There are a couple of notable exceptions (I think Deadly Assassin works) but in general making them some combination of bureaucratic, corrupt and a bit fuddy duddy just makes them seem a bit dull and prosaic. Arc of Infinity is one in a line of "some Time Lord has gone bad and the rest are a bit ineffectual" stories, mostly based on The Deadly Assassin's template. It suffers from this being a story we are now familiar with, but it is at least executed competently here.

I'm sounding quite down on this but, to be honest, it potters along at a fair old pace and is entertaining enough, particularly, it would seem, if you are 14.

This entry was originally posted at https://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/474141.html.
shivver13shivver13 on December 22nd, 2017 11:13 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen AoI in a while, but I remember being very happy with it up until the Amsterdam chase sequence. I thought it was one of the better constructed stories in the Fifth Doctor's run, until it fell apart in that last episode. That chase sequence did have the shots of Omega realizing he'd finally returned to the real world and didn't need to be evil anymore, and I think the story would have been better if had ended with him choosing to follow that path, rather than having circumstances force him to flee and ultimately be destroyed by the Doctor.
louisedennislouisedennis on December 24th, 2017 09:24 am (UTC)
I think one has to just sit back and let these "show of the city sequences" wash over you - they are what they are, you know? One could argue that even in City of Death all the shots of the Doctor and Romana wandering around Paris out-stay their welcome and it is a much more deftly constructed story than AoI. But I agree there is stuff in AoI that at least attempts to give some depth to its antagonists, which is nice.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 23rd, 2017 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm astonished! I just reached Davison in my in order viewing (watched part one of Four to Doomsday yesterday) and I'm dreading Arc of Infinity. I think the only Davison story I'm dreading more is Planet of Fire,having been sort-of won over to Warriors of the Deep on my last viewing. It's just dull. About one episode worth of plot (and cliched plot at that) stretched over four weeks. They told the author to write a story in Amsterdam and then banned him from using any of the things that Amsterdam is known for. I can understand why they wanted him to avoid drugs and prostitution and maybe tulips (just see the Vervoids!), but diamonds and famous paintings? It's like writing City of Death without the Mona Lisa. The chase is at least moderate photogenic, I suppose. And I think this is the nadir of the Time Lords, with Leonard Sachs' Borusa being a particular offender. You can almost see a young Russell T Davies thinking, "If I ever become producer, first thing I'm going to do is get rid of the Time Lords, their dull politics and their silly hats!"

Oh, and the look on the Doctor's face when Tegan rejoins the TARDIS crew is priceless! I think he'd have preferred the Ergon.
louisedennis: Who:Fivelouisedennis on December 24th, 2017 09:28 am (UTC)
Hmm... I'd say it has more than one episode's worth of plot, though maybe not four (and certainly not four in modern terms). I had to remind myself that this was before The Five Doctors so the Time Lord side of things wasn't quite as rinse-and-repeat as it was to come. While The Deadly Assassin does Time Lord politics far better, Arc of Infinity puts at least a little effort into differentiating them and giving them various points of view.

None of these account for random teenager enthusiasm for episode 4, but there you go.