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Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
  • Format: NTSC, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: Nov. 6 2007
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,643 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity (Episode 124) (DVD)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Yes, this is the second of three stories where Doctor Who went abroad on-location, and this time it's Amsterdam. Two Australian students on holiday, Colin Frazer and Robin Stewart, spend the night in an abandoned crypt near a fountain, and before long, Colin vanishes, only to turn up a zombie under control of aliens, leaving Robin in a lurch. His only hope is to get help from Colin's cousin, scheduled to arrive at Schiphol Airport.
For the Doctor and Nyssa, they pass near an area in space that was called the Arc of Infinity because it's the gateway between the universes of matter and anti-matter. The Doctor is attacked by a strange alien, initially billed as the Renegade, but then things get worse. It's another return to Gallifrey, only this time, the Doctor is in danger of suffering the same fate as Morbius, (q.v. The Brain of Morbius). An alien from the realm of anti-matter has been partially successful in bonding with the Doctor to get his polarity reversed. However, for that to happen, someone had to have given this alien the Doctor's bio-data extract, and only members of the High Council of Timelords have that power. The Timelords, still led by President Borusa, don't have time for that--they prefer the Doctor's execution to retain control of the Space-Time Matrix and prevent billions from being killed.
The Doctor has a few allies, such as Damon, a Gallifreyan technician who was on duty when the Doctor's bio-data was being accessed. There's also his old instructor Councillor Hedin of the High Council, a kindly person who manages to get Damon and Nyssa to visit the Doctor even though the Doctor is denied visitors under orders from the meticulous Castellan and his lackey, an unpleasant and trigger-happy commander named Maxil.
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Format: VHS Tape
The doctor again faces off against the awesome "Omega", a fellow Gallifreyan who was accidentally sucked into the antimatter universe and will do anything to come back. Omega was last seen in the serial "The Three Doctors" - an extended episode that matched the first three actors who played Dr. Who up with some of the former companions. Supposedly destroyed at the end of that episode, Omega was just delayed, and it's taken him this long ("Three" had to have been in the early 70's) to come up with another plan that will return him to our universe, or destroy it entirely. Not quite sure who he's facing, The Doctor returns to Gallifrey - home of the time lords - to investigate. Though an advanced civilization, Gallifrey manages to have its share of petty intrigues, including a mysterious charachter who sides with Omega and his ways of neutralizing the Doctor before he can thwart Omega's plan. The plan, incidentally involves the "arc of infinity" which, happily for BBC production assistants, is located outside of England, in the happiest place on Earth - Amsterdam. (They couldn't use Paris again after "City of Death")
This was a lackluster story. Why Amsterdam? The concept of the titular arc seems like a weak excuse for going "out on location". Also, oddly enough, the first victim of Omega's happens to be a cousin of ex-companion Tegan Jovanka - a flimsy way of writing her back into the show (she'd been left behind at Heathrow at the end of "Time Flight". In a wonderfully bittersweet moment, she looks unhappily surprised to have missed the Doctor's departure). Omega's mystery collaborator is little mystery, and the Gallifreyan setting with its many intrigues reveals the weaknesses of Davidson's Doctor (Baker was much more in control when dealing with the Castellan and Borusa characters).
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Colin Baker, Peter Davison and Janet Fielding were very entertaining in the commentary. Colin's talk about the chicken helmet and coffee orders on set; Peter telling Colin that Maxill rather enjoyed shooting the Doctor; and Janet thinking out loud about a Gallifreyan kitchen redesign was - surprisingly - great fun.

The story itself was well done (I didn't find it boring anyway) and the new cgi effects were a nice addition to the story. The Nyssa character was really good in this story; she had a more central role ... and her shooting all the guards with ease was hilarious.

Some people may criticize some of the costumes (like the rooster-looking "monster" Omega dreamed up) but hey, if it wasn't cheap looking it wouldn't be Doctor Who now would it?

I'd recommend watching the "Omega Factor" feature on the DVD before the movie. Some of the scenes where Omega walks around Denmark smiling weirdly were confusing until it's explained in the feature.
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Format: VHS Tape
"Arc of Infinity" is a story with a few interesting moments, in particular a satisfying and intriguing first episode, but the remainder makes for a merely average tale. Part one is exceptionally moody, providing good exposition - who is the alien?; who is his accomplice?; whose TARDIS has landed in the crypt?; is the Doctor to be executed by his own people?; how are the backpackers involved? However, after episode two everything unravels and, frankly, becomes a bit of a mess. By the end of the story, the link between the alien (I won't mention his name for the benefit if those who haven't viewed it yet) and Amsterdam is just too convoluted to be believable, especially after Tegan becomes involved. The concept of the Arc of Infinity doesn't really make any contribution to the story, and the notion of Amsterdam being on its curve and therefore central to the plot is downright ludicrous. The Amsterdam shots are pretty, but the chase in episode four goes on too long and just seems to be the BBC announcing "Hey, we're making Doctor Who in Amsterdam!" The same was done in Paris for "City of Death", but that was a much more engaging story. Most of the Time Lords are boring and stuffy, which, given our knowledge of their society, seems fitting, but Michael Gough's Councillor Hedin is the only interesting member of the High Council. Colin Baker (a future Doctor) is wonderful as the sadistic Maxil, and the alien is well designed. His identity (an old enemy) is revealed at the end of episode three, but there are enough clues in the story for a fan versed in Who history to work out who he is. The story is well plotted but realised less successfully - it isn't bad, just bland and uninteresting.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Why are we talking about David Tennant during my story?" Nov. 15 2007
By Jason A. Miller - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'll always have a sentimental spot for "Arc of Infinity". Part Two was the first proper "Doctor Who" episode I watched, complete with cliffhanger. At age 11 I was impressed with a story that could seem to kill off its title character in convincing (in 1984, anyway) fashion. Nowadays "Arc" has aged a lot less gracefully than its lead actors, and the seams are showing all over the story, but it still makes a nice DVD tie-in for "Doctor Who"'s November anniversary.

"Arc of Infinity" kicked off "Doctor Who"'s 20th season in commemorative style, with the return of on old villain (Omega, first seen in the 10th anniversary story Doctor Who - The Three Doctors), and a reunion with an old companion (Tegan, seemingly written out in the final seconds of Season 19 during Doctor Who - Time-Flight (Episode 123)). It's also a return to Gallifrey, the Doctor's home planet, last seen five years earlier. Writer Johnny Byrne, who penned the classic Doctor Who - Keeper of Traken (Episode 115), was back behind the keyboard.

Earlier "Doctor Who" classic DVD releases had the luxury of extolling the virtues of fandom's favorite stories. Now, several years in, we're deep into the second and third tiers of episodes. "Arc" has aged poorly due to the flat, one-dimensional portrayal of Gallifrey (populated by five actors in bad hats and an inexplicable abundance of sofas), the 15 minutes on location spent sprinting through Amsterdam (tolerable in Paris during Doctor Who - City of Death (Episode 105) thanks to a great piano score; much less interesting here due to Roger Limb's dreary synth-whine on the soundtrack). Therefore, the special features take a much more critical look at the story than we're used to.

The making-of special is hosted by Sophie (Ace) Aldred, having trouble reading cue cards on location in Amsterdam. In a bizarre staged gimmick, she keeps bumping into writer Byrne during her host segments. The interviews are with most of the lead actors and guest cast. Script editor Eric Saward, who's been on several DVDs now and has nothing nice to say about anybody, takes his cuts at Byrne. Byrne defends aspects of his script (effectively) while blaming others for the letdown. The other actors struggle to say nice things about the story. Alistair Cumming, son of a "Doctor Who" director and playing Tegan's cousin on-screen, is seen wearing what appears to be a red Kabbalah string around his wrist. The spinoff books did establish that Tegan's father was Jewish, which probably explained why we only ever saw Tegan's mother's relatives on TV (all those Frasers and Verneys). Anwyway, welcome to the Tribe, Alistair, I guess.

The commentary track is a riot, featuring our first multi-Doctor pairing, as Peter Davison trades barbs with future Doctor Colin Baker, playing a vicious Gallifreyan guard captain in this one. Baker gets off a great anecdote about Paul Jerricho, a guest actor of memorably limited range, and clucks like a chicken every time his character's high-plumed helmet appears on screen. Unfortunately both the anecdote and the chicken gag are repeated ad nauseum. Janet Fielding shows off her razor wit, and Sarah Sutton remains adorably curteous.

The Davison/Fielding/Sutton team has given us great audio commentaries so far, so let's rush "Mawdryn Undead" and "Kinda"/"Snakedance" out onto disc as quickly as possible, please.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Davison's second season begins May 21 2008
By Grateful Jerry - Published on
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I should say that I like this story and it's much better than the season 19 ending Doctor Who - Time-Flight (Episode 123) which was Peter Davison's first season. The story is quite nice and it's nice to see Colin Baker putting in a turn before he was hired to play the Doctor. Michael Gough who played the Toymaker in The Celestial ToymakerDoctor Who - Lost in Time Collection of Rare Episodes - The William Hartnell Years and the Patrick Troughton Years as well as Paul Jerricho. This story also sees the return of OmegaDoctor Who - The Three Doctors.

The story sees someone trying to take over the Doctor's body and cross over using the Arc of Infinity which is a gateway to all dimentions. The Time Lords also aware of what's happened, recall the Doctor's TARDIS. The Doctor is put on trial and it's decided that it's better to end his life than leave the door open to what could be the distruction of everything.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "To remain in this universe, the creature would have to reverse its polarity." Nov. 28 2007
By Crazy Fox - Published on
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"Arc of Infinity" abounds in implausible coincidences on a number of levels. What are the chances that Tegan, left behind in the last storyline, would meet up with the Doctor again through her cousin falling into the clutches of the story's villain, a Time Lord from Gallifrey who just happens coincidentally to be on Earth? And when this villain attempts to escape the realm of anti-matter by bonding with the Doctor (who else?) on the molecular level, who else should detect this dastardly deed in the works but an old friend of the Doctor's who's also acquainted with the Doctor's old traveling companion Leela? Gallifrey, like Earth, must be a small world after all. And on a different register, what are the chances that the next actor to play the Doctor would get a bit part in this story and actually get to shoot his predecessor in the role, already establishing a precedent for gun violence in the process? With all that in mind, then, maybe it really is just a coincidence that "Doctor Who" starts its twentieth season in 1983 with a clear and distinct polarity-reversing echo from 1973: the return of Omega from "The Three Doctors" as the body-swapping villain in question.

Which means I'm already predisposed against this story. Recycling old individual villains tends to strike me as annoyingly contrived more often than not, especially when they clearly died beforehand--usually this diminishing return retroactively defuses the drama of their first appearance without really adding anything other than a morbid nostalgia trip. And there's a bit of that here. Omega's survival from a matter/anti-matter contact explosion is left jarringly unexplained ("No, he exists!") when even some attempt at a delightfully daft technobabble explanation would have smoothed things sufficiently. He kind of goes about doing the same old thing in a rehashed fashion, and much of the drama depends upon the dramatic revelation of his true identity--which is rather defused if, like me back when I watched this one in my youth, you've never seen him before in your life (my local PBS station only got around to broadcasting the Third Doctor's adventures well after the Fifth's--"Omega? Oh, okay. Wait, who the heck's this guy?") or else if you don't remember him from ten years previous, a likely scenario in the dark ages before VHS or DVD.

What saves Omega's reappearance from being just another redundant and repetitive rehash and justifies the plot device to a great degree is that his character is more deeply explored in interesting and complex ways. In that process a bit of the epic Miltonic proportions of the character so enjoyable in "The Three Doctors" is downplayed ever so much, but the payoff is worth it: a more psychologically convincing, multi-dimensional character (in more ways than one, so to speak), a deeply tortured soul whose actions make perfect sense in his own distorted mind. Some of the most interesting villains are the ones that, if you put yourself in their shoes you could kind of--sort of--see where they're coming from even if you don't approve the consequences. Not that Omega didn't have this quality before, but in "Arc Of Infinity" it has been highlighted and expanded upon in satisfyingly compelling ways. And the scene at the end when he finally takes on material form (in the shape of the Doctor) and lurches about Amsterdam unaccustomed to physicality but exulting with almost childlike innocence in the sensations about him is pure gold.

There's a lot more to recommend this storyline as well. The character of Nyssa really comes into her own here as an active, heroic female role willing to take charge and do what it takes to save those she cares for and yet this is accomplished in a unforced manner that flows naturally from her personality and the rather traumatic events of her recent past. The location filming in Holland, while a tad on the touristy in a few establishing shots, is overall quite nice for a change and is meshed well with the studio scenes. Finally, the story is classic Who in being a molecular realignment of three basically incompatible television genres: science fiction, horror, and murder mystery--and unlike in Omega's case, the realignment works wonderfully.

P.S. For Omega's first appearance, check out Doctor Who - The Three Doctors.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "You sort it out; I want to sleep..." June 1 2008
By Andrew McCaffrey - Published on
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I hadn't fully watched ARC OF INFINITY since I was a teenager, so I was curious if the bad memories I had would transfer over into my adulthood. My first reaction before viewing was delight at discovering that this production features Thalia, which I assumed was the Mexican singer with a penchant for tight trousers who must have been sent back in time to perform in this story. I was disappointed to discover that this Thalia was actually an elderly Time Lord whose purpose is to dispense lines of technobabble. A missed opportunity, guys.

ARC OF INFINITY opened Doctor Who's twentieth season. After the disappointing end to the previous year (TIME-FLIGHT) and with the start of an anniversary year, this story really needed to be a strong, break-out event that would still have fans in awe twenty-five years later. Unfortunately, while the previous serial had me rolling my eyes, this time I struggled to keep them open.

The story involves a creature from an anti-matter universe attempting to enter our universe by taking control of the Doctor's body. The renegade is being helped by a traitor on Gallifrey, so the Doctor's problems are two-fold; he must keep the renegade from escaping his reality and also unmask the villain on his home planet.

Meanwhile, Tegan (who left in the previous serial) has been fired from her job and decides to visit her cousin Colin in Amsterdam. Alas, instead of Colin, it's his friend with a mushroom-shaped head who mets her at the airport to inform her that her Colin has gone missing under very unusual circumstances. By an extraordinary coincidence, the renegade has made his base in Amsterdam, leaving Tegan to be caught in his machinations.

Writer Johnny Byrne on one of the DVD extras talks about all the story elements he was required by the production team to include. He states that he likes a challenge, but admits that the level of coincidence in the final product is a tad high (Peter Davison has some insightful observations in the DVD's excellent commentary track). There is no good story reason for the foreign filming in Amsterdam (unless you count the ludicrous idea that a creature with the ability to move between universes and travel through time and space would require lots of water); the interviews suggest that the real motivation was simply producer John Nathan-Turner's desire for a trip abroad.

The direction is very stilted and static, even when compared to other Doctor Who productions of this era. The first three episodes feature many scenes with the Gallifreyan traitor communicating with his boss's hologram. In order to keep identities secret, the audience is treated to many shots of the henchman's hand waving around excitedly. The renegade in this restricted form can only react to events by suddenly sitting bolt upright in surprise and/or interest, which he does over and over again.

While the script was probably not Byrne's strongest contribution to the series, I think the direction and production are the most to blame for the story's woes. Nothing about the set design makes Gallifrey look impressive or special. Strangely, while Gallifrey is apparently littered with sofas in corridors, the Supreme High Council of Time Lords must suffice with simple bleacher seating (to steal a joke from Mystery Science Theater 3000, their chair technology is light years ahead of ours). The Gallifrey costumes were originally designed during producer Philip Hinchcliffe era when moody and atmospheric directing was the norm; they look a little sillier under the bright lights of John Nathan-Turner.

The renegade's alien henchcreature looks like a seven foot tall chicken. Why the Ergon is shooting people with a label-maker is similarly a head-scratcher.

Other aspects of the production also come under criticism. The series at this point in its history was becoming far too bogged down under its own weight. It's only because I'm a fan of the show that I know what the Matrix is. I don't believe there's any on-screen explanation saying that the crown the President wears is his connection to the entire repository of Time Lord knowledge.

There is a severe lack of drama to the proceedings. I suspect that the script was relying too heavily on the direction to keep the pacing right and to make the story look impressive, but it never happens. The ending -- where the Doctor must choose whether to destroy someone for whom he respects and once revered -- never feels exciting or dramatic.

The extras on this DVD are actually quite good. There's a documentary on the making of this serial which features a lot of blame being thrown around and also a complete lack of anyone taking responsibility for the visual design of the Ergon. On the plus side, it was interesting to hear from Johnny Byrne and get his original ideas and motivations. I'm not sure why it was hosted by Sophie Aldred, nor did I understand why she and Byrne kept colliding.

The commentary track is easily one of the most fun we seen on these Doctor Who DVDs despite not featuring any of the behind-the-scenes crew. Peter Davison, Colin Baker (Maxil), Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding sit around laughing, joking, telling funny stories and occasionally commenting on the on-screen action. It's one of the most enjoyable commentaries going.

(As an aside, Colin Baker is on the commentary because he played Maxil a couple of seasons before he was cast as the Doctor. Given how continuity obsessed the series was at this point, I'm vaguely surprised we never got a hokey explanation for the visual similarity.)

ARC OF INFINITY is not out and out ridiculous in the way that TIME-FLIGHT was. Its greatest sin is that it is horribly boring. It's a pity because the renegade's backstory was one of the highlights of a previous story and the gothic horror of what he had endured is rarely touched upon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Oct. 5 2016
By tamerlane623 - Published on
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