The Inifinite Quest
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Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
ack when Season Three of “Doctor Who” was first playing on the BBC, there was a children’s series playing concurrently during the week called “Totally Doctor Who.” It consisted of interviews and information about the series and was designed to provide kids with a “Who” fix in-between the weekend installments. Each week also featured three minutes of the ongoing animated adventure, “The Infinite Quest,” for which David Tennant and Freema Agyeman provided their vocal talents. This DVD edits together all the various segments of the story into one seamless 45-minute adventure, and the results are mostly positive.
The story is not a particularly deep one, which is unsurprising given the format in which it was initially unveiled, yet it doesn’t feel as compartmentalized as one might expect, and works quite nicely as a sort of “lost” adventure from the show’s third season (although it’s up to you to figure where it takes place within the timeline). An alien madman named Baltazar (Anthony Stewart Head) is busy threatening the populace of Earth when the Doctor (Tennant) and Martha (Agyeman) show up and put a stop to his dastardly plans. But Balthazar vows revenge on the Doctor, and the time travelers later discover from Baltazar’s duplicitous metal bird Caw that he holds one of four datachips that will eventually lead whoever possesses the collection to the fabled spaceship, The Infinite, which can grant people “their heart’s desire.” And so the Doctor and Martha must travel time and space to find the other datachips before Baltazar can get his grubby hands on them. Their journeys take them to the planet Boukan, where pirates are raiding living oil rigs; the planet Myarr, where a sort of civil war has broken out amongst alien lizards, giant mantises, and humans; and finally, to the prison planet Volag-Noc, where everything begins coming together before the battle for The Infinite comes into play.
It probably sounds like an awful lot of story for 45 minutes, and in truth, perhaps it is, but the gorgeous visual look of the proceedings along with some sharp dialogue manages to keep it an engaging affair. “The Infinite Quest” has much more of an old school “Who” vibe than it does the new series, and its story seems to echo numerous classic tales, but most notably “The Key to Time,” from Tom Baker’s era. Perhaps the most off-putting aspect is the look of Tennant’s animated Doctor. Tennant in the flesh is already such an animated individual that there’s just no way for the animators to make him look anywhere near as interesting as he looks on the series, and there are numerous times when he’s delivering a zinger where you can picture the real Tennant making some kind of oddball face that surpasses what you’re seeing onscreen. What’s probably most fascinating about the piece is simply the expanse of it all. It shows exactly how big the “Doctor Who” universe is in ways that can never be accomplished on live-action television, and each planet the story takes the viewer to is distinct from the others in as many ways possible. It’s difficult to call it a must-have for fans of the series, but given the affordable price tag you can’t go too wrong picking this up for completion’s sake.
Special Features: As is to be expected from a “Who” DVD, there’s a fair amount of stuff here to sift through – interviews with the cast and crew, animated screen tests, character profiles, and a photo gallery. Following that material is a selection of goodies that looks like it may have come from the “Totally Doctor Who” series (although I can’t be sure): Behind the scenes with the animators and vocal talent, as well as a look into the recording sessions, and finally some animatics and unfinished deleted scenes. The one thing really missing here is a commentary track, as it would have been nice to listen to writer Alan Barnes talk about the storyline and his influences for the tale.