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3 September 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 611: Arc of Infinity, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Peter Davison’s performance has altered a little between Seasons Nineteen and Twenty, to the point where we’re seeing a bit more depth to him here than we have before. It’s most noticeable in this episode, when he shouts at Nyssa to wait in the TARDIS, and it’ not the first time we’ve seen him get angry in this story - he has a pop at the High Council in an earlier episode. I can’t recall seeing him set angry like this in any of the stories from his first season, so it’s nice to see it happening here, and he carries it off nicely. I walkways think of the Fifth Doctor as being the mild-mannered once, and I love it when doing this marathon shakes up my preconceptions a bit…

Sadly, though, I’ve still just not been taken by this story. It’s not even necessarily a bad story, it’s just one which feels a bit… nothing for me. This last episode does at least give us a chase around Amsterdam (though at points, we’re stuck just listening to the sound of different footsteps against to cobbles in shot-after-shot), and we get the whole business with Omega emerging to look like Peter Davison. In the end, though, it’s just not been enough to salvage things for me.

I’m also slightly at a loss as to what Omega is actually doing here. Is he simply trying to come back to ‘our’ universe, so that he’s not stuck alone with his creations any more? In The Three Doctors, he’d been somewhat content in building himself a domain to rule over, but it was pretty much wiped out at the end of the story - is he just bored and ready to come home? Or is he trying to take over Gallifrey and assume his perceived rightful place as their leader? I’m fairly sure he’s in Amsterdam because what’s where the link between the universes is weakest (or something to that effect, anyway), but I’m not entirely sure that I get what he’s up to.

And then we’ve got Tegan back on the team. I’ve spent a fair amour of time over the last few days praising the way that she’s been kept away from her former travelling companions for much of the story, but when they’re brought together again finally in this episode… well, it just doesn’t feel right. Straight away, the Doctor is barking at her to follow him, leaving her cousin behind to recuperate in a clapped out ship which has just blown up, and then she just runs around after him for the rest of the story. Perhaps even more annoyingly, she twice sees something of importance and simply stands still, arms at her side, and shouts ‘Doctor’ without heading off to actually look at what she’s caught sight of.

The final scene is perhaps the worst of the bunch. She’s just spent several days in a foreign country trying to first find, and then care for, her cousin, who has been kidnapped by an evil alien. He’s then caught in the aforementioned blown-up ship, having already not been in the best of states following his ordeal. And yet what does Tegan do? She makes a phone call just to check he’s ok, and then tells the Doctor that she’s coming back to the TARDIS. I wouldn’t mind so much - she doesn’t want to risk letting the Doctor out of her sight, because the last time she did that he left without her, but they never say that. It just comes across as the plot device which his her cousin has served its purpose now, so off we go, new adventures. It’s another of those times, like we saw lots in Time-Flight, where there needs to be just a little more thought given to the characters to make it a better story (and certainly a better ending).

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