‘ARC OF INFINITY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Anti-Matter From Amsterdam with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan
This is one of my favourite Nyssa stories from ‘Doctor Who’! It’s a four-part story by Johnny Bryne, who previously wrote ‘The Keeper of Traken’. It’s a pretty good, strong story for Nyssa’s character and Sarah Sutton has agreed with me on this at the ‘Cardiff Film and Comic Con’ in March 2014. It’s a story that works well on many levels.
I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Arc of Infinity’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘York Unleashed’ event at the York Racecourse in York, August 2017; by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Cardiff Film and Comic Con’ in March 2014; and by Colin Baker at the ‘GEEKS Salisbury Comic Con’ at City Hall in Salisbury, July 2017.
This story features the return of Omega who was in ‘The Three Doctors’. Omega is the stellar engineer who gave the Time Lords the power to time-travel. He has come back with a vengeance. Omega is now played by Ian Collier and he wants to steal the Doctor’s body. Will nothing ever stop Omega?
Most of this story is set in Amsterdam. I love the Amsterdam setting. I’ve chatted to Sarah Sutton and Alistair Cumming (who plays Colin Frazer in this) about their time working in Amsterdam on ‘Doctor Who’. Sarah enjoyed the location filming, but she didn’t like running a lot in the streets. Poor Sarah!
Janet Fielding also returns as Tegan Jovanka in this story. Ever since Tegan left the TARDIS in ‘Time-Flight’, she got the sack from her job. Tegan decides to go and see her cousin in Amsterdam, but her cousin Colin goes missing. Tegan, with the help of Colin’s friend Robin, go out to search for him.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the two ‘Arc of Infinity’ boys at my first convention called ‘Fifth Element’ in Chiswick, London, February 2010. The boys are Alistair Cumming as Colin Frazer and Andrew Boxer as Robin Stuart. Colin and Robin are hitchhikers in this story and they sleep rough in a crypt below Frankendael House in Amsterdam during the night.
Some of this story is also set on Gallifrey as well as Amsterdam. The Doctor and Nyssa have been summoned back to Gallifrey. I found it amusing and pathetic when the Gallifreyian guards couldn’t catch them as they ran about the place. No wonder the Time Lords lost the Time War to the Daleks! 😀
Colin Baker (well-known as the Sixth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’) makes his first appearance in the TV series as Commander Maxil. Maxil is a commander of the Time Lord guards and is pretty mean to the Doctor and Nyssa. I found it so joyful when Colin Baker’s Maxil shot Peter Davison’s Doctor in this.
The High Council of Time Lords is played a number of really good actors here. There’s Michael Gough (the original Celestial Toymaker and Alfred from the original ‘Batman’ films) as Councillor Hedin, Elspet Gray (from the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘The Psychiatrist’) as Chancellor Thalia, Paul Jerricho (who would later appear in ‘The Five Doctors’) as the Castellan, Max Harvey as Councillor Zorac, and Leonard Sachs as President Borusa. Neil Daglish also guest stars as Damon, a Time Lord technician who helps the Doctor and Nyssa out on Gallifrey. There’s also John D. Collins as Talor, another Time Lord technician who gets killed.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Paul Jericho, who plays the Castellan in this story, at conventions. The Castellan is a control freak and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He’s very ruthless when he tries to solve a mystery or a crisis on Gallifrey. He quickly blames the Doctor for all that happens on Gallifrey.
Omega has a servant working for him called the Ergon. I’m afraid the Ergon is pretty disappointing in terms of costume and design. It looks absurd. I found myself laughing at the Ergon for the wrong reasons. The Ergon looks like a big bird, played by a man in a costume and the head looks ridiculous.
I love Sarah Sutton as Nyssa in this story. Sarah enjoyed this story, since it develops Nyssa’s character and she gets to spend more time with Peter’s Doctor. Nyssa gets to show her caring compassionate nature in this and I really liked it when she tried to save the Doctor from termination.
I like how the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ have developed Nyssa and done wonders for her character. I’ve written my own series of fan-fiction stories called ‘The Fifth Doctor by Tim Bradley’ series and they feature Nyssa in them. I’ve also enjoyed seeing Sarah at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions.
Peter Davison is great to watch as the Fifth Doctor in this story. I enjoyed his scenes with Nyssa and it’s clear he gets to enjoy spending more time with Sarah as Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’, since she’s his favourite companion. I love the comedic moments he has with Nyssa when they’re in Amsterdam.
I also enjoyed it when Peter’s Doctor gradually unravels the mystery about what’s going on Gallifrey, before he discovers it’s Omega. I liked it when he confronts Omega and there’s a moment I liked where the Doctor tries to get into the computer room before he soon uses the presidential codes.
By the end of the story, Tegan is reunited with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, having defeated Omega. The Doctor and Nyssa are glad to see Tegan again. Tegan tells them she got the sack. Nyssa’s pleased but the Doctor is put out. He’s unsure having Tegan back is a great thing. Ah well, he’ll just have to lump it. 😀
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary called ‘Anti-Matter From Amsterdam’, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. I love Sarah Sutton in this documentary, since she’s lovely and wonderful when being interviewed. The documentary is presented by Sophie Aldred, who plays Ace in ‘Doctor Who’, and some of it is filmed in Amsterdam itself. There’s also ‘The Omega Factor’ documentary, focusing on the character of Omega with behind-the-scenes interviews with people like writer Bob Baker, writer Johnny Byrne, writer Nev Fountain and Omega actors Stephen Thorne and Ian Collier. There are also deleted scenes from ‘Part Four’ of the story, a ‘Under Arc Lights’ behind-the-scenes featurette, a CGI effects option of the story to enjoy, and trailers and continuity announcements of the story. There’s an entertaining DVD audio commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Colin Baker; an isolated music option of the story by Roger Limb; an info-text commentary option to enjoy; and a photo gallery of the story. There are also two PDF documents which can be accessed on a computer, including a ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story and the ‘1983 Doctor Who Annual’. There’s also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD disc, and there’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Time Warrior’ with Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen.
‘Arc of Infinity’ is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories and it’s a great one for Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton. I liked that this story was set in Amsterdam and on Gallifrey, as well as featuring the return of Omega. This is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that I’m very fond of and will always cherish in the years to come!
The ‘Time-Flight’/’Arc of Infinity’ DVD box-set is a favourite of mine! ‘Arc of Infinity’ is better than ‘Time-Flight’, but both kept me entertained, especially with Nyssa in them. I highly recommend this DVD box-set to add to your collection, even if you find the stories are rather poorly rated by the fans.
‘Arc of Infinity’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – ARC OF INFINITY’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Return of Omega
I’ve enjoyed reading and hearing the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘Arc of Infinity’! 🙂
The first time I read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ novelization was when I was on holiday in Scotland back in August 2012. Years later in October 2021, I would read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ novelization at home with the audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers in the background. It’s a very fulfilling experience indeed. 🙂
‘Arc of Infinity’ was novelized by Terrance Dicks, adapted from the original TV scripts by Johnny Byrne. Terrance Dicks is well-known for writing plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations for the Target range. He had a knack for it. He doesn’t disappoint in transferring TV scripts into their novel forms. 🙂
The book was originally published in October 1983, ten months after the TV story was transmitted in January of that year. ‘Arc of Infinity’ is one of my favourite Nyssa stories in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m pleased that Terrance novelized this story. He did well novelizing Nyssa’s debut story ‘The Keeper of Traken’.
I wanted to discover more about the ‘Arc of Infinity’ story. I hoped there would be more additional scenes included in the novelization, as there were from the DVD extras of the story e.g. the deleted scenes from ‘Part Four’. Sadly that wasn’t to be found in the novelization of the story when I read it.
The plot remains the same by Terrance Dicks. I suppose that’s fair. Terrance Dicks is more straightforward in adapting TV scripts into prose. And Terrance Dick wasn’t the original author of the story. Still, I would have liked a more in-depth version of the tale similar to ‘Black Orchid’s novelization.
Saying that, I’m very impressed by how Terrance tightened the story to make it stronger. He does this by making some of the characters’ dialogue sharper and less functional-sounding as it was on TV. He also does it by enhancing the character motivations compared to how they appeared on TV. 🙂
When the book was originally published in 1983, it had a cover of the Fifth Doctor facing Hedin on it. I purchased the 1992 Virgin Books reprint edition of ‘Arc of Infinity’, which had a cover of Omega and the Fifth Doctor against a backdrop of the web-like Matrix. I purchased it at ‘Regenerations 2011’. 🙂
That’s the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea back in September 2011. I purchased the 1992 edition of ‘Arc of Infinity’ along with the 1992 edition of ‘Mawdryn Undead’. I purchased ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’ books at ‘Regenerations 2010’. Why not do the same thing again?
As said before, I read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ novelization whilst on holiday in Scotland, August 2012. I like to read ‘Doctor Who’ books when I’m holiday. It was good to read this one back in August 2012. I felt I could hear the characters and re-experience the events of the TV adventure whilst on holiday.
The Target book is divided into 12 chapters with 3 chapters making up for one of the four episodes. 3 chapters; times 4; equals 12 chapters. I find it easy to read the Target novelizations as four episodes. Mind you, the audiobook doesn’t do it like that, since it’s a 3-disc set and not a 4-disc set. 😦
The three chapters of ‘Part One’ and the first chapter of ‘Part Two’ are on Disc 1. The second two chapters of ‘Part Two’ and the first two chapters of ‘Part Three’ are on Disc 2. And the last chapter of ‘Part Three’ and the three chapters of ‘Part Four’ are on Disc 3. It’s surreal how I know these things!
I wanted there to be an audiobook of the ‘Arc of Infinity’ Target novelization made by BBC Audio. I especially wanted someone like Sarah Sutton to read it. She’s in the story after all and it’s one of Nyssa’s strongest stories in the TV series. Peter Davison and Janet Fielding could have read it as well.
In the end however, the audiobook was read by Geoffrey Beevers, who played the Master in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and still plays him in the Big Finish audios. I can’t believe how many times I have to keep addressing this, as Geoffrey Beevers is a really odd choice to be the reader of this adventure!
That’s not to say Geoffrey is a bad narrator. On the contrary, he’s very good. But like previous Target audiobooks before this, I don’t get why BBC Audio chooses people who had no involvement in the original TV stories to read their audiobook counterparts. It baffles me every time I come across this!
It makes sense for Geoffrey Beevers to be the reader of ‘The Keeper of Traken’ audiobook since he was actually in the TV story itself, playing the Melkur and the Master. It makes sense for Peter Davison to be the reader of the ‘Time-Flight’ audiobook since he played the Fifth Doctor in the story.
It doesn’t make sense when people like Steven Pacey read the audiobooks for ‘Terminus’ and ‘Enlightenment’ as well as Pamela Salem reading the audiobook for ‘The Hand of Fear’ when they had no involvement in the TV versions of the stories whatsoever. I just don’t get the logic behind this.
And do you know what the irony of all of this is? Peter Davison could have easily read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ audiobook after he did the ‘Time-Flight’ audiobook. How come he wasn’t asked to read both the ‘Time-Flight’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’ audiobooks? It would make sense if he was invited to do both. 😦
Mind you, that wasn’t the case when Christopher H. Bidmead read the ‘Logopolis’ audiobook and Peter Davison read the ‘Castrovalva’ audiobook. But it would have been easy to fix if BBC Audio had Janet Fielding or Sarah Sutton read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ audiobook and Peter just read ‘Time-Flight’. 😐
Was Geoffrey Beevers chosen to be the reader of the ‘Arc of Infinity’ audiobook because he read ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and it’s a Johnny Byrne story? Maybe Geoffrey Beevers will end up reading the audiobook for the ‘Warriors of the Deep’ novelization. It’d be intriguing to see if I’m right on this.
With all that said; Geoffrey Beevers does provide a decent reading of the adventure and gets across what Terrance Dicks wrote in the novelization very well. He provides good voices for characters like the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. I did enjoy those gruff tones he provided for Commander Maxil. 🙂
I like how Terrance Dicks describes in detail the setting of scenes and atmospheres featured in ‘Arc of Infinity’. He does it well in setting up Amsterdam and what the characters are doing in the streets, e.g. Robin and Colin walking about the city and the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan running around the city.
The thing I enjoyed most about Terrance Dicks’ writing in ‘Arc of Infinity’ is when he revealed Omega. He was good in holding back the villain by describing him as ‘the alien’ before he revealed his identity by the end of Chapter 9. I got a thrill once the Doctor found out it was Omega all along. 🙂
I enjoyed the section where Terrance had the Doctor recalling his first encounter with Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’. This is something that Terrance should know very well about already, since he was the script editor on that very TV tale and he’s able to know who Omega’s character is inside and out.
As I said before, I liked how Terrance changed some of the lines of dialogue for characters to make them sound better than they were on TV. One example is when Nyssa challenged the Castellan about asking questions after the Doctor’s execution, which is more effective in the book than on TV.
There are also the scenes in the Matrix between the Doctor and Omega. They’re more effective in the book compared to TV. Terrance tweaks some of the lines said by Omega and by the Doctor to make them sound more natural, including Omega explaining why the Time Lords won’t listen to him.
Terrance also adds an extra piece of dialogue for Borusa to explain to Nyssa why the Doctor must be terminated to prevent the bonding between him and the alien creature. It allows Borusa to justify the Time Lords’ actions and to make them sound reasonable compared to how they sounded on TV.
I also liked it when Terrance explained why Hedin stepped in front of the Doctor to be killed by the Castellan. Hedin didn’t want the Doctor dead and he sacrificed himself to secure the bonding between him and Omega. I thought this was better explained in the book compared to the TV story.
I enjoyed reading Nyssa’s reaction to the Time Lords’ sentence of the Doctor to death. Terrance does well in writing her story in her determination to save the Doctor. I wonder how that scene where Nyssa is in her TARDIS bedroom and Damon entered to check up on her could have been extended. 😐
I also liked Tegan’s story in the ‘Arc of Infinity’ book. Terrance does well in depicting how Tegan is depressed with losing her job, and how she and Robin go looking for her cousin Colin in Amsterdam. I also liked it when Tegan became worried for Colin and Robin in the ‘Part Four’ section of the tale. 🙂
I liked it when Terrance described how Robin got into his predicament with losing his passport in the first place in Amsterdam. It’s revealed that he lost it when at a cafe in Amsterdam. Terrance goes on to explore how Robin feels about losing his passport and being anxious about what he’s going to do.
Structurally, in the ‘Part Two’ section of the book, the scenes where Tegan and Robin are making their way to Frankendael House are omitted in Chapters 5 and 6. This allows the story to have lesser cuts that aren’t necessary in the book compared to the TV version when there are scenes on Gallifrey.
This is true when the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan are chasing Omega in the ‘Part Four’ section. In the TV version, there are cuts to Gallifrey and the Time Lords who wonder what’s going on. These have been omitted in the book. There is just one cut to Gallifrey as our TARDIS trio chase Omega in Amsterdam.
I liked how Terrance stresses the point that Omega wants to take control of Earth as one of the worlds he wishes to conquer when he’s temporarily in our universe. This balances well with his joy of seeing the organ playing ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’ and it makes Omega a more rounded character. 🙂
The chase scenes in Amsterdam are briefly described in the book compared to the TV story. They’re straight to the point and easy to read compared to the lengthy scenes that they are on TV. I liked how Omega slowly decayed in his new body and how Terrance described the horror of it in the book.
The Ergon is described differently in the book compared to TV story. In the book, he’s ‘roughly man-sized and man-shaped’. He’s also described as ‘a kind of giant walking lizard’ as well as ‘thick-bodied with corrugated green skin and a narrow-skulled head that ended in a mouthful of jagged teeth’ 😀 !
He also has ‘stubby hands’ which ‘held a strange light-filled weapon’. He can also be described as ‘insectoid’-like. This is a better version of the Ergon compared to the ‘giant chicken’ or Road Runner from ‘Looney Tunes’ that we saw in the TV story. At least, the Ergon can be taken seriously in the book! 🙂
By the end of the story, the Doctor and Nyssa hear that Tegan’s got the sack. I like how Terrance has Nyssa being pleased about it whilst the Doctor doesn’t seem to mind about it. It’s a curious thing, considering how he prefers Nyssa’s company compared to Tegan’s since she can very bolshie at times.
‘Arc of Infinity’ is a great ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobook to check out. It’s well-written by Terrance Dicks. I enjoyed every minute of it whilst reading the book on holiday in Scotland back in August 2012 and whilst reading and hearing the novelization and audiobook at home in October 2021.
It was nice to hear the audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers, even though he’s an odd choice to read the story. I do enjoy checking out these ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations, especially when the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan are in them. ‘Arc of Infinity’ isn’t greatly detailed, but it was a great pleasure to check out.
‘Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity’ rating – 9/10
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Brilliant review of the novel & transmitted story, did you say “no, not the mind probe” to Paul lol he’ll never live that down it’ll be on his tombstone lol.
This is another of my favourite Fifth Doctor stories I like the conspiracy arc to it with shows back then that Gallifrey not as clear cut as it makes out to be.
As ever Tim you written a great review that’s detailed & informative & sums up the story perfectly.
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I’m glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Arc of Infinity’, both on the TV story and the novel.
Actually I tried to avoid saying ‘Not the mind probe!’ to Paul Jerricho at the previous convention I saw him at. But he mentioned it first, so it was a relief to talk to him about his famous line from ‘The Five Doctors’. It is something that he’ll be remembered for years later in ‘Doctor Who’ terms. 😀
I’m glad this is another one of your Fifth Doctor stories. It is one of my favourites too and I was on the edge of my seat when the Doctor was being threatened with execution by the Time Lord and Nyssa tries to bravely save him.
I’m glad you enjoyed this review of mine. This story is one of my cherished favourite in the DVD collection I have of ‘Doctor Who’!
Great review Tim.
I’m pleased to have finally gotten around to watching a story from Season 20. ‘Arc of Infinity’ was a great way to kick the Season off. The Doctor and Nyssa shared great chemistry throughout both on Gallifrey and when they tracked down Omega with Tegan in Amsterdam. It was tense when the High Council tried to execute the Doctor and I felt for Nyssa when she had tears in her eyes after the ‘execution’. I still remember Sarah saying in her ‘Myth Makers’ that in this story, she managed to rip her trousers during a scene where she was crawling. Poor Sarah.
Tegan was very good and not bossy, even when she ran into the Doctor again. I wait until I’ve watched more of Season 20 to pass judgement on how she gets on with the Doctor. I doubt my opinion on her will change and she will remain my joint favourite companion with Nyssa because my opinion didn’t change during Season 19.
I also enjoyed, Alistair Cumming as Colin Frazer, Andrew Boxer as Robin Stuart, Ian Collier as Omega even though his performance wasn’t as great as Stephen Thorne’s, Paul Jerricho as the Castellan, Michael Gough as Councillor Hedin and Colin Baker as Commander Maxil. Are you looking forward to the Collection: Season 22 when it comes out?
As well as the rest of Season 20, I hope to one day check out ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’ and ‘Aquitaine’ as well as revisiting ‘The Peterloo Massacre’ and the Marc Fifth Doctor arc. I’m not sure if I’ll check out the three Season 20 lost stories anytime soon.
Take care, WF92.
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Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Arc of Infinity’. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the story.
I’m looking forward to when ‘Arc of Infinity’ gets re-released in the Season 20 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’ whenever that may be. I hope to update my thoughts on the story by then. I’m glad I revisited the story recently by checking out the ‘Arc of Infinity’ Target audiobook read by Geoffrey Beevers. Incidentally, I’ve included Colin Baker’s Maxil and Paul Jerricho’s Castellan in one of my stories called ‘The Prime Factor’, which I hope you’ll enjoy when you check it out.
Yes, I’m looking forward to Season 22 of ‘Doctor Who’ with Colin Baker on Blu-ray when it comes out. I’ve already pre-ordered it. I’ve also recieved my Blu-ray copy of ‘Flux’ from yesterday and hope to re-review the 6-episode season after updating my reviews on Season 17 with Tom Baker.
Looking forward to your thoughts on ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’, Aquitaine’ and other Fifth Doctor stories.
Many thanks for your comments.
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