‘ARC OF INFINITY’
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Anti-Matter From Amsterdam
This is one of my favourite Nyssa stories from ‘Doctor Who’! It is 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 agreed with me at the ‘Cardiff Film and Comic Con’ in March 2014. It’s a story that works on many levels.
This tale 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 now 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 locations I chatted to Sarah (and Alistair Cumming who plays Colin Frazer in this) about her 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’, Tegan got the sack from her job. Tegan decides to go and see her cousin in Amsterdam. But her cousin Colin goes missing and Tegan, with the help of Colin’s friend Robin, go and search for him.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the two ‘Arc of Infinity’ boys at my first convention, ‘Fifth Element’, in Chiswick, London, February 2010. They are Alistair Cumming as Colin Frazer and Andrew Boxer as Robin Stuart. Colin and Robin are hitchhikers in the story that 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 shoots Peter Davison’s Doctor in this.
The High Council of Time Lords is played a number of really good actors in this. There’s Michael Gough (from the ‘Batman’ films) as Councillor Hedin; Elspet Gray (from the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘The Psychiatrist’) as Chancellor Thalia; Paul Jerricho (who would later star 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 assists the Doctor and Nyssa out on Gallifrey.
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 tries 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 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 are in Amsterdam.
I also enjoyed it when Peter’s Doctor gradually unravels the mystery about what’s going on Gallifrey, before he discovers it is Omega. I liked it when he confronts Omega and there’s a moment I like when the Doctor tries to get into the computer room, till he eventually uses the presidential codes.
By the end of the story, Tegan is reunited with the 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 cope.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the making-of documentary called ‘Anti-Matter From Amsterdam’, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew. I love Sarah Sutton in this documentary, since she’s lovely and beautiful when being interviewed. The documentary is presented by Sophie Aldred, who plays Ace in ‘Doctor Who’, and some is filmed in Amsterdam itself.
There’s also ‘The Omega Factor’ documentary focusing on the character of Omega with behind-the-scenes interviews. There are also deleted scenes from ‘Part Four’ of the story; a ‘Under Arc Lights’ behind-the-scenes featurette; a CGI effects option to enjoy and trailers and continuities of the story.
There’s a really entertaining commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Colin Baker; an isolated music option by Roger Limb; an info-text commentary option to enjoy and a photo gallery of the story. There’s also two PDF files including a ‘Radio Times Listing’ of the story and a ‘1983 Doctor Who Annual’. There’s also an Easter Egg to be found on this DVD disc.
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 is 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 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 very poorly rated by the fans.
‘Arc of Infinity’ rating – 10/10
‘DOCTOR WHO – ARC OF INFINITY’
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The Return of Omega
I enjoyed reading this novelization of ‘Arc of Infinity’ on holiday in Scotland, August 2012.
‘Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity’ was novelized by Terrance Dicks, from the original TV scripts by Johnny Byrne. Terrance is well-renowned for writing plenty of novelizations for the Target range of ‘Doctor Who’. He has a knack for it and doesn’t disappoint when transferring TV scripts into the novel forms.
The book was published in October 1983, ten months after the TV story’s original transmission in January of that year. ‘Arc of Infinity’ is one of my favourite Nyssa stories in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m pleased Terrance novelized this story since he did well novelizing Nyssa’s debut in ‘The Keeper of Traken’.
I wanted to discover more about the ‘Arc of Infinity’ story as I hoped there would be more additional scenes added as seen from the DVD extras of the story like the deleted scenes in ‘Part Four’. Sadly that wasn’t to be found in the novelization of the story, as the plot remains the same by Terrance Dicks.
But saying that, I was impressed with how Terrance tightens the story to make it strong. This he does in making some of the characters’ dialogue sharper and less functional-sounding as it seemed to be on TV. Also he does this to describe the character motivations compared to how they seemed on TV.
I purchased the 1990s versions of the novelizations of ‘Arc of Infinity’ and ‘Mawdryn Undead’ at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea, September 2011. I purchased ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and ‘Logopolis’ novelizations at the same convention the year before. Why not do the same again?
As I said before, I eventually read the ‘Arc of Infinity’ novel whilst on holiday in Scotland, August 2012. I like to read ‘Doctor Who’ books whilst I’m holiday. It was good to be reading this one. I felt that I could hear the characters and re-live the events of the TV story whilst reading it on holiday.
The book is divided into 12 chapters with 3 chapters making one of the four episodes – 3 chapters; times 4 equals 12 chapters. I now find it easy to read these Target novelizations as the four episodes.
I like how Terrance describes the detail in setting up scenes and atmospheres featured in ‘Arc of Infinity’. This he does well in setting up Amsterdam and what the characters do in the streets; like Robin and Colin walking around the city and the Doctor; Nyssa and Tegan running around the city.
The thing I enjoyed very much with Terrance’s writing in ‘Arc of Infinity’ was how he revealed Omega. He was good in holding the villain back by describing him as ‘the alien’ before revealing his identity until the end of Chapter 9. I got a thrill reading it when the Doctor discovered it is Omega.
I enjoyed that section in the book where Terrance has the Doctor remembering his first encounter with Omega in ‘The Three Doctors’. This was something that Terrance should know about already, since he was the script editor on that very TV story and he’s able to know who Omega is inside and out.
As I said before, I also liked how Terrance changes some of the lines of the characters to make them sound better than they were. One example stuck in my mind is when Nyssa challenges the Castellan now asking questions after the execution of the Doctor, which is more effective in the book than on TV.
Also the scenes in the Matrix between the Doctor and Omega are more effective in the book compared to the TV story. Terrance tweaks some of the lines made by Omega and the Doctor to make it sound more natural-talking, like 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 the alien creature and him. It allows Borusa to justify the Time Lords’ actions and make them sound reasonable compared to what they seemed on TV.
I also liked it when Terrance explains why Hedin steps forward in front of the Doctor and gets killed by the Castellan. Hedin clearly doesn’t want the Doctor dead in order to save the bonding between him and Omega. I thought that was better explained in the novelization compared to the TV story.
I enjoyed reading how Nyssa reacts to the Time Lords sentencing the Doctor to death. Terrance does well with writing her story, in her determination to save the Doctor. I wondered how that scene could have been extended when Nyssa is in her bedroom in the TARDIS and Damon comes to check on her.
I also liked Tegan’s story in the ‘Arc of Infinity’ book. Terrance describes well, depicting how Tegan is depressed with losing her job and how she and Robin go to look for her cousin Colin in Amsterdam. I also liked it when Tegan is concerned for Colin and Robin during the ‘Part Four’ section of the novel.
I liked it when Terrance describes 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 gets anxious about what he’s going to do.
Structurally, in the ‘Part Two’ section of the novel, the scenes where Tegan and Robin are walking on their way towards Frankendael House are removed from Chapters 5 and 6. This allows the story to have lesser cuts that aren’t necessary in the book compared to the TV version with scenes on Gallifrey.
This is true when the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan chase Omega in the ‘Part Four’ section. In the TV version, there were cuts to Gallifrey and the Time Lords wondering what was going on. These are now removed and there’s one cut to Gallifrey in the book as the 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 control 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 running scenes that were seen on TV. I liked how Omega slowly decays in his new body and how Terrance describes the horror of it 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 very pleased about it and that the Doctor didn’t seem to mind about it. It is a curious thing, considering how he prefers just Nyssa’s company compared to Tegan’s since she’s very bolshie.
I would like there to be an audiobook of this Target novelization of ‘Arc of Infinity’ made by the BBC someday. I would especially like Sarah Sutton to read it, as she was in the story and this is one of the strongest stories for Nyssa on TV. Then again, Peter Davison and Janet Fielding could read the book.
‘Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity’ has been a great book to read. It’s well-written by Terrance Dicks and I enjoyed reading every minute of it whilst I was on holiday in Scotland. I enjoy reading these ‘Doctor Who’ with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan in them. It’s not greatly detailed, but it was a pleasure.
‘Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity’ rating – 9/10
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