Tuesday 3 July 2012

588 Arc of Infinity Part Three

EPISODE: Arc of Infinity Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Tuesday 11 January 1983
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 6.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Time-Flight/ Arc of Infinity

The Doctor awakes to find himself floating in the Matrix. Tegan investigates the crypt on Earth and she & Robin are captured by the creature within. Suspicious of the circumstances of the execution the Castellan has Maxill investigate who finds evidence the procedure was tampered with. The Castellan summons the rest of the High Council and tells them the President is responsible. The being appears to the Doctor in the Matrix and shows him Tegan bargaining her safety for the Doctor's non interference if he is released. When he finds himself back in the termination chamber, The Doctor immediately makes for the Computer room where Damon confirms the Lord President's codes were used when technician Taylor was killed, to interrupt the execution and to transport a fusion booster to Earth. The Doctor & Nyssa go to see the President but find Hedin already there. He tries to coerce the President into co-operating so the being can come to our dimension who he reveals is Omega, one of the founding fathers of the Timelord race. They are interrupted by the Castellan, convinced the President & Doctor are conspiring together and is about to execute the Doctor when Hedin throws himself in the path of the blast. As they all watch the image of Omega dominates the matrix screen in the President's chamber.

Yay! It's Omega! Who? What you mean you don't remember the Three Doctors from ten years ago or it's repeat 15 months previously? Well this episode provides zero explanation of who he is or his significance and the mere mention of his name is meant to make us quake. Yes a Doctor Who fan would recognise him but the general public...... No. We're obviously meant to know who he is instantly his name is mentioned because the BBC went to the trouble of listing the character as "The Renegade" in earlier episode's end credits and in the Radio Times. If only expecting us to know who Omega is was the worst of this episode's sins....... The Castellan briefly looks like he knows how to do his job but that falls apart when he goes dancing off on a completely barking theory as to a conspiracy between President Borusa and the Doctor. Anyone want to tell me how Hedin got the presidential codes and has been using them all along? Did he borrow Borusa's consumcard one day and got him to tell him the PIN for it? I'm also feeling the writer has no grasp on what the Matrix, Space/Time continuum and Transduction Field actually are as the terms are flung around in this episode and don't make any sense relating to their previous usage.

Of all the things that happen in this episode the thing that makes the most sense in this episode is Hedin's last action, throwing himself in front of the gun and saving the Doctor. His master, Omega, is bonded to the Doctor (part 1) and so the Doctor needs to be protected. And yet there's no reference to this in the episode to explain the action we see. You can understand Hedin's admiration for Omega too: the Doctor professed admiration for him in The Three Doctors. Then he met him and discovered how mad he was but in the aftermath of the Three Doctors wasn't that covered up and Omega made to be a hero that had provided the Time Lords with a new source of energy? I've got a brand new copy of Three Doctors here as part of Doctor Who Revisitations 3 that I really must get round to watching at some point as Three Doctors, via the Five Faces of Doctor Who, looms large over this period of Doctor Who and directly provides this story with it's villain.

The idea in this season is that each story contains a returning element from th Doctor's past. Apparently it wasn't planned that way, but after it was pointed out to producer John Nathan-Turner he used it to publicise the new series. So in this story we get Gallifrey, Time Lords, Borusa, the seemingly departed companion Tegan and old villain Omega. More to come later.... As a celebration of 20 years of the show it isn't a bad idea but what we got over the season is testimony to it being a bit of an accident rather than deliberate planning. Of course it would all have looked a lot better if the planned final story of the season, with it's very well known returning monsters, had been made. Come back for King's Demons, the actual final story of the season, for more on Warhead/The Return, this season's lost story.

Several of the cast have Doctor Who form or interesting items on their CV. Playing President Borusa is Leonard Sachs who was Admiral Gaspard de Coligny in The Massacre. Best known as the compere of The Good Old Days, I've recently discovered that I've seen his son on TV a lot: Robin Sachs has several Babylon 5 appearances to his name. Chancellor Thalia is played by Elspet Gray, the wife of actor,writer and charity worker Brian Rix. Michael Gough (Councillor Hedin) we've seen before as the Celestial Toymaker in The Celestial Toymaker. He was the butler Alfred in the 80s & 90s Batman films as well as the ex husband of former companion Anneke Wills. Michael Gough died 17 March 2011, aged 94, making him one of the longest lived Doctor Who actors. We mentioned Paul Jerricho (The Castellan) in connection with Triangle (where he played Charles Woodhouse) in the first episode but Colin Baker (Commander Maxil) also has BBC Soap form, appearing in The Brothers (with Time Flight's Richard Easton) as villainous financial wiz kid Paul Merroney, a role that allegedly gained him national hatred. We'll be hearing a lot more from Mr Baker shortly..... Playing Omega is Ian Collier who was research student Stuart Hyde in The Time Monster.

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