What’s It About?
A tourist goes missing in Amsterdam, captured by a horrific looking creature living in a crypt; someone on has gained access to the Doctor’s biodata, an act that could only be done by a high-ranking Time Lord; and a mysterious entity is attempting to manifest in our galaxy.
You put things off for a day and next thing you know, it’s a hundred years later.
With “Arc of Infinity” I begin Doctor Who’s 20th season. This is a huge accomplishment for the show. And to celebrate the beginning of this milestone, we have the return of Omega, last seen in “The Three Doctors.”
I will start off by saying I enjoyed this story. I know fan opinion is generally against it (or so I have heard), but this story isn’t really all that bad from an escapist perspective. It has a good pace and it can be entertaining. That said, it is an odd story because the individual elements don’t all hang together. While I can generally get behind the crisis on Gallifrey and the biodata/Omega storyline, the Amsterdam storyline feels rather arbitrarily chosen, almost as if it was the real initial script and the Gallifrey/Omega stuff needed to be added in because it’s the 20th year of the show. There are a few lines in the story about why Amsterdam is important (the techno-babblish arc of infinity), but there is no real reason for this and it doesn’t naturally connect to the rest of the story.
With regard to Omega, there is a tragedy of the character that is hinted at but not fully manifest. Part of what works in “The Three Doctors” (and there is a lot that doesn’t work there, but . . . oh look! Previous Doctors!) is that Omega is a tragic villain. He was abandoned by his people, by his partners. He was the soul that was crushed for the progress of Gallifreyan technology. He became a madman, yes, but you felt so sorry for him. In “Arc,” we get a small glimpse of that, but it should be more. Our hearts should break for him.
Then there is Teagan. I liked her quite a bit in this story, but I’m still not entirely sure why we had the cliffhanger where she was left behind in “Time-Flight.” It didn’t seem to serve any purpose, and, so far, I don’t see that there is much fallout from that cliffhanger. If this is not followed up with, I think it is a sorely missed opportunity.
While I have been critical of this story, make no mistake—I really enjoyed it. I liked the designs. I enjoyed the pace. I thought the story was interesting in its own way. I enjoyed seeing Peter Davison try his hand at a dual-role story, a Doctor Who trope that recurs throughout the series. It isn’t a perfect story, but it is still quite enjoyable.