Wednesday, 11 January 2023

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

"I was not always as I am now, Doctor. Once I too had life, real existence in your dimension. Soon, with your help, I shall have it again!"

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 Maxil 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.

3a 3b

Yay! It's Omega! Who? What you mean you don't remember his appearance in 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.......

CASTELLAN: What was your opinion, Maxil?
MAXIL: The termination? Not quite what I expected.
CASTELLAN: Nor me. I want a full analysis of the event. Be discreet, but do it right away.
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 mad theory as to a conspiracy between President Borusa and the Doctor, based on the Doctor being alive and Borusa's codes being used to transmit The Doctor's biodata extract.
THALIA: The Lord President?
CASTELLAN: You have the proof. His personal codes were used to manipulate the Matrix. Again, his code registered in the computer room the precise time Talor was killed.
CASTELLAN: The creature. It's linked to the Doctor and through him to Gallifrey.
THALIA: To achieve what, Castellan?
CASTELLAN: We know the creature controls the shift of the Arc of Infinity. So, what if the Arc were to be permanently located here, linked to the Matrix? Enormous power, way beyond the ability of anyone to control it, except those already at one with the Matrix.
ZORAC: The Lord President.
CASTELLAN: Yes. And the Doctor. Together with this creature, I'm convinced this is what they intend to do.
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?
DOCTOR: Presidential code. Four five, four? Four five, five! Three nine one..... Three nine one. Three nine one. Three nine one. Six five nine two!
The Doctor knowing the Presidential code is explained by him having briefly served as President in Invasion of Time. However the codes not having been changed since then when the post has passed to someone else is a rather massive security hole!
BORUSA: It's a highly unusual request, Hedin.
HEDIN: It would only affect the master controls. The secondary functions will continue to operate.
BORUSA: If I charge the transduction field, the Matrix itself will be isolated. No one could use it.
HEDIN: That's why you must do it, Lord President.
BORUSA: You forget yourself, Hedin. Access to the Matrix is guaranteed. Only the gravest emergency could permit me to do what you want.
HEDIN: Nevertheless, you will do 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 - for those who've forgotten, the Matrix is a repository of Time Lord Knowledge & Experience, the Transduction Field, referred to as the Transduction Barrier when we last encountered it, is a defence screen surrounding Gallifrey and the Space/Time continuum is the medium the Tardis travels through.

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, was bonded to the Doctor in 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? The 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 theme for this season is that each story contains a returning element from the 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.

Playing Omega is Ian Collier who was research student Stuart Hyde in The Time Monster and had worked with Peter Davison before in the Holding the Fort episode A Place in the Sun where he played Simon Dickens.

c3a Omega c3b Omega

He can also be seen in The Sweeney as Logan in The Bigger They Are, the second episode of Rentaghost where he plays Maltby and Hi-de-Hi! where he was Inspector Sutcliffe in It's a Blue World. After this he appears in the 1985 Are You Being Served? The Hold Up as a Policeman, Colin's Sandwich as the Doctor in Enough and Agatha Christie's Poirot ads the Sergeant in The Adventure of the Western Star. His All Creatures Great and Small episode, Old Dogs, New Tricks, where he plays Henry Clintock, is one of the ones not featuring Peter Davison but is written by Arc of Infinity's Johnny Byrne. In House of Cards he's the the Man at Clinic in the third episode and in Jeeves and Wooster he plays Seppings in Arrested in a Night Club (or, the Delayed Arrival).

Inside the is Ergon Malcolm Harvey who was an Alzarian Citizen in Full Circle. In Blake's 7 he is a Space Princess Guard / Passenger in Gold.

c3f Ergon c3c Ergon

The Ergon looks like a particularly poor substitute Geiger Alien knock off. It's not too bad in the darkness of the crypt but in the fall glare of hat looks like Omega's Tardis? No.

There's plenty of guards in these episode with a few familiar names in there. We'll start with those who have been with us since episode 1: I can identify the most prominent one in the Tardis as Kevin O’Brien from his appearance in Earthshock. He had previously been one of the Pangol Army in The Leisure Hive, a Citizen in Full Circle, a Cricketer/Spectators in Black Orchid Trooper Collis in Earthshock, and the Photographer in Time Flight. He's back as a Vanir in Terminus, one of Ranulf's Knights in Kings Demons, a Crewmemebr & Soldier in Resurrection of the Daleks, a Guardolier in Timelash, a Resistance Fighter in Trial of a Timelord: Mindwarp and a Court Guard in Trial of a Timelord: Terror of the Vervoids & Ultimate Foe. In Blake's 7 he was a Technician in Dawn of the Gods and he plays a Hell's Angel in Red Dwarf: Meltdown.

c Guard KOB c1f Guards2

I've not seen Glenn Bexfield in anything else and can't find Terry Phillips on IMDB but Chris Andrews, on his Doctor Who debut here returns as a Guard in Dragonfire and a Police Constable in Remembrance of the Daleks. In Hi-de-Hi! he plays Yellowcoat Gary and in 'Allo 'Allo he plays a German Soldier in the 1989 episode Land Mines for London. The same year he appears in Batman (1989 film) as an Election Ceremony Patron.

c2 Guards President c3 Guards

There's two new Guards from episode 2 onward, presumably the ones with first seen with President Borusa.

Michael Gordon-Browne had been in Doctor Who before as a Time Lord in Invasion of Time, a Mute in the Armagedon Factor, a Tigellan in Meglos, a Tharil in Warriors' Gate and a Foster in Keeper of Traken. He would also have been a Cyberman in Earthshock but for his Claustrophobuia. I can also see a Michael Gordon as a Xeron in The Space Museum which might be the same person. In Blake's 7 played a Laboratory Technician in Seek-Locate-Destroy and a Hi-tech Patient in Powerplay.

Michael Eriera, who the DWAS Production File has down as Michael Erera here, returns as a Trooper in Resurrection of the Daleks and one of the Waiters at Las Cadenas (inc. Juan) in The Two Doctors.

Onto the Gallifreyans seen in a couple of scenes in the middle two episodes. The DWAS production file has them down for episode 2 only but there's definitely some in episode three in the background of the coridor scene where The Catelan meets Commander Maxil.

Colin Thomas had been a UNIT Soldier in The Silurians, Sole in Face of Evil, a Mentiad in Pirate Planet, a Customer in Cafe in City of Death, a Don in Shada (is he the only person apart from Tom & James Muir in all three Douglas Adams stories?), a Foster in Keeper of Traken and a Logopolitan in Logopolis. He returns as an Elder in Planet of Fire and a Pallbearer in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Giles Melville was a Kaled Soldier & Elite Guard in Genesis of the Daleks, a Young Rebellious Time Lord in Invasion of Time, a Castrovalvan Man in Castrovalva and a Plasmaton in Time Flight. Is this Gallifreyan the same one he played in Invasion of Time? In Blake's 7 he was a Star One Technician in Star One and a Passenger in Gold while in Survivors he played Kevin Lloyd in the first episode The Fourth Horseman.

Robert Goodman was a Mandrel in Nightmare of Eden and a Citizen in Full Circle, He'll be back as a Buccaneer Guard/Wrack Deck Crew/Striker Deck Crew in Enlightenment, a Colonist in Frontios, a Crewmember in Resurrection of the Daleks and a Crew member/Loader / Hyperion III Officer in The Trial of a Time Lord as well as playing Reg in the new series episode Listen. He also was in The Spy Who Loved Me as a Stromberg's Guard, has an episode of one of my childhood favourites Pipkins on his CV where he plays a Dustman in The Sink, is in the Yes Minister episode Jobs for the as Robert the Waiter, A Fish Called Wanda as a Street thug.

Peter Gates-Fleming had been a Tigellan in Meglos and a Cyberman in Earthshock, replacing Michael Gordon-Browne, above, on the production. He returns as a Colonist in Frontios, a Guardolier in Timelash, a Guard in Trial of a Timelord Mysterious Planet & Mindwarp and a Police Constable in Remembrance of the Daleks. He is also a Federation Trooper in Blake's 7's final episode Blake.

Olwyn Atkinson was one of the Peasants in the Village Centre in State of Decay, where they're down in the DWAS production file as Alwyn Atkinson, and returns as a Lazar in Terminus, a Customer/Mercenary in Dragonfire and one of the Happiness Patrol in The Happiness Patrol.

c2c Galifreyans1 c3 Gallifreyans

Several Gallifreyans are on Doctor Who debut:

Michael Jefferies goes on to play a patient in Frontios, one of Lytton's Policemen in Resurrection of the Daleks & Attack of the Cybermen and a guard in Revelation of the Daleks.

Belinda Lee returns an Alphan in Trial of a Timelord 5-8 Mindwarp and Xama in Dragonfire In Are You Being Served? she was in Anything You Can Do as the Lift Girl and Roots? as a Dancer.

Lewis Hooper I can't find on IMDB and doesn't reappear in Doctor Who.

There's some interesting looking consoles in the Gallifrey sequences that I've tried to trace the origins of and can't. The suspicion is they may have been used during Saturn 3.

Here's the one in the Castellan's room, and a close up of it, note the curved set of lights on the right.

Saturn5a 3Saturn3a - Copy2

He's sitting in front of the left hand side of it but shifts position later. There we can see the left edge and that it's the same one as in Hedin's room. The likelyhood is that Hedin's room and the Castellan's are the same set.

Saturn5b Console Hedin

A mirror image of that console exists in Damon's control room, note the curve lights are now on the left!

Console Control 3 Saturn 5dq

A different set of consoles, but possibly related, are found in Omega's Tardis.

I'm afraid there is yet another way this episode annoys me: there's no location footage in it. Normally this wouldn't be anything to remark on but when they've gone to the trouble of going to Amsterdam to film, with big publicity that the story features Amsterdam and then to have an entire episode with no footage shot there? No. Bit of a mistake there. Fortunately the next episode tries to make up for it!

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