Thursday, 12 January 2023

589 Arc of Infinity Part Four

EPISODE: Arc of Infinity: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 12 January 1983
WRITER: Johnny Byrne
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 7.2 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Time-Flight/ Arc of Infinity

"What you offer is worse than death. If I am denied life, then all must perish!"

The Doctor enters the Matrix to talk to Tegan, through Omega and she reveals they are in Amsterdam. The Time Lords cause a distraction allowing the Doctor & Nyssa to leave in the Tardis. Once in Amsterdam they trace the hostel Colin & Robin were going to stay at finding message for Tegan directing her to the crypt. Once there they discover the energy converter and the Doctor realises that Omega has chosen Amsterdam because it's on the Arc of Infinity and bellow sea level to give the correct pressure for the energy conversion. The encounter the Ergon which attacks the Doctor but Nyssa uses it's matter converter weapon to dispatch it. They enter Omega's Tardis, disguised as a Crypt where the final stage of the transference process takes place, only to be disrupted by the Arc of Infinity shifting. Omega's anti matter body is replaced by a positive version of the Doctor's and he flees into Amsterdam. The Doctor, Nyssa & Tegan follow him gradually catching up with him as his body starts to decay. Realising he is about to die in a huge matter/anti matter explosion Omega wills his destruction in order to take the Doctor & Earth with him but the Doctor dispatches him using the Ergon's matter converter gun.

Here we go again..... For a start it's another duplicate of the Doctor. This is the third time in three seasons that we've had a double of the Doctor or a companion! Then there's the Routemaster sized holes in the plot: How is Omega suddenly trapping the Tardis on Gallifrey? Through the Matrix somehow? In fact how has he got into the Matrix in the first place? First Amsterdam is in the Arc and then it isn't..... a tiny bit of script editing would have sorted that one out if the Doctor has said "Amsterdam lies in the Ark of Infinity at the present time" and then having Amsterdam shift out of it, due to the Earth's orbit, rather than the Ark shifting. So the Ergon's weapon is a matter converter? Has he converted the other people he's shot with it to anti matter and taken them into Omega's Tardis? Is Omega's Tardis anti matter? How Did Omega get a Tardis anyway? (Did he build it/will it into being? Did Hedin supply it) I'm not 100% sure how Omega in his anti matter form can be in this dimension with Tegan, Colin & Robin - I'm guessing it's because the Tardis (by virtue of being in Amsterdam) lies on the Arc of Infinity where Anti Matter can exist in our universe.... but it just isn't clear. The Doctor looks surprised when Omega turns into a copy of him. They've talked bonding all the way through and I've always thought this implied Omega & the Doctor come together to form one being but suddenly there's a clone of the Doctor sitting there that starts decaying back into anti matter.

Leidseplein where if you look carefully you can see Producer John Nathan-Turner behind the telephone boxes in his familiar sheepskin jacket keeping tourists out of shot! I'd known he was in this episode for years but it wasn't till this watch through when I was taking screencaps that I was able to spot him!

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The Doctor & Nyssa then visit a Youth Hostel at Zandpad....

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.... before crossing the Singel.

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Oddly, for an episode packed with location filming, there's no establishing shot of Bob's Youth Hostel, which we saw in episode 1, where Tegan's cousin Colin Frazer and his friend Robin Stuart were planning to stay. It's especially odd as the location does appear later in the episode. Instead we just cut to the interior.

The male Receptionist the Doctor & Nyssa initially encounter is played by Guy Groen.

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The female Receptionist who follows him we saw briefly in episode 1 and she's played by Maya Woolfe She's been in The Professionals: Man Without a Past as Claire, played Gerda in four episodes of Tenko (TV series) and Anna Jensen in four episodes of Triangle She later appears in the Jasper Carrott sit com The Detectives (1993 TV series) as the Secretary in Dutch Cops.

There are a number of Students, presumably those in the background in the youth hostel, in both the episodes it's seen in.

One of them is a David Cole but the problem here is there are probably TWO David Coles who have worked on Doctor Who. There is a David Cole who played Billy Clanton in 1966's Gunfighters He was born on April 8, 1936 so, aged 45, is likely to have still been working at this time.

> During the late 70s and early 80s period there's a supporting artist under this name playing a Crewman in Nightmare of Eden, a Student in Shada, a Pangol Army member in The Leisure Hive, a Savant in Meglos, a Citizen in Full Circle, a Kinda Tribesman in Kinda, a Student in Arc of Infinity, a Schoolboy in Mawdryn Undead, a Mutant in Mawdryn Undead, one of Ranulf's Knights, a Spectator & a Beggar in King's Demons and a Trooper in The Awakening. Some of those could well be the David Cole from the Gunfighters but The Student in Arc of Infinity and Schoolboy in Mawdryn Undead would seem to require a much younger actor and indicate that there is a second one so who knows quite how these roles are split!

I'm afraid I've not been able to find out any more information on the other two students, Julia James & Thomas Stein.

Armed with where Colin & Robin were intending to stay, The Doctor & Nyssa in their haste knock over a pedestrian carrying shopping on the banks of the Herengracht!

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They make their way to Middenweg, which we saw in episode 1.....

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.... and Frankendael House which is also in episodes 1 & 2.

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There's some more of the exterior of Frankendael House following the confrontation of Omega and the escape of his new form, a duplicate of the Doctor.

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Omega is then see walking through the Muntplein Flower market, also seen in episode 1.


The Doctor & Nyssa, now joined by Tegan, are then seen outside Frankendael House.....

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.... while Omega has reached Amstelveld.

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It's at this point we see The Doctor & Friends walk through Muntplein Flower market.


Omega has already reached Damrak.....

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.... by the time the Doctor & co get to Amstelveld.

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By the time Omega is stumbling down Amstel Sluize he's looking decidedly unwell.

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The location of this Canal Bridge beat me for a while but I think it's Amstelveldt again.

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We then see Prinsengracht, also briefly seen earlies on the Tardis scanner.

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I'm not 100% sure where the next canal location is:

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We then see Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, which was also in episode 1.

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This was he location for Bob's Youth Hostel in episode 1, and you can see it's yellow sign and front door across the street!

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The chef gets knocked over Sint Nicolaasstraat....

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....just before Omega reaches Dam Square. The chase climaxes around the Amstel river where the Time Travellers search for Omega....

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.... as he's cut of by the Magere Brug opening.....

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..... leading to the final confrontation at Amstel Sluize.

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The final location in this episode and story Stationsplein outside Amsterdam Central station.

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I'm sorry but Arc of Infinity is a HUGE mess. It needs a few more passes at the rewriting/script editing shape to whip it into shape and make the explanations and internal logic all a bit clearer. I loved Johnny Byrne's previous tale, Keeper of Traken, but this is a disaster. I expected Time Flight to be poor but Arc of Infinity being this bad was a complete shock on my last viewing as I recalled it being much better than this, probably shaped by childhood memories. This time..... better. Not good, just better. Very much enjoyed the location filmed stuff.

Anmusingly, the random sign-in backdrop on my Netbook has been a shot of Amsterdam canals all this week!

Arc of Infinity was novelised by Terrance Dicks, released in October 1983 and I remember it being a lot better than what I've just seen. It was released on video in 1984 and on DVD with Time-Flight on 6th August 2007.

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