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Customer Review

17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who Doldrums, 1 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Doctor Who - Time-Flight [1982] / Arc of Infinity [1983] [DVD] (DVD)
There is a myth amongst Doctor Who fans that virtually every story from the classic series that features the word "TIME" in the title is rubbish. This is largely true of the 8 "TIME" titled stories only 2 of them can be considered avarage, the remaining 6 are always voted in the bottom echelons of Doctor Who fan polls. One of the worst offenders is Time-Flight, which is featured with Arc of Infinity in this DVD release.

The storyline is generally confused and is too great a challenge for the effects department to convincingly portray on screen, the Jurassic landscape has the look of something that has been thrown together with no money to spare, but as this was the end of season story it is to be expected. The location work is fine being filmed at Heathrow International Airport and the loan of a Concorde for filming was a considerable coup for the production team, this being the first time that such a plane had been used in the making of a drama.

The story of Time-Flight is essentially about the Master trapping a Concorde in a time rift in order for the passengers to break open an inner sanctum in a citadel that will allow him to steal an alien gestalt lifeform housed inside, which will be used to power his TARDIS somehow. The alien is like a Jekyll and Hyde character, a split personality that works for and against the Master at different times. The Doctor uses a second Concorde to affect a rescue of the passengers from the first plane. There are a many really stupid plotholes within the story, for instance the Master spends half the time dressed as an Arabian wizard when dealing with the passengers. Why did he bother with a disguise for people that didn't know him anyway? It makes no sense within the plot except to provide a cliffhanger ending to episode 2 and shock the Doctor when the Master reveals himself. Second as stated, the Master needed the people to break into the sanctum, Why when Tegan and Nyssa just walked into it? Couldn't he have done the same? There are many plot defects like this that go a long way towards annoying the viewer, defects that could have been tightened up with little effort.

The acting is not very good either, it seems as if even the regulars are just going through the motions and can't wait to bring it to an end.

The story ends with the Doctor defeating the Master and Tegan is accidently left behind on Earth to provide a semi-shock ending to an otherwise excellent season. The viewing figures for Time-Flight were very high which tends to support the view that the story was popular with the general public but hated by the fans.

The special features sound much better, with the usual deleted/behind the scenes package, documentaries and studio floor recordings. But two sound very interesting indeed. Janet Fielding gives her first on-screen interview in over 20 years and should prove fascinating, there is also an option to view the story with new CGI effects and it will be interesting to see if this actually improves the reputation of this very poor story.

Arc of Infinity was the first story of Doctor Who's 20th anniversary and the production team, headed by producer John Nathan-Turner decided that every story would feature some element from the show's past, which was the season's major selling point. Now some fans liked this and some did not, I did not, I thought then and do now that it was a mistake. I have nothing against old enemies/friends and things from the past been seen again, but surely it's better to use them sparingly, it remains a special event if that is the case rather than the norm, it takes the gloss and excitement off icons returning to the show by overkill, by all means use them but only once maybe twice a season and no more.

Omega was the old enemy used to open the season in Arc of Infinity, who made his debut in the show's 10th anniversary story The Three Doctors. Here he was recast being played by Ian Collier, who was it has to be said actually better than Stephen Thorne's original performance, that doesn't happen very often. With Omega being a renegade Time Lord the story was split into two distinct narratives, on Gallifrey and in Amsterdam where Omega has arrived to take control of the Arc of Infinity.

The story is an improvement over Time-Flight but is still very under average, with the final episode being just a chase through the streets of Amsterdam to show off the location that has very little to do with the plot, and for the rejoining of Tegan to the TARDIS crew.

The whole story has a very flat feel to it with uninspired direction and I remember at the time feeling very worried about the future of the show, thankfully the very next story Snakedance was one of the best stories of the Peter Davison era and rescued Doctor Who from the doldrums of these two clunkers.

The special features are again better than the story itself from what I can gather and roughly follow the pattern of Time-Flight, the special features are compiled by the Doctor Who restoration team and their material is always of the highest order, in quality and content and it is a safe bet that they are going to be excellent. It is because of the special features that I am giving this set 3 stars because without them it would be 1.

This boxset is for fans only that buy every Doctor Who release for their collections, a more casual viewer that fancies a Doctor Who may do better in choosing any one of the growing number of Doctor Who DVD's, they are all better than this.
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