TV

Review: Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest and Dreamland

 

Doctor Who

The Infinite Quest

Dreamland

BBC Video

 

 

The tenth Doctor jets off for two fanciful adventures with the help of Martha Jones and a roadside diner waitress.  Both episodes offer fun, if somewhat fluffy, story-lines and a more-chipper-than-usual Doctor.

“The Infinite Quest” takes place sometime during series three, probably the later half, if the Doctor and Martha’s relationship is any indication.  The two have a run-in with an evil space pirate, Baltazar (voiced by Anthony Head), who decides to use the Time Lord to help him find ‘The Infinite,’ an ancient piece of technology which will grant its discoverer their ‘hearts desire.’

Martha and the Doctor skip around time and space looking for clues to The Infinite’s whereabouts, hoping to find it before the pirate does.  The cinematic feel of the episode is pretty impressive; especially when compared to the series proper.  Being animated, the visuals have no budgetary limits, so we see vast, alien landscapes, giant mechanical monsters, and large-scale action scenes (albeit, ones ripped off from Star Wars).  The animation and characters designs are cell-shaded CGI, which gives it fluid motion, kind of a flat, dead appearance.  Martha and the Doctor more-or-less look like their TV counterparts (aided by the fact that they’re voiced by the same actors), but their expressions are sometimes a little too cartoon-y.

It’s a fairly good episode in its own right.  A little more child-like than I would have preferred, but that is offset by the whimsical nature of the story and visuals.

 

“Dreamland” takes place after series four.  The Doctor doesn’t have a full-time companion, but he isn’t depressed about it like he was after series two.   His temporary partners for this adventure are a waitress named Cassie and a Native American name Jimmy.

The Doctor shows up at Cassie’s roadside diner in Roswell, New Mexico in the early ’50s, and meddles with a supposed artifact from the UFO crash of 1947, only to find out that it’s actually real.  This brings the attention of the Men in Black, the American Army, and two different alien species.

The throw-away companions and action-centric story make this episode a lot like one of the Christmas specials.  It’s fully stand-alone, and while it’s light on character development from the Doctor, it has just enough from the guest cast to keep it centered.

The animation style is very similar to a video game cut-scene from the early ’00s.  The movement is a bit choppy, and the visuals look like they were thrown together with pre-programed sprites; kind of like awkward puppets on a sterile stage.

Despite that, “Dreamland” is the better of the two episodes.  It’s not quite as good as the live-action series, but it has the same feel to it. It has a good amount of action, without loosing touch (as ‘The Infinite Quest’ did), and it’s villain fits in with the Doctor Who pantheon; malicious, but with a reason.

The two animated Doctor Who episodes are nice enough.  They aren’t a replacement for the live action series, but make for decent filler until it returns.

The two episodes are available on separate DVDs, or together on iTunes for $3.99 (which is how I watched it).  The DVD for “Dreamland” itself is $20, which is a lot for one hour of content.

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