Magic Bullet Productions

32 Stupid Things About “Arc of Infinity"
(And 18 Cool Ones)
(But we're not telling you which is which)
(We're expecting you to work that out for yourselves)

By Alan Stevens and Fiona Moore

Originally published in Celestial Toyroom Issue 496/7

1. The idea of concealing the villain's identity by keeping Councilor Hedin's face in shadow during the opening scene is massively undermined when he opens his mouth and Michael Gough's terribly distinctive (even when distorted) voice comes out.

2. It's further undermined by the fact that having a relatively minor character played by such a well-known actor is a dead giveaway that there's something up.

3. If, however, Ian Collier has been cast as Omega, instead of Stephen Thorne, specifically so as to not give the game away as to who the other villain of the story is, why go to so much trouble for one, and not the other?

4. Then again, the moment antimatter is mentioned and the Time Lords appear, any fan worth their copy of The Programme Guide would have figured out it was Omega anyway.

5. For all the fuss about Robin's missing passport in Part One, it's completely forgotten by Part Four.

6. “No one comes here except the odd gardener.” How does he know the gardener is odd?

7. Which brings us on to Alex Wilcox's classic article for UNIT News, arguing that “Arc of Infinity”, featuring two young men spending the night in a pump house in Amsterdam, anticipating the arrival of the Odd Gardener (and his tool), shot on video and accompanied by a cheesy electronic score, has all the elements of a 1980s gay porn video.

8. “Are you really going to sleep like that?” “Well, what's the matter with that?” “You're still fully dressed.” “I'm not taking any chances!” “Oh, come on, it's only a pump house, the worst that can happen is we're caught by the police.” See what we mean?

9. And then, of course, they are visited at night by a giant cock. Okay, okay, we'll stop now.

10. Why does Hedin don his ceremonial Time Lord collar to shoot Talor?

11. “An accident has been arranged” says Hedin regarding Talor's death. The man was shot in the face with an impulse laser – was Hedin expecting people would think the chap was cleaning it and it just went off?

12. Angus Mackay was fifty when he played Borusa in “The Deadly Assassin”; John Arnatt was sixty when he played him in “The Invasion of Time”; Leonard Sachs was 71 when he played him in “Arc of Infinity”. Sort of makes one wonder why he bothers regenerating.

13. Oh, and Gallifrey's design just gets worse and worse after “The Deadly Assassin”, to the point where it now looks like a mid-range hotel.

14. It also contains a very small bar, facing directly onto a busy corridor, which seems to be the only leisure facility on the planet.

15. OneHellOfACoincidenceWatch: What are the chances of Omega landing in an underground crypt where a young man is spending the night, who just happens to be the cousin of one of the Doctor's companions, and said companion happens to be taking a holiday in the same city the very next day?

16. The Doctor states that "Only twice before in our history has the recall circuit been used”, while the infotext tells us that these two occasions were during “The War Games” and “The Hand of Fear”. However, although the Time Lords take control of the Tardis in "The War Games", there is no indication that the recall circuit was involved, otherwise, the Time Lords could have brought the Tardis back whenever they wanted. As for “The Hand of Fear”, the sound effect used is the same, but the signal is only an indication that he must return to the planet, also it was illegally sent by the Master in any case. So either the Doctor is misremembering, or he's referring to some other incident in Gallifreyan history, but never follows it up.

17. Having the Doctor shot has to be the least dramatic cliffhanger ever. They're hardly going to kill him, are they?

18. And then they go and reuse the same idea for the cliffhanger of Part Two, in which the Doctor is apparently executed.

19. Marvel at the Time Lord in the gorgeous magenta robes and gold hat at four minutes 48 seconds into Part Two. Just marvel at him.

20. Hedin and Damon are old, and very good, friends of the Doctor's. Such good friends that he's never mentioned them before, or since.

21. “Marvellous, isn't it? First I lose my job, not to worry, I think, I'll go and see my favourite cousin, cheer myself up. Now this.” Tegan's utterly selfish reaction to the news of Colin's disappearance and probable kidnapping under mysterious circumstances.

22. “Time Lords, I beg of you, think what you're doing!” Nyssa, ever the mistress of naturalistic dialogue.

23. If you thought Time Lord hats were silly-looking before, check out the fetching numbers Hedin and Borusa wear, with their little Perspex rhinoceros horns.

24. When did Nyssa get the time to purchase the vile crockery that appears in her room?

25. “All of the High Council wear different coloured robes... but they all wear collars with the Prydonian Seal on them” (infotext, Part Two). Bit of an obvious mistake to make.

26. According to the infotext, the camera script describes the Matrix as “humming with the kind of electrical activity we would expect to see inside a brain... the Matrix is the scientifically engineered reordering of the relative dimensions of time and space over which the Time Lords have control.” The idea of an electronic version of a brain which encompasses time and space within it, suggesting space and time is itself a brain, and that, consequently, our brains are also a mirror of space and time, is surprisingly Cool.

27. We'd just like to do a shout-out to Colin Frazer's neon-yellow socks.

28. In “Vincent and the Doctor”, the other Doctor Who story involving Dutch people and a giant space chicken, the giant cock is a metaphor for Vincent van Gogh's mental illness. Here, the space chicken just looks mental.

29. The Doctor knows the Presidential code because he became President during “The Invasion of Time”. However, if his memory of having been President was erased at the end of that previous story, how come he still remembers the code?

30. It's a shame the villain of this piece never campaigned for office, then he could have used the slogan “Hedin for President.” No? Oh, please yourselves...

31. The sympathetic villain who throws himself in front of a gun to save a regular character after having become redundant to the plot is a complete cliché.

32. Though to be fair, it's one Doctor Who has only used twice before, in “Robot” and “Meglos”.

33. If the Castellan believes both the Doctor and the President are traitors, and accidentally shoots Hedin, why does he then believe Hedin is the traitor simply because the President told him so?

34. What purpose do Colin and Robin serve in the adventure? There's nothing they do in Part One and Two, bar create a contrived link to bring Tegan into the narrative, and by Part Three they're completely redundant.

35. At that, Tegan's more or less redundant to the story as well, and for most of Part Four all she and the boys are doing is staring worriedly at each other in occasional cutaways.

36. A big shout out to the Tardis Toolkit, getting a repeat outing after “Earthshock” and to reappear in “The US Telemovie with the Pertwee Logo”.

37. The youth hostel receptionist in Part Four calls Tegan “Miss Jo Wanker.” Yes, he does.

38. So Nyssa shoots Omega's giant cock, Omega then turns into the Fifth Doctor, decays, and dies. Make of all that what you will.

39. Omega's characterisation is hugely inconsistent; on the one hand he's an insane monster who casually kills the Odd Gardener to get his clothes, on the other he's upset enough at Hedin's death to, in a cut scene, swear vengeance on his behalf, and on the third hand, he's also this Frankenstein's Monster-like creature who shambles about and learns how to smile courtesy of an organ-player and a small blond sprog.

40. In Part One, as Robin goes up the steps of the youth hostel, and in Part Four, as Omega flees out of the alley, you can clearly see a lesbian symbol graffitied on the fence outside the restaurant De Spaanse Ruiter.

41. Later, as Omega passes a shop called Computercollectief, you can see that the words “FUCK OFF” have been spray-painted on the wall next to its window.

42. It's never stated why Tegan got the sack from her job. The most obvious explanation is for her failing to turn up on time due to the events of “Logopolis”, but you can make up your own story if you don't like that one.

43. In “The Three Doctors” Omega sent antimatter to Earth and used a “cosmic conjuring trick”, involving his will and the power of a singularity existing within a black hole, to convert it to matter. Since he doesn't have the black hole anymore, Omega seeks out the Arc of Infinity, a region of space that once contained a collapsed ‘Q’ star which on burn out creates quad magnetism, the only force known to shield anti-matter.

44. Although the bond with the Doctor hasn't taken, Omega is still protected by the fact that he has caused the Arc of Infinity to pass through Amsterdam, meaning that he's shielded by the quad magnetism, however, once his Tardis is destroyed, the Arc shifts again, and his form begins to deteriorate. This makes perfect in-story sense.

45. Continuity Errorwatch: the booster element is first said to be transmitted to Omega (or it would have been, had Talor not interrupted it), then, by Part Four, the booster element is a physical object which has been actually sent to Omega.

46. Nyssa implies that the whole Tardis used to be in a state of temporal grace, but, in “The Invasion of Time”, it's made clear that it is actually just the control room, thanks to the “relative dimensional stabiliser field” (since guns are fired in other parts of the vessel).

47. According to the infotext, producer John Nathan-Turner was anxious to avoid using Amsterdam-related tropes in this story. Which means we get a script which, barring one line about the sea level, might have been set in any major city, and didn't require that location shoot.

48. Omega, according to “The Three Doctors”, existed only as an act of will. Which means that in “Arc of Infinity”, he had to create himself an antimatter body which could bond with the Doctor's, so his new appearance is justified narratively.

49. The Doctor says the Ergon is one of Omega's "less successful attempts at psychosynthesis"; taken together with his own weird-looking antimatter body and the Gel Guards in The “Three Doctors”, this would indicate Omega's good at doing walls and rooms, and not so good at humanoids.

50. If Tegan and the lads are shot by the "matter converter" and turned into antimatter, why aren't they still antimatter at the end of the story? At that, what happens to the Ergon when it is shot by the antimatter gun, as it must be antimatter to begin with? And finally, if it's so easy to convert matter into antimatter, why is it so difficult to reverse the process?

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