BBC Video // 2008 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // December 8th, 2008
"Are we going on a quest then?"
It's a familiar story. The Doctor and his companion are headed to far-flung places across the universe in search of some objects that hold the key to puzzle. In this case, it's the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and Martha (Freema Agyeman, Torchwood), and the objects are data chips that will yield the location of the Infinite, a ship that will provide the "heart's desire" of whoever finds it. If the Doctor and Martha aren't careful, whoever could be Baltazar (Anthony Head, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), a space pirate whose heart's desire is to be rid of the Doctor and Martha once and for all. It's not just familiar for the Doctor; it's practically old-fashioned.
What's new in Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest is that it's animated. "Basically, the great thing about animation is that you can go places and do things that you can't do with live action," Anthony Head says in an interview in the extras.
The characters are simplified, but the landscapes they play against are spectacular, whether it's an oil planet being harvested by robotic rigs, a bug-infested city in space, or an icy prison planet. The drawn David Tennant is more subdued than the manic actor, which sinks in when you see the clips of the recording session in the extras.
The complete cartoon story clocks in at around 45 minutes (short of the "feature length" promised on the DVD cover); it originally came in short serialized chunks amid children's programs (another fact courtesy of Head). In essence, it's about the length of a regular Doctor Who episode. Rather than the sort of character-based stories the new show delivers, Infinite Quest feels like one of the cliffhanger tales from the original series, albeit choppier since it comes in chunks of less than 5 minutes rather than half an hour.
There are lots of special features included. Of the five actor interviews, Anthony Head is the only one providing actual information, but you'll likely get caught up in Freema Agyeman's excitement at her first voice gig. The dialogue recordings for the first and eighth episode of the short-form series are also fun, since you can see that Tennant and Agyeman act visually, even when the audience isn't expected to see it. There are also animatics, even simpler drawings of the action, just shy of stick figures. These are matched with the audio to provide crude animation; they include a couple of scenes deleted from the final product. Animation tests show the Doctor's eyes moving and other simple gestures in cartoon form.
Less successful are two behind-the-scenes segments that run too short to provide much real information. Text character profiles are a waste. A photo gallery provides stills from the major scenes in the story.
If you've enjoyed both versions of the series, you'll like Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest, although the choppy storytelling and decidedly non-feature length might deter the casual viewer. At under $10, though, it'll make a decent stocking stuffer for any longtime Whovians on your Christmas list.
Not guilty. It's fun seeing -- or at least hearing -- Tennant and Agyeman in
a Saturday matinee version of their Doctor Who personas.
Review content copyright © 2008 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Cast Interviews
* David Tennant's Animation Test
* Animatics with Deleted Scenes
* Dialogue Recording Sessions
* Character Profiles
* Photo Gallery
* Official Site