Aired 2 April – 30 June 2007
‘The Infinite Quest’ is a unique piece of Doctor Who history, a forty-five minute animated serial that was broadcast in three-and-a-half minute increments during consecutive Totally Doctor Who episodes that featured the voices of David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones, respectively, set towards the end of the third series.
Because of its short episode length, there is never a break in the action as it rattles along at breakneck speed, constantly shifting locations and characters as events shift between pirates, giant insects, prison robots, and beyond. While it’s a testament to everyone involved that the pieces can be watched cohesively and have it make sense, the disjointed nature of the story means that certain events are not as fully fleshed out as they otherwise might be in a standard episode. The new series of Doctor Who certainly moves a much more rapid pace than the classic series, but ‘The Infinite Quest’ speeds events up even further, creating a fairly satisfying short-term experience but not really leaving anything deeper for further reflection upon its completion. The plot does buckle a bit under its own scope and resolutions to the multiple issues in the various locales are conveniently and rather easily solved as well.
However, because the episode did have to be broken into short formats, the questing format is the logical choice for the serial, and its the sheer speed of events that keeps everything moving somewhat fluidly. The animation styling works quite well to evoke an otherworldly feel, but it does take away from the more nuanced portrayals of the characters that live action allows. Thus, even when the Doctor is appalled at the events he is witnessing, the animation doesn’t fully match what Tennant is able to do in person, leaving a much more generic presence as the lead. Skewing more towards the younger audience means that the harshness of the Time Lord is more tempered as well, and the episode makes a point to show that the villainous Baltazar survives, undermining some of the Tenth Doctor’s previous actions that have been much harsher for much less. Still, ‘The Infinite Quest’ does allow Martha do act as a voice of reason for the Doctor, an aspect that had been curiously lacking in her series of adventures compared to Rose’s as the unrequited love angle instead took focus.
‘The Infinite Quest’ does spectacularly showcase a colourful universe, giving a sense of scale to Doctor Who that has really been missing since it returned in 2005 to mostly Earth-set adventures even if it is at a blistering pace. Unfortunately, the hectic motion and energy of the Tenth Doctor simply cannot be captured by animation no matter how well-intentioned the attempts. In the end, ‘The Infinite Quest’ is a unique and enjoyable piece of Doctor Who lore, fast-paced but a little too efficient to fully explore its intriguing ideas, particularly the fascinating concepts of breaking into a prison as well as an external force taking issue with the Doctor’s interventions throughout the universe. For the younger audience of Totally Doctor Who, this is a spectacular tale, but for those looking for something a little more resounding, ‘The Inifinite Quest’ will offer little respite.