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Animated Doctor Who


Given Doctor Who's longstanding position as a family show, it is perhaps surprising how long it had taken for a truly animated TV version to occur.

There had been dips into the medium before, to be certain. BBCi had added some basic animation (mainly scrolling over still images) to its audio stories Death Comes to Time and Real Time, and minimal Flash animation to the Big Finish production of Shada. All had been met with differing levels of acclaim (with only DCtT really creating any kind of debate within fandom), but primarily for the quality of the audio rather than the animation.

Next came BBCi's fully animated story Scream of the Shalka, for which we have a full guide here. Contrary to prior attempts, this time fandom generally accepted that this was a completely animated story, and instead criticised the writing and acting. Aside from an airing on digital channel BBCi (in the tiny window in the corner of the screen), however, this was never broadcast. Doctor Who seemed destined to be a live action show forever...

...and then, Totally Doctor Who came along. A children's documentary series aired alongside the 2006 episodes (see here for more info) it had been met with a cold enthusiasm in its first run of thirteen 25-minute episodes. Still, it had been recommissioned for another thirteen segments, with the understanding that it would take a hard look at its format in an effort to make it more fresh and exciting.

On 26th January 2007, the fruits of the team's brainstorming would show themselves. BBC Wales had partnered with Firestep (a new company spun off from Cosgrove Hall, who had worked not only on Scream of the Shalka, but also on the animated reconstruction of The Invasion released on DVD the previous year) to create a thirteen part story entitled The Infinite Quest for broadcast within the Totally Doctor Who programme.

The cast was confirmed as including David Tennant, Freema Agyeman and Anthony Head as Baltazar (Scourge of the Galaxy), with the story revolving around the search for a lost spaceship, the Infinite. The story would be written by Alan Barnes and directed by Gary Russell - the official site was also updated to include three desktop images of the two main characters. The issue of children's magazine Doctor Who Adventures published Wednesday 28th Feb reprinted the news but added little more.

On 1st March the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine featured a full preview, and revealed further details: The idea had come from BBCi's James Goss, who had previously accepted a pitch from Steve Maher and John Doyle of Firestep but never gone through with a full commission. Mark Cosset and Gillane Seaborne took it through to its conclusion, however, and asked for thirteen 210-second animations to be put together. A cast photo confirmed Big Finish regular Toby Longworth would also be taking part, and interviews with most of the participants revealed a few tantilising plot points.

Ultimately, it was not until April 2nd, the broadcast of the first part, that we finally knew what to expect from the following weeks...

Episode Guide

01: Intergalactic despot Baltazar is about to turn the inhabitants of Earth into diamonds when the Doctor and Martha drop in and use a fungus-covered spoon to destroy the ship he forged himself. The two set course for Copacabana beach, but Baltazar is following behind, swearing vengeance. (3'46")
The final shot, of Corr flying towards the camera, was replaced in the omnibus version.

02: The Doctor races through space, and the TARDIS is caught by Baltazar's pet Corr, who takes them to his home planet Faros many years after the events of the previous episode. He warns the Doctor and Martha that Baltazar has been released from prison and seeks The Infinite, a legendary relic from the Dark Times. The Doctor vows to find it first and sets course for the planet Bookun... but unknown to him, Caw is still working for Baltazar and has given them a tracking device... (3'50")

03: On Bookun, the Doctor and Martha are chased by giant walking oil rigs and captured by skeleton pirates commanded by Captain Kaliko - who decides to throw them overboard. (3'15")

04: Kaliko's first mate Swabb suggests tossing the Doctor and Martha into an oil drum and setting it alight - the Doctor realises that Swabb is actually a spy for the oil corporations and the three arrange a mutiny, but the oil rigs attack... (3'29")

05: The pirate ship, The Black Gold, is downed. Swab is flung overboard and the Doctor asks for Kaliko's earring, the first datachip that will lead them to The Infinite - disgusted, Kaliko escapes... the Doctor and Martha catch up with her escape pod later and find her murdered, her earring tossed to one side. They leave Bookun and arrive on a new planet - populated by a giant swarm of insects! (3'47")
A little over half a second of the opening battle shot was cut for the omnibus version.

06: The Doctor and Martha are rescued by giant lizard Ulysees Mergrass. Ulysses is protecting the bugs, and them, from a sonic attack by incoming warplanes. The planes attack, and they are taken to Ulysses' Queen who gives them some background before a pilot is captured and brought to them. (3'06")
The opening shot of the pilot looming was slightly altered for the omnibus version, and the ending cut short by about two seconds.

07: Martha realises the pilot is frightened, so the Doctor helps him and they discover that the bugs had invaded their planet. The Queen admits her evil-doing, and the Doctor pieces together a link between Ulysses and Baltazar. (3'51")
An additional establishing shot was added for the omnibus version.

08: Mergrass abandons the Queen, who surrenders. The humans can't respond to her surrender, however, so the Doctor claims to be a pirate who has been holding the Queen hostage, and he surrenders. The Doctor and Martha leave, finding Mergrass dead onb the way, before heading to an ice prison planet for the next chip. (3'51")
The final shot, of Martha looking scared, was cut short by about two seconds for the omnibus.

09: The Doctor and Martha are booked into the prison colony - Martha is deemed innocent, but the Doctor has MANY outstanding convictions. Martha fights on the Doctor's behalf with the governer to get his 2 billion year sentence overturned while the Doctor gets to know his new cellmate. (4'09")
The final shot was cut short by about five seconds for the omnibus.

10: The Doctor and his cellmate have escaped, and unveil the "governer" as a released prisoner who broke back in. The cellmate decides to destroy the entire prison colony, and the governer turns on him and escapes... with the data chip. Martha catches up with him, but he turns a gun on her... as Baltazar and Caw reappear! (3'10")

11: Corr is shot down, and admits to Martha with his dying breath that he betrayed them. Baltazar forces them into the TARDIS and he reveals that he has been tracking them with the device handed over in the second part, killing everyone they met and stealing the chips. Baltazar uses the chips, and the TARDIS console, to locate the Infinite. Realising he no longer needs the Doctor, he raises his weapon and fires... (3'54")
The opening shot of Caw swooping in was cut by three seconds, and the final shot of the TARDIS extended by two, for the omnibus.

12: Baltazar has kidnapped the TARDIS, and Martha, but she is determined that the Doctor WILL be back. They discover The Infinite, and Martha is sent to investigate. She finds an image of the Doctor onboard who attacks her while the real Doctor, and his new friend Squawk, attack Baltazar. (3'25")

Omnibus: On June 30th, the final part was aired exclusively as part of an omnibus edition. The real Doctor advises Martha that the fake DOctor will go away if she stops believing it. After she's defeated the image, the Doctor tells her of his adventures in the three years since he saw her last... He uses the Sonic Screwdriver to destroy The Infinite once and for all, and Baltazar along with it.

Cast

The Doctor: David Tennant
Martha Jone: Freema Agyman
Baltazar: Anthony Head
Caw/Squawk: Toby Longworth
Captain Kaliko: Liza Tarbuck
Swabb: Tom Farrelly
Mantasphid Queen: Lizzie Hopley
Mergrass: Paul Clayton
Pilot Kelvin: Steven Meo
Control Voice: Barney Harwood
Gurney: Stephen Greif
Locke/Warders: Dan Morgan