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Audio Drama Review
The colony planet Delafoss is occupied by a rapacious alien force known only as the Eminence. Slave armies of terrified humans are commanded by the dreaded Infinite Warriors, who are impervious to most forms of firepower, and have voices like icy death. The Doctor and Leela arrive, expecting to find Earth’s most successful, unspoiled colony. Instead, they are confronted by a planet choked by industrialisation. And at the heart of it all, the construction of something that the Eminence intends will wipe out all human resistance once and for all. For the first time in his life, the Doctor confronts the Eminence... and things will never be quite the same again...
Sequels to this adventure have already been released: the Sixth Doctor story The Seeds of War last year and, more recently, the Eighth Doctor box set Dark Eyes 2. I haven’t heard Dark Eyes 2 yet, and I can’t remember much about The Seeds of War... but that is a good thing, because now I can listen to them in the “correct” order!
Destroy the Infinite feels like the missing piece of a puzzle. One thing I do recall about The Seeds of War is feeling a teensy bit flummoxed about the form and abilities of the Eminence, an “old” enemy that I had never heard of before. The dramatic opening scene of this new release demonstrates the menace of this entity and the dreadful nature of its undead Infinite Warriors in no uncertain terms. Even so, there are some questions left unanswered for future releases...
Writer / director Nicholas Briggs credits his sources of inspiration for this yarn in his sleeve notes and in interviews at the end of the CD: Second World War movies such as Sink the Bismarck! and The Heroes of Telemark. However, I’m not a huge fan of war films and have not seen those particular two. With the subject matter transferred into space, I was more immediately reminded of famous screen space battles like those in the Star Wars series. For the Bismarck, read the Death Star, or in this instance the Infinite, a powerful new battleship of the Eminence – which must be destroyed, or else the war is as good as lost. Cue lots of single-pilot fighter craft zooming here, there and everywhere in all-too-often futile and fatal efforts to bring the larger vessel down. Stay on target! This is a much more British-sounding conflict than Star Wars, though – Ian Hallard’s daredevil pilot Davent put me in mind of a floppy-haired Hugh Grant or the heroic Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf. What a guy!
Meanwhile, David Sibley as the Eminence and the Infinite Warriors’ commander Zarith sounds like all the best Fourth Doctor villains rolled into one: Sutekh, the emaciated Master, Magnus Greel, you name it.
Destroy the Infinite isn’t perfect, mind you. The plot feels lopsided, with Part One running shorter than Part Two yet culminating in a somewhat underwhelming cliffhanger. Why not transfer some of the action-packed incident from the beginning of Part Two? Even by the standards of these single-disc releases, the narrative feels constrained by its mere two episodes, and could easily have run for much longer. Yet the story ends on a sombre note, more of a whimper than a bang, and this gear change is rather abrupt. Obviously Briggs could not destroy the Eminence in Destroy the Infinite, or those aforementioned sequels could not have happened.
Now there’s an idea! I could make this a longer serial by giving The Seeds of War another listen...
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