The Infinite Quest
Roots: The pirates are based on pirate films. The overall plot could be inspired by The Keys of Marinus of the Key to Time arc of Season 16. The Infinite's powers may be inspired by the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
There are references to Fanny Craddock, Delia Smith, and The Wombles (Madam Cholet), Napoleon Bonaparte, Boudicca, Blackbeard,and Bill Odie,
Goofs: The dialogue about which century this is set in seems contradictory. At the start, the Doctor sounds like he says it's the 14th Century (and the closed captions on the DVD agree), though it's clearly the future. Later on, though, he says it's a more plausible 40th Century.
The Doctor claims that Volag-Noc is the coldest place in the galaxy. When he and Martha get there later it's warm enough to snow, and Martha doesn't immediately freeze to death wearing just her jacket. [He was exaggerating for effect.]
The Doctor claims that the TARDIS is travelling at 670,000,000 miles per hour and a bit whilst it's in normal space. Since this is just under the speed of light, why isn't it creating a massive (black-hole level) gravitational field?
Caw appears to fly through space in the same way a bird would fly through the atmosphere,, which makes no sense [he has some other form of propulsion, but makes the movements anyway]. He manages to pick up the TARDIS whilst doing so. And this is during the scene where it's flying at almost the speed of light, so should be impossible for an object on human scale to shift.
If, as the Doctor claims, oil has run out on Earth, why isn't the planet uninhabitable due to runaway climate change? And how has technology not advanced to the point where human colonies are not dependent on importing oil from the Solar System? [If could be that oil is necessary for some really important kind of plastic, but then why does the Doctor mention petrol, and later claim that oil is necessary for light and heating?] And for that matter, why are the oil rigs producing petrol rather than crude oil?
The oil pirate ship is consistently shown flying over sand, and not over the downed oil rig. Except when we see the plank, at which point the plank is inexplicably floating over a lake of boiling oil.
If the oil rigs have defence systems, why don't they automatically attack the Black Gold as soon as it has downed one of them? And why does Swabb remotely activate them just after the Doctor and Martha have revealed that they aren't really OilCorp spies? He's just turned the crew, so he already outguns the captain and doesn't need the firepower.
How does Martha know that the Infinite is a big spacehip? All she's been told about at this point is its legendary power. [She's making it up.]
Why does Martha assume that the Mantasphid habitat is a city? It doesn't look like one.
How can the entire galaxy be dependent on the agricultural production of one planet? The scale is almost
And if the Mantasphids are planetary invaders, why do they need weapons shipped in by dodgy contractors? If you're planning a planetary invasion, why would you go ahead before you have adequate weapons?
If the humans can remove a hundred-mile “vector” [does pilot kelvin mean an area of a hundred square miles?] from space and time, why are they bothering with small ship attacks using sonics?
If Balthazar knows that the data-chips are in the possession of his old cell-mates, why can't he track them down himself? And how does he know anything about the TARDIS in the first place? He only experience with the Doctor is that brief encounter at the very start of the story.
The Doctor says that it's taken him just two and three quarter years to raise Squark and get to the Infinite due to time dilation. But time dilation happens when travelling at sub-light speeds. If the Infinite is less than three light years from Volog-Noc then why would Balthazar need to hijack the TARDIS, rather than just use his own transportation? [He was reduced to travelling on Cor, who has just died.]
Technobabble: Hydroxiling fungus.
Continuity: Caw appears to be a member of a robotic species that runs on gold fusion, and needs to eat gold. The species thrives, even though gold is still considered treasure.
The Infinite is a spaceship from the Dark Times which has the power to create an illusion of your heart's desire. Over time, this has morphed into a legend about it being able to actually grant your heart's desire.
The sonic screwdriver can damage significant parts of the Black Gold's systems and cause the wreck of the Infinite to fall apart.
The Doctor owns a spoon that, when broken, releases a metal-destroying fungus. He claims that it's an antique, forged by the now extinct inhabitants of a planet that specialised in rubicola. He also claims that it passed through the hands of the greatest chefs of planet Earth: Fanny [Craddoc], Delia [Smith], and Madame Cholet. [Since Cholet is a character in The Wombles we can assume this is a name drop.]
Links: The Infinite dates from the Dark Times (see various New Adventures). Creatures from those times include the Racnoss (The Runaway Bride), the Vampires (State of Decay and other stories), and the Autons (Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons, Rose). The Doctor mentions the Great Old Ones (White Darkness, All-Consuming Fire, Millennial Rites, Twilight of the Gods (MA)). The Doctor mentions sabre-toothed gorillas (The Sabre Toothed Gorillas).
Extras: This story was itself an extra, being originally aired as part of Totally Doctor Who.
Location: The Solar system in the 40th century; Pheros, Bouken, Myarr, Volag-Noc all many years later; Asteroid 7574 B in the Caris System of the Hesperus Galaxy three years after that.
Future History: Balthazar is the Scourge of the galaxy and the Corsair King of Triton. He forged his ship himself. Shortly before this story he blew all of Earth's defence forces from the sky, and was planning to turn all the planet's inhabitants into diamonds.
Volag-Nocis a prison planet in this era, and the Doctor claims it's the coldest place in the galaxy.
The planet Bouken has artificial suns and giant robotic oil rigs. During the 14th century the last great oil companies are sucking the Solar System dry to feed demand, petrol prices are going through the roof, and colonies are so dependent on oil that those who can't afford it are dying. The planet Myarr is an excellent source of dung. Due to the scarcity of oil, the entire galaxy is dependent on its agricultural output.
It is possible to hire a crew of skeletons, who are cheaper than hiring humans. The skeletons can acquire human bodies. It is implied that these bodies are taken from actual people.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has 3,005 outstanding convictions according to the Volog-Noc guards, with 6,000 more to be taken into consideration. They include 1400 minor traffic violations, 250 library fines,and 18 counts of planetary destruction dating back 3000 years.
Between scenes the Doctor spends nearly 3 years raising Squawk, reprogramming Lok to run Volog-Noc as a better prison, and travelling the Infinite (he says that time dilation means it's only two and three quarter years).
By this point, humanity exists across at least seven galaxies.
The Bottom Line: A Skeleton crew. Literally. The plot moves at a rapid pace, as you'd expect from something originally aired in three-minute segments, and the whole thing still feels coherent watched in a single sitting, even if the plot is incredibly flimsy and paper-thin.