Audio Drama Review – Doctor Who – Short Trips: The Infinite Today

by Rachel Bellwoar

Doctor Who Short Trips: The Infinite Today
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Written by Sharon Bidwell
Performed by Katy Manning

Cover Artist: Mark Plastow

Jo Jones (Manning) may have traded trips in the TARDIS for trips on an airplane, but she’ll always be the Doctor’s companion. She may, however, want to rethink which airline she uses. It’s one thing to get off a TARDIS and realize you didn’t land where you meant to land, but an airplane is supposed to be past such surprises. Unfortunately, Jo never gets a chance to properly arrive. One minute she’s on her way to Mexico, the next she’s landing on an airstrip in Gatwick, back where she started. Did the plane turn around while she was asleep? Not according to the crew and passengers, but how else to explain why she can’t reach Mexico?
Will Jo be stuck in this time loop forever? That’s what Bidwell’s The Infinite Today aims to find out. But unlike your typical Groundhog Day time loop, where the same day repeats, again and again, Bidwell’s time loop is more of what Jo comes to call a time slip. Each repetition is a little bit different, with Jo slipping further and further ahead. This makes the time loop more of a race, with Jo trying to find someone who can help her before the time loop restarts. While often preceded by her falling asleep, there’s no way of knowing when that will be. All Jo can do is try to improve on her last attempt.
Her efforts pay off when she finds the Eleventh Doctor, but it’s at this point that The Infinite Today starts changing gears. It’s great to see this Doctor again (and that’s one of The Infinite Today‘s main attractions – the chance to see Jo and the Eleventh Doctor together again), but while the Doctor makes another time loop sound certain, the story progresses forward instead.
Since The Infinite Today is part of Big Finish’s Short Trips range, Bidwell doesn’t have much of a choice but to keep moving, but the plane sequences could’ve easily gone on for much longer. There are also ways in which this story’s length works to its benefit. As Jo says at one point, “Why, when the Doctor had so much time available, was there not always enough?” and that’s how it’s always going to be. You look forward to these different Doctor-companion stories but usually there’s a reason behind them, and once that’s resolved, it’s over. No social call. Dissatisfaction is part of the game, but when Jo is on her own, she handles herself beautifully. You get to see how much she’s learned from her time with the Doctor and, selfishly, it makes infinity not sound so bad.
Other thoughts on The Infinite Today:

  • Jo has always been passionate about environmental issues (that’s why she stopped traveling with the Doctor), but in The Infinite Today those issues feel tagged on, versus an episode like The Green Death, where they got to be front and center.
  • Manning does a wonderful job, voicing the different characters. No, she doesn’t sound exactly like Matt Smith, but she does talk at the same clip, for his lines.
  • The Eleventh Doctor has always been an adventurous eater (see: fish fingers and custard) so it makes sense that Bidwell would most channel his personality with a scene involving a new flavor of yogurt.

As much as I might question whether Short Trips was the best range for this story, or if it would’ve been better with more time to expand (or maybe that’s just me wishing these characters could have had some downtime to catch-up) The Infinite Today is a story about how much the Doctor cares about Jo. Even if he can’t stay long, he’ll always show up.
Doctor Who Short Trips: “The Infinite Today” is available to purchase from Big Finish.

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