Years later, the Doctor arrives in the TARDIS; strange sightings at Roswell have all but passed into the local folklore. Some, however, are still convinced that something sinister is afoot, including ranch hand Jimmy Stalkingwolf, who the Doctor meets at a diner. A piece of supposed UFO debris on display at the diner catches the Doctor’s eye, and he inadvertently proves that it’s the real thing – men in black suits arrive almost immediately to confiscate it. The Doctor and his new friends run for it and discover that there really are aliens in and around Area 51. Some of them are helpless, and some of them are bent on conquering Earth – with the unwitting help of the U.S. military.
written by Phil Ford
directed by Gary Russell
music by Murray Gold
Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Georgia Moffett (Cassie Rice), Tim Howar (Jimmy Stalkingwolf), David Warner (Lord Azlok), Stuart Milligan (Colonel Stark), Peter Guinness (Mister Dread), Ryan McCluskey (Soldiers), Clarke Peters (Night Eagle), Nicholas Rowe (Rivesh Mantilax), Lisa Bowerman (Saruba Velak)
Broadcast from November 21 through 27, 2009
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Doctor Who has avoided wading into the oversaturated sub-genre of absorbing/adapting the Roswell UFO crash mythology into its own mythos, but I suppose it was bound to happen at some point. Dreamland tells the story stylishly, and for the most part it’s an interesting take on Roswell… but it’s not without its faults.
The ease and convenience of Colonel Stark’s conversion from collaboration with the Viperox to fighting against them is jarringly sudden; the Colonel simply switches sides too quickly, with only the Doctor’s word for it that he’s on the wrong side. Fortunately, Stark doesn’t completely lose his teeth for the remainder of the story, but for such a pivotal story development to happen in the blink of an eye strains credibility.
The cel-shaded CGI animation of Dreamland is very detailed, but a lot of details seem left by the wayside – the characters end up being not very expressive, and the fluidity of movement leaves something to be desired. Dreamland won’t be declaring a truce for Clone Wars anytime soon; there have, frankly, been better-animated video game cutscenes. Sadly, the stylized animation betrays the staggering amount of beautifully rendered detail in the backgrounds and in such objects as vehicles. Even the Doctor is recognizably a digital David Tennant, but the CGI Doctor doesn’t have a chance of duplicating or even beginning to emulate Tennant’s wide range of rapidly-changing facial expressions – virtually a visual trademark of that character.
I wasn’t holding my breath for a Doctor Who treatment of Roswell, but the story was – for the most part – decent enough. In the end, however, it’s let down a bit by the execution, which was itself probably the result of an extremely compressed production schedule that simply needed more time for R&D and fine tuning.
Notes: Dreamland almost resembles a Big Finish audio production with animation. It was directed by former Big Finish producer Gary Russell and recorded at Big Finish’s usual haunt, The Moat Studios. Cast members David Warner and Peter Guinness have been associated with audio Doctor Who in the past. Georgia Moffett appeared in an early Big Finish audio play, but is best remembered as The Doctor’s Daughter from the fourth season of the new TV series (and as David Tennant’s main squeeze – not to mention Peter Davison’s daughter – in real life). Lisa Bowerman has been heavily involved with Big Finish since the company formed to launch a series of Bernice Summerfield audio plays over a year before obtaining the Doctor Who license, both starring as Bernice and directing several productions; she also appeared as Karra in the final episode of the original Doctor Who series, Survival. Though this is the first appearance of the Viperox, both the exterior CGI model and the interior “set” of their flying saucer appeared in Prisoner Of The Judoon, the first story of the third season of The Sarah Jane Adventures (which aired prior to Dreamland).