The TARDIS arrives on what appears to be an asteroid with a city on it, a city where the cars, the people and even the buildings have turned to stone. Some of the human colonists on the asteroid have escaped that fate – some of them steeped in Australian Aboriginal lore, and others much more determined to return the colony to normality, by brute force if necessary. The strange situation is not helped by the arrival of a Galyari ship, its crew determined to salvage something from the asteroid before they leave. When the Doctor vanishes into something called the Dreaming, and Ace is knocked out cold, Hex finds himself on his own in a situation he can barely even begin to fathom.
written by Simon Forward
directed by Gary Russell
music by Steve Foxon
Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Tamzin Griffin (Trade Negotiator Vresha), Jef Higgins (Coordinator Whitten), Brigid Lohrey (Dream Commando Wahn), Josephine Mackerras (Toomey), Andrew Peisley (Dream Commando Mulyan), Steffan Rhodri (Commander Korshal), John Scholes (Baiame)
Timeline: after The Harvest and before Live 34
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Well…I guess it looked like a good idea on paper. For the first time in quite a while, a Doctor Who audio has left me not elated, not annoyed, but just simply nonplussed. There are some interesting ideas in Dreamtime, including references to “cultural terraforming,” and perhaps a message about preserving cultures even in the face of progress and industrialization, among other things, but somehow the cumulative effect of the four episodes were to leave me…well, a bit uninterested. Actually, a straightforward discussion on the latter issue would likely prove to be more interesting than this story’s subtle-as-a-sledgehammer attempt at topical storytelling.
Unless it was of Hex’s scenes, that is. Philip Olivier continues to make his new TARDIS traveler likeable, and when he’s thrust into danger that’s beyond what he can grasp, his part of the story quickly becomes the most compelling thing to follow. Ace has to deal with an uncooperative brute determined to gain control of the situation by any means necessary – hardly a situation she hasn’t been in before – while the Doctor finds himself in bizarrely unfamiliar circumstances to which he reacts with what almost seems like calm familiarity. Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy turn in fine performances, and the first episode is gripping stuff, but it gets a bit muddled after that, leaving the cast to do the best they can with what the script gives them. There are even tantalizing hints that we’ll follow up on the Galyari’s relationship with the Doctor – something explored much more deeply in The Sandman – but even that doesn’t materialize.
Somewhere in Dreamtime, there are fascinating ideas and an interesting story to be told – but it could be that both of those things were crowding each other out here, and not leaving adequate room to full explore either. Sadly, the weakest Doctor Who audio release in quite some time.