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2 March 2015

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...

Day 791: Dreamland

Dear diary,

Much like The Infinite Quest alongside Series Three, I never really paid all that much attention to Dreamland. Because I’d taken a bit of a step back from Doctor Who in 2009, I’d missed a lot of the build up around it, and I have to confess that the broadcast completely passed me by. I picked up the DVD not long after, intending to give it a watch, but it’s simply sat still in wrapper on the shelf for the last five years. There was something quite exciting about unwrapping it for the marathon today - it’s like finding a missing episode and getting to experience it for the first time.

I’d been warned earlier this week not to expect too much, and especially that the animation in this one was ‘atrocious’, but actually I have to say I’m rather fond of it. Certainly, I prefer it to the style used for The Infinite Quest, and there’s something about the likeness of the Doctor in this one which really works for me. I don’t know if I can claim that it actually looks like David Tennant, but it certainly looks like the character of the Tenth Doctor, and that’s good enough for me. Oh, sure, there’s a few ropey moments scattered throughout - the way that doors open, or any time we get a look at character’s feet while they’re walking, for example - but on the whole I was hooked in enough to not really bother about that.

Which is the real point with this one - the story captured me enough to make me overlook the fact that I was watching an animated Doctor Who episode, and instead just allowed me to enjoy a fairly decent Doctor Who story. I won’t say it caught me right away - the first ten minutes or so proved a struggle, and I did almost think I was just going to give up half way and write about the fact that I was bored. Once things were properly underway, though, I suddenly found myself really captured - and enjoying it!

Oh, sure, the story is a bit simplistic in places (and more than a little bit clichéd), but that kind of works with the style of the whole piece - it’s a little bit of light entertainment before we head off for the Tenth Doctor’s final stand. A good way for him to have a nice simple adventure before the end. Plus it’s ignited an interest in all that ‘UFO’ nonsense again, and I’ve spent the last couple of hours enjoying increasingly outlandish ‘alien’ sightings on the internet, so that’s helped to pass an afternoon when there’s probably real work I could be getting on with.

What’s been most interesting, though, is thinking about the fact that this episode could very easily be made live action these days. In 2009, this likely would have felt a bit large scale to pull off in 45 minutes live-action, but almost all the elements have since turned up in the programme proper. The ‘American outback’ setting (complete with diner), the standard alien based on ‘Greys’… even the giant insect creatures could be pulled off now in more-or-less the same way the robots were created for Dinosaurs on a Spaceship - it’s interesting to look back and see how far we’ve come in such a sort time.

But I can’t put it off any more. Finally, from tomorrow, we’ll be headed for The End of Time itself… 

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