Wrapping up the year with a little animated Doctor Who fun, I wanted to go back and discuss one other special that came out back in 2009: Dreamland. This came out two years after The Infinite Quest and showed some real advances in the artistic style. It’s not that I didn’t like the artwork of The Infinite Quest, but found this more appealing. That could be because it felt far more like a video game and, as readers of the Junkyard know, I am an avid gamer. But the quality of the visuals were much improved in my book. But that wasn’t all that won me over.
So the idea is that the Doctor shows up in Nevada in the late 1950’s some time after the Roswell crash. He goes on a 6 part mission, teaming up with Cassie (played by Tennant’s wife Georgia) and Jimmy (Tim Howar). Like The Infinite Quest, each episode is short and the entire running time is still under an hour. Unlike the previous adventure, the 6 parts feel like they have more natural cliffhangers than the 13-part story had before. (Barring the first part, which came in at about 12 minutes, each subsequent part was between 6 and 7 minutes. It makes for very easy viewing!)
The visuals aren’t the only thing to love. Nicholas Rowe plays Rivesh Mantilax. Go on, say it out loud. I loved that name. I want to use that as an alias just to have people say it. The main enemy is called a Viperox. I mean, good Time Lord, Phil Ford really knocked it out of the park with those names.
Now if you’re wondering about the name Phil Ford, you are right; you’ve heard it before. He’d given us Into the Dalek and The Waters of Mars in Doctor Who, Something Borrowed in Torchwood and a number of the Sarah Jane Adventures. This last one is the one of some significance here, because eagle eyed views might remember the spaceship in this animated adventure, from Phil Ford’s SJA episode, Prisoner of the Judoon! It’s the ship Androvax uses. Mr. Dread returns in another SJA episode, The Vault of Secrets. I point all of this out because this one little animated story does more for Doctor Who than most entire seasons. It creates a sense of continuity often lacking in the show. There’s a feeling that we have a more interconnected world than any individual season normally offers us!
Continuity, in fairness, comes in many forms and for those … what’s the audio equivalent of eagle eyed? Bat eared? Fine… For those bat-eared viewers, the Doctor has an unpleasant interaction with the Viperox queen and tells his companions to run. He says she “is not amused. I have this effect on royalty!” This is a marvelous, quick-witted reference to Tooth and Claw where the Doctor and Rose try to get Queen Victoria to admit that she is not amused. There are other great lines too, but I was especially fond of that one. I was also especially fond of the Doctor for being the TV hero we need; when beating the Viperox he can’t bring himself to destroy them. He chases them off. (You know, I mentioned I’m a gamer, and that mentality influences my games! I have a hard time killing enemies in RPGs if given the chance to let them go. This has burned me in many a game, but I am happy that this lesson has found a home in my soul!)
There are some fun references to Men in Black, because of Mr. Dread. Alien, Die Hard and Star Wars are all referenced as well. And the entire story with the Greys is delightful. You know, the ones from the Roswell crash that “don’t exist”?
Like The Infinite Quest, if you missed this, it’s not like you missed a complete classic, but it would give you some enjoyable viewing and a chance to get back to the era of the Tenth Doctor. Tennant is, as usual, fantastic. Hearing that theme again is just icing on the cake. And while animation isn’t quite my thing, they did a great job with this. There are some really surprising images that I found screenshot-worthy in fact. (Although it does make me wonder why we can’t get something as good in 2020, considering the recent web series Daleks!. We’ll come to that in due course.)
Check out the trailer and enjoy a brief flashback into the past with the Tenth Doctor. ML