Dreamland was a Doctor Who animated special consisting of a twelve-minute episode and five six-minute episodes. It was written by Phil Ford, directed by Gary Russell and featured David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, Georgia Moffett as Cassie Rice and Tim Howar as Jimmy Stalkingwolf.
Conjoined, they amounted to one normal-length television episode of 42 minutes. Originally planned as seven six-minute episodes, the first two were edited together, and the six-part run aired on the BBC's Red Button service, as well as the BBC's Doctor Who website, between 21 and 27 November 2009. It was then broadcast, complete, on BBC Two on 5 December 2009, followed by a showing on BBC HD later that day. It was later shown on CBBC from time to time in its complete form. This marked the first six-part story televised since The Armageddon Factor and the first produced since Shada, which was completed in 2017.
During a visit to a local diner, the Tenth Doctor stumbles upon a mysterious alien artefact that leads him on a mission to rescue Rivesh Mantilax from the threat of the Viperox and the clutches of the American military.
Dry Springs, Nevada, 11 years later. The TARDIS lands at a diner. The Tenth Doctor meets two people: Cassie Rice and a man called Jimmy. He notices a piece of alien equipment on the table, picks it up and it activates. Two men in black suits are outside the diner. One walks in after a small confrontation. They end up having a brawl. He chases the trio out and they get in Jimmy's truck. Jimmy and Cassie tell the Doctor of the Roswell crash and how near they are to Area 51. Jimmy is convinced that aliens have been killing his cattle as he works at a ranch. Cassie says a cougar did it. The Doctor makes Jimmy stop the truck where he sees a large footprint. The three of them are confronted by a large alien which the Doctor says is a Viperox. Cassie screams piercingly, angering the alien, who threatens to attack them. Jimmy catches and restrains Cassie, and the three of them run for their lives as the Viperox chases them. Suddenly, the Viperox is hit by a missile aimed at it by a helicopter. The helicopter lands and a man walks out and arrests them and takes them to Colonel Stark at Area 51. At Area 51 the three are locked up in a room together until Stark arrives and tells them that their minds are to be wiped completely. The Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy are escorted to the lab by soldiers, who strap them down on operating tables and turn on the gas. Stark taunts the captives for a short while before leaving the room. As he walks out, the Doctor manages to free himself and turn off the gas. He then releases Cassie and Jimmy, and the three of them escape through a ventilation shaft. As they get through they come out and go to a corridor. The alarm rings and soldiers come out. They hide in a lab where they see a blue female alien sealed off behind glass. Soldiers burst in the lab and the Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy go up a lift. Once the lift gets to the top, however, they are faced with armed gunmen. The Doctor tells his new friends to put their hands up and smile. In General Stark's office, a Viperox threatens Colonel Stark that the Colonel's failure would have dire consequences for the Earth.
The Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy are being lead to the gas room when they come across an alien ship. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver and lowers it. All three enter it and the Doctor launches it. The controls are a bit wonky. General Stark is in the room with the Viperox Leader. He notes that this Doctor is not human. The spaceship crash lands. Stark detects this and orders a landing team to search for the Doctor. The trio makes it out of the crash unhurt. They find a ghost town which was abandoned during the gold rush. They enter a room and light a gas lantern. When Jimmy goes to look around, he finds the floor being completely destroyed. A Viperox arm grabs him and pulls him down into a tunnel. The Doctor and Cassie hear his cries and run after his voice. They find Jimmy being tied up in some sort of hardened insect goo. The Doctor confronts the leader Lord Azlok, who detects the Doctor's two hearts. While he is distracting them, Cassie lets Jimmy free; the Doctor learns the Viperox have no interest in conquering Earth - they are merely hunting for an old enemy of theirs. In a bid for protection, Cassie chucks the gas light at the Viperox leader and his guards before the Doctor can learn more. The Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy run down a tunnel and find eggs of hatched Viperox. The Doctor discovers the Viperox have laid eggs and not brought an army, being very clever. A few tens of young Viperox surround the Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy.
The Viperox Queen is annoyed at the Doctor, so she orders her troops to attack him and his friends. The Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy run and find a mine cart. The Doctor sets it to go and sets a trap for the baby Viperox. The Viperox get hit in this trap and fall down. The cart speeds along but it crashes into a rock. They climb out of the cart and find four members of the Alliance of Shades. The Men in Black were sent by the Alliance to find evidence of aliens on level five planets and cover them up. Mister Dread, leader of the Men in Black and the man who attacked Jimmy, is among them. The Doctor says they will destroy anything that knows about alien invasions. Their hands turn into guns and they attempt to vaporise the Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy. They, who turn out to be robots, are immobilised by arrows and defeated by Jimmy's grandfather Night Eagle. Night Eagle takes them to an alien he found called Rivesh Mantilax. Rivesh tells the doctor that his wife Seruba Velak is the alien the Doctor, Cassie, and Jimmy found earlier, who had crash-landed in 1947; her ship was attacked by mercenaries paid to ensure she could not reach negotiations intended to create an alliance against the Viperox. Rivesh tried to find her, but he was shot down by the humans. The reason why he came to Earth was the Viperox were on the verge of winning a long and bloody war with his species, one in which his race had been all but exterminated. After Rivesh has told his story, General Stark walks in and attempts to arrest Rivesh. He announces that the Doctor helped him save the world, but the Doctor feels like that is a bad thing.
The Doctor, Cassie, Jimmy, and Night Eagle are being transported to Area 51 by the US army. Night Eagle says that people like Stark are hell-bent on destruction, a sentiment the Doctor shares. When they arrive at Area 51, they are surprised to see Lord Azlok there. Azlok says he and Stark have formed an alliance. The Doctor tells Stark not to trust the Viperox, as their only goal is consuming every world they encounter, but Stark ignores him and Azlok proceeds to tell them that Rivesh (who has been imprisoned with Seruba) is a geneticist who had created a weapon capable of killing every Viperox in the universe; Jimmy supports such an idea, but the Doctor retorts genocide is never a good thing, arguing that even the Viperox can change. Stark reveals that he plans to have Rivesh repurpose the ionic fusion bar to destroy Russia and end the Cold War. Mister Dread walks in, and it is revealed that he was working for Lord Azlok. He has the ionic fusion bar in his hand. The Doctor zaps him with his screwdriver and he is shut down again. He grabs the ionic fusion bar and runs off, leaving his friends behind. Stark chases the Doctor to a roof and warns the Doctor to put the ionic fusion bar down. The Doctor points out to Stark that once the Viperox have the ionic fusion bar, there will be nothing to stop them turning on Earth. Stark laughs at the idea of a bunch of 'cockroaches' trying to go up against tanks and missiles, but the Doctor retorts that Rivesh's people's technology is 1000 years ahead of Earths and they couldn't stop the Viperox; thus, what chance does humanity have? The Doctor asks whether Stark wants to be remembered as the man who saved the world or the one who destroyed it. Convinced, Stark orders his men to arrest Azlok, but the Viperox leader, who has heard everything, bursts out.
Stark declares Azlok a prisoner of the United States Army, but Azlok sneers that the Viperox have laid waste to entire galaxies; the United States and Earth pose no threat. The Doctor advises the Viperox to leave Earth while they still can, but Azlok retorts that possession of the genetic weapon means nothing because it is useless without Rivesh. Taking wing, Azlok declares he will destroy the Earth and then flies off.
The Doctor and Stark run down to the room where Rivesh and Seruba are. Cassie, Jimmy, and Night Eagle are there and Seruba is cradling Rivesh; seriously injured by Azlok, he is near death. The weapon is attuned to Rivesh's DNA; thus, no one can activate it but him. This is why Azlok tried to kill him. Seruba says there is something in the ship that could revive him. Stark says that anything found in the ship was stored in Area 51 Vault. With only an hour until sunset and the Viperox's impending attack, the Doctor, Cassie, Jimmy, Seruba, and Stark arrive at the vault. The Doctor asks Jimmy and Cassie to defend the TARDIS and nearby Dry Springs. Inside the Vault, the Doctor and Seruba look for the device they need. In the Viperox lair, Azlok gets the Viperox Queen to release her newly hatched brood so that they will destroy the whole town. The Doctor in the Vault comes across the Skorpius Flies, a carnivorous alien brain with alien flies hovering around it. Seruba tells the doctor she has found the device that could revive Rivesh. The Skorpius Flies chase after them until the Doctor finds a crate and hides inside. At the Area 51 base, Stark is informed that they are getting reports of Viperox attacks. He orders a row of tanks to block the Viperox off. The Doctor and Seruba avoid the flies by escaping in the crate that has been serving as their hiding place. Cassie and Jimmy are driving along with the TARDIS strapped to their pick-up. Viperox begin to emerge from the ground and one bursts its way up in front of Jimmy's truck.
Jimmy manages to swerve and drives off while the Viperox chase them. Helicopters fly overhead and fire at flying Viperox. Stark is annoyed that they are losing. Lord Azlok storms in and tries to get the truth of where the Doctor is. The Doctor and Seruba meanwhile have escaped the vault. They then drive a Jeep to the base, where they see that it's under heavy attack. The Doctor is worried until Jimmy and Cassie show up with the TARDIS strapped to the back of their truck. They all travel in the TARDIS to the room in Area 51 where Rivesh is dying. In the nick of time, Seruba revives Rivesh. The Doctor asks for the device to be activated and Rivesh relishes the thought of killing the Viperox. However, the Doctor warns him not to detonate it, or it will completely wipe the Viperox out not only on Earth but in the entire universe. He restates his beliefs and tells him that no-one should have the power to exterminate an entire species. Rivesh returns the favour of his revival and trusts the Doctor with the device. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver on it and then he rushes into the TARDIS and grabs a cable. At that moment, Azlok holds Jimmy hostage at the entrance to the TARDIS, threatening to kill him if the Doctor detonates it. The Doctor says he isn't going to set it off and explains that one day, the Viperox will become a peace-loving race. Azlok dismisses this as madness, to which the Doctor replies that one thing the TARDIS does have is a killer-sound system; the Doctor connects the cable to the device and unleashes a deafening soundwave that affects all the Viperox in the area. On the Doctor's orders, they retreat, flee Earth, and don't come back. Before he flees, Azlok furiously snarls, "Your day will come, Doctor!" before withdrawing; the Doctor dismisses the warning of his impending death. After the attack, Stark thanks the Doctor and Seruba and Rivesh leave in their ship. Stark tells them to keep quiet about the events and then the Doctor suggests that Cassie and Jimmy clear up the Viperox mess. As the TARDIS departs, Cassie and Jimmy hold hands.
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Cassie Rice - Georgia Moffett
- Jimmy Stalkingwolf - Tim Howar
- Lord Azlok - David Warner
- Rivesh Mantilax - Nicholas Rowe
- Seruba Velak - Lisa Bowerman
- Colonel Stark - Stuart Milligan
- Mister Dread - Peter Guinness
- Night Eagle - Clarke Peters
- Soldier - Ryan Macclusky
- Writer - Phil Ford
- Director - Gary Russell
- Animation Studio - Littleloud
- Animation Director - Darren Garrett
- Art Director and Character Design - Paul Simpson
- Animation Co-Director - Nik Faulkner
- Visual Effects - Jim Howell
- 3D Design - Rebecca Green, Robin Konieczny, Adam Sharp
- Lead Animator - Tim Sanpher
- Animators - Nora O'Sullivan, Kristian Antonelli, Stu Short
- Concept Design - Tiernen Trevallion
- Sound Design - Dan Ward
- Offline Editor - Dominic Jones
- Online Editor - Matt Mullins
- Production Assistants - Sara Khangaroot, Alice Parsons
- Animation Producers - David Jacklin, Georgina Muggeridge, Saffron Allwood
- With thanks to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
- Original Theme Music - Ron Grainer
- Casting Director - Andy Pryor CDG
- Music - Murray Gold
- Sound Effects - Paul Jefferies, Darran Clement, Howard Eaves
- Dubbing Mixer - Peter Jeffreys
- Music Editor - Doug Sinclair
- Voice Recording - The Moat Studios
- Production Executive - Julie Scott
- Interactive Producer - Ed Cross
- Senior Producer - Mat Fidell
- Executive Producer, Interactive - Anwen Aspden
- Executive Producer for CBBC - Sarah Muller
- Executive Producers - Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner, Piers Wenger
- Jimmy works at Broken K Ranch.
- "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers is heard playing when the Doctor first enters the diner.
- When the Russians are referred to as "Reds", the Doctor momentarily confuses them with the football club Manchester United.
- When the Viperox blink, it makes the same squeak noise heard when the Raxacoricofallapatorians blink.
- The total length of the serial is forty-five minutes, or roughly the length of a standard live-action episode.
- Although produced and broadcast during the period the 2009 Specials were airing, Dreamland is not considered part of that series of stories, much as TV: The Infinite Quest is not considered part of Series 3.
- Dreamland is an alternate name for the secretive Area 51 U.S. Air Force base in Groom Lake, Nevada. It is the subject of many conspiracy theories, some of which involve the alleged Roswell crash debris and bodies being studied there. Area 51 and Roswell do feature in the story. Many years later, Mr Smith mentioned that a spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and that Androvax had used Mr Smith to acquire the schematics of the ship from the Dreamland base in Arizona. The spaceship and controls were exactly the same as the ship featured in this story, right down to the ionic fusion bar which powers the ship. (TV: Prisoner of the Judoon)
- This story is the next animated episode after TV: The Infinite Quest, which was aired during 2007 as part of Totally Doctor Who.
- Voice actor Lisa Bowerman is best known for playing Bernice Summerfield in the Big Finish Productions audio dramas, for which she currently directs productions. She was also a guest star in the 1989 serial TV: Survival as Karra.
- David Warner has also been involved in the Big Finish audio dramas, most notably playing an alternate version of the Doctor in the Doctor Who Unbound series.
- Music previously heard in Doctor Who is reused in this story.
- A shortened version of the Doctor Who theme and opening credits accompany the edited-together version of the story, unlike The Infinite Quest which used a full-length opening credit sequence.
- Unlike cel-animated The Infinite Quest, Dreamland was rendered in computer generated CG in a pose to pose style animation method.
- According to the Christmas Eve commentary, the first episode was originally two, with the cliffhanger being Colonel Stark preparing to use the mindwipe chamber; however, it was later edited into a double length episode.
- The DVD and TV repeats use the 45 minute version; however, the six part version is still available to watch on the Doctor Who website.
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- Shortly after this serial was announced, there were persistent rumours that this animated adventure would involve the Tenth Doctor being trapped in a dream-like place, hence the title, wherein he encounters each of his past incarnations, taking advantage of the animated format of the adventure to bring back Doctors played by actors who are now deceased. The rumour stated that the deceased Doctors' voices will be performed using voice actors or, where possible, using archived audio clips. This was also to be how actors who do not wish to return to the show, for example Christopher Eccleston, would have been included in the special, as the aforementioned "hold-outs" had supposedly agreed that their likenesses could be used in the adventure. The broadcast of the serial, however, confirmed that this was not the case. It should be noted that such a scenario, the Tenth Doctor meeting visions of his former selves, already played out in the comic series COMIC: The Forgotten.
- Cassie Rice is thought to be the Doctor's daughter in disguise, but this is mere speculation based on the fact that Georgia Moffett plays both characters.
- Some viewers thought the fighters chasing the saucer were too advanced for 1958. In fact, they appear to be F-100 Super Sabres, which were in service from 1954 to 1961.
Production errors on an animated story are particularly hard to assess. Some degree of artistic license is to be expected; the production intent is not really to give a perfect emulation of a live-action shot. Thus, the much-criticised movement style of particularly the humanoid characters in this story can't be considered a "production error". The producers chose a particular physics model and used it consistently throughout the production, even though it gives characters like the Tenth Doctor a not-very-David-Tennant-like way of walking and talking. Nevertheless there does seem to be at least one movement pattern that breaks the logic of the movement physics. On several occasions, Azlok's head can be seen to actually pass through his shell, seemingly indicating a glitch in the collision detection code.
Another type of error that occurs in animation is when an object disappears from a location where it would logically be. During the sequence where the Doctor and his companions escape from the room where they were to be gassed, he throws his shackles to a particular spot on the floor. Yet when he ascends to the air vents and the camera looks back to that spot, the shackles are no longer there.
There are also a number of design errors with respect to backgrounds and object models. It is hard to definitively call these errors, because it must always be considered that the Doctor Who universe is not the same thing as the real world. What we know to be true in our universe does not necessarily carry over to the DWU. Just because Tony Blair was the British Prime Minister in the real world's 2007 doesn't mean that he was so in the DWU's 2007. However, the following errors are so minor, and so unremarked upon by the script, that they appear to be unintentional, and therefore errors on the part of the concept illustrators. Were this a live-action production, they would likely be considered costuming, graphics or props errors. All of them display a lack of detailed knowledge about the United States by the British production staff.
- The opening sequence is set in 1947. As the craft crashes in the background in 1947, a road sign is seen to display the Interstate 25 shield. The Interstate System wasn't introduced until 1956. Additionally, I-25 runs more than 200 KM (100 miles) west of Roswell at its closest approach.
- On a close up on a group of American soldiers, the rank insignia on the caps is of the silver eagle, indicating that they are all colonels.
- The two US flags next to the door that Lord Azlok breaks through are the current 50-star flags, not the 48-star flag that would have been period-appropriate. In 1959, the US issued a 49-star flag, followed by the 1960 unveiling of the 50-star flag.
- After escaping the gas room, they enter "Lab 51" which has on the door "Authorised Personnel Only". Being an American facility, the spelling should have been "Authorized".
- The rifles in use by the US Army personnel appear to be the M1 Carbine, a semiautomatic weapon. However, the animation given to the rifles is that of a fully automatic weapon. Since this isn't a stylistic choice — there appears to be nothing about the animation engine that would have prevented suggesting a more semi-automatic style of firing — it appears to be a genuine animation error. An equivalent error in live-action production would be a property master giving a period revolver to a character only to have the foley department provide the sound of a sub-machine gun.
- When Cassie and Jimmy are driving, they seem to be on the left side of the road even before they are distracted. As Americans, they should habitually try to drive on the right.
- The colonel salutes with his left hand near the end, where almost all salutes are normally right handed.
- In addition to these "Americana" errors, an error crept into the omnibus edition, which wasn't present in the original serialised version. When the Doctor and his companions get recaptured, Stark picks up the radio and hears the phrase "Prisoners have been recaptured". This tiny line of dialogue is missing from the soundtrack of the omnibus — and thus the DVD — even though the colonel still visually reacts to it.
- The Doctor is called "Doc" by Jimmy, which the Doctor dislikes. (TV: The Time Meddler, The Five Doctors, The Twin Dilemma, The Ultimate Foe)
- The Doctor seems to be rounding his age, as he has done before. (TV: The Ribos Operation) He says that he is 900, but previously gave his age as 903. (TV: Voyage of the Damned)
- The spaceship held in Dreamland was reproduced by Androvax. He forces Mr Smith to hack into the base's computer systems to gain access to the ship's designs. Even the ionic fusion bar (used to power the ship) which Luke Smith takes from the ship to keep it from escaping is identical to the one in Dreamland. (TV: Prisoner of the Judoon)
- Mister Dread and the Alliance of Shades return to face Sarah Jane Smith. (TV: The Vault of Secrets)
- The Tenth Doctor previously visited the United States in 1958 when he took his former companion Martha Jones to Wisconsin in order to sample milkshakes. The stop was part of a larger hunt for the greatest milkshakes in the universe. (COMIC: Agent Provocateur)
- The Doctor dislikes being saluted by Colonel Stark. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem, Planet of the Dead)
- Lord Azlok threats the Doctor during his retreat by telling him, "[his] day will come". (TV: The End of Time) The Doctor dismisses his threats by retorting, "so they say". (TV: Planet of the Ood, Planet of the Dead)
- The term fallen angel" for a crashed alien vessel is also used in TV: Regeneration.
- When being attacked by the Viperox Queen, the Doctor says, "I don't think she's amused; I have that effect on royalty." (TV: Tooth and Claw, The Shakespeare Code)
Home video releases
Dreamland was released on DVD in the UK on 2nd February 2010 at an RRP of £12.99. A North American DVD release was scheduled for 5 October 2010, after initially being announced for release on 4 May
Also included on a second disc are all three episodes of Doctor Who Greatest Moments: The Doctor, The Companions and The Enemies
It is available to stream in the UK on Amazon Instant Video.
At present, there has been no indication whether Dreamland will be broadcast, or made available online, officially, outside the UK. Most original video content on the BBC website is "geolocked" and restricted to UK users only. It is assumed Dreamland will be likewise restricted. The previous animated serial, TV: The Infinite Quest, was never broadcast in North America or Australia, and remained unavailable there until its DVD release. This appears to be the case with Dreamland, as well. However this story aired in New Zealand as part of UKTV's Doctor Who Weekend.