DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
To be fair, an interesting idea kicks in as we flip from one possible dreamworld to another, and the Doctor's excitement just before the cut to the opening titles is contagious. Perhaps the reality is a cool alien planet, which we will discover later on as the three regulars uncover the truth? Maybe this will turn out all right, after all.
Early sections of the story begin to work. The three regulars manage some interesting interaction, and the early questions are gripping enough to keep us tuned in.
The Dream Lord seems like an interesting idea, and remains a fairly well developed character - very nicely and creepily portrayed by Toby Jones.
But despite the better bits, things start to drag about half way through, and one begins to wish it would just hurry up and get to the ending already. One of the problems is simply the lack of imagination displayed in both worlds, along with the fact that we are limited to alternating between just the two of them.
As for the English village, really... running away from the latest sweet innocent piece of the everyday that has turned nasty is so overdone on this show, and nothing has really been done to make it good this time around. The villains are supposed to really be aliens (er, that's now the "standard" on this show that stories need to try and twist away from) who have been displaced from their homes.... ahh, I think that's also been done about forty times before already. Plus they turn out to be "old" people.... yeah, not so exciting, nor a helpful image to put into anyone's mind - as writer Simon Nye freely admits on the Confidential featurette.
Then there's the "spacey" setting, which is simply nothing other than the console room in the TARDIS. Yeah, that bellows "cheapie" loud and clear. Even if we are just going to orbit a cold star instead of getting a proper new planet, the story beats and scenes written for the TARDIS interior here REALLY called out for showing more of the various rooms and corridors aboard the TARDIS. This is something that hasn't been seen on the show since its 2005 revival... in fact not since "Attack of the Cybermen" (story no. 138) at the beginning of the Colin Baker era, so it's not as if that would be overdone. I'd definitely accept that wholeheartedly instead of an alien planet, had it been here. They weren't afraid to break the budget on it when they did it in "Castrovalva" (story no. 117) back in 1981. But I guess they had more courage and imagination back then.
This episode has really been the useless mid-season slump slash return to the companion's Earthy home for the domestic routine episode. A great formula for losing your sci-fi adventure audience.
Ultimately the story focuses more and more on an attempt to exploit and supposedly resolve the relationship triangle between the three regulars, but the more it concentrates on this, the less emotionally engaging it becomes. On first viewing, I began to hope that they could just ditch this dead end by losing Rory, and get on with proper adventures afterwards - in that way at least this episode might have a use in the season. On second viewing, I thought maybe I could side with the Doctor's efforts to get those two together. But I can't get invested in that either. This episode makes it all too painfully obvious that Rory is insecure, and Amy is easily distracted. As humorous as it may become at times, these aspects are consistent in the actors' performances all season, and remain foremost in viewers' minds. As much as one may sympathize with them individually, it just really doesn't feel right to invest in them as a couple. It's really only the gab by cast and crew on the extras that makes it feel like they might have had something worthwhile going on.
As the image of William Hartnell on the library card photo from the previous episode continues to haunt me, I find myself thinking that I'd invest in Sir Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright getting together, or for that matter Ben Jackson and Polly, or Mickey Smith and anyone he fancied, but Amy and Rory.... not feeling it - not from this episode anyway. The end of the episode falls flat I think.
Perhaps a big part of the problem is the way Amy comes to her choice. Trying to make you care for anything by losing it is the clumsiest, bluntest tool in the writer's / con artist's bag of tricks, and I question the sincerity of those who need to wait for such circumstances. So this story's ending doesn't do much for me.
I have another beef watching yet another piece of fiction promote a truly idiotic modern cliché. Suicide is such a bad way to exit a dream - it promotes the worst in destructive escapism, and only serves to emphasize the lack of imagination allowed to the episode's dreamworlds. If you're dreaming, and you figure it out, you can do anything you want, teleport anywhere you want, wake up, whatever. It's easy if you have a trained mind, and after all the mental acrobatics the Doctor has done previously, particularly in season 20, this should be a piece of cake. So the TARDIS console room is a dream, and they wake up to.... the TARDIS console room. Oh so imaginative.
This story has become available on DVD.
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Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.
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