Captain Patch

April 3 2005

This review contains spoilers. Whether it contains an actual review or not is left to the reader...

So, now that I've completed listening to Dreamscape, I should be writing a review of the story. I should be praising the solid but unspectacular plot, the excellent acting and direction, the terrific music and effects. I should be chatting on excited about finally getting to hear a real Vincent Savage Doctor Who Audio Drama.

Well, I guess I just did.

But what really hit me about this story was what it *meant*, what it made me think about. I called the plot “unspectacular”, and in a way it was. Dreamscape is more a character piece than a plot-driven adventure. There are some *great* characters in this story, and they are used to great effect in driving home some interesting observations about, well, about humanity and its destiny....

Imagine driving north, coming to a four-way intersection. The southern road, the one you just drove up, represents where we are as a people...violent, prejudiced, etc. Some people, whether by choice or inertia, are content to stay here, never moving onward: in Dreamscape, Mr. Colby and his older son Jacob, the Headmaster, and the New Age Shop proprietor seem to reflect this point of view. To the left lies the future represented by the alien Akar: peace and love are promised...but this promise is fulfilled by the removal of mankind's humanity. Joshua and Professor Taylor take this route, with good intentions; it is almost too late that they discover the emptiness of the promises made to them. The Doctor, his companion Mark, and Professor Travis, on the other hand, want to plow straight ahead. They are skeptics in the good sense of the word: too often, “skeptics” are those who refuse to believe anything outside their worldview and experience, but a true skeptic is one who takes in everything, accepts that which is found true, and rejects that which is faulty. I really liked the character of Professor Travers, the way he struggled with what the Doctor presented him with, the way he ultimately believed a very unlikely tale because, well, it was the likeliest explanation for what was going on around him. I wish he had been present at the story's denouement as a counterpoint to Professor Taylor. But anyway, those who wish to go straight ahead accept what is around them and change what they can...the changes they make are good, often heroic, but only incremental; evolutionary, not revolutionary.

But what of the “right hand turn”. Here we have but one minor character, who appears for a couple of minutes, then disappears, not to be heard from again. He is a, well, I'll call him a “born again Christian”, though “Christ” is never mentioned in this play. This character, Stephen, has followed a promise opposite to that offered by Akar. He rejects “peace and love” in any guise but that he has found promised through God's word.

So a “left turn” is based on a false promise—well, a half-lie, anyway—and leads to destruction. For the moment, the Doctor has saved the day by plowing forward...but is his the best solution offered? What of this “right turn”? Stephen disappears from the story as quickly as he appeared...is his answer as empty as that of Akar? Or is there something greater to be found? The question is left unanswered.

There are other issues that this story has led me to ponder as well. Consider the recent actions of the United States in the Afghanistan and Iraq. Politics aside, the current thrust of America's policy is the spread of democracy and human rights...”peace and love”. America is, in a sense, trying to bring the “Age of Aquarius” to these two nations. But is America “channelling” the Doctor, or Akar? In general, to what extent does a people have the right to spread “peace and love”....and with what tools....and with what promise for the future?

OK, religion and politics, the two things you're not suppose to discuss in polite company or audio drama reviews. Well, I'll leave it to Lighthope to put this review under “Dreamscape” or “incoherent ramblings of some lunatic”. But I guess I'll attempt to wrap this all up more-or-less on topic...though Dreamscape has clearly been re-recorded and/or heavily remastered to meet the standards of the present day, it is based on a story that was recorded by David Segal and his band of merry men twenty-plus years ago when they were teenagers (or thereabouts). So a special kudos to them, for creating a story that could lead to such ponderings as described above. Dreamscape is a solid story, well acted, well produced, and enjoyable, a classic Dr. Who story and a great choice for our first look at the Vincent Savage era.

John Parr

September 2007

Dreamscape is the third story from Vincent Savage's sixth series as The Doctor. It has a total of three episodes, each with an average total duration. At present, it is the earliest available story from Doctor Who Audio Drama history.

To begin with, I quite liked the overall plot of the storyline. Even though an asteriod crashing into Earth is slightly unoriginal, the serial still manages to convey some thrilling aspects. The fact that alien necklaces can create a link from humans to mystical forces is a neat idea!

Since the serial was made very early in Doctor Who Audio Drama history, it must have been extremely difficult to get Dreamscape up to such high standards. Obviously, the serial had to be re-recorded due to various quality issues, but the actual storyline is what makes a story successful or not. In this case, the storyline proved to be very successful! There aren't really that many negative things to discuss.

Both Vincent Savage's Doctor and Mark Newman's character had very good characterizations. Even though his character hadn't been travelling with The Doctor for very long, Bryan Dull made an impressive performance in playing Mark. Vince had already played the part in twenty-seven stories previously, so he's had much more time to become one with his character. All other actors who played parts in this serial were very impressive as well!

How the story unfolds across the three episodes was very interesting for me. The many different and varied plot points within the storyline make this so. Other listeners of Dreamscape can just this particular point for themselves. Although, it's a thumbs up from me!

As a final comment, I think that it was an excellent choice and idea to make Dreamscape the first ever release from the main Vincent Savage era. Hardly any other story, save probably from Portal, would have been as good a choice.


Last updated: Sunday, April 3, 2005