Previews of this week’s episode were received with a rather luke warm reception. Many announced it as the weakest of the series so far, while others just didn’t seem to like anything about it.
The story sees the Doctor, Amy and Rory trapped in a dream world by the self proclaimed Dream Master, but the dilemma facing them is not as simple as just being trapped their they also don’t know if it is a dream at all.
The episode begins with the Doctor arriving in the TARDIS in Amy’s back garden, seemingly five years in the future to find her pregnant and living with Rory in the village he met her in. Only things are strange and very very quiet. Suddenly the three hear birdsong and fall asleep only to wake up in the TARDIS in present day, hurtling towards a cold sun which could freeze them all to death.
The story flicks between the two realities, while the Doctor must work out which is real and which is a dream. Choose right and they live, choose wrong and they die. That is the conundrum posed by the sarcastic, creepy Dream Master.
There are plus points for the episode, mainly the clever storyline that weaves to and fro between the two worlds, and as ever the acting of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are as believable as ever. I think what has perhaps swayed a number of reviews is the clear need to save budget money with the episode by using a group of pensioners to act as the bad guys. There is a little cgi, but this is as shaky as in previous episodes and a long way short of the peak of Series 4 and the subsequent specials. There is also something of an “oh right” moment when the identity of the Dream Master is revealed by the Doctor, which is a little bit of a let down after it is built up to be something more dramatic than it is.
Despite this, the series is still traveling light years ahead of any other in its genre and the general writing of the episode, although lacking some of the drama of say The Time of Angels, still holds its own and provides some wonderfully comedic “married couple” moments between the Doctor and Amy, much to the despair of boyfriend Rory who clearly has the Doctor down as a threat to his happiness.
With an upcoming return of an old foe of the Doctor’s in next week’s episode, we are no doubt about to be hoisted straight back into regular high quality territory. Cannot wait.