Dream episodes are always polarising ones among Anderson fans. When done well, they offer the chance to see our heroes living out scenarios that could otherwise never happen. When done poorly, their cop-out endings make you want to throw things at your television. Here are our five favourite dream episodes from the Gerry Anderson universe – we’ll be covering the worst next time!
#5 – Fireball XL5 – A Day in the Life of a Space General
Lieutenant 90 is promoted to Space General and takes command of Space City – with disastrous consequences! It’s great to see 90 take centre stage and get to issue orders to Commander Zero for a change, Jock gets to save Steve’s life for once, and the finale featuring the destruction of Fireball XL5 and Space City is extremely impressive – if a little sad when you realise that all of these models were actually being destroyed for real!
#4 – Joe 90 – The Race
The first of two Joe 90 entries on this list, The Race need not really have been a dream at all since nothing that happens in the dream couldn’t have easily happened ‘for real’. Despite that it’s a fun breezy romp featuring W.I.N. getting into a contest with the army, with some amusing guest characters (stand up ‘Major’ Clooney) and a lovely Barry Gray score. The dream itself is part of an experiment, as Mac shares his brain pattern with Joe before they go to bed to see if the B.I.G.R.A.T. can also transfer subconscious thoughts and thus cause them both to dream his dream. Amazingly, this seemingly minor addition to the series lore would actually be followed up on in the episode Talkdown – where it almost leads to tragic consequences…
#3 – Terrahawks – A Christmas Miracle
Of all real life events for Terrahawks to build a story around the Christmas truce of 1914 was probably on nobody’s shortlist, but the result was something really rather special. In addition to a spectacular battle sequence as the Terrahawks and Martians fight it out on the surface of the Moon we also get to imagine what might happen if, just for once, both sides could see past their differences and come together for a party. That this is all Tiger’s dream potentially hints that the no-nonsense Terrahawks commander might just be more weary of this conflict than anyone…
#2 – Joe 90 – Lone-Handed 90
Another Joe 90 dream episode which thankfully doesn’t ‘trick’ us with a cop out reveal at the end and instead admits what it’ll be right from the start. Joe dreams himself as the Sheriff of the Western town of Joesville, trying to stop the notorious W.I.N. gang from hijacking gold from the mail train – no surprises for guessing who they are! The story revels in being thoroughly atypical and very silly, and is a triumph for the model and design crew – plus the voice actors are clearing having a blast!
#1 – Captain Scarlet – Attack on Cloudbase
The penultimate episode of Captain Scarlet is one of its most dramatic, as the Mysterons finally launch a mass attack against Cloudbase which culminates in Spectrum’s aerial headquarters plunging out of the sky to certain doom. Honestly, it’s difficult to see how else the War of Nerves could have ended and the slaughter of all the regular characters is extremely in keeping with the dark tone of the series – which only makes the ‘it was all a dream ending’ all the more frustrating! Ironically for a story which ‘never happened’ it also includes some of the show’s finest acting moments, with Ed Bishop, Donald Gray and Cy Grant all deserving praise. It could have been a phenomenally brave final ending to the show – what a shame it didn’t turn out that way!
Do you agree with our list, or did we miss a particular favourite Gerry Anderson dream episode of yours? Let us know in the comments below!