The Dreamstone was a British animated television series that ran for 4 series of 13 episodes each between 1990 and 1995. The original concept and artwork were created by Michael Jupp and the series was written by Sue Radley and Martin Gates. The series was produced by Martin Gates Productions (MGP) for a wholly owned subsidiary of Central (a part of Independent Television) and FilmFair. All the current distribution rights for the Martin Gates catalogue is owned by Monster Entertainment.
The Dreamstone is set in an alternative world called "The Land of Dreams", and concerns itself principally with the struggle between good (personified by The Dream Maker, a Merlin-esque white magician), and evil (personified by Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares).
The Dreamstone aired between 1990 and 1995 with a total of 52 episodes. Each episode has a similar plot: Zordrak instructs his henchmen to steal the Dreamstone, which he plans to destroy, so that nightmares will plague the sleeping world. The plan usually involves Urpgor, his right-hand man and scientist inventing some means with which the Urpneys, led by Sergeant Blob who is an archetypal Sergeant Major type, crosses the Mist of Limbo (a vast Purple Mist) to get to the Land of Dreams. The plan invariably fails, the main problem being the cowardice and incompetence of the Urpneys, who often want no more than to 'go home' and get some sandwiches.
Compared to the more tense and action focused pilot episode, the rest of the show increasingly favoured more laid back, slapstick focused story lines. In earlier episodes, the lead heroes, Rufus and Amberley, usually had an underplayed role compared to the Urpneys and their own comrades, the Wuts and the Dream Maker, who often ultimately dealt with the Urpneys' schemes, though later episodes depict the Noops as more savvy and comedic characters, and expand the series' formula to give them more central focus, often tasked with an errand by the Dream Maker, while also trying to avoid the Urpneys' blundering interference. As such, the stories also started to branch into having new locales and characters get caught in the middle of the two sides' rivalry, over the usual transitioning between the two sides of the Sleeping World earlier on.
In the hour-long special of The Dreamstone (A combination of The Dreamstone and Into Viltheed. or The Dreamstone: Parts 1 and 2) or The Dreamstone - Opening Special, there were three scenes that were deleted in the normal episode of "The Dreamstone".
- One was when Rufus was told off by Mr Wacks for being late again, in which took place right after Rufus spoke to Amberley. Rufus was ordered to fill a basket with candles, he did so, but as he put the candles in, he started to daydream about being a performing clown, juggling the candles that then turned into objects and animals. Rufus was then interrupted by Amberley, in which then caused him to drop and break the candles. Amberley picked up the candles and walked away saying 'Daydreaming again!' The original soundtrack has the juggling music in, right between the musketeer and the beginning music for the Wacks Wicks Works track. One viewer may also find when Rufus was going to cut the candles from the rack, that some broken candles were still seen on the floor from the deleted scene.
- The Whirlyped Launch scene has the music muted until the Whirlyped is airborne.
- When Rufus shows Amberley the laughter box, and took out some of the laughter bubbles, alternate sounds of laughter can be heard from them.
- After Rufus saw the whirlyped fly away with The Dreamstone and Amberley, as Rufus tried to tell The Dreammaker on what'd happened, he then asked Rufus on what was he doing in the tower? Rufus told the Dreammaker that he was showing off as he tried to impress Amberley, but after seeing that the Urpneys had taken her away and have The Dreamstone, the Dreammaker then said "Oh this is disastrous, you've failed me Rufus." before saying the lines that was in the normal episode. In the electronic remix Dreamdance, you could actually hear The Dreammaker saying that line that was cut off from the normal episode. In the same scene when Rufus said that he will sneak The Dreamstone out of Zordrak's nose, he then said that he is small and no one will notice him, but was then interrupted by the Dreammaker who then said "Rufus, that'll be an extremely difficult and a dangerous undertaking!" Rufus then asked please on letting him have a try, that then led up to the final lines to what The Dreammaker had to say, which is also on the normal episode.
- In early repeats of the opening special, Rufus' dream sequence set to 'Better Than A Dream' was edited out, due to timing restrictions on TV for standard length episodes. This would also explain the edits for the later versions of The Dreamstone opening special.
The deleted scenes were included in the TV movie 'Opening Special' and is only available on video in the UK courtesy of the Video Collection, a release in Australia and possibly the only US Dreamstone video from Fisher-Price. The recently released UK DVD contains the dream sequence, but the other scenes are still deleted.
The show was notable for its musical score, which is practically unique among cartoons in that it was performed by a full-size professional orchestra, namely the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The score, by Mike Batt, was heavily characterised by the use of leitmotifs and thematic variations, particularly on the two main songs used in the series, Better than a Dream (characterising the Noops & Wuts) and War Song of the Urpneys (characterising the Urpneys).
Ozzy Osbourne, Frank Bruno, and Billy Connolly provided lead vocals on the War Song of the Urpneys single and album track, although the version heard in the series was largely sung by composer Mike Batt. Other artists who sang for The Dreamstone soundtrack included Bonnie Tyler, who recorded a duet with Mike entitled Into The Sunset. This song was supposed to be used as the show's official love song (especially towards Rufus and Amberley) but it was never used in the show. Plus Joe Brown and Gary Glitter performed The Vile Brothers Mountain Band, which was used on the show during the episode Albert is Fishnapped.
The TV version of Better Than A Dream contained some different lyrics to the version included on the soundtrack. The TV version mostily reflected Rufus' personality, with the lyrics "i always dream myself to somewhere else each night" and 'i know i dream much more than other people do". The soundtrack version contained "i used to dream myself to someone else each night" and "until i chanced upon this road that led to you", among a few other changes that were made to the song. Mike Batt also re-recorded the chorus, used in the ending credits from the latter part of Series 1 onwards till Series 4 in which was then shortened. In 2012, Katie Melua released a version of "Better Than A Dream".
The soundtrack was re-released as part of the Mike Batt Music Cube released in December 2009 by Dramatico Records. However instead of the TV soundtrack, the CD features 5 newily recorded orchestral overtures, as well as Better Than A Dream, The War Song of the Urpneys and Into the Sunset and a shorter version of The Dreamdance which also omits the vocal clips from the show. The Vile Brothers Mountain Band was also omitted from the soundtrack due to controversy involving Gary Glitter.
TV soundtrack album listing (original release):
- Better Than A Dream - Mike Batt (3:04)
- The War Song Of The Urpneys - Billy Connolly, Ozzy Osbourne and Frank Bruno (4:44)
- Dreamdance (Theme From The Dreamstone) (10:07)
- Into The Sunset - Mike Batt and Bonnie Tyler (3:28)
- The Vile Bros Mountain Band - Joe Brown (4:19)
- The Dreamstone (Main Title) (2:10)
- Wack's Wicks Works (2:15)
- The Dream Maker (6:11)
- Whirlyped Launch (5:21)
- The Dreamstone Is Stolen (6:20)
- The Argorribles And The Egg Of Death (6:48)
- Rufus Succeeds (5:20)
TV soundtrack album listing (Music Cube re-release):
- Better Than A Dream - Mike Batt (3:08)
- The War Song of the Urpneys - Billy Connolly, Ozzy Osbourne and Frank Bruno (4:47)
- Dreamdance (Edited Version) (4:53)
- Into The Sunset - Mike Batt and Bonnie Tyler (3:32)
- Dreamstone Overture no.1 (6:57)
- Dreamstone Overture no.2 (4:48)
- Dreamstone Overture no.3 (5:31)
- Dreamstone Overture no.4 (4:49)
- Dreamstone Overture no.5 (4:03)
- This is not the only track to be called Dreamstone Overture no.5. On the 'Better Than A Dream' 7-inch vinyl and CD single versions, there's another track entitled 'Dreamstone Overture no.5', this version is different from the Music Cube re-release, in which it's actually an orchestral version of 'Into The Sunset' while the Dreamstone Overtures on the Music Cube re-release are small selections of orchestral tracks from the original TV series, half used in a few episodes in Season 3 and 4. The "Dreamstone Overture no.5" that was present on the single ran for 6:48.
The Dreamstone soundtrack is currently out of print as of 2015, however, the 5 Overture tracks from the Music Cube re-release were included on Mike Batt's album; "A Classical Tale", released on CD on 24 July 2015 by Dramatico Records.
Although the show was made in the United Kingdom, the cartoon itself was drawn in the Philippines. As with American produced cartoons, Martin Gates Productions used foreign studios for the overall animation work. Fil-Cartoons, owned by Hanna-Barbera, was utilized for series 1, while Moving Images International animated for series 2–4. (MII also animated most of Martin Gates' other productions throughout the 1990s, as well as other FilmFair productions such as Brown Bear's Wedding, White Bear's Secret, and much of series 1 of The Legends of Treasure Island. Fil-Cartoons who animated the first series of The Dreamstone would later be used to animate series 2 of The Legends of Treasure Island).
In 1985, Mike Jupp and Martin Gates produced a pilot for the series entitled The Dream Thief. It was animated by the studio Mill Valley Animation in Novato in the US state of California when Mike was working in America. In this short pilot there were a few alterations to the TV series, most of which came from Jupp's original manuscript for the idea. The short also featured a 12-year-old Christian Bale as the voice of Rufus, whom Martin Gates would latter work on with for Steven Spielberg's WWII film Empire of the Sun where Martin was the dialog coach for Christian's character in his acting debut.