Another long-awaited transitional story, with the departure of Mel and the arrival of Ace. McCoy and Aldred were to become one of my favorite Doctor/companion combos, so it's interesting to see the beginning of it again. It' s been said that in the old show, companions tended to be either "screamers" or "fighters". Here we see the Doctor with one of each.


Part One:

1)For some reason, many of the secondary characters in this (Belazs, Cracauer, McLuhan, etc.) are named after film theorists. No idea why.


2)Kane's a fairly effective villain in this - he plays it "cool", appropriate for an ice-based villain.


3)Good to see Glitz again - they seem to have toned him down from his initial presentation as a borderline psychopath, to a "lovable rogue" type.


4)"I haven't got no mum and dad!"  I'd forgotten how volatile Ace was from the start. Her quasi-slang gets to be a bit much sometimes, however.


5)"I've regenerated. The difference is purely perceptual."


6)The Dragon is kind of lame - but not "Myrka" lame, at least.


7)Cliffhanger: The Doctor hangs off a cliff!  (There's a segment of the extras in which the director apologizes for this.)


Part Two:

1)"Excuse me, what's your attitude toward the nature of existence?"  I love the "philosophical guard" bit - even the Doctor seems momentarily taken aback when the guy starts spouting jargon at him.


2)"My real name's Dorothy." Of course it is.


3)Kane and Xana were named after "Citizen Kane" and "Xanadu" - can't believe I never picked up on that.


4)Cliffhanger:  "At last! After three thousnad years, the Dragonfire shall be mine!'" (I'm still a little sketchy as to what he needed it for.)


Part Three:

1)I love the look Ace gives Mel when Mel suggests playing "I Spy".


2)The "ANT-hunt" scene gives us a hint of what Aliens would've been like if it had been done on a 1980's Doctor Who budget.


3)"I'm sixteen, I'm too young to be freeze-dried!"


4)The melting face was a little grotesque.


5)"Well, I suppose it's time."  Mel's leaving scene is weird - it's quite affecting, but it almost seems like she's leaving because she has to go, and not because she wants to.  Certainly, we're given no indication as to why she'd want to stay on Iceworld, it's more like it's something she was fated to do, somehow.



A fun story, occasionally let down by shoddy effects work.  And, of course, one of the most pointless cliffhangers, ever.


[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]



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Our usual habit, when multiple stories of different Doctors are released on the same day, is to watch them in “Doctor order” (the term “chronological order” doesn’t seem to apply), but by mutual agreement Tracy and I decided to lead with “Dragonfire” (for the obvious reasons you already pointed out). Regarding “screamers” and “fighters,” you may tally Tracy firmly in the “fighter” camp. Lamest cliffhanger ever! (You know the one I mean.) I agree with all your other points as well, and your general assessment, too.

The blog caught up to this one.  My responses.... enjoy!
This was the story, this season, that, while it had a lot of cool ideas, characters & designs, gave me the impression, by the time it was over, that nobody involved knew what the hell they were doing. I wound up shaking my head in dismay.

The worst, for me, had to be, replacing a girl I really liked, with that THING. Ace was, to my eyes, the single most unlikable "companion" ever introduced onto the show. And I'm including Tegan in that list. That's how she struck me from watching this one story. The whole thing about the "timestorm" did not make sense (and in retrospect, the "explanation" 2 seasons later did not REALLY make sense, either-- not the how, but, the WHY!). And as if Mel's intro wasn't insane and non-sensical enough, her exit makes not one bit of sense at all. Bonnie Langford deserved better than this. (And to think, people actually complain about Leela's exit.)

"It was much better when watched in order, so all the bits with Ace make sense and have emotional heft behind them"

Try Season 25 in the "right" order: REMEMBRANCE, GREATEST SHOW, HAPPINESS, NEMESIS. The Doctor-Ace relationship develops so wonderfully when seen properly.

"As much of a mess as this story is, it's quite enjoyable for Patricia Quinn, Tony Selby, and Sylvester McCoy all bouncing off each other. Such tasty, tasty ham! Plus Kane's "bad romance" hold on Pat Quinn's character was an interesting and unusual character point."


"the writer's disinterest in Mel is distressingly obvious"

It's sad. I figure she got decent writing in only 2 of her 6 stories.

Laurence Price:
"at moments of true stress we hear the genuine sound of a lower-middle-class West Remembrance of the Daleks when Mike takes the gun- Ace says “Who're you gonna shoot with it, Mike?”.....That's Ace's true voice- the voice of Perivale, the voice of someone who wishes she was from somewhere more real, more authentic."

Good observation.

"And by the end of Survival- and Ace's confession in her own voice “I felt I could run forever...” without any falseness or affectation, we've come on a real journey with her of self-acceptance and maturity. It's probably a good thing the Cartmel Masterplan wasn't completed. Ace doesn't need to be enrolled for training as a Time Lord. She's already learnt to be a Perivale woman."

Sounds like something that would have been more appropriate for Adric (heh). At least it would have kept him out of everyone's hair.

Janjy Giggins:
"Just look how excited she is about the 'flip-flop thingy' in Curse of Fenric. You get a flash of someone who was a bit of a nerd at school and is finally beginning to feel comfortable with that."

I actually HAD one of those! E.S.R., Inc. in the 1960's made "educational toys", including DIGI-COMP I, DR. NIM and THINK-A-DOT. I still have the first 2 in my basement! The 3rd was a small, plastic version of the item seen in "FENRIC". No kidding. (You can look this up with a Google Search.)

Let's see if this works...

"Ace is still my favourite companion hands-down"

The shock, for me, was how MUCH I got to like her, after my initial impression. THAT was good writing (and story-editing).
William Whyte:
"I think they were trying for that with Victoria, by giving her backstory in Evil of the Daleks and discussing her family in Tomb, but they lost interest in it as season 5 progressed."

The sad thing is, most companions would get decent introduction stories, and then, nothing afterwards. Characters start out strong, they fizzle, so the actors tend to get bored and leave before they're booted. Many have pointed out that the most popular girl on the show, Sarah, was mostly the work of Lis Sladen. Apparently by season 13 she was far more like Sladen than when she was introduced. I've only recently read that Sladen disliked the writing. Who knows how long she might have stayed if it had been better? And the same goes for Louise Jameson (who radiates; she is so much better than the writing) or Mary Tamm. Lalla Ward is a sad case, she got good writing, then the new producer decided he didn't want the show to be good anymore so he booted her and John Leeson off (and "inspired" Tom Baker to follow). Some things can't be forgiven. No matter how good Sylvester & Sophie turned out.

Andrew Hickey:
"they thought Colin Baker was quite good but Sylvester McCoy was rubbish, primarily because of Season 24"

I liked both, but thought the writing was dragging them down. But then the writing improved. And after soooooooo long...!

Adam Riggio:
"I'm just going to start my constant lobbying now on behalf of the Kandyman as the most insane Doctor Who monster ever. Not the best, not the most innovative, not even really the strangest. But the most insane."

I think that was the whole point. (I'm laughing as I think about this.) I bet Jack Kirby would have loved that story.

David Anderson:
she is an interesting character who is proactive and whose moral and pragmatic choices are sensible yet not quite those of the Doctor. And although Aldred's not as good an actor as Sladen or Jameson, she has a lot of chemistry with McCoy."


"As for Leela, there's at least one all-time best episode, Horror of Fang Rock, that wouldn't work nearly as well without her. As she's wearing a fisherman's jersey, male memories of the chamois swimsuit has nothing to do with it."

I had to look that up. There's a website for "Tarzan And Joan Swimwear" that'll flip you out. Leela never wore anything THAT skimpy! WHOA! ($199.99 for something that looks like you could throw it together yourself? Outrageous!)

I do love Leela dressed like an AVENGERS girl. Too bad she never visited 1970's London.
William Whyte:
"An enormous massacre of the extras. For the third time this season! This is way grimmer than Saward."

You know, I had a feeling that's what they were going for in Season 22, but somehow didn't make it. Reading that "VAROS" was written as a comedy but they took out all the jokes makes me wonder. It's amazing how much you can get away with, if something's funny enough.

"This is the first case where the Doctor talks the villain to death, the classic resolution of all McCoy stories. For a long time the Doctor has used talk to distract the bad guys until he can get close enough to do something clever. Now, talking *is* the something clever. This feels like how Doctor Who should have been along."

Oh, my, you just reminded me, I wrote something like that back in 1976, only in my case, the actor I had in mind doing it was Roger Delgado.
"It's a pity you didn't take my advice sooner, now I'm afraid your fate is..." "Oh SHUT yer bleedin' mouth you free-lance lunatic!!!"

"The point where the dragon is killed is surprisingly moving. This is the first time that a character coded-as-monster has been meant to emotionally affect us since Hand of Fear."

Yes. It's clearly supposed to invoke "ALIEN", yet, it's a "nice" dragon! The little girl hiding under the walkway at one point touches on "ALIENS", yet she somehow instinctively knows it won't hurt her.

Hey, what the HELL was the point of that little girl anyway???

"What you see in the great McCoy stories is a determination to take the great first-draft ideas and make them make sense. What you see in the less good McCoy stories is a failure to get round to it."

Kind of like LOST IN SPACE's 3rd season, when they were really trying to "get it back".

"But what you see in Baker and Davison is a self-censorship that leads to only basically dull ideas making it through the first round in the first place."

Yes. How many superior ideas were rejected before they ever had a chance to be ruined?

"just as gratuitous as naming characters after film theorists."

Or naming the new companion after the girl from THE WIZARD OF OZ.

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