DRAGONFIRE

Part One

DragonfireSue: Why is the TARDIS trapped in a bubble? I just don’t get this title sequence at all. Ooh, there’s a dragon in this one… Is it going to be like Game of Thrones?

Welcome to Iceworld – the place where winter came and never left. It’s here that a group of reprobates are being initiated into a fresh-frozen army.

Kracauer: Oh, you lucky, lucky people. You are the chosen ones, the elite, specially selected to join our force of mercenaries and create fear and terror wherever you go. Kane has paid seventeen crowns for each of you, and he insists on value for money.
Sue: I hope they kept the receipt. Look at the state of them.

One of the conscripts manages to escape but he is stopped in his tracks by the evil Kane.

Sue: OH. MY. GOD. It’s *** *******!

DragonfireIt’s true, he looks exactly like him.

Sue: That’s what he looks like when he’s about to chair a module board. It’s uncanny.

The TARDIS is heading for Iceworld.

Sue: So the villain is basically in charge of a supermarket? Like Iceland?
Me: Or Beejams, if anyone remembers them.
Sue: Well, it’s definitely not something you see every day, I’ll give it that.

Mel and the Doctor explore Iceworld’s shopping mall.

The Doctor: You never know what might be lurking in the freezer chests.
Sue: Horse burgers and filly con carne, probably.

Our heroes decide to take the weight off their feet in Iceworld’s cafeteria.

DragonfireSue: Oh look, it’s him.
Me: Who’s him?
Sue: **** knows.
The Doctor: Glitz!
Mel: Glitz!
Sue: Yes, him. I like him. Is he a proper companion, now? Hang on a minute… is that… is that Ace?
Me: It might be.
Sue: Does this mean that Mel is about to leave? Or die?

The last time Sue looked at me with that kind of eager anticipation in her eyes, we were on our honeymoon. We were in a Denny’s and she had just ordered dessert.

Sue: This place is like the bar in Star Wars, if the bar in Star Wars was a crèche.

Ace becomes very animated when she overhears her customers talking about dragons and treasure.

DragonfireSue: She’s very Children’s TV. Hmmm. I’m not sure about her. This isn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought Ace was supposed to be cool?

As the Doctor leaves the cafeteria, a hairy creature bites him on the hand.

Sue: That was the best part of the whole scene.
Me: What do you think of the incidental music so far?
Sue: It’s a million times better. I didn’t notice it until you asked me to notice it, which is how it should be. It’s definitely not Keff, thank God.

Ace is arguing with one of her customers.

Sue: The acting is terrible. Everyone in this scene is horrendous. I’m sorry, but they are.

Ace pours a glass of milkshake over her boss’s head. Most of it misses him.

Sue: I bet they thought: “We really need to do another take but it’ll take ages to remount it, and he’ll have to get changed, and we’ll have to get the cleaners in, and… Oh, **** it. That’ll do”.

Ace tells Mel how she comes to be on Iceworld.

DragonfireAce: I was doing this brill experiment to extract nitroglycerine from gelignite, but I think something must have gone wrong. This time storm blows up from nowhere and whisks me up here.
Sue: Yeah, time storms are always doing that. Bloody time storms. Okay, pause the DVD. Is that supposed to make any sense?
Me: Does it remind you of anything else?
Sue: (After much thought) Yes, The Wizard of Oz. That didn’t make any sense, either.

Ace has been stockpiling cans of Nitro-9.

Sue: So she’s a terrorist? Does she turn Mel into a suicide bomber?

The Doctor is following Glitz’s treasure map.

Sue: So if this is The Wizard of Oz, is Glitz the Cowardly Lion?

DragonfireAce decides to blow up a door, even though it could kill or injure anyone who happens to be in the vicinity.

Ace: ACE!
Sue: Oh, Christ. This is not what I was expecting. Is she like this all the way though? Oh dear.

As Glitz and the Doctor explore Iceworld’s caverns, Sue sighs.

Sue: This doesn’t look great. The lighting isn’t doing this any favours at all. It’s so cheap.

Sylvester McCoy pretends to slip on some polystyrene snow.

Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake. That’s just stupid.

Ace bumps into Kane. He offers her his golden coin, but Ace refuses.

DragonfireSue: What a relief. Ace is actually quite good when the script isn’t trying to make her sound like a twat. That was a great scene.

Ace and Mel escape from Kane but they run straight into.

Sue: If that’s a dragon, this programme is in serious trouble.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has decided to abseil down a cliff made from ice.

Sue: What the **** is he doing?

The Doctor slips further and further down his umbrella. He has nowhere left to go.

Sue: This is ****ing ridiculous.

And then the theme music kicks in.

DragonfireSue: Oh, **** off!
Me: They wanted a literal cliffhanger. It’s very postmodern.
Sue: It’s a ****ing joke! Why not finish with Ace being tempted by the coin – that was the only good thing in the episode. Even the rubber monster would have been better than that crap. That has really pissed me off.

 

Part Two

Sue: Are they trying to imply that the TARDIS is floating in a crystal ball? I don’t get it. It’s still not as bad as the silver face, though. Can we just skip the titles from now on?
Me: No.

In the episode recap, Mel screams the place down when she is confronted by the dragon.

Sue: I like how Ace doesn’t scream. In fact, she’s more bothered by Mel’s screeching than she is the monster. I can’t wait for Mel to leave.

The Doctor is still hanging around.

Sue: What a pointless waste of time. I can’t believe I have to watch it again.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news; Sue is very impressed with Patricia Quinn.

DragonfireSue: Melanie Griffith is excellent. (singing) “Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living…”
Me: Melanie Griffith wasn’t in 9 to 5.
Sue: Yes, she was.
Me: No, she wasn’t. You’re thinking of Working Girl.
Sue: It’s the same thing. Those were the hours she worked. 9pm to 5am.

Meanwhile, on Iceworld.

Sue: So is this supposed to be an attack on capitalism, what with the villain running a big shopping centre? The premise is still a bit mental.

Glitz manages to find his way to a ledge below the Doctor, and he helps him down. Sue doesn’t take this well:

Sue: ******* ******* **** ************* **** ********.
Me: Yeah.
Sue: It just demeans the Doctor. This is a new low for the show.

DragonfireA sculptor is carving a statue out of ice. It is supposed to represent Kane’s lost love, Xana.

Sue: She must have had a great personality. That’s all I’m saying.

Mel and Ace find the Doctor’s umbrella hanging uselessly below a walkway.

Mel: How are we going to get down there?
Sue: The same way Glitz did? Just a suggestion, you idiots.

The Doctor tries to bamboozle a guard with some philosophy, but the guard’s response baffles the Doctor even more.

Guard: Oh, you’ve no idea what a relief it is for me to have such a stimulating philosophical discussion. There are so few intellectuals about these days. Tell me, what do you think of the assertion that the semiotic thickness of a performed text varies according to the redundancy of auxiliary performance codes?

We turn to face each other and laugh. I pause the DVD.

Me: Does that ring any bells?
Sue: Yes, it’s semiotics. That’s Media Studies talk. I vaguely remember writing an essay on it, once.
Me: That quote is lifted from an academic book called The Unfolding Text.
Sue: So what does it mean?

I rewind the scene.

DragonfireMe: You tell me.
Sue: **** knows. Something to do with semiotics.
Me: I think the production team were taking the piss, but the book inspired a lot of Doctor Who fans to get into academia.
Sue: Were you one of them? Is that how you ended up teaching in a university, because of that book?
Me: It’s partly to blame, yes. Incidentally, two years into the job, one of the book’s authors, Manuel Alvarado, came to assess my ability to teach for a Quality Assurance Exercise. When it was all over, I told him that I admired his work on Doctor Who. And do you know what he said to me?
Sue: He said, “There’s more to life than Doctor Who“. You’ve told me this story before. He sounds like a very wise man.

We now return you to Iceworld.

Sue: You know, the script isn’t that bad. It’s the sets and the lighting that lets it down. It looks like it should be on CBBC at 4:30pm.

The Doctor and Glitz arrive at Glitz’s ship, the Nosferatu.

Sue: What a tip. It makes the Millennium Falcon look like The Ritz.

Kane rewards his sculptor with the gift of death.

Kane: No one can ever look upon your work and live.
Sue: I’d be too embarrassed to live if I’d sculpted that. He should be shouting, “It’s isn’t finished yet!” as he dies. That would have been funny.

Mel and Ace are pursued by Kane’s ice zombies.

Sue: Kane is definitely getting his seventeen crowns worth out of these blokes.

And then the dragon lumbers into view.

DragonfireSue: It looks nothing like a ****ing dragon! I want my money back.

And when she sees the creature side-on.

Sue: It’s a rip-off of Alien. It’s exactly the same design. Why didn’t anyone sue?

Mel slips and hits her head on some metal stairs.

Me: She’s the only person I know who can get concussion from banging her knees.
Sue: Fancy another take? No? That’ll do? Are you sure? Okay.

Kracauer and Belazs decide to overthrow their supermarket overlord.

Sue: Melanie Griffith is excellent. She’s the best thing in this story by a mile. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have tuned out by now.

Ace tells Mel that she didn’t fit in at home.

Ace: I felt like I’d fallen from another planet and landed in this strange girl’s body, but it wasn’t me at all. I was meant to be somewhere else. Each night I’d walk home and I’d look up at the stars through the gaps in the clouds, and I tried to imagine where I really came from.
Sue: She makes Amy Pond seem normal.

Ace tells Mel a secret.

Ace: My real name’s Dorothy.
Sue: So Mel must be the Scarecrow. It all makes sense now. And instead of ruby slippers, Ace has a pair of ruby tights. So is the Doctor the Tin Man? Does that even work?

Our heroes are confronted by one of Glitz’s zombified crewmates.

Sue: It should have been his best friend from that other story he was in.
Me: Dibber.
Sue: Whatever. This scene might have meant something if it were him.

DragonfireThe dragon intervenes and he leads our heroes to the Singing Trees.

Sue: To be fair, if you took the aliens from Aliens and you lit them like that, they’d look shit as well.

Kane tells Belazs that she can have the freedom she so desperately craves.

Sue: This definitely has its moments – some of the guest stars are very good – I just wish it looked better. I’ve been in Santa’s Grottos with more atmosphere than this.

But just when she thinks Belazs is free, Kane kills her.

Sue: Blimey! I did not expect that. And I liked her, too. I’m upset now.

Meanwhile, the dragon’s head opens up to reveal a crystal inside.

DragonfireThe Doctor: A source of intense optical energy.
Sue: We’ll just have to take your word for that.

The episode concludes with Kane triumphant.

Kane: At last. After three thousand years, the Dragonfire shall be mine!
Sue: And you are not putting that module through the board if it isn’t on the agenda!

 

Part Three

Sue: Is Dudley Simpson doing the music again?
Me: No, but the organ music is supposed to remind you of Dracula.
Sue: If Dracula owned a branch of Aldi. I still can’t get over that.

Kane’s guards are preparing to launch an attack on the dragon.

McLuhan: Try thinking of a scorpion, two metres tall, coming at you out of the shadows.
Sue: What ****ing shadows?
Ace: This is naff. This is mega-naff!
Sue: You said it, love. Not me.

DragonfireMeanwhile, a young girl has accidentally wandered into the action.

Sue: Is she supposed to be Newt? She must be bloody freezing, the poor thing.

The guard’s huge guns don’t impress Sue.

Sue: They could at least pretend they were heavy. The bleeping thing is just another shameless Alien rip-off as well. I would have thought twice about putting this on YouTube, let alone BBC1.

The dragon saves the little girl by carrying her to safety.

Me: Sadly, he dribbled some acid onto her head and she died of her injuries later.

The little girl runs around Kane’s lair.

Sue: This is ****ing weird, now.

Kane destroys the escaping shoppers who have evacuated to Glitz’s ship.

Sue: What a bastard. He would have made a good Master.

DragonfireGlitz isn’t very happy about this turn of events.

Sue: He should be shouting KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!!!!!!!!

I made Sue watch The Wrath of Khan last week. I’m sorry.

The Doctor, Ace and Mel enter the TARDIS.

Sue: Mel will have to go. You can’t have these two living together, it would drive the Doctor crazy.

The guards shoot the dragon dead.

Sue: They had 3000 years to do that. What the hell were they doing all that time? They should have spent less time running a supermarket and more time hunting dragons. They could have cooked it and put it in the burgers.

They cut the dragon’s head off.

Sue: That’s a bit gruesome. The kids wouldn’t have liked that. I didn’t like that.

The dragon’s head opens again.

Sue: So, it’s basically like a Cylon. A really crap Cylon.

DragonfireThe Doctor retrieves the Dragonfire from the poor creature’s head.

Sue: I really wouldn’t zoom in on that if I were you. Oh, too late.

The Dragonfire is the energy source that Kane has been searching for (extremely badly) for the last 3000 years.

Sue: Why was he locked up on a planet with the energy source? Why didn’t they just take the energy source with them when they left him there? That’s just stupid.

Kane takes Ace hostage and he forces the Doctor to hand over the Dragonfire. When it powers up his console, a rotor rises into the air.

Sue: Hey! It’s a TARDIS! Hang on a minute… is he the Master?

The Doctor explains to Kane that his hopes for revenge have been thwarted by a quirk of time – his home planet was destroyed 2000 years ago.

Sue: And none of the shoppers ever mentioned this? Really? Doesn’t he read the papers?

DragonfireSo Kane melts his nose off to spite his face.

Sue: NOT FOR KIDS! It’s bloody good, though.

Back in the TARDIS, Mel drops a bombshell.

Mel: I suppose it’s time I should be going.
Sue: YES!

The Doctor reacts awkwardly.

The Doctor: That’s right, yes, you’re going. Been gone for ages. Already gone, still here, just arrived, haven’t even met you yet.
Sue: (Singing) “I just haven’t met you yet!”

Mel has elected to explore the universe with Glitz in a flying supermarket. As you do.

Sue: That’s one spin-off I don’t want to see.

Ace is about to leave as well, when the Doctor suddenly makes her an offer.

DragonfireThe Doctor: Do you fancy a quick trip round the twelve galaxies and then back to Perivale in time for tea?
Ace: ACE!
Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.

The Doctor has three ground rules:

The Doctor: One, I’m in charge.
Ace: Whatever you say, Professor.
The Doctor: Two, I’m not the Professor, I’m the Doctor.
Ace: Whatever you want.
The Doctor: And the third…
Sue: STOP SAYING ACE!

 

The Score

Sue: I struggled with that. It was really weird. It went from awful, to quite good, to terrible, sometimes in the same scene. The script wasn’t that bad but it looked cheap. It was far too bright. The good points: guest acting wasn’t bad, the music was an improvement and it was over quickly. I’m glad to see the back of Mel, too, but I’m not sure about Ace. I hope she tones it down a bit.

3/10

 

Next Time

 

124

Comments

  1. RetroWhoGal? (@DrWho7Freak)  February 25, 2013

    Ace does get better I promise you – Wait til you get to Battlefied, and she was absolutely brilliant in the last televised story Survival. I love Ace!

  2. jazza1971  February 25, 2013

    “Sue: She must have had a great personality. That’s all I’m saying.”

    Excellent!

    The review is spot on…and Ace does get better!

    • John Miller  February 26, 2013

      Yes Ace does get better, but Sue and Neil are only watching the tv show, not continuing the story in other media(I think?).

      • Daru McAleece  February 26, 2013

        Yeah she does get better (thank god!). Liked her in the end

    • BWT  February 26, 2013

      “Sue: She must have had a great personality. That’s all I’m saying.”

      Yeah, who knows why Kane was so smitten by her? I hear she was quite frigid…

  3. P.Sanders  February 25, 2013

    I really enjoyed Dragonfire when I rewatched it the other night, more than the last time (which was only last year). In 1987 it felt like a breath of fresh air at the end of silly season but it hasn’t aged as well as others in Season 24. It’s also full of plot-holes (it really took 3000 years for Kane to get someone to shoot the monster?). The monster seemed really good in 1987 but then I was 11. The production does suffer from end of season cheapness but Kane and Belazc are great and it’s still fun with a dark edge that was very welcome. Someone on here pointed out that Season 24 owes a debt to 2000AD and that really rang true rewatching this and Paradise Towers. They are comic book stories brought to life on a BBC budget – they would have been brilliant as DWM comic strips.

    I’m glad Sue got to see some potential in Ace in the coin scene – from the next story onwards they cut back the embarrassing teenspeak and Aldred gets to be a proper pro-active companion. Apart from a 25th anniversary blip it’s uphill all the way!

    • Nick Mays  February 26, 2013

      I’m inclined to agree. Dragonfire was the best of a bad bunch… but only just. Whereas time has softened my feelings towards Paradise Towers, and Delta, Dragonfire just looks… naff. (Time and the Rani is absolute pants apart from the opening 2 minutes and nothing, but nothing will improve it.)

      There’s a good idea waiting to get out in Dragonfire, just like there’s an edgy Ace in there somewhere. But there are some terrible mis-calls: Sylvester slipping and sliding when no-one else was given direction to do so… a badly filmed ‘cliffhanger’ to Part One – no kind of hint WHY the Doctor suddenly clambers over the ledge and hangs by his brolly… bad lighting… a silly conceit of the whole place being a sort of Neo-Nazi Iceland or Beejams (yes, I remember them!). The cantina scene is painful, although maybe it really was a Star Wars parody, ditto the Dragon.

      As for the idea that Kane has spent 3,000 years in trying the catch the Dragon and failed to do so, but within a few hours of the Doctor turning up his men manage to shoot it… well that’s pathetic! Didn’t anyone actually read through the script or THINK how daft it comes across? (Personally, I think the Dragon was very., very old and tired and fed up of lurking around. It probably thought “Oh sod this… they may as well kill me before I fall to bits. “Hey Lads! Here I am! I’ll even stand still while you shoot me!”

      Mind you, Kane’s melting face is pretty good and worthy tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark… more melting Nazis!

      I almost…. almost…. gave up on ‘Who’ after Season 24, but it was only the promise of the Daleks returning that made me tune in for Season 25…and then it got a bit better. Still the occasional clunker, but it was getting better!

      • encyclops  February 26, 2013

        I must say that as little as I liked Dragonfire, the 3000 years part isn’t what ruined it for me. I’m used to Doctor Who marking up its timespans with a few extra zeroes that don’t bear close examination — check the Kaled / Thal war in Genesis of the Daleks, for instance. I mean, “thousands of years” is a LONG time. If your entire civilization hasn’t changed dramatically in that span something really weird is going on. So I just mentally correct that to something less dramatic but more plausible like “ten years.” It doesn’t generally change the story fundamentally, it just makes the writer sound less stupid.

  4. gavinio  February 25, 2013

    I like the design of the creature and the effect of Kane’s face melting is one of the best effects classic Who pulled off. I was impressed with that as a 13 year old back in 1987 and it’s still as impressive today. Shame the rest of the story is terrible. The only good thing is Mel’s departure (nothing against Bonnie Langford as she worked well with Colin but wasn’t served well with Sylvester’s scripts at all).

    I remember Sylvester saying in an interview that he was slipping to show it was icy but as no one else was doing it he ended up looking silly, and that’s fair really. If the director had told others to do ‘slippy’ acting it might have helped those scenes (but I doubt it).

    The main plus point of this story is that it was only three episodes.

  5. Jason  February 25, 2013

    I just finished watching the old series starting with Pertwee up through Survival, and Ace is easily one of my favorite companions along with Sarah Jane and Romana. Her ones liners are terrible in this episode, but she gets much better.

  6. John S. Hall  February 25, 2013

    A chilly reception, eh? 😉

  7. Rad  February 25, 2013

    I so hope Sue loves Remembrance of the Daleks.

    I can’t BELIEVE you watched Wrath of Khan and didn’t blog it. Won’t somebody think of the readers?

  8. Jimbotfu  February 25, 2013

    Never got the love for Ace. She’s an atypical companion…but that doesn’t automatically equal good. She always struck me as a character who’d wandered in off the set of T-Bag.

    • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 25, 2013

      Same here. She always struck me as “what middle-aged men think teenagers act like”, and just part of the whole ‘in your face’ thing that was going on in yoof TV in the late 80s. Wicked!

      • Dave Sanders  February 25, 2013

        While the BBC had Ace, ITV had Marmalade Atkins…

        • Nick Mays  February 26, 2013

          Now Marmalade Atkins would have made a GREAT companion!

      • Nick Mays  February 26, 2013

        Not to mention how a posh bird plays a “working class” teenage rebel”. Even Billie Tyler playing Rose Tyler in the new series was unconvincing as a “working class teenager”.

        I remember Billie Piper saying how it didn’t take her long to “pick up Rose’s character again” when she returned for ‘Turn Left’. Well, she’d obviously had elocution lessons on the Parallel Earth, not to mention a crash diet and extensive dental surgery… or “shurgery” given her lispy delivery.

        That said, I’d love to see a grown up Ace turn up in the new series and lob a can of Nitro NIne at someone… preferably River Song.

        • bestestbrian  February 26, 2013

          From what I remember of the Behind the Sofa “Turn Left” review:

          “What’d she say, Donna?”

          “She said….”

          “Yes, yes….”

          “Rad Rolf”

          • Nick Mays  February 27, 2013

            “Rad Rolf”? Cue the bathroom door being hacked open by Jack Nicholson… Or was that “Red Rum?”

      • Thomas  February 26, 2013

        Thing is, though, I never get the impression they were trying to make her “just your realistic average urban teenager”. I mean, a nitroglycerin obsession and a backstory that involves transporting to another world during a chemistry lab seem to be pretty definite breaks away from realism.

      • John Miller  February 26, 2013

        There’s also the way she infodumps her whole history to someone she’s just met. It would have been nice if Mel had said “Who f**king cares?”, or words to that effect.

        But, yes, Ace, a bunch of middleaged upper class twits creating a “wicked” teenager by committee. And casting a RADA graduate who was pushing 30 at the time in the role.

        ….I also love the way some people keep saying “Oh! It gets better!” Sorry, it doesn’t. There’s a good reason why Sue is nearing the finish line now, and it’s not because “it improves tremendously with Mccoy and Aldred”.

        • Thomas  February 26, 2013

          Again, though, I think people are a bit quick to assume she’s *meant* to be realistic, when the conception of her character and particularly her backstory imply a really clear break from reality.

          • John Miller  February 26, 2013

            Not her backstory(which is crap), but the character herself. The companions are supposed to be people the viewer can relate to, or at least empathise. With Ace,m I suppose there ARE people like her, but they aren’t people I like. Sue’s bit where she said ”She’s very Children’s TV. Hmmm. I’m not sure about her. This isn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought Ace was supposed to be cool?” had me in stitches, because that is what we are supposed to think, but it’s not true. The DVD Extras keep telling us how “cool” Ace is, and how she’s “the best companion ever”. Cartmel and co. smugly tell us how much better and yes, more realistic, Ace was than any previous companion…..but it’s Ace.

          • Thomas  February 26, 2013

            I don’t know what you mean about them being “smug” at all, ’cause I certainly haven’t gotten that kind of impression *at all* from the interviews- he feels much more like Hinchcliffe or Letts in how he talks about the program nowadays.

            And I suppose “the companions are supposed to be people the viewer can relate to” explains why Leela was such a crap companion. Or Jamie. Or Liz. Or Romana, or Nyssa, or Zoe…

  9. Dave Sanders  February 25, 2013

    Dragonfire was alright at the time only because it seemed so much better than the dross before it – but the limited studio resources, horrid lighting and hamfisted slapstick has dated it by far the worst out of the season. It’s not until Ghost Light and Survival that the McCoy era production team actually gets the hang of the cheap all-studio/all-OB three parters; Ghost Light gets it right by making playing the sense of isolation, confinement and cheap imitation grandeur as actual story strengths, whereas Dragonfire and Happiness don’t try. We wouldn’t see the principle done this well until Midnight, and there it’s almost too self-concious about it for its own good.

    Delta, on the other hand, isn’t as obnoxious now as it was back then (we got used to RTD pulling the same thing for four years), but by far the better all-OB approach is to find the right location and make *it* look strange and unearthly, as Survival does, rather than just chucking loads of weird shit at it.

  10. Robert Shearman  February 25, 2013

    Bah. Dragonfire. I bloody hate Dragonfire. I think it’s the only Doctor Who story, when all’s said and done, that I really *do* hate. It exudes such that’ll-do smugness, it’s so tonally inconsistent, and it’s incompetently made. I was baffled at the time of broadcast that it was fandom’s favourite story of the season – and I’m glad now, spitefully glad (because I’m a spiteful sort of chap) that the other three tales have been reassessed somewhat, if only so that Dtagonfire can just hang squat and unloved in comparison. Dragonfire! Bah. Dragonfire. Don’t you ‘Dragonfire’ me. Bah.

    • P.Sanders  February 25, 2013

      But you come across so sweet and cuddly on all those DVD extras…

      • Dave Sanders  February 26, 2013

        You say that because he looks like John Nathan-Turner. Thankfully Rob doesn’t write like him. THE HORROR.

      • Robert Shearman  February 26, 2013

        If I come across as sweet and cuddly, it’s only down to very careful editing. “And that, you see, is why I like ‘The Romans’. Now, let me tell you why I bloody hate ‘Dragonfire’!” …At which point the director usually does some sort of wave to the cameraman, drawing his finger across his throat or some such – I never really know what that means.

        Bah. Bloody ‘Dragonfire’.

    • encyclops  February 25, 2013

      I thought I loved you after your defense of The Two Doctors. Now I KNOW I do.

      • Robert Shearman  February 26, 2013

        Ha! Bless your heart!

        See, some things can be better with ‘Dragonfire’. People will become allies just because of their loathing of ‘Dragonfire’.

        • Daru McAleece  February 26, 2013

          Aye! We need something to draw us together with the divided nature of our fandom!

          We can all bask around the glow of the burning pyre of the Dragonfire!

    • Matthew Kilburn  February 26, 2013

      I voted Dragonfire as my favourite story of the season because it was the only one where I felt any sense of tension. The production might be half-defeated and the cast need to be given notes, but at least it doesn’t become entirely lost in its own miscalculated ambition, as I found Delta. Kane is sufficiently like a Robert Holmes Phantom-of-the-Opera villain that one felt the production team were trying to find the way back before going forward, whereas the earlier stories in the season felt as if the programme had lost its identity.

    • E. Briggs  February 28, 2013

      Rob, I have been looking forward to confirming that you would slag off Dragonfire without a bias, since when you spoke about it once before, I couldn’t be sure. That’s a relief.

  11. Chris  February 25, 2013

    McCoy is my favourite Classic Doctor so when I say Dragonfire is my least favourite Doctor Who story ever, it’s with a heavy heart. What comes next is gold though – Doctor Who blossoming again.

    • Lewis Christian  February 25, 2013

      Agreed. I adore Season 24, but the next one is a huge step-up in terms of quality. And, amazingly, I’d say it’s one of the best in the entire show. It’s the reverse of what happened when Six took over – instead of an epic story to a crappy one, we go from a relatively crappy one to a magnificent one!

  12. Lewis Christian  February 25, 2013

    See, I adore this one and the next one… but even I realise how the quality changes from this to its following episode. I cannot wait til Sue sees R******** of the *************.

  13. Warren Andrews  February 25, 2013

    Dragonfire is my least favourite of the season. Chris Clough’s half-arsed direction is a major issue – it’s funny that with season 18, JNT wanted to do away with the “that’ll do” mentality and this story suffers so much from it. As with much of Cartmel’s time it is more ambitious than the budget can cope with but it’s got ideas that interest even if they don’t always work. I remember thinking that Dragonfire looked really cheap even as an 8 year old – there was far more expensive looking stuff on CBBC.

    Sophie Aldred can be very kids TV at times but Dragonfire is definitely her worst performance in that respect – but then again she’s just going along with everyone else in the story and projecting to the BBC canteen – that cafe scenes are utterly dire with everyone shouting for all their worth.

    • Thomas  February 26, 2013

      It’s funny that the direction is so sub-standard here, when it’s leaps and bounds better in the director’s next outing (very stylistic, too). Proper lighting can make wonders of a difference.

  14. Richard Lyth  February 25, 2013

    In 1987 this felt like the best story I’d seen in years, but watching it now it is pretty awful. I can only assume Ace was the reason, she was such a refreshing change after years of one-dimensional screamers for companions, even if she does seem a bit off now compared to how she developed in later episodes. The next two years of the show are about as good as Doctor Who gets for me, so let’s hope Sue doesn’t slag it off too much…

  15. Hev  February 25, 2013

    Sue – Ace does get better and more mature just you see 🙂 Hev x

    • Nick Mays  February 26, 2013

      She does, and that’s due in no small part to Sophie Aldred’s acting improving and the good working relationship between her and Sylvester McCoy

      It would have been interesting to see how Ace’s character would have developed – and been written out – post Season 26. As it was, once the writers of the Virgin New Adventures got hold of her, we were invariably treated to Ace being stripped, sacrificed, plumbed to the depths of her psyche and shagged by any passing hunk. I recall DWB at the time dismissing all of that as pandering to “Teen Wank”.

      Of course, Sophie went onto bigger and better better things, not least being Little Juan in “Il Nombre”.

      (reply)

  16. Stanbranulan Ykx  February 25, 2013

    3/10 feels generous. Another one, like Paradise Towers, where the writer must have been mortified by the end product (though so much blatant Alien(s) theft is hard to forgive); and the acting from the four leads is like bad am-dram.

    Watching it in 1987, I was wondering why Doctor Who stories no longer felt like adventures. They seemed rushed and bitty, and didn’t always make much sense. I wasn’t been drawn in any more, like I was in the Davison era. Too much crammed in – a lot of ideas to get across, but no real attention paid to tone, pacing or drawing the audience in (With Resurrection of the Daleks, for all its fault, for example, you at least feel like you’ve gone on a journey with the characters and have been put through the ringer. It has real feel). I found it all rather alienating.

  17. Mark  February 25, 2013

    If semiotics is the study of communication (via the idea of meaning being attached to signs or symbols or whatever granted – but basically the idea of communication) isn’t it ironic that someone will study this subject and go on to write “the semiotic thickness of a performed text varies according to the redundancy of auxiliary performance codes”? I have no idea what you said, but then I’m not qualified in conveying meaning, so I wouldn’t.

    • Jane  February 25, 2013

      The best way to understand that line is probably an analysis of Paradise Towers, or The Happiness Patrol. The “auxiliary performance codes” are the camp aesthetics that infuse those productions, with sufficient redundancy that it becomes less opaque how they serve as meta-commentary on both the allegorical subject matter as well as the production itself — hence the “semiotic thickness.”

      For counterpoint, we have Sylv’s slippery performance which is not made redundant; no one else is playing along. Rather than getting the desired “meaning” from his antics (in this case the iciness of Iceworld) we get something that sticks out weirdly, an indication that that the production team in this case lacks any intentionality.

      • encyclops  February 25, 2013

        You’re not suggesting it’s a reference to those stories, are you? Given that one was only two stories prior and the other hasn’t aired yet?

        • Jane  February 26, 2013

          Oh not, not a reference to those stories in particular — just that they illustrate rather well the actual point of the “semiotic thickness” jargon. (The irony is that the “performance code” of the jargon itself unfortunately obscures its own meaning; sadly, this is often true of camp.)

  18. Smith  February 25, 2013

    That leaves my beloved Season 24 with the lowly score of 2.5…
    It’s ok. It has the possibility to be awesome, you just have to get in the right mindset.

    • jsd  February 25, 2013

      What’s that, drunk? Stoned? LSD?

      • DPC  February 25, 2013

        LOL…

        too true, though…

    • Lewis Christian  February 26, 2013

      YANA.

      • Nick Mays  February 27, 2013

        YANA….. Professor. (Sorry!) ;D

  19. Graeme  February 25, 2013

    I think the “semiotic thickness…” line’s just an in-joke, a reference to the fact McCoy often carried a copy of the script in his jacket pocket, which he would discard as necessary as the day’s filming progressed.

    • jsd  February 25, 2013

      As Neal mentions in the article proper, it’s a quote from “Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text” by Tulloch/Alvarado.

      • John Miller  February 26, 2013

        Basically it’s a major problem with the Cartmel Era. They try to be clever and funny, but

        a)they get the references and/or phrasing wrong

        b)most viewers don’t know what it’s supposed to be referring to

        c)it’s not clever

        d)it’s not funny

        • Thomas  February 28, 2013

          Except that the humor of the joke isn’t that it’s a reference to The Unfolding Text (which is just a nod to those who’ve read it, no different from an age-old continuity reference or something like that). In the context of the scene, the joke is that the Doctor tries to distract a guard by engaging in overtly erudite language only to find that the guard is fully competent in those areas and gets tangled up in a full discussion.

          Basically it’s a simple ‘playing with expectations’ deal (where we expect the guard to be a dunderhead outwitted by the Doctor, as akin to many Tom Baker examples), so it’s a) not getting a reference wrong, b) not requiring the joke to work on the understanding of its reference, and c) not really trying to be *that* clever anyways.

          And humor is subjective, but personally I always thought the exchange and the follow-up (“Why is everybody here so interested in metaphysics?”) to be very funny. Worthy of a good Williams-era episode.

          • John Miller  February 28, 2013

            See now, I was speaking generally. Which is why I said “a major problem with the Cartmel Era”.

            What’s more, the scene with the Doctor and the guard is neither clever nor funny.

          • Thomas  February 28, 2013

            As I said, it’s not meant to be clever, and the humor in this case is subjective (unless you have an objective argument for why it’s not funny).

          • John Miller  February 28, 2013

            Well, clearly it was supposed to be clever, otherwise it wouldn’t have used the same phrasing as The Unfolding Text.

            And “an objective argument for why it’s not funny”? Are you serious? Something either is funny or it is not. Trying to explain humour is as pointless as trying to measure poetry or fitting wheels to a tomato.

          • Thomas  February 28, 2013

            No, that’s just a reference. A nod to another material for those who would’ve have read it. The joke itself is very simple.

            And yes, that’s what I meant when I said humour was subjective.

          • encyclops  February 28, 2013

            As someone who really dislikes Dragonfire (if I could bring myself to watch it again I might graduate to pure Shearman-grade hatred), I’d agree with Thomas’s analysis here and I DO find the joke funny, perhaps the only virtue of the production apart from a couple of the guest performances.

            That said, it’s funny you compare this to continuity references. I find that the very same people who complain loudest about stories whose appeal supposedly depends on your knowledge of old Who are often the people who praise most highly stories whose appeal apparently depends on your knowledge of “respectable” literature. We’ll see the perfect example in a couple of seasons’ time, which I know a lot of people (including Neil) consider a highlight of this era but which I found insufferable at the time and at best a deeply flawed semiprecious stone now. But I’m sure we’ll talk more about that after Sue’s watched it.

  20. John G  February 25, 2013

    No arguments from me with Sue’s views on this one. Dragonfire is comfortably the nadir of a poor season, and of the McCoy era as a whole. The plot is muddled, Mel’s welcome departure makes no sense at all given that she doesn’t have any obvious feelings for Glitz, and Ace is pretty embarrassing; Kane’s face melting scene is the only decent thing in the whole story. Sophie does get a lot better over the next two seasons, and I’m glad of that because as a kid I used to watch Corners and she was one of my favourite CBBC presenters (I didn’t watch her in Who at the time, mind you). Here though, Ian Briggs is trying far too hard to “get down with the kids” and Ace suffers badly as a result.

    Still, something much better is coming up next – I hope Sue sees it that way…

  21. DPC  February 25, 2013

    The theme:

    The big bang occurs and the camera pans around to face the developed galaxy.

    TARDIS appears in its time bubble as it traverses the galaxy.

    There are some crumpled paper bits masquerading as asteroids as well…

    In comes McCoy’s silver face, winks, then the theme letters roll in.

    “Dragonfire” is an average story, elevated by a production standard that still can’t hide the fact it’s season 24… and it hasn’t aged well, either… just like most of season 24.

    Season 25 is a MASSIVE improvement, which most people seem to be saying – and there are some great gems ahead.

    • Thomas  February 26, 2013

      Of course, even the animator was deeply embarrassed by the ‘asteroids’.

      • Thomas  February 26, 2013

        (though it does puzzle me as to why Sue is all of a sudden trying to make literal sense of Doctor Who credits)

        • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 26, 2013

          This is really the first title sequence in which there’s something literally happening, I suppose. It’s the first sequence to show the TARDIS in flight and moving about, as opposed to just an icon, and it’s inexplicably inside a bubble!

          It confused me at the time because the first story had people trapped inside bubbles. I wondered if each adventure would get its open opening sequence. It was slightly baffled when Paradise Towers also had the TARDIS inside a bubble – I couldn’t work out why the Rani’s traps were so significant.

          • encyclops  February 26, 2013

            I’m almost finished with a rewatch of Season 7 and my god, along with everything else I love about that season, the title sequences are seriously badass. I see where Moffat’s season 7a title experiments came from now, and I think he didn’t even come close to equalling these.

      • Wholahoop  February 28, 2013

        Whereas he shouldnhave been embarrassed by the dreadful logo. IMHO the worst logo in the history of the series

        • Wholahoop  February 28, 2013

          Should have….. Not shouldnhave, ruddy iPad

  22. encyclops  February 25, 2013

    Smug is indeed a good word for Dragonfire, between the apparently pointless references to Alien and Raiders and the film-nerd name-dropping. A little less attention to in-jokes and a little more to an involving story would have gone a long way. Ace does get better, and she’s going to prove a definite improvement over Mel and Peri, but as pleasant as Sophie Aldred is, I just think she was being asked to play well outside the scope anyone could reasonably have expected of her. That is, she does a fine job with what she has, but what she has is so frequently hopeless. Her larger story has never made any sense to me or seemed to hang together in any way I’ve yet puzzled out. Maybe Sue will find the threads.

    He said, “There’s more to life than Doctor Who“.

    How painfully true. 🙁

    Me: Sadly, he dribbled some acid onto her head and she died of her injuries later.

    This is the line I laughed the most at, but Sue had a whole raft of runners-up, particularly this in conjunction with the screencap:

    Ace: ACE!

    Sue: Oh, for ****’s sake.

  23. Rassilon  February 25, 2013

    “There’s more to life than Doctor Who“ – Kill the Heretic!

    Filly con Carne.

    Just need to get past The Happiness Patrol (though I’m looking forward to Sues reactions) & all will be well again.

  24. Nick Mays  February 25, 2013

    She does, and that’s due in no small part to Sophie Aldred’s acting improving and the good working relationship between her and Sylvester McCoy

    It would have been interesting to see how Ace’s character would have developed – and been written out – post Season 26. As it was, once the writers of the Virgin New Adventures got hold of her, we were invariably treated to Ace being stripped, sacrificed, plumbed to the depths of her psyche and shagged by any passing hunk. I recall DWB at the time dismissing all of that as pandering to “Teen Wank”.

    Of course, Sophie went onto bigger and better better things, not least being Little Juan in “Il Nombre”. 🙂

  25. tidesoftime  February 26, 2013

    Sue: He said, “There’s more to life than Doctor Who“. You’ve told me this story before. He sounds like a very wise man.

    We all of us need to remind ourselves of this every so often…

    Otherwise, Dragonfire was my favourite of this season at the time, because it seemed to have the sense of menace which the rest of the stories lacked, despite the appalling caricature that was Ace. As for the ‘Children’s BBC’ question, the issue was not whether Doctor Who should be made with children in mind, but what by 1987 a growing number of people in the BBC thought children’s television should look like, and it was neither The Ark in Space nor The Changes.

  26. MarkyMark  February 26, 2013

    Ace was rubbish. She started naff and got worse. Her dialogue is always really painful to listen to, even in the stories where she’s mean’t to be all mature and brooding. Ace and Frank Butcher share the dubious honour of being the only characters on television to address people as “doughnut” – what the hell was that about? Ace’s accent slides about all over the place, veering from well educated to mockney street-slang claptrap. (I’m sure she even uses the phrase “Gordon Bennet” at some point in a later story, an expression my gran used to use…?)

    Mel wasn’t amazing, but she gets a really unfair rap compared to Ace. Mel was annoying, and Bonnie Langford played her as annoying – but at least everything she did and said fitted the character, she always reminded me of an over-enthusiastic HR manager. Poor old Sophie speaks and acts like a youth worker trying to look trendy, and the results are painful.

    Great job on the blog Neil and Sue. I’ve been reading it for quite a while now, and I can’t believe the first time I was moved to comment was to stand up for Bonnie Langford. I don’t know who I am anymore….

    • In My Not So Humble Opinion: the Writings and Ramblings of Ben Herman  February 26, 2013

      Yep, Ace uses the phrase “Gordon Bennet” in Battlefield. All these years latter, I still have no clue who Gordon Bennet is!

      • In My Not So Humble Opinion: the Writings and Ramblings of Ben Herman  February 26, 2013

        Oh, wait, I looked it up on Wikipedia. What an extremely obscure reference! Certianly not anything I’ve ever heard any teenager use, at least not here in the States.

        • Sleepyscholar  February 27, 2013

          With all due respect, “Gordon Bennett” is not an obscure reference, just because teenagers don’t use it in the US. It is used quite a lot in the UK. The problem was that it was less likely to be used by the sort of character Ace purported to be. Imagine Rose saying “Oh my giddy aunt!”

          • Neil Perryman  February 27, 2013

            It if helps, I used to use the expression as a teenager. And I still do.

          • Wholahoop  February 27, 2013

            In less secular times in the UK it was a way of not taking the good Lord’s name in vain

          • Nick Mays  February 27, 2013

            Yep, I used it when I was a teenager, still do. I also use “Toerag” (or is it two words “Toe Rag”?) which Ace uses a fair bit. In fact. I named one of our cats Toerag.

            I remember an American fan writing into DWM and asking about “Toerag” and getting the answer that it was someone who was a real sleaze bag or scuz bucket.

            Then again, soon after the NAs kicked in, then the swearing started. Even the DWM comic strip started using “Kruk” a lot. Ooh, the early 90s were an edgy time! 😉

          • Polarity Reversed  February 27, 2013

            “Toerag” is one of those usages that gets me going. It’s the old “right-wrong-over time who cares” game.
            A “tow rag” is (also/first/perhaps?) an old nautical reference to something rather unpleasant but rather linked to the current state of the Mediterranean…

  27. Thomas  February 26, 2013

    Yeah, unfortunately this one doesn’t hold together all that well. I have a bit of a soft spot for it, but it’s definitely the weakest of the last three stories (Time and the Rani is still worse).

    Ace does get much better- though to be fair the seeds of what makes her character great are all here, they’re just buried under miles of really crap dialogue that gets almost completely dropped the very next story.

  28. chris-too-old-to-watch  February 26, 2013

    Dragon -10/10, Mel leaving 10/10, puerile story -10/10.
    Patricia Quinn at least +12……
    “Oh, It’s just a jump to the left,
    And then a step to the rig-i-i-i-i-hite”
    Surely I’m not the only nerd who wondered what Magenta did with Riff-Raff after leaving at the end of the Rocky Horror show….

  29. BWT  February 26, 2013

    Yes, the acting is shit. This is Dr Who, the CBeebies version. Well… apart from the Kane’s melting face scene, that is. Or maybe they’d keep that in today as well – it’d be the only way to tell this apart from Captain Mack.

    The real tragedy, of course, is that this was probably the best offering of the year…

  30. Thomas  February 26, 2013

    Oh- forgot to mention- Mel’s departure scene here is actually really sweet. McCoy and Langford do a really good job at selling it, and it’s handled quite nicely (though obviously the actual idea of it is ludicrous without proper set-up). I particularly adore McCoy’s initial response to her announcing leaving.

  31. Wholahoop  February 26, 2013

    Well huzzah, Season 24 is over and done with. In echoes of the UK 1997 election, “Things, can only get better”

    Can’t they?

  32. Paul Mudie  February 26, 2013

    I must have watched a bit of this one because I definitely remember the Aliens “influence”. I was probably hoping that the new companion would make things more palatable for me. But no, I couldn’t stand Ace either. As Sue says, she’s very Childrens TV, as were most other aspects of the production. Mega-naff indeed.

    • Thomas  February 26, 2013

      “very Childrens TV”

      People keep saying this in relation to McCoy’s tenure, and I keep failing to see why it’s a bad thing.

      • solar penguin  February 26, 2013

        Because British Children’s TV in the late eighties was crap. That’s why.

        • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 26, 2013

          Also, Doctor Who was always a family show rather than an out-and-out kiddie show. There’s a quantifiable difference between, say, Dragonfire or Time And The Rani, and Horror Of Fang Rock or Spearhead From Space or Robots Of Death.

          • Thomas  February 26, 2013

            Yes, but in the same way there’s a quantifiable difference between those stories and, say, City of Death or The Romans. I don’t think except for TIme and the Rani or *maybe* Delta the McCoy era ever really ‘panders’ to kids- I for the most part agree with Sandifer’s read of the episodes as being children’s TV concepts with more mature themes grafted on.

          • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 26, 2013

            I would say that City of Death (I haven’t seen The Romans), although more comic than some of the others, still sits alongside those other titles without jarring.

            And I wouldn’t say that Dragonfire, or any other McCoy, *panders* to kids, of has kids’ TV themes as such, it’s more the execution. It has the textures of children’s television in the way that previously the show hadn’t. Even right old rubbish like Twin Dilemma, or gaudy slapstick like Pirate Planet, didn’t necessarily have those children’s television textures the way that much (but not all) of the McCoy era has. City of Death or Revelation Of The Daleks or Creature From The Pit would feel odd going out at 4.30pm on a weekday, between Beat The Teacher and Blue Peter, but Dragonfire or Time And The Rani – violence aside – wouldn’t.

          • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 26, 2013

            *or has kids’ TV themes as such

  33. Paul Mc Elvaney  February 26, 2013

    Well, I’m thrilled that Sue has already taken to McCoy before he has even really hit his stride. And now that Mel has left, the rest of what’s to come is Wicked! Well, mostly, we still have one Nemesis to overcome…

  34. Polarity Reversed  February 26, 2013

    Heehee.
    Sue gets the Wizard of Oz reference early, smart smart smart smart smart.
    Then we get that crappy “cliffhanger” – dum dum dum dum dumb.

  35. Marty  February 26, 2013

    Oh brill! Ace has arrived.

    Kane’s melting face isn’t for the kids, but by this point Doctor Who wasn’t really for the “kids”, they were off firebombing houses or playing video games or something.
    Doctor Who was for the teens (or maybe the fans).

    This story does really highlight the differences between Mel and Ace really well. One screams the other blows stuff up. Though this is where the screaming companion ends, none of the future companions have been much of the screaming type. It’s more of a shouting “Doctor!” sort of thing.

    Did Sue notice any of the other media studies references? Like the guard named McLuhan?

  36. SimonMoon5  February 26, 2013

    Regarding Ace not being up to expectations, here’s a true story: A friend of mine had seen a picture of Ace’s face before seeing Dragonfire, but didn’t read anything else about her. So, he was excited by the thought that the Doctor would finally have an older woman traveling with him! He was rather disappointed to discover that Ace was instead a teenager.

  37. Glen Allen (@GlenAllenTV)  February 26, 2013

    I DID like Dragonfire initially, then I hated it.
    I was introducing a friend to Classic Who. We’d watched Horror of Fang Rock one week and then Dragonfire came up as a random choice so on it went (mistake!) and I thought compared to that, this was dreadful.

    I really struggle to find kind things to say about some of the later stuff. There are some gems, and I mean that, but I finally grasped what people had been saying about the JNT pantomime performances. Before that, it was all just Doctor Who to me.
    When you see some of the later stories and then see some of the DVD’s of older ones you’re left thinking “Shouldnt this have got better, not worse”
    I think someone mentioned Am Dram. Nail. Head.

    • Nick Mays  February 26, 2013

      I think that’s an insult to Am Dram! I think you can get very professional performances from some unpaid, and therefore “amateur” actors. It’s painful though to see ametuer-ish performances from supposedly professional actors!

      • Glen Allen (@GlenAllenTV)  February 26, 2013

        I’ve done Am Dram many many times over the years so I’m allowed to say that 🙂
        But your point is spot on.
        Why actors thought that they could go OTT and have (their) fun because “it’s just Doctor Who” annoys me hugely, but then slaps to “them upstairs” for allowing it.

        • Stanbranulan Ykx  February 26, 2013

          This distressing thing about this story (I haven’t seen the surrounding ones for a while), is that, whereas in earlier Who the supporting cast would often let the side down and the leads would be forced carry it, it’s the four leads in this story who are ropy, and the thing is only saved by some of the supporting cast. McCoy can be good, but the Doctor and both companions really reek in Dragonfire. Even Tony Selby is rotten.

          • Thomas  February 26, 2013

            I actually don’t think any of them are *awful*, but yeah, Aldred and Selby are surprisingly weak here. At least you can understand it with Aldred (and she improves drastically the next season), but Selby is surprisingly average after his standout role in Trial.

  38. Mark B  February 26, 2013

    I got revenge on my fellow students at uni for voting me in as president of the Sci-Fi society by picking this as one of the shorts to show before the main feature, and then showing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” after part 2.

  39. John Callaghan  February 26, 2013

    Does Ace remind anyone else of Scrappy Doo?

  40. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    “Ice to see you, to see you, Ace!”

    The glacé cherry on the cake. Perfect.

    Neil, you are wonderful.

  41. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    “The last time Sue looked at me with that kind of eager anticipation in her eyes, we were on our honeymoon. We were in a Denny’s and she had just ordered dessert.”

    The last time I really gave a true flip about Dr Who or any fan comment was in 1980, because I was starting to get into Blakes 7 and Hitchhiker’s Guide and Triffids (and residual Star Wars but we don’t talk of that), and I have to say now that your blogging has been a shot in the arm and ripped through three decades of bullshit. So… “thanks” seems inadequate.

  42. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    Sue: Yeah, time storms are always doing that. Bloody time storms. OK, pause the DVD. Is that supposed to make any sense?

    Me: Does it remind you of anything else?

    Sue: (after much thought) Yes, The Wizard of Oz.

    Superb Brillaince from Sue.

    Nail, I’m sure you knew you’re married to the female Sherlock, didn’t you? Get out and get your handlebar moustache and start reporting her crime solutions in the Strand Magazine.

  43. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    “Sue: It’s a rip-off of Alien. It’s exactly the same design. Why didn’t anyone sue?”

    Perhaps they had seen “The Ark in Space”, which “Alien” wsa a direct rip-ff of? Remember?

    • encyclops  February 27, 2013

      I feel like the Dragon is definitely intended to be a visual reference to Alien, but now that you mention it the few parts that don’t resemble the Alien do look more like the Wirrrrrrrrrrrrn. “Tell Dexeter! Tell him…we’ve come full circle!”

    • Nick Mays  February 27, 2013

      And don’t even get me started on “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”…. 😉

  44. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    “I made Sue watch The Wrath of Khan last week. I’m sorry.”

    The only good Star Trek? Why sorry?

    • Thomas  February 27, 2013

      VI’s a lot of fun. And I have a soft spot for TMP, goodness knows why.

  45. kevin merchant  February 27, 2013

    I think there is enough material to make one very good episode

  46. DamonD  February 27, 2013

    Congrats, that’s Season 24 done with. All uphill from now.

    Dragonfire doesn’t deserve the hate, but it’s still not much cop. This and Delta and probably my favourites but the season in general is a work of desperation scrabbling around for a destination.

  47. Paul Mudie  February 27, 2013

    For me, in this context, “very Children’s TV” means the sort of overly enthusiastic acting that you used to see in the less appealing children’s TV programmes of the 80s. I’m thinking of something like Emu’s Pink Windmill Show.

  48. django  February 27, 2013

    Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Just remember that Sue also originally took to Adric!

  49. Anonymous  February 27, 2013

    ‘I would have thought twice about putting this on YouTube, let alone BBC1’ wins it for me!

    • Nick Mays  February 27, 2013

      Me too! I think that deserves to go on a mug!

  50. frankymole  February 27, 2013

    All uphill now – apart from Silver Nemesis and one or two other stories…

    • John Miller  February 28, 2013

      By “one or two”, I take it you mean “six or seven”?

  51. frankymole  February 28, 2013

    Marmalade Atkins was sort of a companion to the third Doctor if we count Worzel Gummidge 🙂

  52. frankymole  February 28, 2013

    To paraphrase Morrissey, “there’s more to life than Dr Who, you know. But not much more.” To be fair, all the Who fans I’ve met have been far less obsessive than the football fans. Time travel broadens the mind.

  53. Matt Sharp  February 28, 2013

    Dragonfire’s a weird one – I seem to recall really liking it at the time, but I really couldn’t say why. I suppose it’s the most Sawardy one (whit we needs here is a BIGGER GUN!) so it seemed the most like the Doctor Who we’d been getting for the last… however many years. Too many.

    It’s too ‘that’ll do’. Everything needs more work. Sometimes, it’s not even a lot of work. One more rewrite, one more take. In some places it just needs the lights turning down. Even the Alien looks crap when it’s floodlit. It’s so lit up like a shopping mall that the fact that part of it IS a shopping mall isn’t even a gag. And the science is all wrong – shouldn’t Kane’s freezing death touch attack cause more damage to his hand than the victim? It’d be a bit like shoving your hand into a furnace.

    The fact that it could probably be made to work is the most depressing thing about it. It could be good, but it isn’t.

    I liked Ace, though. I quickly came to the decision that she’s really quite a nice, ordinary middle class girl who’s pretending to be hard and working class, but is basing her entire act on watching Grange Hill and Eastenders, though.

  54. Kris Overstreet  March 11, 2013

    Well, I just watched Dragonfire… or, I should say, I attempted and failed to watch it. The combination of absolutely terrible acting from the non-core cast, the absolutely grating and unbelievable stupidity of Mel, and indeed the utter dependence of the story on the stupidity of half the cast, meant I hit the wall two-thirds of the way through episode 1. The script was AWFUL, the direction was TERRIBLE… “horrendous” is the right word, Sue. I know you were glad to see Ace (and to see the last of Mel), but 3/10 is too generous. And you’ve got a higher tolerance for pain than I do.