Dragonfire

It’s nice to end the season with a raft of changes. There’s been much improvement since McCoy and Cartmel took their respective reins, and this feels like a statement that the transition period is now over – goodbye to the last vestiges of the old, hello to the new companion.

I’m expecting big things from Ace; she’s practically worshiped by everyone Who fan I know who’s a couple of years older than me, and so was just old enough to watch some of this era go out. So it’s with some trepidation that I say that while the first impression is a promising one, I wasn’t immediately blown away. I’m impressed by how different she is from the last few wet lettuces, and she’s clearly an improvement on Langford already, but some of the dialogue seems a bit off. Obviously the contemporary slang is going to sound outdated to my millennial ears, but I can easily ignore that. It’s more that it feels slightly jarring and unnatural – I think it’s that she’s slightly too posh to pull it off convincingly. Even in the late 80s, companions have to speak either RP or foreign, nothing in between.

These complaints are minor, however, and they’re nothing that can’t be solved over the course of the next two seasons. Ace certainly intrigues me; all I really knew about her is that she’s from Perivale in the 80s, so it was certainly a surprise to see her turn up on a distant ice world. The explanation was vague, seemingly deliberately; I believe I’m beginning to encounter the Cartmel Masterplan. I know that the show is about to get increasingly dark and mysterious, but thankfully I’m largely unaware of the details. I just hope enough of it was fitted in before the whole shebang was cancelled.

Meanwhile, as well as the introduction of Ace, this story also saw the return of Glitz, who was back in the slightly-pathetic-but-lovable-rogue role from last time. The antics of our intrepid foursome provided a bit of bulk to a slightly thin plot – it all boiled down to The Doctor stopping the bad guy from getting the treasure, and the rest was just running around, albeit mostly enjoyable running around.

I liked the friendly dragon – it’s such a Doctor Who thing to make the monster a good guy. The design was a blatant rip-off of the Xenomorph from Alien, however, and the bits where the soldiers were tracking it down through corridors was pure Aliens. Plus, I kept getting the words Nosferatu and Nostromo mixed up, so I thought it was a complete rip-off at times. I should have been looking out for Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-offs instead. How was that for darker and edgier? Along with the humongous body count from an exploding space vehicle, for the second serial in a row.

I was relieved to read afterwards that it wasn’t just me who was massively confused by the ending of Part One. My notes were: “What’s the Doctor doing climbing over that conspicuous handrail anyway?” It becomes clear in Part Two, but at the time it just looks like The Doctor has decided to dangle himself over a chasm for no reason whatsoever, other than to contrive a literal cliffhanger.

Oh, and Mel left. Yeah, bye then. I know I’m being terribly unfair, but I just can’t get over my in-built aversion to Bonnie Langford. She wasn’t as bad as I expected, but she was never particularly good either, and that bloody scream just cut through me every time. It’s not you, Mel, it’s me, and Ace seems to be much more my cup of tea. Give me someone who responds to danger by lobbing a nitro bomb at it any day of the week. I live about five minutes’ drive away from Perivale too. I wonder if Ace shops at the big Tesco?

RATING: 7

SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 6.75

  • Seasons/Series watched: 24 of 35
  • Stories watched: 147 of 263
  • Individual episodes watched: 667 of 826
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