Ghost Light

This is a difficult entry to write, because I’m not sure I fully understand the story I’ve just watched. It was a mish-mash of various ideas – a ghost story, Victorian themes of empire and evolution, Neanderthal butlers, hidden spaceships and insectoid monsters, all wrapped up in a mystery with Ace’s past at the centre. I was waiting for the glorious moment where it all tied together. I waited, and I waited, and then I just got bored.

I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and it didn’t help that I couldn’t understand everything the insectoid things from Part Two were saying. The same went for Control before she was freed. There was a complete lack of clarity, and I ended up barely understanding the implications of the events that unfolded. The picture quality on the DVD was another hindrance – so fuzzy and grainy, it was like watching a story from the early 70s where the master copies had been destroyed.

I guess your reaction to this story is also partially down to what type of Who you like and dislike. I’m always slightly wary whenever there’s a supernatural or gothic element – give me a straightforward tale of UNIT blowing shit up any day of the week. I also need my Who to be grounded in science and to include thorough explanations, and Ghost Light is most certainly not one of those stories.

I liked Nimrod the Neanderthal butler, but the rest of the guest cast left me cold. I think my biggest stumbling block was not fully understanding who Josiah was, or his role in the whole thing, at least not until right at the very end. A lot of things became clearer once I’d read a synopsis afterwards, but that’s not an ideal way to experience a story.

It’s a big disappointment, as I’d heard good things about this story, and about its writer, Marc Platt, who I’m aware went on to play a big role in setting the tone of the New Adventures. Perhaps it’s a story that improves on repeated viewing, once you know more about Light, Josiah, Control and how their set-up affects what happens in the spooky old house. But that doesn’t make for satisfying episodic viewing as part of a marathon. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t actually enjoy watching this. That’s very rare indeed.

RATING: 4

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2 thoughts on “Ghost Light

  1. I didn’t want to say anything in my Battlefield comment as I didn’t want to spoil what was to come for you, but how do you feel about the Battlefield incident after this story’s exploration of Ace’s anger at the racist attack on her friend Manisha and her family?

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