Dragonfire (BBC DVD)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B+ Episodes: B-
Sylvester McCoy served as the Doctor (the 7th incarnation) from 1987 -
1989, and these are considered by many fans and pundits to be the darkest years
in the show’s long history. Often
through no fault of his own, the episodes aired during Mr. McCoy’s run live up
to this billing. Fortunately, Dragonfire stands as one of the
strongest McCoy 7th Doctor stories.
This three part story begins with the Doctor and Mel (Bonnie Langford)
arriving on Iceworld, a trading colony linked to the planet Svartos. There they encounter an old friend, Sabalom
Glitz (Tony Selby), a shady trader always in search of a big score. Gitz believes he’s found it on Iceworld,
where rumors of a hidden, dragon-guarded treasure abound. The denizens of Iceworld chafe under the rule
of a despot named Kane (Edward Peel).
Any who take his coin become bound to him in a lifetime of servitude. But Kane himself is a prisoner of sorts,
marooned on Iceworld for many lifetimes.
It is here as well that the Doctor and Mel meet Ace (Sophie Aldred),
the woman destined to be the Doctor’s new companion. A human woman from Earth’s near future, Ace
was blown through time as the result of a terrible chemistry experiment gone
awry. This ranks as one of the weakest
reasons for a companion’s presence in show history, but Ms. Aldred’s strong
performance throughout makes one soon forget her character’s absurd origins.
Living up to the title billing, a dragon does indeed wander the
catacombs of Iceworld, but so to does a mystery or two. In the offing the Doctor, Gitz, Ace, and Mel
sort the situation out, Kane gets what’s coming to him, and the third
installment ends with Mel’s dramatic departure. She leaves to see the universe with Gitz and
“keep him out of trouble.” Meanwhile the
Doctor vows to see Ace home via the “scenic route.”
Extras abound on this disc, and include audio commentaries, a
making-of featurette, deleted and extended scenes, a twelve minute examination
of the show’s special effects circa 1987 versus today, and more.
Dragonfire offers some of
the best of Mr. McCoy’s spotty run on the show, and fans of Ms. Aldred’s
character will celebrate her arrival.
- Scott Pyle