July 5th, 2020

Seventh Doctor and Ace

A Doctor and Aliens on Ice

Rarely have the heroes on Doctor Who had such a strangely consistent colour scheme as they do in 1987's Dragonfire. Red, black, charcoal, and off-white. I also tend to forget how intriguing the teleplay is for this story.

We have this alien exile, Kane (Edward Peel), a sort of ice vampire nursing a grudge for three thousand years, and his followers who all bear a mark and are bound to his service. Kane sounds like Cain, of course. Who's Abel? Maybe the cuddliest xenomorph ever.

The costume bears a strong resemblance to the xenomorph from Alien. The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) is friendly to him, of course, just like the Third Doctor with the Silurians, though maybe this story bears more resemblance to The Hand of Fear. Kane turns out to be a little like Eldrad, the civilisation that exiled him turning out to be long gone. The set design is more like Richard Donner's rendering of The Fortress of Solitude, though.

I love the Doctor handing his map to the xenomorph. No wonder Ridley Scott thought his monster was overexposed when he made Prometheus (he was right, you know). Decades before Avatar, this episode inverts the story of Aliens, and the substance in the alien's brain is something the ice vampire sees as a resource the ice vampire is willing to kill for.

I like bored Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) playing "I Spy"=="Something that begins with 'I'"--"Ice."

This was Ace's first episode, a strangely matter-of-fact introduction for a modern day girl who's gotten herself lost in time and space before meeting the Doctor. It fits perfectly with how naturally odd Sophie Aldred is, a massive relief after the irritating penny whistle that is Mel.

I love Glitz (Tony Selby), a welcome carry over from the Sixth Doctor era. The mercenary, like Ace, is brought in with so little fanfare, jumping right into the story. It would be kind of great if he popped up in the new show in exactly as abrupt a manner.

This is Mel's final episode and as bland as she is her final scene with Sylvester McCoy is one of McCoy's finest.