“This is mega-naff.”
The Doctor wants to meet a dragon so he heads towards a frozen planet that doubles as a shopping center. Along the way he’ll meet an old acquaintance, lose a companion, and gain an ace new one. Maybe he can also pick up some frozen foods as well.
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) materialize on Iceworld, a space trading colony on the dark side of the planet Svartos. They stop by a local malt shop and encounter con-man Sabalom Glitz (Tony Selby) and learn that he has come here to search for a supposed treasure guarded by a dragon.
Official Belazs (Patricia Quinn) informs Glitz that he owes the state money and if he doesn’t pay it back in 72 hours his ship will be confiscated. The Doctor, of course, wants to help him find the dragon as well as inquisitive waitress Ace (Sophie Aldred). Another person wants the company to find the dragon as the dictatorial leader Kane (Edward Peel) has tricked Glitz into the map for his own nefarious purposes.
So let me get this straight, if I’m an exiled criminal plotting my revenge for 3000 years one of the things I’d do, besides pining away for my lost love, is to get up an intergalactic Wal-Mart?? Much of Dragonfire is incredibly silly. The Wal-Mart aspect for sure, it seems like other parts were a result of the usual BBC time and budget crunch.
For example, we have the cliffhanger that literally results in McCoy hanging over a cliff for no apparent reason, the shaky Dragon reveal, and Mel getting knocked out by a blow that never connects, to name but a few. Mel not being the best companion and possibly working better as a foil for Colin Baker’s grouchy Doctor.
What Dragonfire is best remembered for is the introduction of a much better companion in the form of Ace (not that she doesn’t get some bad lines, calling somebody a bilge pump?!?). She certainly connected with the fans much more than Mel did. It also features a nice demise for the villain that prompted many concerned letters to the BBC (a certain sign that you’re doing a job well done).
I suppose we can thank the episode for the introduction of Ace, but that might be it as the plot and execution slips a bit on the ice. Not even the presence of a Rocky Horror Show cast member can liven things up.
Dragonfire is presented in fullscreen. Special features include a commentary from Aldred, Peel, writer Ian Briggs, script editor Andrew Cartmel, composer Dominic Glynn, and director Chris Clough, a pop-up trivia track, an isolated score, the 35 minute “Fire and Ice” making of, 10 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, the 15 minute “The Doctor’s Strange Love” where comedian Josie Long and writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier take a humorous look at the episode, the 12 minute “The Big Bang” about the show’s effects, a photo gallery, and the Radio Times Listings on DVD-ROM.
Dragonfire should burn hot, but it only manages to produce some slight steam. What it does bring is the introduction of the much-loved Ace and a bevy of nice special features. The dragon has no teeth.
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