Dragonfire: Doctor Who: Season 24








Dragonfire SYNOPSIS:

On the ice world of Svartos, the Doctor and Mel reacquaint themselves with Sabalom Glitz and meet Ace a waitress from Perivale on Earth. The Doctor wants to investigate the supposed Dragon's treasure that Glitz is looking for to buy back his spacecraft that he lost to Iceworld controller Kane for debts owed.

Kane is originally from the planet Proamnon his body temperature below freezing and is following the Doctor and Glitz on the tracking device implanted in Glitzes treasure map as he wants the treasure for himself. Mel and Ace go venture into the depths of iceworld as well and encounter the 'dragon' that is actually an armoured android.

Having found the android, Kane sends his mercenaries to destroy it and deals with traitors on staff who wish to be freed from his service. The Doctor discovers Kane is not just the ruler of Iceworld but a prisoner of it, an exile from Proamnon, and the android is his jailer protecting the ship's power source that could free Kane from Iceworld. Kane must be convinced his home world is gone to stop the rampage of his army of mercenaries.

Return to top of page

Dragonfire DETAILS:

Episode Broadcast Run Time Viewership (In Millions)
Part One 23-Nov-87 24:01 5.5
Part Two 30-Nov-87 24:40 5
Part Three 7-Dec-87 24:06 4.7

Return to top of page

Dragonfire CAST & CREW

The Doctor:
Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor)

Bonnie Langford (Melanie Bush)
Sophie Aldred (Ace)

Guest Stars:
Tony Selby — Sabalom Glitz
Edward Peel — Kane
Patricia Quinn — Belazs
Tony Osoba — Kracauer
Stephanie Fayerman — McLuhan
Stuart Organ — Bazin
Chris MacDonnell — Arnheim
Nigel Miles-Thomas — Pudovkin
Sean Blowers — Zed
Ian MacKenzie — Anderson
Shirin Taylor — Customer
Miranda Borman — Stellar
Leslie Meadows — The Creature
Daphne Oxenford — Archivist
Lynn Gardner — Announcer

Production Staff for Serial 7G:
Writer - Ian Briggs
Director - Chris Clough
Script editor - Andrew Cartmel
Producer - John Nathan-Turner

Return to top of page

Dragonfire REVIEWS


From shit boring 50's Wales to the planet….ummmmm thingy for a bit of Dragonfire...

Ok, Andrew Cartmel has had 2 strikes with his own writer mates already and in comes Ian Briggs. Strike 3? Well not quite, more like ball 1, stay of execution. Had Dragonfire been really bad, Cartmel would've probably been hurled out a window with J-NT following him down. This at least is written by a new writer who was actually a fan of the show (read that somewhere) and not a wannabe hack TV script writer. Dragonfire's definitely no classic but it doesn't stink on ice - pun intended - like the rest of the season has, in fact it shines out a bit because the people involved actually try with the material. Dragonfire gets rid of the lingering remains of Trial of a Timelord by bringing back Sabalom Glitz and then getting rid of him, and Melanie Bush is finally given her marching orders and takes off. Plus we get the introduction of a proper companion - Ace, even though her real name is Dorothy.

First Sylvester McCoy is no longer just playing the buffoonish idiot, he actually shows where his Doctor might go, finally his eccentricity is becoming more believable, that is until he climbed over a railing and basically hangs himself over a cliff to give us a cliffhanger and a 'comedy' moment at the end of part one. Again comedy has to be funny when one attempts it, this being the fault of the director. Melanie too is actually good in Dragonfire, she's not overly "nice" but shows she's got some spunk and doesn't scream too much, ok when the dragon appears she does revert to the most appalling companion at reflecting the helpless woman of the old days who just stands motionless and screams.

Glitz for some reason is way better in Dragonfire than he was in the trial and is more the likable rogue he was intended to be and the chemistry between him and the 7th Doctor is much better than with the 6th, his bickering relationship with Ace is well done too. Then Ace, who Sophie Aldred makes the star of these episodes, she grabs the tough little tomboy character, a teenager riddled with issues and makes it her own from day one, she's totally believable, interesting though that she must be the first non glamorous female companion for a while.

Dragonfire also has a fairly decent and simple plot, a dragon - in reality a bio mechanoid who is protecting a treasure from falling into the hands of the manager of Ice world - a guy called Kane. This guy is totally believable, he's tall, imposing, creepy and is an ice like humanoid that can kill you with his touch, now THIS is a villain! The script is well done as it gives just about all the actors something to do and develops their characters, from Belaz, Kane's right hand woman. She was once a runaway like Ace herself who wants to be free of Kane and talks at least one guy into helping her kill Kane. There's Ace's dilemma and even the frozen soldier who has a grudge against Glitz who sold him and his fellow crew members into slavery.

Pity that no one seems to really react to the fact it's freezing on Ice World. Here we come to the flaws that are due to the director, it still looks way over lit in places, the sets definitely don't look like ice and it has that kiddish feel still wafting through it. Bits that annoy being the Freezer shop and café scenes including Ace's fight with her boss and the completely ridiculous alien puppet that tries to bite Sylv's hand. The posh woman who can't act wandering around and the little girl who runs around and offers nothing to the plot - WHAT was the point of her? Plus the part one cliffhanger and it's resolution.

How did Glitz and the Doctor manage to scale down a sheer and bottomless cliff of ice? Least the music is better actually because Keff ain't doing it. Still most of the supporting cast do a good job, it's nice revelation of what the bio mechanoid was protecting in about the biggest alien head ever seen and the set piece of the soldiers hunting it down to kill it and it hunting them was well staged. So the whole city turns out to be a spaceship and Kane gets his by melting away in a nasty fashion.

Seems unlikely that Mel drifts off with Glitz in the most unmoving and quickly done exit scenes ever, gone are the days of the good ones. But with Ace in tow and Sylvester's acting starting to get better things are looking up for the next series, if only we could get rid of Clough and McMuffin and Andrew could wheel in some more decent writers for the next series things may start going places! But Dragonfire's only the beginning. 5/10


Sadly, I wouldn't call Dragonfire the beginning of some decent writers on Doctor Who. I'd call it the end of a very dull and lifeless season of squat. Firstly, Ian Briggs. Again, another one of Cartmel's mates who comes along for the ride cos his dole money has run out and good ol" Andrew thinks he may know how to turn a word processor on. To get an idea of how much research Briggs put into the television series he was now being paid to write for, it wasn;t called Draginfire, the story was called Absolute Zero, about a fourteen year-old financial genius and his sidekick, Mr Spewey, who seek a treasure -- revealed to be a living creature -- in the depths of an ice planet. Yeah that sounds like Doctor Who. By the way, how is your writing career going Ian? Oh yeah; last heard that you were working as a masseur somewhere. Obviously bludging jobs off your mates at the BBC paid off.

Once again Dragonfire is just like all the others of season 24 in that it is just childishly dull. Think about it; we've gone from wandering around Paradise Towers to wandering around the Welsh country side to wandering around the over lit ice corridors of the planet Bonox. Which incidentally does not AT ANY STAGE look like the interior of an ice planet. It just looks like the interior of a BBC studio. With lots of arc lights hanging down showing up how tacky everything looks. Again, this is not helped by employing the abilities (or lack thereof) of the BBC's most untalented director Chris Clough. In case you didn't know, Chris Clough has had plenty of experience directing many sci-fi hit shows including The Bill and Eastenders - shows that are well known for their extensive use of special effects and snappy deft direction. Still, wait til Silver Nemesis and you'll see a REAL disaster!

You know what Dragonfire is lacking? Its the bloody Doctor! What does he do? Nothing. What does he contribute to the story? Squat. How much charisma and presence has the lead character got in this story? None. He just fades into the background and does nothing. For some reason which is probably down to her cute arse, Mel is actually quite good in Dragonfire. Dunno why, but I'd still give her one. Oh, and Glitz really warrants a welcome return - NOT. He's not interesting, funny or worth thinking about. By the way, how did he get to Iceworld (which is set during 1987) when Mysterious Planet was set thousands of years into the future? And finally we have Ace. I'll lay my cards on the table here. I hate, hate, HATE this badly acted, one dimensional, cliched, appalling character played by one of Doctor Who's most overrated and talentless actresses. To give you an idea of how many actresses auditioned for the role of Leela - 3000. How many actresses auditioned for the role of Ace? 35. Doctor Who just goes from strength to strength doesn't it?

And what about that whole space bar scene? Milkshakes tipped over heads? Sophie Aldred's retarded acting style? Fake looking aliens? Dragonfire (and the season as a whole) is a complete mess made up of JNT's light entertainment / pantomime desires, Cartmel's lack of understanding what his job entails and thinking that Doctor Who is a bloody fairy story, Chris Clough's lousy direction, and Ian Brigg's complete lack of any talent or ability as a writer. Next time your idiot mates want a job Andrew, get them to work in a box factory - that is all they are capable of doing.

Zero out of ten.


OK, seeing as I'm so far behind, I thought I'd try doing something I've been thinking of doing for a while - reviewing while I watch... I don't remember much of Dragonfire at all - except for a terrible cliff-hanger... so here goes

That bloke looks like the Hoff - ooh, the killing with bare hands is cool - nice start Ice world... I wonder if they serve ice cream... I want some ice cream Ace's first little bit with Glitz is good - The Doctor's Dilemma? So long as it's not a twin one! Glitz's bit with the white guards is nice... I had no idea who Glitz was when I first saw this... makes more sense now... This was supposed to look like the cantina in Star Wars... hmmmm... more like the BBC staff cafe with some extras in big hats and masks... and now there's a bloke with a tin foil box on his head Mel is still in a pantomime - Ace is instantly more likeable as a companion - maybe a bit over the top, but more interesting. Ray was hotter - but nowhere near as strong... Kane looks interesting... nicely nasty... and cold... but the hats are shit Bilge bag? As long as you bare my mark I own you... nice... Going on a quest - good standard sci fi stuff Is that an Argolan in the cafe? They do have ice cream there... I always liked Ace, but never thought she was a great actor - but she's pretty good in the scene with Mel in her room... some nice back-story... poor Mel never got any of that... Pace is really good early restricted zone looks good - maybe I missed something while typing cos I don't know why its' there! They keep building up dragons... you just know we are going to be underwhelmed by a bad looking monster very soon... Belazs... that's a good name 16... she looks at least 25! YES FREEZE HER! Nice escape Ace... you'd never see Mel doing that... and that's the mark... good writing... Why would the Doctor decide to jump the fence... oh dear... here's the dragon... and the scream... and the shitty cliffhanger... I know Goldby's going to love that McCoy look to camera... pity, ruined a good first episode... time for ice cream

Dragonfire part two starts well -Its a frickin laser beam? Nice model work - wonder why they used it here instead of the start of part 1? I wonder if they were toying with the idea of making a spin-off for Glitz... he's pretty good... and my apostrophe has stopped working There's the Doctor's brolly... so that's why he climbed over the fence for no apparent reason... I like the philosophical discussion... that's funny done well... unlike Paradise Towers! Glitzs ship looks like Captain Jack's... interesting... and the apostrophe's working again! Ooh - McCoy didn't do that bit with dragon cutting through very well... that's a dragon? Looks more like a... I'm not sure... need to see it again... looks like a Mutant! With heat hey.. who'd have thunk... Belazs is generally very good - the scene in Glitz's ship is great - but the plot to kill Kane scene is over the top More Ace back story - good stuff - Dorothy? Hmmm... there's no place like home.... This ice sculpture thing - something's going to happen with it isn't it... Actually the Dragon looks like a bit like the thing that Omega used in Arc of infinity... just looks awkward... Nice little scene with Belazs and Kane Here we go, the Dragons the treasure... Dragonfire could be wrapped up in two neat parts... or... well end up with a third part full of padding... I think I'm putting my money on the latter... better ending than the part one one though...

Quadrant 6? If there are 6 of them, wouldn't it have to be sextant 6 at best? That bilge bag sounded like Vivian on the young ones OK, he wants to escape from his prison planet... making sense Wouldn't sitting on ice blocks give you piles... or at the very least, a wet bum? Eye spying ice was OK though! It's got Zygon things on it's back... Aha... ok, so the little girl is the padding... or maybe she does have something to do with the story... or maybe it's just to show us again that the Dragon thing is a nice guy... which would mean padding It's bigger on the inside! Not as good as when Martha did it though... Why didn't the girl's Mum get whipped out or put on the ship? The treasure kind of looks good... kind of... They're loving this model shot... more padding Dragonfire for the girl... that works - a nice Who dilemma... Oh my god, that girl is Mr Bean!! His hands melt skin but not clothes? Maybe an easy get out having his home planet destroyed... but it works Yay - time for Mel to go... nice background music though... and quite a nice farewell... but why would you choose Glitz over the Doctor? Doesn't really make sense... but at least she's gone hey! Oooh - the Ace jump was a bit shit I knew the girl was just padding... or maybe she's a metaphor for a new beginning?

Yeah, that was OK I guess... I think I enjoyed Dragonfire more than I thought I would. Reasonably well polished, and well told - and a decent threat... maybe a 5.6/10...

Return to top of page

Return from Dragonfire to Dr Who Classic Series


Return to the Old TV Shows home page

Screen Shots:

Dragonfire titles

Dragonfire the Doctor closeup

Dragonfire svartos

Dragonfire Mel closeup

Dragonfire Kane kills

Dragonfire Ace

Dragonfire hunting the dragon

Dragonfire Glitz closeup

Dragonfire Kanes coin

Dragonfire Kane closeup

Dragonfire statue melted

Dragonfire Belaz closeup

Dragonfire spaceship

Dragonfire bio-mechanoid closeup

Dragonfire doctor and glitz

Dragonfire kane

Dragonfire ace and mel

Dragonfire bio mechanoid2

Dragonfire Kane and belaz

Dragonfire cliffhanger

Dragonfire customer and glitz

Dragonfire mercenary fires

Dragonfire Belaz and the doctor

Dragonfire mel with nitro

Dragonfire krakaur and kane

Dragonfire glitz flattened

Dragonfire doctor and guard philosophize

Dragonfire energy source

Dragonfire explosion

Dragonfire Glitz and Mel