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Doctor Who: Dragonfire

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Doctor Who: Dragonfire

In the bowels of an ice planet/interstellar supermarket, ruled over by a murderous master of cold, arrives time-and-space traveler the Doctor (the Seventh, played by Sylvester McCoy) and his sunny companion Mel (Bonnie Langford) with her abundant ginger curls. In no time at all they're on a dragon hunt, accompanied by a sketchy space rogue (Tony Selby) and a spirited girl from Earth, Ace (Sophie Aldred--who, at the end of the three-episode serial, becomes the Doctor's new companion). Dragonfire is a particularly frustrating Doctor Who story; it has moments that are smart, surprising, and intriguing… and moments that are flabbergastingly dumb. (It doesn't help that the sets and costumes combine cheapness and extravagance as only the 1980s could.) The extensive extras--including a making-of featurette and detailed trivia notes--suggest that this narrative schizophrenia is mostly due to an interesting script being poorly translated into production. But the script has its own problems, which are cheerfully pointed out in another extra, with three clever Brits discussing Dragonfire in depth, savaging its failings but also appreciating its virtues. These unusually frank bonus features make this DVD package much more engaging than the story would be on its own. McCoy's Doctor is lackluster, with enjoyable moments of whimsy but lacking any gravitas. Fortunately, Aldred delights; her charisma makes her the center of the story from her first appearance, outshining the bland Langford. Another plus is the supporting performance of Patricia Quinn (from cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as a rebellious underling. --Bret Fetzer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Fire Extinguished May 20 2012
By Phil Rosenbach - Published on
It's rather difficult for me to say anything negative about the Sylvester McCoy Era, only due to the fact that I met the man, and as a person, I really enjoyed his company. But as the Doctor... Realistically, I know that it was not his fault that he got the shortest stick, due to all the behind the scenes machinations at the Beeb which started during Colin Baker's time. So I have to walk that fine line once again, trying to be as unbiased as possible as I write this.

Simply put, I can't help to note how times have changed as this program is now being compared to the new series! Granted, it is only reasonable that some would compare these old series stories to the new ones. And yet, there are a plethora of Doctor Who stories that I watched decades ago, and much to the satisfaction of my memory, as they are being released on DVD, and I love them just as much as I did then.

Dragonfire didn't quite hit that mark.

Setting the story aside, which I never recap since most people reading these reviews should already know the story, and if they don't, most other reviewers recapped that more times than I can count, I want to focus on what makes this DVD something you may wish to spend you hard-earned money on.

Mel departs as the Doctor's companion at the end of this story and Ace takes her place.

Well, that pretty much covers it.

I feel that the commentary was more entertaining than the show itself. The participants of the commentary are, Sophie Aldred / Ace, Edward Peel / Kane, Andrew Cartmel, / Script Editor, Chris Clough / Director, and Ian Briggs / Director. Several of these contributors are in only one or two of the three episodes. Personally, I feel that if a person can't contribute something to all of the episodes, then they shouldn't be included. Miss Foster trimmed the fat for the Adapose, I think it's time 2|entertain did the same. And why no Sylvester McCoy or Bonnie Langford as participants in this commentary!?!

Other features of note are:
"Fire and Ice" - This 35 minute feature features Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Andrew Cartmel, Ian Briggs, and others as they talk about the making of this story. I usually find these type of features interesting, and this one was, but not as much as others have been in prior releases.

"The Doctor's Strange Love" is a 16 minute discussion between three people who have NO INVOLVEMENT in the show expressing their opinions. Frankly, I find this insulting. Would any of you buy a DVD of me expressing my opinions of a Doctor Who show? I think not. I didn't even bother to watch this to the end.

"The Big Bang Theory" is a 12 ½ minute long feature with new series special effects director, Danny Hargreaves. He talks about the way some explosions were done in the original series, as well as how they are done today. I personally found this to be very interesting. But then again, I sleep with a can of nitro 9 under my pillow.

After these features, there are some deleted and extended scenes, which is where it begins to fizzle. Realistically, putting aside the obligatory commentary track, "Fire and Ice" and "The Big Bang Theory" are the only real "bonus" features. So I have to say that 2|enterain gives VERY LITTLE to make this worth your money. I feel that instead of allowing 2|entertain to symbolically defecate on us consumers, we should just go to their corporate office, and literally do it to them.

My BOTTOM LINE is, Dragonfire is something to "Possibly Consider" if you are a true fan of McCoy and Aldred. But if you're the type who prefers to spend their hard-earned cash on something that will give you a bit more satisfaction, in my opinion, I regret to say that this may not be for you. I would even go so far as to say that it was a good "kids" story back in its day, but while some "kids stories" have withstood the test of time, this isn't one of them.

I hope that this review was helpful to you, and please feel free to express your opinion(s) as well as post any questions on this review so that I can hopefully improve upon this one, as well as future ones. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and hopefully, consider my humble opinion(s).
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Dracula in Space with ACE! March 17 2012
By Kevin J. Loria - Published on
Ace! Sort of Dracula is space, with ice... The imagery is pretty clear. DragonFire is the 7th Doctor story that intros ACE who stays at his side until the series "hattus' though the 90's... Ace is the most interesting character to come along in ages... She is an Earth girl who likes to blow things up and is inexplicably lightyears from Earth. The story is a bit of a treasure hunt with a typically ineffective set, by Slyvester McCoy, the Scottish Doctor, is a pleasure to watch even at the era's worse offerings... Although, The Doctor's self- imperilment only to close the first ep with a 'literal' cliffhanger is perplexing to watch. But on the plus side Mel departs by the end. This is the beginning of a bit of a new direction for the 7th Doctor, trending toward darker territory.
Second Best Story of Season 24 April 29 2015
By Adam Graham, Superhero and Detective Fiction Author - Published on
The plot of Dragonfire has some potential, and there are a few very good performances. Tony Selby is very good as Glitz. While Ace isn't immediately likable, this is her introduction story and there's certainly enough revealed about Ace to make the audience want learn more about her. And Edward Pael has some great maniacal moments as the villain Kane.

Yet, the story suffers from often being incomprehensible. There are moments like the literal cliffhanger at the end of Part One that has the Doctor lowering himself over a precipise via umbrella for no good reason. There's Glitz and the Doctor's attempt to steal back Glitz's spaceship and the Doctor suddenly abandoning the idea. ANd then there's that little girl running around. She's cute. Okay. What's she doing here. It's a confused mess of a story that still manges to be fun most of the time in spite of itself.
best known for 3 things Sept. 23 2014
By Mark Anderson - Published on
Verified Purchase
one of the weaker 7th doctor stories. best known for 3 things. the return of glitz, a bounty hunter introduced in the trial of a time lord, good comic relief. second, the final appearance of mel, played by bonnie langford. a wonderful perky actress, sadly reduced to just another screaming companion. she deserved a better exit. and finally, the debut of dorothy mcshane, better known as ace. sophie aldred became one of the best companions of the classic series, and here we get to see her at her start, still pretty rough around the edges, but you can see the chemistry with the professor right from the start. but a bad script, awful costumes, and one of the single dumbest cliffhangers of all time just drag this story down.
Dragonfire Feb. 11 2014
By Theodore Lane - Published on
Verified Purchase
Sylvester Mccoy rocks as the Doctor, Ace is aces and we meet mel.
You're usual Doctor Who movie i was entertained.