DVD Review: Doctor Who, "Dragonfire"
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Distributor: BBC Warner
· Chris Clough
· Sylvester McCoy
· Bonnie Langford
· Tony Selby
· Edward Peel
· Sophie Aldred
by Dennis Russo
Published: June 13, 2012
The Doctor gets a cold welcome on the ice planet of Svartos in this installment of Doctor Who, which originally aired in three parts from November 23rd thru December 7th, 1987
In this episode, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Melanie (Bonnie Langford) find themselves at the Iceworld Space Trading Colony on the planet Svartos. Here they run into an "Old Friend" by the name of Sabalom Glitz (Tony Selby) who, being broke (he sold his crew) is looking for a treasure known as the Dragonfire, supposedly guarded by a terrifying dragon, to get his ship out of hock so he can leave the planet
The trading colony is run by Kane (Edward Peel) the iceworld's ruthless Overlord, who is also looking for the Dragonfire albeit for sinister reasons. Kane is a very tall man made all the more ominous looking by wearing what looks like a modern rendition of a World War 1 Kaiser Wilhelm helmet. Even though he is on an ice planet, it is not cold enough for him, and he must frequently return to a cooling chamber (glass sarcophagus), in an area forbidden to all but himself, to lower his body temperature to minus 193 degrees Celsius or he will die. Because his body temperature is so cold, he is able to kill people simply by grabbing hold of them, freezing them to death.
Sylvester McCoy as the doctor was a bit of an enigma to me. I never cared much for him in the past, what with his funny looking hat, question mark vest, and question mark shaped handle on his umbrella. However, he really is quite an accomplished Doctor and I realized that my issues with him were more with his dress than his acting. I also realized for the first time how much he looked and sounded like Rowan Atkinson.
The story line was a little difficult for me to piece together at first. I was not sure who Kane was, why he was on Svartos, why he had someone creating an ice sculpture of a woman whom I had no idea who she was at first, why he ruled ruthlessly over those he has "bought", and what his motives were for finding the "Dragonfire". It all gets explained by the end, however I found the ending a little anti-climatic. The special effects were decent and since this was a space trading colony, there were many other lifeforms taking a background role in several scenes. This kind of reminded me of the cantina scene from "Star Wars," only small scale. The dragon is a bio-mechanoid that we later discover is Kane's guard and the keeper of the "Dragonfire" (a source of incredible energy that Kane needs to find in order to return to his home world to see revenge on those who imprisoned him on the planet). The dragon resembles in several ways the basic shape of the creature from "Alien." Although not looking exactly like the "Alien," it had an elongated head and vertebrae protruding out of its back that were the most striking resemblance.
As I mentioned above without knowing for sure, this episode appears to be the episode were Ace becomes the Doctor's new traveling companion. She is an adventure seeking tomboy and I can't help but think that only in the world of Doctor Who can a 16 year old girl with no parents go traveling across the universe with a man who she doesn't even know his name and nobody thinks the worse of it!
This may have been the first episode of Doctor Who starring Sylvester McCoy that I have seen but it won't be the last. I really enjoyed it.
Below are some extras that are included in the DVD and most of them are quite fun. There are a couple I could have done without, such as a PDF of the Radio Times listing and photo gallery, but for the most part they are will worth watching.
Fire and Ice This is a very good retrospective from some of the writers, actors, and editors on the making of Dragonfire.
Deleted and Extended Scenes These were mostly choppy and most were very short without any information on what they were, why were they cut, etc.
The Doctor's Strange Love This was a nice segment where comedian Josie Long and writers Joe Lidster and Simon Guerrier analyze the story.
The Big Bang Theory This segment has the current special effects supervisor for Doctor Who talking about special effects used in the series in the past and now.
Audio Options Contains options for Feature Audio, Commentary, and Isolated Score.
Info Text On/Off This is an excellent feature offering production note subtitles (Similar to "Pop Up Video") and well worth turning on, but I would suggest doing so after watching the episode through once so you can concentrate on the episode and enjoy it first as it was intended.
PDF Materials When using a computer this allows you to view a Radio Times listing.
Coming Soon Upcoming DVD attractions for "Death of the Darleks"