Sunday, 29 May 2011

‘Ghost Light’ Review – by Rob Christie

postpic_7thDoctor01The Story:
Ghost Light is a strange creature. It is a story that few have been able to grasp fully, and it is the last story ever produced. So, it has gained certain notoriety, but is it any good? Is it a jumbled and cluttered mess of a story, with too many plot threads, or is it a charming historical story with rich characters and unusually decent set pieces? I’m in the latter, and as far as I can work out, so is the vast majority of fandom.

Nevertheless, the dark mood, and the star-studded cast allows Ghost Light to be enjoyed despite the unfathomable plot. Marc Platt handles the two regulars incredibly well. I’ve always had a fondness for the last two seasons of Who, because gone is the Doctor that runs into trouble wherever he goes. This Doctor revels in trouble, thousands of steps ahead of the companion and the audience. This story is a turning point for Ace, her character develops more as McCoy lets her take centre stage for the most part. In developing Ace’s character, the Doctor is also developed. Ace enjoys her strongest television outing, with The Curse of Fenric being the only possible exception.
Light is a great character, camp, yet menacing and properly scary in some scenes, like the one where he turns Gwendolyn and Lady Pritchard to stone. Light came to Earth to catalogue all life forms, but soon discovers that the life forms he catalogued evolved, and so takes Earth’s future into his own hands and plans to destroy it. While all that is going on, Josiah wants to assassinate Queen Victoria to take over the Empire.

The last scene of Ghost Light, where the Doctor explains the evil aura Ace felt when she broke into the house aged thirteen, may be cheesy, but ultimately it is effective.
Overall, Ghost Light is a great story to watch, though a second or third viewing is recommended!

DVD_classic-GhostLightThe DVD:
Thankfully the DVD release includes a wonderful documentary, Light in Dark Places, which sheds some much needed light on the narrative, which is explained by Andrew Cartmel and writer Marc Platt. The story might have made sense in the script, and perhaps even in the studio, but the problem lies with cutting and condensing a four part story into just three. All scenes where the plot would have been explained were thrown on the cutting room floor.

The lavish DVD boasts many deleted scenes, and on top of the usual photo gallery and information text, we have Shooting Ghosts, an amusing insight into the last recording block of the series. Another interesting feature is Writer’s Question Time with Marc Platt, filmed at a convention in 1990 where he discusses the writing of the story. The original pitch is fascinating, set in a house on Gallifrey, which later evolved into the New Adventures book Lungbarrow.

Review by Rob Christie

Doctor Who ‘Ghost Light’ is available on DVD now…
> BBC Shop

Many thanks to Rob for the review!

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