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Doctor Who: Dragonfire (Story 151)

3.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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(May 08, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Doctor Who: Dragonfire

At the Iceworld Space Trading Colony on Svartos, the Doctor and Mel unexpectedly encounter an old 'friend.' The penniless and desperate Sabalom Glitz has only one option to leave Svartos: find the fabled 'Dragonfire' treasure concealed somewhere in the depths of the planet. Joined by Ace, a teenage waitress with a love for explosives, the group ventures off to uncover lost riches, not knowing that Kane, Iceworld's ruthlessly intimidating overlord, will gladly murder them all to gain possession of the Dragonfire himself. Before long the Doctor finds himself playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with Kane's mercenaries, descending through the ice caverns ever closer towards the deadly gaze of the monstrous dragon that lurks below.


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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Sophie Aldred
  • Directors: Chris Clough
  • Writers: Ian Briggs
  • Producers: John Nathan-Turner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007AAF2ZG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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Dragonfire by itself is an average story in the Doctor Who range. It sees the return of Sabolm Glitz from Trial of a Timelord, and also introduces us to Ace a new companion for Doctor #7. While there are some actors who could have stayed home in this tale, there are some strong performances from Edward Peel, Patricia Quinn and Tony Selby. Bonnie Langford has her strongest story yet with the Seventh Doctor,and Sophie Aldred puts in a good performance for the moody Ace. The story does lack in some ways with continuity, and the worst cliffhanger in Doctor Who may be seen at the end of episode 1. However the final episode at least projects some feeling and horror when Kane does away with Belaz. The extras are intriguing, and give some insight into how the story came about. The screen test for McCoy was quite entertaining, and it was interesting to see him with Janet Fielding (aka Tegan). I give this DVD 3 out of 5 stars overall. Enjoy!
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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.
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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.
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