|Air date||23 November – 7 December 1987|
|Written by||Ian Briggs|
|Directed by||Chris Clough|
|Delta and the Bannermen||Remembrance of the Daleks|
Dragonfart was the fourth and final story of twenty-fourth season of the programme Doctor Doodoo and marked the final appearances of Melanie’s Bush (who wanted off the show because she didn’t like the writing, which should tell you something) and Sabalom Clitz. It also featured the debut of Sophie Eldrad as Ace, who starts calling The Doctor ‘professor’ even before they’re introduced, but whatever - she’s Ace and that’s enough for some fans I suppose.
The story ran only three parts, which keeps things moving along at a decent clip, a real feat for the “late-classic” run of the show. Despite the usual carping, this story doesn’t look half bad, so long as you keep in mind which era of the show we’re talking about here and your expectations low. It does still suffer from the era's stupid editing however, manifesting in the usual form of “start scene A, cut away to the start of scene B, cut back for a few seconds to scene A, then back to B again, then back to finish up A once B is finished.” Retarded doesn’t even begin to cover it, but the show had seen worse so that's an improvement of sorts. Really, you can feel the programme trying to regain its footing after
the disastrous previous Doctor Michael Grade ate Colin Baker's son plus the scripts by Pip And Jane Baker, but the rot had already set in and reached the bone.
Things start out pretty rough with the opening titles, which both visually and audibly come across already dated, even by 1987 standards. Mel and the Doc go to an ice cream shop made up of some white and clear plastic sets on a planet called Iceworld (no, really) and meet Sarandon Glutz, only the “most 80s” of secondary characters the show ever had, but only the second-most character that no one ever wanted to see again (Adric as usual sweeps both categories). Flitz looks like JNT (who also got tiring five minutes after introduction), makes Mel a passable companion by comparison and has a map to the Iceworld underground tunnels, where dwells a monster called Dragonfire who supposedly guards treasure no less. They first meet Ace making milkshakes and the Doctor gets bitten by a muppet. The villain is a hypnotic and cold-blooded Mitt Romney who dresses like a fascist ice cream who's freezing people to create an army (of less than 20 people apparently). He’s also having some nameless old man carve a RealDoll out of ice for him.
Gluxz and the Doc go hunting for the dragon/treasure while Mel and Ace get in trouble with Romney who sends some thawed soldier-zombies after them. Mel and Ace meet the dragon, a cheap Alien-copy that even gets referred to as a “biomechanoid,” who shoots laser beams from its eyes, so they run away while Doc and Babylon Styx change plans and go to steal Styx’ ship which is a bit of a stupid reverse of plot, I know.
The Dragonfire Alien defeats one of Romney’s ice-zombies and then shows the Doctor and friends a video from the Shadow Proclamation to explain, if poorly, a few of the dangling plot threads. The Doctor goes off with the alien, leaving everyone else to sit around doing nothing, just like the previous Doctor often did. Sadalong Glick ditches Mel and Ace and sees the the zombie-soldiers chase all dozen Iceworld inhabitants onto his ship (except for a little girl who I think is a pretty cool guy. Eh gets shot at and doesnt afraid of Alien). Mitt Romney blows up Clutz’ ship and a couple of flatly-written (a frequently appropriate description for JNT’s era) non-zombie Romney soldiers kill the creature and then get kilt too. Romney barges into Ace’s bedroom and holds her hostage for the Lucite chunk from the alien’s head, which is also confusingly called Dragonfire for some reason. Romney finds out he can’t run for President again so he melts his wax head just like that German guy did at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In a final, poorly scripted and acted scene, Mel trades down to stay with Glitch and Ace trades up to travel with the Doctor.
It became the most horribly overrated Doctor Who story of all time for merely introducing Ace, and she was actually pretty annoying in this one. She became the GOAT companion we all know her to be in Remembrance of the Daleks.
Points of Interest, Such As They Are
- The notoriously stupid and literal cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, showing the Doctor lower himself over a guardrail and dangle from his umbrella for no fucking reason, comes under frequent and well-earned criticism for its ass-habidashery. Androgynous Cartmel has thrown the director under the bus by whinging that the tunnel up to the cliff was supposed to look like a dead end (much like JNT’s era of the show), but that it wasn’t shot right so this was “unclear,” or perhaps better explained as “fucking stupid.” Welcome to a few more years of JNT & Friends ruining Doctor Who forever. All this taken into consideration, this is becomes literally the only moment in the history of Doctor Who that actually gets better from shoehorning Clara Ozwart into it.
- Reminder that when people go walking around these days with explosives in their backpacks like Ace, they get called terrorists.
- Production Associate: Anne Faggetter
- Philip Sandiflush watched this story at a young age and became very influenced by the conversation the Doctor has with the guard on Sauvignon’s Blips’ ship.
- Best Quote: “This is naff. This is mega-naff.” - Ace (There's more where that came from Ace, get ready!)
- All in all pretty crappy but at least it's not hideously pretentious like the next two seasons will be.