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Doctor Who - Ghost Light

episode 154

UK 1989
produced by
John Nathan-Turner for BBC
directed by Alan Wareing
starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Ian Hogg, Carl Forgione, Sylvia Sims, Katharine Schlesinger, Sharon Duce, John Hallam, Michael Cochrane, Frank Windsor, John Nettleton, Brenda Kempner
written by Marc Platt, script editor: Andrew Cartmel, music by Mark Ayres

tv-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy), Doctor Who (classic series)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In their time machine, the TARDIS, Doctor Who (Sylvester McCoy) & his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) land in a haunted house in Victorian England (actually the house that Ace has burned down a hundred years later out of sheer terror), to investigate what's really behind the horrors of the house  ... & they do find an assortment of rather strange characters: explorers from ranging from the nutty  Fenn-Cooper (Michael Cochrane) to the borderline megalomaniac Josiah Smith (Ian Hogg), Smith's decidedly odd life-partner Miss Pritchard (Sylvia Sims) & ward Gwendoline (Katharine Schlesinger), his Neanderthal servant Nimrod (Carl Forgione), a group of gun-toting chambermaids & reverend Matthews (John Nettleton), who hates all things Darwinian (why he is there though is never properly explained).

& as if that wasn't enough, the Doctor & Ace also find a stone spaceship hidden away in the mansion's cellar ... & for some reason, Josiah, who soon proves to be the main villain of the story, has a terrible fear of it (more precisely the creatures incarcerated in it).

Fortunately though, Josiah is incapable to operate by daylight, so the Doctor spends the day pulling a police inspector (Frank Windsor) out of the drawer (quite literally, really) & investigating the spaceship, so when night returns, the Doctor has a bitter surprise for Josiah, Light (John hallam) & Control (Sharon Duce), the creatuzres from the spaceship.

As it turns out, the 2 of them and Josiah (then called Survey) are aliens who were sent to Earth on an exploratory mission, but at some point Josiah became obsessed with the idea of ruling Britain & incarcerated the other 2 in order to pursue his goals ... & his goals also necessitated him to get hold of explorer/big game hunter Fenn-Cooper, whom he somehow persuaded to hunt the biggest game of them all - Queen Victoria (!) ...

If you think that the Doctor has now put an end to Josiah's evil schemes you are mistaken, as Josiah plays his cards right to antagonize the Doctor & Light - an explorer who can't stand any kind of change by evolution & decides to turn all life on earth back to primordeal soup. in the end though the doctor gets the better of Josiah when he turns everyone against him, ruining all his plans to overthrow the British empire, ultimately destroying him, he & convinces Light that he himself is a result of (evolutionary) change as well - ultimately destroying him too.

Only Control can leave with her spaceship now ... & Fenn-Cooper with her, who sees the great opportunities of space travel for an explorer.

 

Ghost Light's main claim to fame nowadays is that it was the last story ever shot for the original Doctor Who-series (not the last one shown, The Curse of Fenric & Survival aired after it).

Seen on its own merits the show has its qualities - convincing period sets (one of BBC's strengths), an interesting blend of Victorian ambience & sci-fi-gobbledigook, one of the best casts ever assembled for the series - which are unfortunately badly outweighed by its shortcomings, which lie mainly in storytelling: The story just doesn't make much sense (& believe me, in my synopsis I have tried to be way more comprehensible than the show itself), story elements are just thrown into the proceedings or pulled out at random, several leads lead nowhere, characters make no sense & at many a point none of the characters motives seem clear ... which is all rather a pity given the great looks of the story.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD