Ghost Light part 3

Home Forums Episodes The Seventh Doctor Ghost Light part 3

This topic contains 24 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  ScaryB 6 years ago.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 25 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #15723
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    The secret of the basement is revealed.

    #15822
    stevethewhistle @steve-thorp

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

    WATCH IT FIRST

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Another densely-packed episode. There is certainly no padding of the storyline.

    I reckon that there are too many ideas competing for space without enough room to explore any of them properly. Your thoughts do not have any time to come up for air and breathe!

    Some of the plot lines (eg hunting Queen Victoria) are suddenly introduced, seemingly out of nowhere, and the “cuckoo” reference to Gwendoline doesn’t seem to be properly explained (unless I missed something).

    Some nice touches of humour that seem to characterise what I have seen of McCoy’s tenure as doctor. I like the references to Shaw’s “Pygmalion” and “Don’t touch the soup”. The impossibility of trying to use a static model to catalogue a dynamic situation was also nicely brought out. I also liked the way that Ace mentored Control and made her fit for taking over the expedition.

    There were some annoying bits. I don’t like the idea of having evolution (or should it be devolution in this case)  work on terrestrial individuals, although I could accept it on alien individuals, and I haven’t worked out what all the night staff were and where they disappeared to at the end. And what are the full implications of the euphonism “Sending (someone) to Java”? I am assuming that it is a reference to Java Man.

    At least I seem to have been right in my assumption that the basement was a Tardis-like vessel.

    I haven’t yet watched the story with the text comments switched on, so, for all I know, it may have originally been intended to be longer and then edited drastically.

    However, I enjoyed the quiet, gently-humorous (if explosions can be gentle) ending between The Doctor and Ace.

    BTW I get the feeling that aspects of this tale have influenced a lot of AG stories. Anyone fancy spotting them???

    Don’t touch the soup!

     

    #15832
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @SteveTheWhistle

    WATCH THE EPISODE

    WATCH THE EPISODE.

    NO, REALLY, WATCH THE EPISODE.

    This is the episode where you really can see that they had to cram four episodes worth of script into three episodes shot. Subplots are flying around all over the place. I think the ‘cuckoo’ is Josiah, who comes into the happy family nest of the Pritchard family, and – in an inversion of the cuckoo – shoves the parents out of the nest and keeps the chick.

     I don’t like the idea of having evolution (or should it be devolution in this case)  work on terrestrial individuals,

    You mean adult individuals, surely? Because the successful mutations that lead to evolutionary change always do operate at an individual level. My biology is ‘Open University Science Foundation Course’ 🙂 but going by Horizon documentaries and stuff, Marc Platt may be closer to our modern understanding of genetics than he was to eighties genetics. The latest research suggests that you can switch genes on and off in an adult individual – so presumably a much more advanced science would be able to, say, switch off the more human genes and switch on the more ape-like ones. Possibly with some high speed mutation and/or gene therapy.

    I think the poor night staff may have been the Pritchard’s original staff (also hypnotised) – but it never was made clear.

    #15840
    Anonymous @

    As I said in the last instalment, this story makes me really like Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor.  But the story itself … hmmm.  I found it too confusing to be scary, and too convoluted to be bothered to tease out the references (so for that, I thank everyone who has commented all on 3 parts).  Ace seems like she could be an interesting companion, especially when the Doctor dangles the Tardis key in front of her, offering her safety, and she rejects it.

    Are there other Sylvester McCoy stories that anyone would suggest for me to watch?

    #15841
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @Shazzbot – Curse of Fenric is probably the best; Remembrance of the Daleks is my personal favourite.

    Remembrance includes this scene with Ace:

     

    #15846
    Anonymous @

    Hi @bluesqueakpip – I’m not privy to the discussions on which BG episodes we’re viewing, but if Curse of Fenric is better, why was Ghostlight chosen for the 7th Doctor?  I don’t want to sound condemnatory.  Is there a particular theme that ties together all of the stories that were chosen?

    #15847
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @Shazzbot

    Ghostlight leads into Curse of Fenric and, really, is at the heart of both what is good and bad about that era. So – an ideal choice methinks.

    Remembrance is great fun and an Anniversary story.

    #15848
    Anonymous @

    @Shazzbot — I’d say definitely go for Curse of Fenric. Another great, multi-layered story that is also clearly a big influence on AG Who. Together Ghostlight, Fenric and Survival make up a sort of ‘Ace trilogy’. Narratively speaking, Fenric is not as dense with ideas as Ghost Light but is probably a lot more satisfying as a rollicking narrative.

    I’m not as keen on Remembrance as some are. It’s got some great touches and some really good misdirects and narrative flourishes, but am I the only one who finds the much-celebrated Ace and Dalek with baseball bat scene really irritating? I also think it overdoes it slightly with the continuity porn.

    #15851
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @shazzbot

    I think I said when it was suggested that we watch Ghostlight that I would welcome it. It would be very easy for us to compile a watch list of fan classics for older fans to bore people with eulogising posts on how great it all was, while people unfamiliar with the material struggled to see it.

    Happily – we are the Doctor WHo Forum, and have not gone into that territory. Talons saw criticism even though it is a touchstone “classic”. Ghostlight divides more fans, and perhaps gives the viewer an insight into how frustrating an experience it was to be a fan at this point. Doc 7 and Ace were a great pairing. Sylvester does give an intriguing turn as the Doctor at this point. I’d suggest that the storytelling becomes more oblique, which frustrates some, but I welcomed it.

    When I consider this story, I find it easy to see it mounted with the production values and haunted house feeling of something like “Hide”. Wouldn’t that be astonishing? It’s so full of good ideas that the budget and schedule could not accommodate.

    #15852
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @jimthefish

    but am I the only one who finds the much-celebrated Ace and Dalek with baseball bat scene really irritating?

    No – I’m with you 100% on that one. Deeply irritating on so many levels.

    #15853
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – I think my question was meant in a simpler manner, which is so hard to do in text.  Basically, what we’ve done so far are Talons and Ghostlight, both of which are set in Victorian London – so I wondered if that was perhaps the ‘theme’ of BG episodes chosen.

    I think episodes/stories that are generally regarded as ‘classics’ are done so for a reason – and I can’t remember the genesis of this (quite wonderful) idea to re-watch BG episodes here on this forum, but was even a small part of that to introduce newer viewers to the pleasures of the previous Doctors?

    I take your point about presenting ‘challenging’ stories to provoke intelligent and lively debate, though, and wonder if that idea, too, forms part of the ‘watch list’ that is being (or has been) created?

    #15857
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    When I consider this story, I find it easy to see it mounted with the production values and haunted house feeling of something like “Hide”. Wouldn’t that be astonishing? It’s so full of good ideas that the budget and schedule could not accommodate.

    Very much so.

    What was Peter Davison’s joke (or possibly the scriptwriters joke) about BG Who versus AG Who? The Championship versus the Premier League. Even at the original four episodes length, Ghostlight would only be a two-parter in the 42 minute format. And if it had the modern budget it could have been a really incredible story.

    That’s actually one of the things that mildly annoys me. Stage plays are routinely re-produced. They have to be; they’re live productions. Films are re-made with scripts that are close to the original. But so far, you don’t re-make a TV programme unless you’re moving countries.

    And yet I keep thinking how much fun it would be, say, if we had Talons or Ghostlight re-made with modern production values. There must be a way to do it: the adventures of an alternate-universe Doctor, for example?

    #15858
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    We picked Ghostlight, I think, because it’s the story where you can really see how AG Who genuinely derives from BG Who.

    It’s all there. The Companion’s story taking centre-stage. The Doctor didn’t arrive here by accident; he arrived here because the evil in this house caused a pivotal moment in Ace’s life. It’s a classic ‘children know there are monsters; the Doctor teaches you that you can destroy the monster’ story. Here, he’s teaching Ace. More, he’s teaching her that her decision to burn down the house was right – no matter what the probation officer said. She was the one who saw the evil clearly.

    Then there’s the incredibly convoluted plot and its ‘take no prisoners’ approach to the general intelligence of the audience. Audience, you are smart people with video recorders (nowadays, i-player). If you weren’t paying attention damn well rewind! A lot of the plot depends on having at least some familiarity with the Darwinian theory of Evolution and the knowledge that the Anglican establishment initially opposed the theory. That’s the belief that the typical Who audience isn’t stupid and that kids can follow some pretty complicated stuff right there.

    What else? You can see a lot of McCoy in Smith’s performance – and probably a lot of Troughton in McCoy. As Steven Moffat says – these actors are all playing the same man.

    Fenric is probably a better adventure story – but it doesn’t give you that clear sense that – in BG and AG Who – we’re watching the same series. Just one that now has more budget, can use better special effects and has a much higher profile.

    #15864
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    What was Peter Davison’s joke (or possibly the scriptwriters joke) about BG Who versus AG Who? The Championship versus the Premier League.

    Very much his I think, the way it was delivered in the Proms (reminder people – August Bank Holiday for the televised version).

    I think I’ve heard Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Sylvenster McCoy all express a little envy about the opportunities the role offers these days, and frankly who wouldn’t. It is a different world. All point to the expanded range and scripts that dare go into places the old series didn’t feel comfortable in.

    But so far, you don’t re-make a TV programme unless you’re moving countries.

    It is odd. With a couple of exceptions (largely “classic lit” tales) it’s unheard of. I really enjoyed the restaging of the Quatermass Experiment in 2005 on BBC4, attempting to capture the “live” feel of the original (I have the original on DVD, albeit with the obligatory missing episodes problem). It occurred to me that the forthcoming “Adventures in Space and Time” could be used as an experiment to remount a couple of the lost tales from the Hartnell era. I’ve read a couple of reports from people who have seen extracts from it, and who I normally find a bit cynical. They seem to be uniformly hailing David Bradleys turn in it. Something to look forward to.

    #15879
    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    really saw a lot of AG influences in here. (as in, influences on AG, I’m not that timey-whimey) Aside from parallels with TCH and hide, what I think is a reference to the Doctor being ‘old’ ‘It’s very old- maybe older’ (than him?) ‘you are not in our catalogue’ made me think of his recent erasing.

    quite a lot of pun-sh humour- mostly revolving around ‘light’ ‘control’ ‘soup’.

    Quite a lot of darkness. ‘I could have forgiven her… if she hadn’t enjoyed it so much’ (supposedly, people can’t be hypnotised to do things that are out of character.) ‘I wanted to see how it works, so I dismantled it.’ Holding an arm- of course, when you reassemble things there’s always a few bits left over…

    I love that Ace called him professor. ‘Doctor’ has- I think- referred to a level of learning for longer than it has been associated with healing (in many 18th/19th century novels, a Dr is usually a Clergyman, Physicians are Mr. MD’s are a relatively recent thing) and this, for me, ties into this.

    I loved the idea of evolution playing havoc with the cataloguing.  And change, generally. It did give a bit of an impression that this- evolution- or the rate of it was specific to earth. Or maybe this was his first field trip? And I love that the Doctor defeated him with talking. McCoy comes across as a Doctor who is so very pleased with himself for being as clever as he is, and I admit I like that. I like his relationship with Ace, very much with a bright but somewhat unstructured student, his pushing her and teasing her is a compliment, but doubtless very irritating.

    I keep wondering why, in the 90’s, I watched Sapphire and Steel, and Blake’s 7, but not Doctor Who. I think McCoy’s could have been my Doctor. I can only conclude that my mother and sister liked S&S and B7, but it was because of my father that DW was ever on in the 80’s.

    This did, also, make me all the more happy about an older Doctor. Even more than TTOWC. Smith managed a totally different dynamic to Tennant. But I would like, if Smith insists on leaving, to see something a little more dry, more deadpan, more less keen to break a sweat.

    #15884
    OsakaHatter @osakahatter

    Finally got around to watching all 3 parts, and had a quick scan through the comments for each part.  @phaseshift – I think you got it spot on in comment #14517. You said:

    Watching this first episode reminds me of how I felt when first watching it.

    Exactly.  I’ve watched the 3 parts today, with a grumpy teething toddler on my knee but it could have been 25 years ago, I could have been back in my parents lounge, watching with my Dad while he failed to do his marking (the amount of school work done by my parents being a measure of the quality of the show in our house.)

    Watching this episode I immediately thought “It’s gloomy – I’m missing things – THIS IS DOCTOR WHO!”.

    Yes – and that sums up how I felt about the show at this point after I was lost during the sixth doctor era.  There was a sense that there was more going on with McCoy’s doctor than we were seeing and he hints at it here – mentioning ‘more games than even he could play at once’ (not exact quote but along those lines)There was mystery, adventure and manipulation about this Doctor – but also kindness – he was trying to bring Ace along (and by extension, us) and always humourous.  I liked his condescension of those who tried him and the fact that you weren’t sure if he was being careless and flippant about how things could pan out, or whether he had a much bigger plan we weren’t party to.

    There were some great touches, such as talking to the cockroach – would have been so easy to lose given how tightly cut this is, but I’m glad it stayed.  As was discussed in the part 2 blog, too many characters were coming and going in 25 minutes to keep track, and the story would have benefited from a 4th part, to create room for that midsection to breathe.  There’s a frustration as well – watching today reminding me that just as McCoy had completely made the role his own, when there were interesting ideas and stories being written and the show felt on the up, the rug was finally pulled

    Many pointers towards AG Who – particularly with the focus on the assistant as a driver of the story and as a mystery the Doctor is exploring.  Smith’s Doctor particularly has a lot of parallels with McCoy’s (in fact, I reckon this episode could have been lifted and planted as an eleventh Doctor adventure with little need for alteration.)  .

    @bluesqueakpip

    Fenric is probably a better adventure story – but it doesn’t give you that clear sense that – in BG and AG Who – we’re watching the same series.

    My 20 month old, who shouted ‘Doctor’ at the TV as soon as the music kicked in at the start of the Next Doctor Live Show repeated the trick today, immediately identifying the 1989 title music and credits with The Doctor – proof, if proof were needed that it is one and the same show 🙂

    #15899
    Anonymous @

    I’m afraid, @shazzbot, that Ghost Light was probably my idea. Personally I think Ghost Light is the best story of the McCoy era by a country mile but as @phaseshift says, it’s also the one which divides fan opinion and also the one which, I think, best illustrates the influence of late McCoy on AG Who…

    It’s certainly true that the plot was getting very dense by the third episode. It probably could have used another episode to let them breathe a bit more but I think something would also have been lost if it had. Like @bluesqueakpip, I like its ‘take no prisoners’ approach to plotting and it definitely is Who for the video generation and it does reward repeat viewings. I can’t help but wonder if we would increasingly have seen more ‘Ghost Lights’ if the show had been given another couple of years.

    As it is, I’d agree with those above who said that you could have taken this script and filmed it with Matt Smith more or less as it is. I’d personally love to see Nu Who remake old stories (continuity be damned) and still think that RTD would have been better off just remaking The Invasion if that’s what he wanted to do instead of making The Age of Steel which just tried to ham-fistedly steal its best bits. Although clearly what they have to do is pick up ALT-WHO for a TV run… 😉

    And I’m surprised no one’s mentioned one of the high points of episode three of Ghost Light — the catfight between Gwendoline and Ace.

    But in general, lots to love in the episode. McCoy is great. Terrific when facing down Light. I love his short-tempered irritability when the multiple strings he’s pulling threaten to come apart. Lots of great wordplay and allusions too. And I always thought that John Hallam’s decisions on how to play Light were brave ones and they really work. It would have been so easy to have gone for the Stephen Thorne booming voice route but his ethereal, high-pitched quality made Light all the more chilling — a pitiless Victorian child with a giant butterfly net.

    Right, what’s next? Androzani, is it? Or Autons?

    #15919
    TardisBlue @tardisblue

    I agree with @stevethewhistle, @htpbdet, @Shazzbot and others that the lighting and music left a lot to be desired. I watched it on my laptop, and was tremendously annoyed during the entire first episode that it was darker than a black hole. Ironic for a story which contains a character called “Light,”isn’t it? To add insult to injury, the blinding flashes of light were so over the top that I was reminded of really bad black and white B horror flicks. And the plot often made as much sense to me on the first viewing as “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

    I loved Nimrod. I loved the lightness of Light’s voice. I loved the Doctor’s chat with the cockroach. I loved Ace’s personality and her enthusiasm was wonderful — so sorry she didn’t have a chance to enroll in the Time Lord Academy before Gallifrey was destroyed. I enjoyed the “Easter Egg” references to Arthur Conan Doyle and other Victoriana (sp?) And there was some very clever dialogue –“don’t touch the [primordial] soup,” for example, or the Doctor agreeing with Josiah that they were just as alien as each other.

    I was thrown by Control, though. I had no idea who or what she was and why she was there. When I heard “Control,” I thought of the word in its sense of ruling or regulating, and during episode 2 and most of episode 3 she did nothing of the sort. When she first appeared, my mind immediately conjured up an image of a cross between Winnie in Becket’s play “Happy Days” and Bruce Conner’s assemblage art (http://www.tfaoi.com/am/12am/12am208.jpg). But she confounded me when she referred to herself in the third person during short bursts of dialogue, just like the beloved American childhood icon: PBS’ Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street’s Elmo ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML8IL77gQ3k). [Is there an award I get for stringing a record number of possessives together?]

    I have to admit that the whole concept Control was evolving totally escaped me during my first viewing. The more perplexed I got, whenever I heard “Control,” my mind jumped to Control, the spy agency, from the old American TV series “Get Smart.” (http://getsmart.wikia.com/wiki/CONTROL.) The power of early childhood word associations definitely trumped the science courses I took later on in life!

    This was not the only time my American upbringing lead me astray. With all the taxidermy on display, the large rifle, the over-eager explorer, etc., I guessed that the Crowned Saxe-Coburg was some sort of exceptionally rare bird — perhaps a distant and winged relative of the Jabberwocky. If I’d known it was a reference to royalty from the Saxe-Coburg lineage, I wouldn’t have been so puzzled when the Doctor asked Josiah during dinner in the last episode about his plan to kill Queen Victoria. Also, whether it was bad sound quality or too many pages of text on the rehearsal room floor, I had absolutely no clue the first two times I watched it that Control was burning the invitation the explorer had received from the Crowned Saxe-Coburg.

    The trope of something or someone exploding because it can’t handle the input or because it can’t reconcile dialectical extremes, or deal with cognitive dissonance is a familiar one. I truly enjoyed the way McCoy pointed out how everything changes to Control. That sequence and outcome did not feel tired in the least.

    BTW, could anyone explain to me why — apparently — four episodes were crammed into three. Between the bad sound and the bad lighting, I was missing a lot. I don’t know if I would have felt that way if I’d seen a better copy. Even so, I do see why so many of you put this near the top of McCoy’s era. Much to ponder, much to discuss, much exercise of the old noggin.

    TardisBlue

    #17452
    ScaryB @scaryb

    FINALLY caught up with this. had to wait for DVD being delivered – but definitely worth it going by some of the comments on here re sound/visuals.  Was also useful for the commentary – most of the actors hadn’t a clue what was going on either, but they had a ball making it.

    It was my first time for Ghostlight (saw Fenric when it was broadcast) – I actually really enjoyed it, loved McCoy’s performance, very nuanced, quite dark at times. Hadn’t a clue specifically what was going on most of the time but was happy to go along with it.  I liked that the performances were quite stylised – a knowing take on the old haunted house scenario – you’re pitched straight into a quite bonkers scenario, where nothing is what it seems.

    Much weaker in the spacecraft scenes, I didn’t get what the husks were first time through.

    Agree with @chickenelly – the violent mysterious prisoner getting tray of food also reminded me of Crimson Horror.

    I liked the evolution theme – there was a remark (can’t find it now) in epi 2, just after finding the creepy crawlies in the drawer, which I thought implied that things evolved particularly fast in the house – possibly with the influence of the spacecraft energy. But agree with the comment above that it does seem to imply that life evolves faster on earth than elsewhere, unless Light is just starting out as a scientist.

    For info – according to the commentary – this is a 3 person scientific survey team. It’s their second visit to earth – 1st time was 1000s of years ago, when they picked up Nimrod. While Light (leader) is in hibernation, Josiah speed-evolves into the highest lifeform on the planet (Victorian gentleman!) – he’s supposed to do that, I think, but it goes a bit wrong – problem with evolution!  Control is a (scientific) control, for comparison with Josiah.

    And yes, it should have been 4 episodes but the BBC weren’t doing the show any favoours in this last season.

    The Doctor is quite abrupt with Ace on several occasions, yet it still comes over as a much warmer relationship than 6 and Peri’s.  She trusts him, but isn’t afraid of calling him out. He judges she’s at the right stage to confront the “evil” she saw in 1983; it’s a bit high-handed but he’s proved right by the end. Incidentally, the choice of “Wicked” right at the end was McCoy’s, the orginal script had something much tamer, and less “Ace”.

    #17453
    Anonymous @

    What I find interesting and quite amusing about this story in general that when Light emerges in the third episode you could say that he is literally the ‘God in the machine’… the deus ex machina against which all others should be compared I reckon…

    #22352
    Anonymous @

    Can you show The Curse of Fenric next?  My childhood memories of this are long gone.  It would be great to watch it again and read everyone’s thoughts.

    #22354
    Anonymous @

    Sorry, is this right?  @craig  Can you show The Curse of Fenric next?

     

    #22366
    Anonymous @

    @TheFerret — I’d imagine that we’ll do another set of Classic stories during the gap between the Christmas Special and the start of Season 8 so we could well end up doing Fenric then. It’d certainly get my vote.

    #22398
    Anonymous @

    Hello @jimthefish — thank you for your reply.  Sylvester McCoy is ‘my’ Doctor so I have everything on DVD that the BBC Shop sells for him.  But I think Doctor Who is best as a communal experience.  I came to this place because I was looking for other people who like to discuss the show.  I certainly found the right place!

    Regarding Ghostlight, I saw an interview with Sylvester McCoy where he said that nobody making the show knew what was going on.  🙂  I have learned some amazing things by reading these comments.  @bluesqueakpip said

    We picked Ghostlight, I think, because it’s the story where you can really see how AG Who genuinely derives from BG Who.

    It’s all there. The Companion’s story taking centre-stage. The Doctor didn’t arrive here by accident; he arrived here because the evil in this house caused a pivotal moment in Ace’s life. It’s a classic ‘children know there are monsters; the Doctor teaches you that you can destroy the monster’ story. Here, he’s teaching Ace. More, he’s teaching her that her decision to burn down the house was right – no matter what the probation officer said. She was the one who saw the evil clearly.

    That was worth the price of admission.  🙂

     

    #22400
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @TheFerret (welcome) @jimthefish

    Just adding my vote for a communal post festive season watch of Fenric.

     

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 25 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.