Production Code: 7G
1 - 23/11/1987 19:35
2 - 30/11/1987 19:35
3 - 07/12/1987 19:35
The TARDIS materialises in Iceworld, a space trading colony on the dark side of the planet Svartos. The Doctor and Mel encounter Glitz and learn that he has come here to search for a supposed treasure guarded by a dragon. Also on Svartos is Kane, a - literally - cold-blooded criminal who has been imprisoned here by his own people from the planet Proamon.
The Doctor and Mel, aided by Ace, a disaffected waitress, discover that the 'dragon' is a biomechanoid and the 'treasure' a power crystal held within its head. Kane is desperate to obtain the crystal and the Doctor uses it to bargain with him for Ace's freedom. It turns out that Iceworld is a huge spacecraft and the crystal the key that Kane needs in order to activate it.
Iceworld takes off and Kane determines to return to Proamon and take revenge on his people. The Doctor however reveals that Proamon no longer exists. Kane despairingly opens a viewing port, allowing bright light to flood into the control room and causing himself to melt.
Having lost Glitz in the tunnels beneath the surface of Svartos, the Doctor reaches a precipice bordered by safety railings. He climbs over the railings, hooks the handle of his umbrella over them and dangles precariously over the sheer drop, his hands slowly slipping down the umbrella's length.
The dragon's head opens to reveal a crystal crackling with energy. Kane, following events via a bug planted in Glitz's treasure map, is delighted: 'At last. After 3,000 years. The dragonfire shall be mine!'
Mel decides to stay on Iceworld with Glitz, and the Doctor agrees to take Ace with him in the TARDIS. The TARDIS dematerialises, seen only by a little girl, Stellar.
Kane (Orson Wells' Citizen Kane).
The Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic).
Bazin (André Bazin, defender of deep focus cinematography and Citizen Kane).
Kracauer (Siegfried Kracauer, author of From Caligari to Hitler a study of German film).
Belász (Bela Belász, film theorist).
Pudovkin (Vsevolod Pudovkin, Soviet filmmaker).
Anderson (Lindsay Anderson, British director).
McLuhan (Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media and The Medium is the Message).
The dragon and some of the dialogue in the 'ANT hunt' come via Alien and its sequel.
Doctor Who the Unfolding Text ('the semiotic thickness of a performed text').
The Wizard of Oz.
Star Wars (cantina).
The Doctor's Dilemma by Bernard Shaw (being read by the Doctor).
The Abominable Dr Phibes.
The Maltese Falcon (quoted).
Kane : "None of my mercenary force will be willing when I bring them out of cryosleep. The process causes complete loss of memory. With no memories they can have no past, no future, no will of their own, no purpose except to obey me. Through them I shall be invincible. My power shall be absolute."
Ace : "Do you feel like arguing with a can of deodorant that registers nine on the Richter scale?"
Mel : "Oh all right, you win."
The Doctor : "I do? I usually do."
Mel : "I'm going now."
The Doctor : "That's right, yes, you're going. You've gone for ages, you've already gone, you're still here, just arrived, haven't even met you yet. It all depends on who you are and how you look at it. Strange business, time."
The Doctor : Excuse me, what's your attitude towards the nature of existence? For example, do you hold any theological opinions?'
'I think you'll find that most educated people regard mythical convictions as fundamentally animistic... Personally, I find most experiences border on the existential.'
'How would you reconcile that with the empirio-critical belief that experience is at the root of all phenomena?'
'I think you'll find that a concept can be philosophically valid even if theologically meaningless.'
Ace's real name is Dorothy, she is 16 years old, is aggressive when asked about her parents, and comes from Perivale. She enjoyed chemistry at school, and seemed to be on the verge of doing 'A' levels when she was suspended for blowing up the art room, which she felt was a creative act. She then worked as a waitress in a fast food café while dreaming of her 'real' parents from beyond the stars.
A brief reference is made to the 'time storm' that swept her up and brought her to Iceworld, which Ace attributes to her attempts to extract nitroglycerine from gelignite (this isn't fully explained until The Curse of Fenric). [As she has never heard of the Cybermen who invaded in December 1986 she must have left earlier that year.
She seems tempted by Kane's offer to join him as a mercenary.
Iceworld, [unless Glitz can time travel, this must be far in the future].
Major sources of inspiration for this story included the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz (the idea of Ace, real name Dorothy, being whisked off to Iceworld in a time storm) and Twentieth Century Fox's Alien saga (the ANT hunt in Part Three, and the physical look of the dragon), amongst others.
Script editor Andrew Cartmel encouraged his writers to read the academic media studies textbook Doctor Who - The Unfolding Text by John Tulloch and Manuel Alvarado to help acquaint themselves with the series, and Ian Briggs actually used some short passages from that book in the dialogue of Dragonfire.
This is the 150th Doctor Who story. (It is the 147th, although the BBC promoted it as the 150th. The production team apparently arrived at the total by counting the four segments of season twenty-three's The Trial of a Time Lord as four separate stories.)
It takes more than 15 years for a star to go nova and turn into a neutron star.
At the end of episode one, the Doctor looks down an almost bottomless cliff of ice. By the start of the next episode a little ledge has appeared, onto which Glitz is able to pull the Doctor.
In episode two, when Ace throws Nitro 9 at the 'zombies', the 'rock face' behind her is a billowing white curtain.
At the end, why doesn't Stella's mother behave as if there's been a massacre (which there has)?
Why hide the Dragonfire on the part of the planet that Kane can get to?
Why does Kane kill his mercenaries, having gone to the trouble of collecting them?
Would even Glitz's spacecraft really have seat belts and furry dice? (Mind you, even the TARDIS has seat belts: see Timelash.)
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Sylvester McCoy
Ace - Sophie Aldred
Melanie - Bonnie Langford
Anderson - Ian Mackenzie
Announcer - Lynn Gardner
Archivist - Daphne Oxenford
Arnheim - Chris MacDonnell
Bazin - Stuart Organ
Belazs - Patricia Quinn
Customer - Shirin Taylor
Glitz - Tony Selby
Kane - Edward Peel
Kracauer - Tony Osoba
McLuhan - Stephanie Fayerman
Pudovkin - Nigel Miles-Thomas
Stellar - Miranda Borman
The Creature - Leslie Meadows
Zed - Sean Blowers
Director - Chris Clough