The busybodies over in Classic Capitology have rocketed from the second-to-last Troughton story all the way to the very, very end of classic Doctor Who, in that it was the last Sylvester McCoy story to go into production, Ghost Light.
As you watch Ghost Light you can’t help but feel that it was a victim of the fourteen episode seasons that were occurring at the time, as this desperately feels like a four-part story shoehorned down to three parts. Unlike last weeks Classic Capitology addition The Seeds of Death which seemed two episodes too long, like a lot of six-part stories frankly, Ghost Light rather desperately needed an extra episode to breathe and establish characters for the claustrophobic atmosphere of Gabriel Chase. This was especially apparent in episode 1 where the whiplash of the strangeness of the situation just seemed too abrupt.
One of the common complaints of the JN-T era is that the studio parts of any story were frequently over lit. No such worries in Ghost Light, which is dark except for several piercing exceptions. Dark also is descriptive of McCoy in this story, the culmination of the ‘masterplan’ Doctor and the exploration of Ace as a character, completing a journey begun in Dragonfire. But this can also work against the viewer at times. At one point the Doctor exclaims, “even I can’t play this many games at once!” If the Doctor can’t fully track events, how in the world can the audience be expected to.
Ghost Light is a fascinating story, and many have tried elsewhere to deconstruct it. We won’t here, save to say that the new caps greatly increase the breadth and quality than previously appeared in Tour confines. I wonder where Classic Capitology will go next?