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     Home »  The Sylvester McCoy Era »  Ghost Light
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    Ghost Light Views: 3881
     Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 11:23 AM EDT
    When I first saw the story "Ghost Light", the story made no sense to me.

    I then saw it again. The story still made no sense to me.

    I watched it a third time but still I could not decipher what the plot was.

    A friend of mine, we both being die-hard James Bond fans, after a screening took time out and finally dissected and figured out the plot to the James Bond movie "The Living Daylights". After that, I figured nothing should be beyond me.

    I just finished screening another viewing of "Ghost Light".
    The story was so bad that I felt sorry for the actors having to play at this.
    I once thought "Survival" was the worst Doctor Who story ever written. I now think "Ghost Light" is by far the worse Doctor Who story ever written.
    How in the name of all that is good and holy did this story ever make it past the idea stage, let alone actually being drafted and filmed?
    What were they thinking?

    No wonder Doctor Who began to decline. The BBC's depriving of sufficient budget and JNT's actions notwithstanding, with stories like "Ghost Light" and "Survival", there were definite signs of attempting to kill the Dcotor Who series.

    I am still just aghasted at how so bad the story was.
    The acting was bad.
    Nothing made sense -- absolutely nothing.

    According to Wikiapedia, Marc Platt is responsible for writing the story.
    If true, then I must wonder if the Big Finish stories that he wrote: "Loups-Garoux", "Spare Parts", Auld Mortality", and "A Storm of Angels" are any good?

    Also, I quote from the Wikiapedia
    [Quote  His [Marc Platt] audio Doctor Who drama Spare Parts was the inspiration for the 2006 Doctor Who television story Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel, for which Platt will receive screen credit and a fee.

    Given "Ghost Light", this may not bode well for that anticipated Cybermen episode for the 2006 season.

    By the way, I still can't make sense of what the story/plot is.

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     Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 11:36 AM EDT
    I really liked Ghost Light. If you simply take the bizarre situation they were tossed in and understand that this was what was the cuase of Ace's teen angst, that she believes she burned down Perrivale out of sheer teenaged delinquence, but in reality it was because she sensed the true evil stored underneath, then this was a healing episode for her, and the Doctor brought her back specifically to force her to face her past and to show her it wasn't what she had thought it was - then it was a good episode.

    You're trying to make sense out of a very David Lynch-like episode where there's not much to make sense of, past the fact that aliens have control of the mansion, and are killing people, but keeping them alive in a bizarre alien-perceived version of human behavior... yeah, it's a bit confusing.

    And the few Big Finish episodes you mentioned, none stand out to me as very good except "Spare Parts", which was good, except the parallels from Mondas to Earth are so similar it's silly. The accents are the same, the - well, everything is the same. These aren't Mondasians, they're from Manchester!

    However, once you get past that, the story is good.

    If he was chosen to write a Cyberman story based on his work on "Spare Parts", then I think we're in for a bit of a treat, because while he didn't inspire me with "Loups Garoux" or the others, "Spare Parts" was actually a great characterization of the beginning of the Cybermen.

    I hope that's what he's good at.

    We'll see in coming weeks, I guess.


    One solid hope is worth a cartload of uncertainties.
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     Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 11:54 AM EDT

    Ah, Ghost Light, easy. There is a being that is cataloging all life on Earth (Light). To aid him he uses Control, and Josiah. Control is the "control" of the experiment, unexposed to the environment, and Josiah is evolving with the rest of life on Earth. Light is upset that his catalog can never be finished because life on Earth is constantly evolving. Everybody else are just specimens for cataloging.

    Marc Platt's Big Finish stories are above average, with Spare Parts being hailed by very many as the best Big Finish audio play. It is extremely good in my opinion. The problem with Ghost Light is that it was originally supposed to be Lungbarrow (the Doctor's return to his ancestral home), but the only thing kept from that story was the setting of a haunted house, as the production crew at the time was looking to reinject some mystery into the character of the Doctor, rather than resolving some of his origins. I could find no better story to base the Cyberman two parter on than Spare Parts. And last year's Dalek was based on another Big Finish audio, namely, Robert Shearman's Jubilee, and most feel that that was the best episode of the first half of series one, if not the whole series.

    Now on worst Doctor Who stories ever written... Oh, have you seen/heard: The Twin Dilemma, Time Flight, Timelash, or The Underwater Menace? Compared to them, Ghost Light is a masterpiece. OK, so I'm using a bit of hyperbole here, but the story isn't all that bad and the production qualities are pretty good. And Sophie Aldread and Katharine Schlesinger both look great in a tux! And the primordial soup gag is just priceless.


    Daleks don't accept apologies! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!
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     Sunday, April 16 2006 @ 12:17 PM EDT
    I also liked Ghost Light. That you can't understand everyone at once—much like Curse of Feneric, I think—is what makes it so intriguing. Ghost Light takes Doctor Who more in the direction of a drama program than a children's weekly adventure serial, which I respect, even though it turned out to be a direction that wasn't successful (as far as the BBC was concerned).

    Plus, the DVD has extras that are top-notch, like the take where Silvester McCoy misses Sophie Aldred's eyes, and lands, well—a bit deeper on her body…

    I guess that I'm a little biased; Silvestor McCoy is my favorite Doctor, even after having seen Eccleston and the first two Tennant episodes. I started watching Doctor Who during the Peter Davidson years, but I wasn't old enough to understand what was going on untill Silvestor McCoy's run. When I saw those episodes, I still didn't understand what was going on, but that had to do with the richness of the plot Wink and I liked that then, and still do today.

    My favorite Doctor Who stories all star other Doctors, but I assign "blame" there to the McCoy production team, and not to his skills as an actor (or Sophie Aldred's, for that matter). I wish they would have gotten a class-act script, like the one written for Genesis of the Daleks or even the one written for The Empty Child…

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     Monday, April 17 2006 @ 11:06 AM EDT
    Ghostlight an excellant story like other fans I struggled to understand the story for many years, and it actually put me off watching it for a while.

    The DVD is a godsend in that reguard. This was the last who story made by the beeb for 16 years. Which is sad however the show at least went out with a bang.

    Dr Who is back baby Yeah !!!
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     Friday, April 28 2006 @ 12:54 AM EDT
    It's more than a little amazing to me that the same mind that delivered the pretentiously incomprehensible "Ghost Light" also gave us the finest Cyberman story of all time, "Spare Parts". Maybe he learned on "Ghost Light" that less is more—or, in "Ghost Light"-speak, that the Control is the most crucial part of the experiment.

    "I think of myself as ambitious in casting terms, and I know that Bonnie [Langford] has the potential to make the part totally unirritating . . ." — JNT, 1986
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     Friday, April 28 2006 @ 07:36 AM EDT
    I liked Spare Parts a lot, but it isn't my favorite Cyberman story. that's Revenge of the Cybermen, for reasons I can't put my finger on. I will admit to falling asleep the first time I tried to watch Ghost Light, but after re-watching it and viewing the special features on the dvd, it made a bit more sense, and I definitely saw the general direction the writer was shooting in. It's not a favorite of mine, but it's not awful to me either.

    Heath Holland
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     Wednesday, May 03 2006 @ 01:35 PM EDT
    I read some of the Sylvester McCoy novelisations before I actually saw some of the stories. My PBS station stopped showing Doctor Who right before they were supposed to get to Trial of a Time Lord then rebooted and showed an episode every weeknight starting at the very beginning. Then stopped again right after Logopolis, which hurts because I love Castrovalva.

    So, I only was able to see Sylvester McCoy when I finally traded some videotapes in the early 90's. I have to say that I didn't enjoy his episodes that much when I first saw them. Now, I can appreciate them a little more for some of their late-80's absurdist quality, but I never got into them that much. The books were much better and once they got into the New Adventures, it was a lot more fun. I love the idea that the Doctor is a manipulator of great events started eons ago and now he's seeing those plans come to fruition.

    But it didn't feel the same, the stories were way too abstract and ridiculous. Ghost Light was probably the most egregious of these stories. Maybe I was just getting older and into the more intense sci-fi (fanboys usually like their science fiction deadly serious, especially if it's one of their "important" franchises like Star Trek, Doctor Who, or The Matrix.) What I couldn't believe was when I first logged on to rec.arts.drwho, how many people loved Andrew Cartmel and hated Eric Saward. I couldn't figure that out because I was exactly the opposite. I thought Sylvester McCoy was too jokey and his televised stories didn't have that "epic feeling". There was a lot of imagination, but it didn't hold together for me. If you read the episode guides on the BBC cult site, they really love the McCoy episodes and hate on Peter Davison and Colin Baker and I for the life of me can't figure out why.

    "Survival" was going out on a high note? McCoy's delivery of the money line ("if we fight like animals, we'll die like animals") was cringe-worthy. I know that he's one of the most gracious ex-Doctors and I hate to say anything bad about my favorite show, but I just couldn't appreciate that last season and "Ghost Light" was my least favorite of all (even less than "Paradise Towers" which was cringe-inducing all the way through.)

    SUNSPOT - Arena rock for geeks from Madison, WI- - - BLOG
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     Wednesday, May 03 2006 @ 04:26 PM EDT
    [Quote  by:  sunspot_mike] What I couldn't believe was when I first logged on to rec.arts.drwho, how many people loved Andrew Cartmel and hated Eric Saward. I couldn't figure that out because I was exactly the opposite.

    I think the bad feelings towards Saward stem as much from his part in the drama that prevented the original Robert Holmes' idea for the ending of Trial of a Timlord as people's perception of his work as writer and script editor. One thing that Cartmel succeeded in (for better or worse) was injecting some mystery into the program.

    If the cleaners and the "monster" in Paradise Towers were better realized, this could have looked much better on screen. The script was good. Survival is another story let down by poor costumes. The cheetah people looked like teddy bears. At least we didn't get to see the previous take on their costumes, which allegedly were much "cuter". The cat flap concept (Cat Flap was the original title of the story) is interesting, but I think the contractual obligation inclusion of the Master was too much.


    Daleks don't accept apologies! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!
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     Sunday, June 25 2006 @ 08:26 PM EDT
    [Quote  by:  tarashnat] One thing that Cartmel succeeded in (for better or worse) was injecting some mystery into the program.

    I've read this position in a lot of places, but, try as I might, I don't see added "mystery" during the Cartmel era. Unless we mistake "confusion" for "mystery". When it's gotten to the point that actors, actively trying to understand the basic plot of a script, can't make heads nor tails of it, it's not a mystery but pretense. This was clearly what happend with "Ghost Light", according to the commentary. Even the author himself seems a bit confused over what he was trying to say.

    In a real mystery, you take a linear story that makes perfectly straightforward sense on its own, then you displace the sequence of events in such a way that the linear story you started with gradually reveals itself. The problem with "Ghost Light" is that the the linear story makes no real sense, so the mystery is "faked" with directorial mood and style.

    Interestingly, I think the much-maligned "Love and Monsters" is actually a structurally perfect mystery. Even if you don't like where it takes you, that is the "reveal" at the end, as a matter of simple narrative structure, you don't get much better than LAM.

    "I think of myself as ambitious in casting terms, and I know that Bonnie [Langford] has the potential to make the part totally unirritating . . ." — JNT, 1986
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     Sunday, July 08 2007 @ 04:51 AM EDT
    i found out theres a game publishing company in the u.k. called ghostlight

    they must be fans.

    "Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
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     Wednesday, July 11 2007 @ 11:35 AM EDT
    Marc Platt didn't invent the term "Ghost Light", though. The games company could have taken it from the same source he did.

    IMO Ghost Light is one good script edit job short of being a great story.

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     Wednesday, February 06 2008 @ 10:58 AM EST
    20 years on and I still don't get it!

    Please check out my blog, as I attempt to watch and review EVERY Doctor Who episode!
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     Friday, February 08 2008 @ 01:50 AM EST
    I have just finished my chronological run of watching all the classic Who with my last McCoy episode yesterday (it only took me 6 months-OK my head is spinning). I am a new Who fan, who only started watching with the 9th doctor.

    Anyway, um...I saw this thread...I didn't get "Ghost Light" either. I felt like I missed an episode in the middle and things didn't connect. Not one of the best stories ever...but not the worst, I thought the worst McCoy was The Greatest Show...

    Let's discuss...

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     Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:31 PM EDT
    Like many Doctor Who stories I first came to this one through the target novel. Admittedly I found it hard going (for a Target novel i.e. I didn't finish it in a couple of hours) but it was perfectly comprehensible. I guess this made it slightly easier to watch first time round but I can't see what all the fuss is about, I don't think it's complicated at all.
    I don't really like this story either and would much rather that we'd had Battlefield or even Paradise Towers appear on DVD before Ghost Light.

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