Ghost Light - What the hell is going on?

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Mark_Nguyen, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    With the recent revelation that Sylvester McCoy is coming to my local comic expo, I decided to revisit a few of his stories. This one is one I haven't seen end-to-end since the late 90s, and has always rated low because, well, I had no idea what was happening.

    Not at all to my surprise, I *still* don't get what's with "Ghost Light". Even after reading the written summary of the story, I just can't understand what any of the characters are getting at, let alone how they interact. All of the "aliens" seem to be speaking randomly and are completely ignorant of any of the others. Honestly, the whole thing seems back to front to me...

    I'm wondering who here really liked Ghost Light? Or understood the bad acid-trip it still seems to be to me?

    Mark
     
  2. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Ghost Light is either the greatest episode of Who ever, or else the physical manifestation of the Emperor's New Clothes...

    Personally I'm as baffled as you are. The last time I tried to watch it I gave up after the second episode...
     
  3. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ghost Light is my favourite Doctor Who story and absolutely everything in it makes sense. Give it another watch, there's a lot to soak up but the explanations are all there.

    Basically, Light was head of a ship that surveyed all life in the universe in order to catalogue it. A Survey agent working for Light (Originally one of the lizard things!) decided he wanted to be the daddy in charge and sealed Light in the ship. Survey then decided to evolve to the top of Earth's evolutionary progress, a Victorian gentleman. Thus Survey assumes the identity of Josiah. Survey then captures and brainwashes the explorer Fenn-Cooper in to a planned assassination plot against Queen Victoria, so Survey can take over the British Empire.

    However, things go wrong and Light escapes his imprisonment. He goes slightly batshit insane when he realises life can never be catalogued and plots to fuck the world up. However, The Doctor manages to convince him that stopping evolution is impossible and thus causes Light to overload. His presence remains in the house though, and is what a young Ace is frightened of in the future.
     
  4. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    I watched Ghost Light for the first time last fall. I too was quite confused.
     
  5. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like it. I don't love it, but I like it. Doctor Who as its trying-hardest.
     
  6. P0sitr0nic

    P0sitr0nic Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I remember really liking that one.
     
  7. Iamnotspock

    Iamnotspock Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Absolutely everything? I understand the basics, but maybe you can help me; why is Mrs Pritchard stimulating Control with copies of The Times? Why does the snuff box glow with Light energy? Why are Mrs Grose and the day staff even retained? Why do the night maids disappear without explanation?
     
  8. Chaos Descending

    Chaos Descending Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I detest almost everything about the Seventh Doctor's run. Ghost Light is no exception. Absolutely horrible.
     
  9. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I can understand not liking Ghost Light, but this is an attitude I find utterly baffling. My wife (a New Who fan) and I just did a watchthrough of all the Ace stories, and I found it pound-for-pound one of the best periods of the show's history. It bursts with creativity and energy, plays with the show's mythology, creates guest characters that are more than just plot functions, has almost no stock story types. The only Ace story I outright dislike is Silver Nemesis, while Remembrance of the Daleks, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric, and Survival are all top tier stories.

    Yeah, I know, different people have different tastes, but sometime different tastes are incomprehensible!
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The McCoy seasons were uneven; I hated both "Silver Nemesis" and "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy," though I like some of the much-hated ones like "The Happiness Patrol" and "Paradise Towers." (And I kind of like "Ghost Light" too.) But they did have some of the series' most brilliant serials, particularly "Remembrance" and "Battlefield." And even the less successful ones were interestingly experimental. In a lot of ways, that last couple of seasons presaged the modern series, in that it gave us just about the most richly nuanced and complex companion the series had ever had up to that point, and made the Doctor a more complex and ambiguous figure as well. There was definitely a new maturity to the series in those last few years, which I assume came from Cartmel as story editor and from the writers he brought in.
     
  11. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't enjoy the seventh Doctor or his "era" at all, and I feel that some fans give it a pass because of its scope and ambitions. While I can understand that, I feel that those ambitions were not fulfilled. Ghost Light in particular feels like a first draft. It's not confusing because it's complex, it's confusing because it's not written very well.
     
  12. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Why did you hate Greatest Show? It's superlative.

    If Ghost Light is confusing (Which it isn't!), it's because the story was shortened by one episode with late notice. Also, Marc Platt is a great writer. His Cybermen audio Spare Parts makes Rise of the Cybermen look utterly amateurish.

    Also, Lungbarrow is a great novel. One of my favourite VNAs.
     
  13. The Mirrorball Man

    The Mirrorball Man Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, I'm sure he's talented. Anyone can have an off day or two.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't really remember -- I disliked it so much that I rarely rewatched it. Although I tracked down a recap of the story, and I didn't like that much either. Too many characters with weird fairy-tale-ish names, too much self-conscious surrealism. Plus there's the whole clown thing. And I have the impression that I found the production values to be way too cheap and unappealing. I mean, cheap productions were kind of the norm for the original series, but in this case I just didn't like the look and feel of it at all.
     
  15. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I tend to prefer the surreal, more imaginative stories over the more generic action-adventure ones. I also think Greatest Show is a really good production with some terrific performances and a wonderfully eerie atmosphere. Those clowns were among the last truly frightening things in Doctor Who. Loved Mags the werewolf too. Would have liked her to have been a companion :).

    McCoy is my main man and the only story of his I find a chore to rewatch is Time and the Rani. Though Dragonfire is kinda average.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, there are surreal ones I like a lot, such as "Ghost Light." Don't mistake the specific for the general. I'm not claiming to dislike a genre or a topic, I'm saying I don't like that specific serial. I can't honestly or accurately explain why, because I haven't seen it or tried to think about it in a couple of decades, but for whatever reason, its particular mix of ingredients just added up to something I found distasteful.

    Besides -- clowns. Enough said.
     
  17. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, you should definitely watch it again. It's a very progressive, experimental story. My favourite of Season 25 is still Remembrance of the Daleks (Masterpiece!) but Greatest Show is a close second. The only weak link is Silver Nemesis. It's still better than any of the New Who Cybermen episodes (Unless we count Pandorica Opens!), but it feels too much like a rehash of Remembrance and the Cybermen aren't handled well in it. They were far more threatening in Earthshock and Attack of the Cybermen.
     
  18. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Wait...Did you forget Delta and The Bannermen? That's the one I dislike, and in fact, I think it's one of the all time worst Doctor Who Serials
     
  19. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think it's a pretty cool, unusual story.
     
  20. VDCNI

    VDCNI Captain Captain

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    I like Delta - for me it's the best of that series and not even in the bottom 50 stories of all time.