A spooky house, strange wait staff, secrets, monsters, aliens… Ghost Light is a lot of fun, and the Doctor (McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) have a heck of a time, as the Companion confronts a bit of her past.
Written by Marc Platt, and encapsulated in a tightly paced and enjoyable three parts, Ghost Light ran from 4 to 18 October, 1989. It has quickly become one of my favourite McCoy stories.
The Doctor and Ace arrive in a house, Gabriel Chase, in London in 1883. 100 years in the future, Ace in one of her wilder moments, burned the house down, and she is forced to confront her guilt over it while the Time Lord investigates the mysterious owner of the house, Josiah Smith (Ian Hogg), who may be a lot of trouble to the British Empire if not the world.
The writing for both the Doctor and Ace is stronger than it’s ever been, in my opinion, and there’s an equal sense of foreboding and fun to this story. And poor Ace, because of the time period, is forced to wear a dress.
The Doctor seems to be in complete control for the entire episode, even when he doesn’t know what is going on. This is a quality that has been with him from the beginning, but has been perfected of late, and you can see it on fine display in this story.
There’s never anything wrong with a bit of a Victorian ghost story with aliens, neanderthals, and a spooky house, and of course, the Doctor.
While we learn that Josiah is up to no good, and getting lots of laughs from the fact that the local clergy doesn’t believe in the new theories being presented by one Charles Darwin, we also discover that there is more going on here. As Ace confronts her fear and guilt over what she did (will do), the rest of the household reveals its secrets and what is really happening.
There is a lot going on in this episode, and the Doctor tries to catch up and stay on top of all of it, even as Ace runs through the creepy corridors being chased by the villainous wait staff.
I just had so much fun with this episode, the Doctor gets to be amazing, smart, occasionally smarmy, and funny, while Ace gets to have more of her character and back story filled out, which makes her a fuller person, and consequently, makes the stories all the more engaging.
Too bad, we are coming up on the end of the Doctor’s and Ace’s time together..
Next time, the encounter The Curse of Fenric.