By Jeffrey Zyra
Written by Marc Platt
“Confusion, wastage, tyranny, burnt toast, till all the atlas is pink.”
Most houses are friendly. But one house in particular is evil. A house that the residents of Perivale will not go to at night and that house is Gabriel Chase. Because you see Gabriel Chase is haunted or at least that is the story Ace tells The Doctor. Ace burned down Gabriel Chase as a child and unbeknownst to Ace The Doctor brought her there to see why she was getting weird vibes that the house was haunted.
While at the house The Doctor and Ace run across some strange characters. For instance, the butler is a Neanderthal named Nimrod, a lost explorer who seems to have lost his mind named Redvers Fenn-Cooper, very creepy Lady Pritchard and her daughter Gwendoline and the proprietor of the house Josiah Samuel Smith who wants to assassinate Queen Victoria. The Doctor and Ace seem to have happened upon a strange cast of residents of Gabriel Chase and there appears to be something lurking in the cellar as Ace soon discovers.
It appears that certain members of the household only come out at night and they show fear at the very mention of Light. Ace tells The Doctor about the cellar and that it is quite alien. The Doctor releases the tortured creature named Control who in turns releases the one they work for Light. It appears that Light was sent to Earth to survey the planet but unfortunately for him while he was imprisoned the planet kept evolving. The Doctor must stop Josiah Samuel Smith and his mad cap scheme and to also save the Earth from Lights firestorm scenario that would kill all life on Earth.
Ghost Light is a weird story. It has to do, for the most part, with evolution and the progress of the earth. You see Light was there before to take a survey and then seemed to get caught napping. So when he wakes up he is none too happy about the changes that have taken place. So he has taken things into his own hands to stop the changing and end everything. It is really pretty easy to follow if you pay attention to the story that is unfolding.
Ghost Light was definitely one of the strangest stories in Doctor Who’s history and at times had you scratching your head. But I enjoyed this mad cap adventure. I like how the 7th Doctor was jerking around Ace and making her face her fear and in essence make her stop running away from it. Ghost Light was another of the stories that defines Ace as a companion. It is another of those Doctor teaching moments that eventually culminates in The Curse of Fenric. I enjoyed when they did this as it was different and it gave you a different aspect to The Doctor and companion relationship. I would have enjoyed seeing more of this during the 7th Doctor’s era and expanded upon more in depth but unfortunately with the amount of stories they did have they just didn’t have enough time to do it. For fans of NuWho this scenario with Ace is quite evident in the new series as we have seen similar with the Doctor and companion relationship in the new series but maybe not as manipulative.
I really liked the sets they used in Ghost Light. If anything the BBC can really recreate the past better than they can with spaceships and alien planets in the Classic series. I just loved the set of the Victorian Gothic house that the story was centered on. It looked pretty old and creepy and it gave you that haunted house feel and look especially with those stairs in the main entrance.
Ghost Light is another story where The Doctor is darker and manipulative. He is also playing games and more or less is using the occupants of the house for his own game. He is cunning and calculating and is in a mental showdown with Light and Josiah Smith. It would have been good to see more of this Doctor but unfortunately fates were not with us. But this Doctor was the template that was used during the Virgin Publishing series of Doctor Who novels called the New Adventures. The authors expanded on this dark and manipulative Doctor in ways that could only happen in the books or as Big Finish has done on occasion also.
Ghost Light while probably not the best of stories in Doctor Who’s history but it is one that can be deemed a guilty pleasure. There is so much going on that you can find something to like or laugh at. But just remember to not eat the soup.
Grade B -