Thu, 21 June 2012
Iceworld is a space-trading colony on the dark side of the planet Svartos. It is a mysterious place of terror and rumour ruled by the callous and vindictive Kane, who buys supporters and employees and makes them wear his mark iced in to their flesh. Kane’s body temperature is so cold that one touch from him can kill. In Kane’s lair is a vast cryogenic section where mercenaries and others are being frozen and stored, with their memories wiped for future unquestioning use as part of an army; including a freezer cabinet into which Kane deposits himself when he needs to cool down. There is also, most peculiarly, an aged sculptor who is carving a statue from the ice.
The TARDIS materialises in a refrigeration sales section on Iceworld and the Seventh Doctor and Mel Bush venture outside. They soon meet up with their roguish old acquaintance, Sabalom Glitz, who owes Kane a substantial amount of money. Glitz has come to Svartos to search for a supposed treasure guarded by a dragon. It is located in the icy caverns beyond Iceworld and by chance Glitz has a map, which he won from Kane in a gamble – in fact, Kane wanted him to have the map because he wishes to use Glitz as a pawn in his own search for the treasure. Thus the map contains a tracking device in its seal. Kane in return has Glitz’s ship, the Nosferatu, which he orders destroyed. Without realising he is being used, Glitz heads off on the search with the Doctor in tow – though women are not allowed on the expedition so Mel stays with a young, rebellious waitress they have met called Ace. It is only a matter of time before Ace behaves appallingly to customers and is fired. Mel is stunned to hear that Ace is a human from late twentieth century Earth who only arrived on Iceworld after a bizarre chemistry experiment caused a time-storm in her bedroom.
Kane’s staff are not happy. Once they have taken his coin they are his for life – as Ace wisely realises when she rejects such an offer. Officer Belazs was not so clever, and is keen to escape Kane’s service. She thus arranges for the Nosferatu not to be destroyed, hoping to use the craft to escape Iceworld. When this fails she tries to persuade Officer Kracauer to help her overthrow Kane, but he is one step ahead. Their attempt to alter the temperature in his chambers and kill him fails, so Kane exacts his revenge and kills them both. The same fate awaits the ice sculptor who has now finished his statue, which is of a woman called Xana.
In the ice caverns it has taken time but the Doctor and Glitz have encountered the dragon, which turns out to be a biped which did not so much breathe fire as fire lasers from its eyes, but not the treasure. Mel and Ace have now ventured into the caverns too and they meet their allies and are actually defended by the dragon, which guns down some of Kane’s cryogenically altered soldiers who have been sent into the ice caverns to kill them. The dragon takes them to a room in the ice, which is some sort of control area and contains a pre-recorded hologram message. The hologram explains that Kane is one half of the Kane-Xana criminal gang from the planet Proamnon. When the security forces caught up with them Xana killed herself to avoid arrest, but Kane was captured and exiled to the cold, dark side of Svartos. It turns out that Iceworld is a huge spacecraft and the treasure is a crystal inside the dragon’s head, which acts as the key that Kane needs in order to activate the ship and free himself from exile. The dragon is thus both Kane’s jailer and his chance of freedom.
Kane has overheard the location of the key through the bugging device on the map and now sends his security forces to the ice caverns to bring him the head of the dragon, offering vast rewards for such bravery. He also uses his cryogenic army to cause chaos in the Iceworld shops, driving the customers out and towards the docked Nosferatu. This is brutally accomplished. When the Nosferatu takes off Kane blows it up. The only survivors are a young girl called Stellar and her mother, who have become separated but both survive the massacre. Shortly afterward two of Kane’s troopers succeed in killing the dragon and removing its head, but are killed in the process.
The Doctor has meanwhile realised that Kane has been a prisoner on Svartos for millennia. He retrieves the head of the dragon and is then told by intercom that Kane has captured Ace but is willing to trade her for the “dragonfire”. The Doctor, Glitz and Mel travel to Kane’s private chambers for the exchange. Kane rises to the Doctor’s taunts but still powers up Iceworld as a spacecraft, which now detaches itself from the surface of Svartos. However, when Kane tries to set course for Proamnon to exact his revenge he realises he has been a prisoner so long that the planet no longer exists, having been destroyed through late-stage stellar evolution of its sun. In desperation, he opens a screen in the surface of his ship and lets in hot light rays, which melts him.
The Doctor now loses a companion but also gains one. Glitz has claimed Iceworld as his own spacecraft, renamed Nosferatu II, and Mel decides to stay with him to keep him out of trouble. The Doctor acquires Ace instead, promising to take her home to Perivale via the “scenic route”.
On UK Gold (now known as G.O.L.D.) in 2003 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who, over a weekend DrWho@40weekend was shown which consisted of the best serials of each Doctor voted by the viewing public. Dragonfire was the serial chosen as the best seventh Doctor serial. DrWho@40weekend also included interviews with the cast and crew of the series overall. The Doctor Who Appreciation Society voted the serial to be the best one of its season.
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