The Most Terrifying Doctor Who Story I’ve Ever Seen

Happy One Year Anniversary! Let’s talk about Doctor Who.

I once made a list of my personal Top 10 Must-Watch Doctor Who Stories. It includes some of my favorites from the classic and modern eras, like “The Pirate Planet,” “The Fires of Pompeii,” and “The Crimson Horror.” It also includes a three-part story from 1989 called “Ghost Light.” I keep it on the list because it is hands-down the scariest Doctor Who story I have ever seen.
I don’t get scared by movies or TV very easily. None of Steven Moffat’s creations have gotten to me. But this classic-era story with 1989 special effects made my stomach churn, like the feeling you get on a roller coaster right before you go over a high hill. I can’t describe the specific things that scared me, because I don’t want to spoil anything. You’ll just have to trust me.
A Plot Synopsis: The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) takes Ace (Sophie Aldred, one of the top five most popular companions in the show’s history) to an old and creepy house. In Ace’s time period, the house is abandoned and “haunted,” so the Doctor wants to help her discover what happened there. What actually happened is…well, complicated. There’s a mad scientist using his houseguests as guinea pigs for his experiments, and in the basement there’s a 2-billion-year-old spaceship and a minor deity running his own mad science experiments. The Doctor fixes the problem by dressing Ace up in a tuxedo and getting her to teach a woman how to be ladylike. It’s hard to follow, but gosh darn it, it’s entertaining. And terrifying. And Lovecraftesque.
I did say “2-billion-year-old spaceship” and “minor deity.” Those mad science experiments are based on Darwinian evolution being true. There’s a Neanderthal and references to primordial soup. It’s all pretty un-Christian, and that only made the story more uncomfortable to watch. But I still enjoyed the heck out of it, because unlike, say, “The Lazarus Experiment,” this story makes sense within the context of a universe where evolution is true. It even manages to draw a moral out of the naturalistic nonsense.
Nope. No deeper point. Carry on.

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