Monday, 21 October 2013


Nic Courtney and Jean Marsh.
‘Battlefield’ to me is a prime example of what goes wrong when a writer has a thousand ideas he wants to include in the one story and doesn’t want to let go of some of them to make a story work. Instead we have a lot of rushing around from scene to scene, location to location, trying mix the elements together but we don’t really get a coherent story. We get instead a hotchpotch of scenes and concepts that don’t really gel.
Let’s see. We have knights from another dimension. We have the return of UNIT. We have the return
Cast pic!
of the Brigadier. We have a nuclear missile. We have King Arthur. We have Morgaine played by the amazing Jean Marsh. We have Bessie. We have the destroyer. We have a war. We have the hunt for Excalibur. We have a space ship in Vortigan’s Lake.
The sum total of which is – not much. It’s a grade A flop. Ben Aaronvitch’s first story, ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ also suffers from the same sort of issues, however it pulls together a hell of a lot better than ‘Battlefield’. It’s a pity because much of ‘Battlefield’ is well done. The idea that the Doctor is Merlin has merit, but there is very little purpose to the story. Morgaine is after Excalibur, right? She gets the sword, and
disappears presumably back to her own dimension. But instead she returns to the battlefield where her soldiers lie dead and decides to destroy as much as she can with the nuclear missile.
The story needed to start with the convoy arriving at the lake and having troubles. Why couldn’t they get the thing moving after a few hours let alone a few days? Why was Brigadier Bambera not with the convey at the very start? Why are the knights propelled through space just wearing armour when they come from a different dimension?
Their armour looks like traditional armour with chain mail underneath. It is made quite clear that shooting them in the head would kill them, so how can they
survive being propelled across space and dimensions. Ancelyn is next to a grenade when it goes off and he flies through the air and into the beer shed. He’s a little dazed. It’s just really lazy writing when something more conceivable could have written in to get characters from point A to point B. In my opinion at least.
We have the beautifully sculpted mask ever in Doctor Who for the blue destroyer. It’s a pity he wasn’t more relevant to the storyline. He wasn’t used all that badly though. The music is dreadful, my favourite composer Keff McCulloch is at it again. Drum machine much?
So how could this story have worked? How about the Doctor and Ace actually meeting King Arthur? The real one, none of this alternate dimension nonsense which was pretty meaningless to me. I don’t know if the characters in this are the ones from the legend, or a version of them in another dimension. Maybe it shouldn’t matter but I get caught up on these things from time to time. Arthur thinks the Doctor is Merlin, which puts the Doctor in a scrape, and the story builds from there. It could still feature science fiction aspects. But honestly, it seems like Aaronovitch woke up one day and thought – ‘UNIT fighting knights from another dimension? Awesome!’ and wrote ‘Battlefield’.
It is good to see Nicholas Courtney, and the casting is strong at least with the one exception of Shou Yuing (Ling Tai) who is rather dreadful at times. McCoy has good and bad moments throughout, as is the norm for him. The direction is ok but the music dictates far too much of the story and is enough to drive you mad. Seriously.


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