The first story from the final season of Sylvester McCoy's tenure as the Doctor. The Doctor and Ace arrive on Earth in the late 1990s where they become involved in a battle between King Arthur and Morgaine. However, these are not the heroes of Britain's past but warriors from another dimension - and they recognise the Doctor as the wizard Merlin. As usual it is down to the Doctor and Ace to save the planet, but this time they find some help in the guise of the Doctor's old UNIT ally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
The Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who tends to get a rough ride from some, but Battlefield is proof that even in some of the darker days for the show, and with the budget seemingly vanishing into thin air, it could deliver a very good story.
Penned by Ben Aaronovitch, who also scribed the underrated adventure Remembrance of the Daleks from the same era, Battlefield instantly wins favour by bringing back Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, played with his usual dignity and class by Nicholas Courtney. Along with companion Ace, they then find themselves caught up in an Arthurian adventure, with nods to Merlin, Excalibur, and the Lady in the Lake. It’s a good yarn, with an impressive monster waiting near the end. And while it does stretch the story a little thin, it’s one of the better adventures of the McCoy era.
As usual, the DVD release is really very impressive. Battlefield benefits from a packed commentary track, and a host of behind the scenes extras (that recall, among other things, the moment when a water tank shattered with Sophie Aldred still inside it). Spread across two discs, it’s a genuinely packed DVD set with many hours of extras to sort through.
But it’s the underrated main feature that remains the star attraction, and while Battlefield isn’t vintage Doctor Who, it is a whole lot better than the assorted naysayers would have you believe. Well worth picking up. --Simon Brew