|The Brigadier and Bessie make their last |
Merlin! That great yet troubled series staring Colin Morgan... sorry? Oh, no, this is Season 26 of Doctor Who! Sorry about that. Yes, for the first time (and the last) Doctor Who decided to deal with the concept of Arthurian Legend, another of Britain's myths that the show has entrenched itself into.The writer of last season's excellent Remembrance of the Daleks brings us this pseudo-Arthurian tale, and while it tries to be like that former story, it ends up stuffing itself in the process with too many characters and too many conflicts. (The opposite, I can say, of the TV Show.)
Having discovered a nuclear bomb at an archeological dig, UNIT are called to the scene, led by Brigadier Winifred Bambera (Angela Bruce, who previously played the Female Lister in Red Dwarf). Thunderstorms abound at a castle near Carbury and the mysterious Lake Vortigern. The Doctor arrives just in time to watch UNIT battle a group of warriors enter from another Dimension, one in which Arthurian Myth is all true and where a version of The Doctor is known as Merlin. Using his influence amongst their culture, he joins old friend Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and a large cast of characters to defeat Mordred and his mother, Morgaine, before they bring their war to our world.
It's certainly nice to see UNIT again, but they're nowhere near as strong as they were previously, especially with the leadership of Angela Bruce's lacklustre Brigadier, whose incompetance turns her character into humourous slapstick. Indeed, the entire story has an air of the comic, with knights running around the countryside fighting horrendously choreographed battles in an almost Pythonesque way. And after such issues with ye-olde language being thrown about in Silver Nemesis, by far the worst story of the previous season, this continues to be laughable and silly. "Ere" was used no less than three times, for goodness sake. And there are so many characters, many of which have very little reason to be there AND very little to do, to the point where this is still true after four of them are randomly carted out of the story. Luckily the Brig gets some badass lines here or there, especially in the end, where he kills the Destroyer.
|Morgaine is a great villain.|
Battlefield on its own is a great romp, and I certainly wouldn't warn you away from it. But it falls prey to the same things that Silver Nemesis did, albeit in a less dramatic way. It's overstuffed, overlong and instead of the epic Arthurian Yarn we were promised, we got a bit of a runabout. I was expecting Camelot, not Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It wasn't a complete disaster, and it certainly is enjoyable, but not in a memorable way.