Sue: This had better be good.
Me: What are you going to do if it isn’t? You can’t give up now.
Sue: Wanna bet? I could still do a Scanapanasky.
Sue: Whatever. I’m just saying.
Once Sue has gotten over the fact that the theme music isn’t in 5.1 surround sound, she latches onto the writer’s name.
Me: You almost pronounced that correctly. Well done.
Sue: I like him, don’t I?
Me: Well, you liked Remembrance of the Daleks quite a lot, so yes.
Battlefield begins in a garden centre.
Sue: We’re outside and everything looks normal. Lovely.
A man and his wife are browsing for shrubbery.
Sue: Nice moving camera. It doesn’t get any better than this.
The Brig: Sergeant Benton, tree planting party, at the double!
Sue: IT’S THE BLOODY BRIG!
Me: I can’t believe it took you that long.
Sue: Sorry, I was looking at the plants.
Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is married and retired.
Sue: Is that his wife?
Sue: Is she the one who used to be his fancy woman?
Me: Erm, yes.
Sue: Really? I was joking. Naughty Brig. Anyway, does this mean UNIT are finally coming back?
Just as Sue says this, we cut to a UNIT Range Rover.
Sue claps eyes on the new Brigadier – Winifred Bambera.
Sue: She’s a bit young, isn’t she?
Me: You know you’re getting old when UNIT Brigadiers look like they’ve walked straight out of college. It’s the same with the police.
Aside from this anomaly, Battlefield gets off to a cracking start.
Sue: It’s a fabulous location. I think I’m going to like this one.
Meanwhile, in a crystal ball/light fitting, a sorcerer named Morgaine is very pleased with herself.
Sue: Will there be flying monkeys in this?
Me: Not quite. Wait and see.
Meanwhile, in the TARDIS.
Sue: They’ve turned the lighting down. That’s nice.
Thanks to the low light, Sue doesn’t notice the wallpaper roundels, and I don’t have the heart to point them out to her. I also forgot to tell her that this is the last time she will see the traditional TARDIS interior. She’ll find out when she reads this blog entry. Sorry, love.
The Doctor slaps Ace’s hand away from the TARDIS controls.
Sue: If I were him, the first thing I’d do when I got a new companion is I’d teach them how to fly the TARDIS. You never know when that might be handy. Like, all the time.
The TARDIS materialises in England in the near future. The Doctor and Ace flag down a Range Rover.
Sue: This isn’t Mark Ayres, is it?
Sue: This is Keff, isn’t it?
I really wanted her to say “Shame” at this point. But she didn’t. Instead, she put her head in her hands and wept.
Sue: At least the direction is good.
She’s particularly impressed with the camera that has been mounted to the front of the Range Rover. She is much less impressed with the strange objects heading towards Earth.
Sue: That looks shit. Who’s throwing spoons at the planet?
Sue finally notices that the Doctor is wearing a new jacket.
Sue: Did he change his jacket because that one has bigger pockets? I like it, I just wish he would get rid of his question-mark jumper. Not only is it completely stupid, it must stink.
Meanwhile, a knight in armour has emerged from a crater in the ground.
Sue: Is he on his way to a Game of Thrones convention?
At UNIT’s mobile HQ, Bambera learns about the Doctor.
Sue: How does she not know this? How can she be the Brigadier without reading the Doctor’s file first? I’m telling you, she’s too young for this job.
Bambera’s version of Benton has a dire warning:
Zbrigniev: whenever this Doctor turns up – all hell breaks loose.
Sue: (In her best Russian accent) And all my friends die horribly. It’s a pain in the arse, actually.
The Brigadier is forced out of retirement.
Sue: Is that the Brigadier’s house?
Sue: He’s done very well for himself.
Me: The last time we saw him, he was living in a shed.
Sue: Doris must be minted. Or his military pension paid for it.
Me: The United Nations probably paid him off. You know, to keep him quiet.
Sue: Yeah, he knows where all the aliens are buried.
The Brigadier reminds us that this story takes place in the near future.
The Brig: I don’t care if it was the King. I’m still retired.
Sue: Is that a reference to Charles?
Sue: Is this revenge for the Queen not appearing in the 25th anniversary story?
Meanwhile, at Carbury’s local hotel.
Sue: Nice upside down pram.
Sue: That 2CV. Very nice.
The spoons being hurled at planet Earth turn out to be knights.
Sue: Okay, I’m confused. Who are these people and why are they fighting each other? How am I supposed to tell them apart? They all look the same to me.
These knights are equipped with swords and laser guns.
Sue: Why would you fight somebody with a sword if you could just shoot them in the face?
Me: Something to do with honour, probably.
Sue: So why carry the guns at all? It makes no sense. What is going on?
Bambera drives out to see the TARDIS for herself.
Me: Do you like her catchphrase?
Sue: I’m just going to replace shame with shit. That’s what I’m supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s like frell and frak all over again.
Bambera is set upon by knights.
Sue: It looks and sounds like a corporate video for a historical reenactment society.
But it’s not all bad news.
Sue: Where is this hotel in real life? It’s rather nice. I’d quite like to stay there.
UNIT have sent a helicopter for the Brig.
Sue: Look at the size of his lawn! His pay-off must have been enormous. He’s got a rock star’s garden.
Sue is disappointed when she discovers that neither Mike and/or Benton are flying the chopper. Seriously.
Meanwhile, Ace has made a new friend – Shou Yuing. They retire to the beer garden to discuss terrorism.
Just as Ace shouts this, the explosion from a nearby grenade sends a knight flying into the air.
Sue: ****ing hell! It’s kid’s TV again. That was rubbish.
The injured knight is found unconscious in the brewery. His name is Ancelyn.
Sue: Hmmm… Dishy.
Me: You know you aren’t supposed to tell your husband stuff like that, don’t you?
Ancelyn believes that the Doctor is none other than Merlin.
Sue: Right, so either the Doctor has a double, he becomes Merlin in the future, or his memory is worse than mine. So which is it?
Me: Wait and see!
Bambera wants to apprehend the Doctor and Ace.
Bambera: You’re all under arrest. You and your freaky friends.
Ace: Who are you calling freaky?
Sue: That is so unrealistic. You wouldn’t talk to someone like that if they were pointing a machine gun at you. This reminds me of Scooby ****ing Doo.
The episode concludes with more knights turning up to complicate things.
Sue: Well, at least the Brig is in it, the location is nice and the director is trying. I’m not sure about these knights, though.
Bambera shoots at the lead knight but her bullet bounces off his armour. Modred laughs his head off.
Sue: Aim for his teeth. That would wipe the smug look off his face.
Mordred believes that the Doctor is Merlin as well.
Sue: Has the Doctor been appearing in other franchises?
Me: Are you familiar with the legend of King Arthur?
Sue: Not really. Everything I learned about King Arthur I learned from Prog Rock and Monty Python.
The Brigadier is a passenger in a helicopter. He asks the pilot if the new Brigadier is a good sort of chap.
Sue: Sexist pig. But I’ll let him off – he’s the Brig.
Ancelyn flirts with Bambera.
Sue: He’s like the blonde one from Game of Thrones.
Sue: Yeah, but even better looking. Actually, there’s a lot of eye candy in this one. The bad knight is quite tasty too.
Me: Bring back Dee Sadler!
Ancelyn and Bambera start wrestling on the grass.
Sue: That would never happen in a million years. Fun, though.
Modred opens up a portal. Keff turns it up to 11. Asleep in his helicopter, the Brig suddenly awakens.
Sue: Keff’s woken the Brig up! This music is so inappropriate. It should be less dancey and more mystical. They should have got Rick Wakeman in to do it.
Jean Marsh arrives as Morgaine.
Sue: Ah, now she is excellent. She’s the Upstairs, Downstairs lady.
I pause the DVD to probe Sue’s memories of Jean Marsh’s involvement with early Doctor Who, but I just end up confusing her.
Sue: So the Brigadier is her brother?
Me: No, she shot her brother in a William Hartnell episode. He wasn’t the Brigadier then.
Sue: So they aren’t related?
Me: Oh, just forget I said anything.
The next day, the Brigadier is still stuck in a helicopter.
Sue: Where the hell were they flying him from? Los Angeles?
Me: They stopped in London overnight.
Me: Maybe he has a weak bladder? How the hell should I know?
Meanwhile, at Carbury’s archaeological dig, a man named Warmsly is overseeing the excavation.
Sue: It’s Rob Shearman meets Tony Robinson.
The Doctor finds a carving which tells them to dig in a specific place. This carving written is in the Doctor’s handwriting. Sue doesn’t bat an eyelid at this.
Meanwhile, in a ****ing helicopter.
Sue: What is this? Treasure Hunt?
Me: It’s the little known spin-off, Challenge Alistair.
Morgaine decides to make her presence felt.
Sue: I love her costume. And the direction is really good. Lots of tight, dramatic close-ups.
Morgaine attacks the Brigadier’s helicopter with magic.
Sue: That looks great. That’s a very impressive stunt.
The helicopter crashes. As the Brigadier flings himself away from the explosion, he desperately covers up his bald patch with his hat. Sue finds this endearing.
The Brig: Five million pounds worth of aircraft, and we’ve lost it. We’ll be poor for the rest of our lives.
Sue: The script is very good. It has just the right balance of humour and excitement. I like really like Aaronaranovitch.
Lavel, the helicopter pilot, has hurt her leg.
Sue: She’s very attractive for a helicopter pilot. Actually, it’s a very attractive cast all round.
Me: What? Even him?
I’m pointing at Warmsly, who is suddenly quoting Tennyson at anyone who’ll listen.
Warmsly: Take the sword and fling him far into the middle mere. Watch what thou seest and lightly bring me word.
Sue: Has he been taken over by the bad guys? Has he turned evil? What’s going on?
The Doctor and Ace enter a tunnel which has been buried in the ground.
Sue: Lovely pipe work. Doctor Who are really good at making circular tunnels during this period of the show.
But the interior disappoints.
Sue: It looks like a bloody fun fair ride.
The Doctor opens the entrance to a spaceship with his voice.
Sue: So the Doctor must be Merlin in this body, otherwise that wouldn’t have worked. If he’d have been Jon Pertwee, he would have had a lisp when he said it. That’s interesting.
The Doctor and Ace walk into an ancient spacecraft.
Sue: Now this is more like it. Nice crane shot, too. Yes, this is very good.
Ace pulls a sword from a stone plinth. And then all hell breaks loose.
The Doctor: I only hope you haven’t disturbed anything else!
Sue: I think screaming at her might disturb something else. Keep your voice down!
The ship’s automated defence system results in Ace getting trapped in a water tank, while the Doctor is rendered helpless by a CGI snake. Cue credits.
Sue: Great cliffhanger. The snake was terrible but the thought of Ace drowning is quite disturbing.
When this episode finished, I showed Sue the Water Tank feature on the DVD. Her eyes glazed over during the first couple of minutes, but when she realised that things were about to go dangerously pear shaped, she was suddenly gripped.
Sue: It turns out that Sylvester McCoy was a hero in real life, too. That’s nice.
Sue: Oh look, they’ve left the crack in the tank in shot. Oh well, I suppose they had to make the most out of almost killing her.
Ace is propelled out of the tank and she eventually emerges from Lake Vortigen with Excalibur in her hand.
Sue: Clever. Corny, but clever.
The Brigadier rescues the Doctor. He doesn’t seem bothered that his old friend has changed his face once again.
Sue: He’s seen it all before. Nothing phases the Brig. He doesn’t need to read a file to know what’s what. He never should have retired in the first place.
Back at the hotel, an inebriated Mordred taunts the landlord and his blind wife.
Modred: With your aspect, it is well that she is blind! Ha ha ha!
Morgaine arrives at the hotel, and then she proceeds to confuse the hell out of Sue by a) killing a helicopter pilot and b) healing a blind woman. All in the same scene.
Elizabeth: I can see. Patrick, I can see!
Sue: (as Elizabeth) Oh Christ, you really are butt-ugly. I thought he was kidding. Shit.
Ancelyn and Bambera enjoy their own mini-adventure in a 2CV. You can cut the sexual tension with a sword, but Bambera doesn’t appear to be interested in the pan-dimensional beefcake.
Sue: Right, so they’ve got a black lesbian in to front UNIT? That ticks a lot of boxes.
As Bambera and Ancelyn get involved in a firefight, Sue starts to sing-along to Keff. Ironically, I think. I say this because by the time she sung the final sting, she seems to be really, really angry.
Bambera uses the 2CV’s open roof to pepper the countryside with bullets.
Sue: You need to get out more, love.
And then Bambera finally sees the light:
Bambera: So, you married or what?
Back at the Gore Crow Hotel, UNIT are in charge. Elizabeth isn’t very happy when a solider helps her to evacuate.
Patrick: You’ll have to excuse my wife. Half an hour ago she was blind.
Sue: He sounds annoyed that she can see again.
Me: She’s been on the phone to her solicitors. He told her that he looked like Robert Redford.
Sue: He’s not that bad. He’s just in an episode full of really attractive men.
Me: For ****’s sake!
Warmsly and Patrick are pacified with a quick stare from the Doctor.
Sue: Did he just hypnotise them?
Me: Pretty much.
Sue: So the Doctor is becoming the Master? Hmm. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It also begs the question – why hasn’t he done this a million times before? Like every single time he’s been arrested for something he hasn’t done?
Me: Maybe he’s been practising in his room?
Sue: It’s lazy.
The Brigadier tells the Doctor that UNIT are prepared for an alien invasion:
The Brig: We’ve got high-explosive rounds for Yetis and very efficient armour-piercing rounds for robots. And we’ve even got gold-tipped bullets for you know what.
The Doctor: No silver?
The Brig: Silver bullets?
Sue: Yes, just in case you get attacked by the werewolf from the last story. It could happen.
I’m just annoyed that Sue didn’t pick up on the fact that Yetis are robots.
The Brigadier has a present for the Doctor.
The Doctor: Bessie!
Sue: I never liked Bessie. It’s a toff’s car. It won’t suit him at all. He’d be better off in a Morris Minor.
And then we cut to the Doctor running through a field, his arms outstretched.
Sue: What the ****?
In December 2008, when I bought Battlefield on DVD, I got ten minutes into Part One when my PS3 went tits up on me. There was no way to eject the disc and I had to sent the hardware back to Sony. They sent us a new PS3 a few days later, and 18 months after that, they finally sent me Battlefield Disc One back in the post. They must have knackered the disc in the process – there’s a whopping great scratch running through it. I was tempted to break out the Special Edition on Disc Two, but I managed to resist.
Me: BOLLOCKS! BOLLOCKS! BOLLOCKS!
The next day, thanks to the Internet, we picked up where we left off.
Ace takes the piss out of the Doctor’s car, but Bessie leaves at such a speed, it leaves burning tyre tracks in its wake.
Sue: There was no need for that. This feels like a Sarah Jane Adventure. It’s very childish. It doesn’t feel like proper Doctor Who, somehow. It feels like a cheap knock-off.
Morgaine can’t believe that the Doctor has been stupid enough to leave Excalibur with a child.
Sue: At least she’s taking things seriously. She’s the best thing in this by a mile.
In the hotel, Ace draws a chalk circle around her and Shou Yuing.
Sue: Draw it closer to the bar. You might get thirsty.
And when they end up sitting on a cold stone floor:
Sue: You should have drawn it around the sofa, chick. You didn’t think this through, did you?
Outside, a battle is raging. At one point, a UNIT solider fires a rocket that manages to take out a knight and one of his colleagues at the same time.
Sue: Oppps! Friendly fire! You know, they did this sort of thing so much better in the 1970s.
Mordred and Ancelyn prepare to fight to the death.
Sue: They had excellent dental care in King Arthur’s time. Lovely teeth, the pair of them.
The Doctor places himself between the knights to stop the fighting.
The Doctor: Stop! I command it! There will be no battle here!
Sue: That was a bit over the top. He sounds like he did when he was trying to stop Ace from drowning. I think it’s gone to his head.
The episode ends with Morgaine summoning the beast known as the Destroyer.
Sue: That looks really good, actually. Funny colour for a monster, though. Shouldn’t it be green?
The Doctor threatens to decapitate Modred with his umbrella.
Mordred: We know you of old, Merlin. You will not kill.
The Doctor: I wouldn’t count on it.
Sue: Yeah, he blows up planets now. I’d watch out if I were you.
Morgaine sacrifices her son for the greater bad.
Sue: Well, I didn’t expect that! What a bitch!
The battle continues to rage on a misty field.
Sue: More mist! More mist! That way we won’t be able to see how naff these fight scenes are. The director can handle the big speeches and character moments, but he can’t direct action. This is pretty shoddy.
The Doctor would rather give Excalibur to Morgaine than lose Ace.
The Doctor: Exotic alien swords are easy to come by. Aces are rare.
Sue: He really cares about her. It’s a different relationship to what we’ve seen before. It’s definitely more caring.
The Doctor enters an interstitial vortex and Ace follows him, despite being told to stay put.
Sue: That’s interesting. Ace wore a fez the other week as well. I think Ace must have had a big impact on the Doctor. He keeps copying her in the new series.
The Brigadier enters the fray, and he shoots the Destroyer in the chest without so much as a “Hello!”
Sue: The Brigadier hasn’t learned anything, has he? He just barges in and starts shooting. The Doctor has had absolutely no impact on him at all.
The Destroyer throws the Brigadier out of a window.
The Doctor: That was uncalled for!
Sue: And shooting that thing without so much as a warning was okay, was it? That’s a bit hypocritical.
The Destroyer is freed.
Morgaine: Too late, Merlin. The gateway is open. I am gone and you have lost.
Sue: I have to honest with you – I haven’t got the faintest idea what’s going on any more. I’m totally lost.
The Destroyer promises to devour our world.
Sue: How long will that take, exactly? He’ll need a very large plate.
The Doctor prepares to face the beast with a gun loaded with silver bullets, but the Brigadier knocks the Time Lord out so he can take on the job himself.
Sue: There was no need for that. I’m sure the Doctor would have agreed if he’d just asked him. That’s the Brig’s job – to do the Doctor’s dirty work for him.
The Brigadier faces down the Destroyer.
The Brig: Get off my world!
Sue: You go, Brig!
The Brigadier does the best he can. And his best is pretty good, actually, because the Destroyer is destroyed. Unfortunately, the Doctor believes that his old friend has been killed in the process.
The Doctor: You stupid, stubborn, pig-headed numskull. You were supposed to die in bed.
I tell Sue that they planned to kill the Brigadier off, but they bottled it at the last-minute.
Sue: Good. Why would you want to kill the Brig? That would have been stupid.
The Brig: I’m going home to Doris.
The Doctor: Doris?
The Brig: Yes, my wife.
The Doctor: So she caught you in the end.
Sue: Does he mean that his first wife caught him having an affair and she kicked him out?
The Doctor finds a note which he left to himself in the future/past.
Sue: That’s the sort of thing the new series would do. It’s very timey-wimey. This Doctor is very crafty.
But it’s not over yet.
Sue: This would be so much better without the music and the fight scenes. Unfortunately, that’s all there is.
The Doctor talks Morgaine out of launching a nuclear missile.
Sue: Great speech – I really liked that. He really meant it.
Morgaine is overcome with emotion when the Doctor tells her that Arthur died years ago.
Morgaine: We were together in the woods of Celadon.
Sue: Yeah, I bet you bloody were.
The episode is wrapped up back at the Brigadier’s mansion.
Sue: This is a nice, sweet ending.
Me: Are you joking? It’s a ****ing sitcom ending!
Sue: Yeah, the music is very sitcom, but at least it’s appropriate for a change.
Sue: I didn’t really like that very much. It was very slow. The only decent thing about it was the Brig and the witch. The director couldn’t handle the action scenes, and I didn’t understand the plot at all. You know, ever since we saw that one with the Daleks, I thought Doctor Who was going to be good again. But it’s not. It’s all over the place. I was hoping we would finish this blog on a high. It’s very disappointing.
Me: Go on. Say it. Please.