BATTLEFIELD, the review
I've had a lot of reevaluating of this story. I hated it when we first watched it at Gallifrean Embassy meeting when it first came out or was first broadcast in the year 1989 or 1990. In any event I told only one other person how much I hated it. I hated it for years. Then in the late 1990s I watched the video version with restored cut footage and I thought, that it was not that bad, it was okay with some poor parts and some good parts.
Ep1 is not bad. It's nice to see the Brig again and not at that silly school, that was NEVER right for his character to begin with and that should have been Ian Chesterson. Anyway it was nice to finally see Doris who was mentioned in PLANET OF THE SPIDERS and the actress is pretty good. It was nice to see UNIT, too. It was NOT nice to get Bambera. I know she has a large fan following but I thought she was all wrong, slouching against a jeep; snapping orders, and saying shame instead of Sh$% or damn. The actress was poor, too, sorry, she just was. She was not believable as a Brig or even a soldier. Another reason this ep is poor at times is Ace. What the hell? Did someone not get the brief that she wasn't an idiot any longer? Was this script written a year or two ago? It seem to have the hostile Ace from DRAGONFIRE and the unlikable Ace. Her talk of bombing up someones' art projects makes her very unlikable. I don't like her in this at all and she's abrasive to almost everyone ("Tinhead"). Would you call Ancelyn a tin head? He's okay and Shou Yuing was okay, too if a bit stiff in the acting ability.
The location work just works so fantasticly here and this looks good. I'm not sure I like the idea of having the Doctor be Merlin. It's just...I dunno...wrong somehow. It does open up possibilities and making him Merlin in an alt universe or parallel uni is a good idea rather than OUR Merlin. Somehow it seems just wrong, perhaps because unlike the Doctor of GREATEST SHOW IN THE GALAXY, the Doctor can't really do magic but maybe his science looks like magic. Either way, i'ts, say it all together, not really fully explained yet. Will it be? I wasn't holding out after GREATEST SHOW and a few others.
On the surface it's an okay idea, knights carrying guns and I'm sure all this is ripped off of something else. I seem to remember a graphic novel series called HERO with a buff man being the reincarnation of Arthur. That was great. It had a lot of shadowy strangeness and some satire comedy from the situation but for some reason, I lost interest after the second or third graphic novel. It might have been only three novels long, I don't know and I believe it had a comeback sometime in the 2000s (possibly 2005). Frankly, Arthur, Merlin, Morgaine, etc have been done to death and the best I felt at the time was EXCALIBER. Today, MERLIN has a fresh, innovative young approach to things with strong storytelling. That doesn't really happen here.
Again, we have a witch (SILVER NEMESIS), an artefact (SILVER NEMESIS, REMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS), an evil from another time, the Doctor knowing something about it but a Doctor from the future, and...it's all starting to wear thin despite the twist of the Doctor from the future being Merlin and leaving himself notes...and being mysterious. For this ep, it sort of works. The Knights aren't particulary menacing to be honest, not yet. I like the set of the Gore Crow inn/pub and the blind woman (didn't we have one of those someplace too) and her husband and in fact, there are some nice characters ambling around and they almost ease the blow of the silly, unbeliveable, badly acted Bambera and Ace.
Not a bad first ep but the feeling, then and now, was it could all go silly very quickly