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Doctor Who: Battlefield (Story 156)
Doctor Who Battlefield
Story 156
Actors: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Nicholas Courtney
Director: Michael Kerrigan
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
NR     2009     1hr 35min

The Doctor and Ace join forces with UNIT and his old friend the Brigadier against Morgaine (Jean Marsh) and Mordred, Arthurian villains who recognize the Doctor as Merlin.DVD Features: Featurette Interviews Photo gallery


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Movie Details

Actors: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Nicholas Courtney
Director: Michael Kerrigan
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Science Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Studio: BBC Video / Warner Bros.
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/05/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 21
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

At last!! One of my favorite Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who's Re
Captain Hornblower | Orlando, Florida USA | 01/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Of all of Sylvester McCoy's outings as Doctor Who, this is one of my favorites, right up there with Remembrance of the Daleks and Silver Nemesis. Now, in reality, the storyline for this one is not that great and rather corny at times. Knights from an alternate dimension do battle with swords against UNIT. COME ON! Plus, the villainess in this episode, Morgaine, is so campy that you want to laugh every time she appears on screen. She's like the Wicked Witch of the West meets the Bridge of Dracula! In the scene where she tries to scare Ace into giving her something she wants, I half expected her to say "I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too! Ha, ha, ha!"

So why do I love this episode? Answer: THE BRIG IS BACK AND KICKING A--! The Brigadier was one of my all time favorite Doctor Who characters, and he had not been seen in Doctor Who since the Five Doctors six years earlier.

In many ways, the Brigadier is closer to the Doctor than any of his companions because he is one of the few that knew him through most of his regenerations. In a way, this gives him a special bond with the Doctor, and although they came into conflict with one another at times regarding the Brig's tendency to turn to the artillery a little too quickly, they genuinely like and respect each other. And it shows in this story. Nicholas Courtney and Sylvester McCoy play the relationship between the Brigadier and the Doctor so well, and trully reflect their shared history.

Ace's reaction to this relationship is also perfectly played out. She recognizes that even though she and the Doctor are close, these two men share a bond and history that she never will have with him, and this makes her jealous beyond belief. However, she and the Brig bond when they get to blow stuff up!

I also love Courtney's portrayal of the Brigadier showing his age, but not having lost his spirit. As always, he is the hero willing to confront the alien menace head on with his primitive human weaponry backed by his virtue and sense of duty.

By the way, speaking of Brigadiers, the new Brigadier, Winnifred Bambera, is awesome too! I am so glad that they brought UNIT back for this story because it did harken back to days gone by, while at the same time updating UNIT and their capabilities (but not in the hammy, way over the top way the new Doctor Who series has--no comic book floating aircraft carriers in the sky here, thank goodness).

I can not wait until this DVD is released. I have the story on video, but the extras on these Doctor Who DVD's add something special to each story. I haven't seen the particulars on this DVD's features, but I hope Nicholar Courtney was on hand for the commentary.

DJ PHILLY B? | Palm Bch. Gardens Fl. | 04/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Amazon dose not give the "RELEASES IN DETAIL's" like they should. So from website of the go to man on all Doctor Who DVD's (and hell, even VHS)Steve Manfred. Here are the detail's for "Battlefield".


Doctor Who: Battlefield starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor, Sophie Aldred as Ace, and guest starring Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. 2 discs.

On Disc 1:

- All four 25-minute episodes (the original 1989 versions) with full restoration treatment.

- Graphical menus, episode and scene selection features, and subtitles for the hearing impaired.

- Optional commentary track with actors Sophie Aldred, Nicholas Courtney, and Angela Bruce(Brigadier Winifred Bambera), Writer Ben Aaronovitch, and Script Editor Andrew Cartmel.

- Information Text subtitles option. Displays pop-up production trivia throughout the story.

- Isolated Music option. Plays the story with only the music soundtrack playing by itself.

- "Storm Over Avallion" 23-minute featurette about the making of the story, featuring interviews with Actors Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Angela Bruce, Nicholas Courtney, and Jean Marsh (Morgaine), Writer Ben Aaronovitch, Script Editor Andrew Cartmel, and Director Michael Kerrigan.

- "Past and Future King" 12-minute featurette about the writing of this story, featuring interviews with Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Angela Bruce, and Michael Kerrigan.

- "Watertank" 7-minute featurette that goes into detail about the near-fatal accident that occurred during the scene of Ace trapped in the flooding spacecraft airlock when the glass in the tank she was in cracked open.

- Studio Recording. 19 minutes of raw footage from the studio floor during the original studio recording session for this story.

- "From Kingdom to Queen" 8-minute interview with Jean Marsh charting her 1965, 1966, and 1989 appearances in Doctor Who.

- Radio Times Listings. PDF files for your computer containing the original Radio Times TV listings for this story, as well as some contemporaneous articles about it they ran.

On Disc 2:

- Battlefield Special Edition.

A 95-minute movie-format version of the story, with numerous deleted scenes edited back into the action, other reediting of the action and the music, boosted CGI effects,and a Dolby 5.1 sound mix. Comes with graphical menus, scene selection menu,and subtitles for the hearing impaired.

- Season 26 Trailer A 1:30 trailer for the entire 26th season that was shown to the press in 1989.
Is the Doctor Merlyn?
Jero Briggs | 05/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I never did much care for most of Sylvester McCoy's stories. The only ones I thought were any good were "Time and the Rani", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Ghost Light", and "The Curse of Fenric". But I had never seen this one before until it was released on DVD, and I loved it. "Remembrance of the Daleks" is still my favorite one, but now this is my second favorite. Written by the same writer who wrote "Remembrance", this has a very good plot. Futuristic knights from another dimension come to Earth to claim the legendary sword of King Author himself. With this sword in their power, their queen will be able to conquer the universe. Now the Doctor (A.K.A. - Merlyn), Ace, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (who has been recalled into UNIT) must stop them at all costs. Action-packed (like "Remembrance"), performances are good, and most of the special affects aren't that bad. The Destroyer was one of the most realistic creatures ever featured in the original series. Highly recommended!

This DVD includes both the original four-part version and a new extended feature-length version with new and better effects."
"I Just Do The Best I Can."
Matthew Kresal | USA | 06/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I was rather intrigued when I first learned of Battlefield. Featuring my favorite Doctor Sylvester McCoy, the return of UNIT and tying into Arthurian legend (which I'm rather intrigued in) it was going to be an interesting story to view. While Battlefield turned out not to be a classic along the lines of say The Curse of Fenric or Ghost Light, Battlefield stills proves to be an exciting and ever watchable Doctor Who story.

At the heart of it all is Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as the seventh Doctor and Ace. Both show off their remarkable chemistry that made them one of the most successful TARDIS crews of the original series. McCoy in particular gets some fine acting moments such as the "there will be no battle here!" section of part three and the nuclear weapons speech in part four. Aldred also gives a nice performance as Ace though the character does come across as being downright immature at times. That said there are plenty of good things to say about Aldred's performance especially in the special edition's scenes with Brigadie Lethbridge-Stewart. As always the delight for watching a story from the McCoy era lies in the splendid work of its leading cast.

The story also features another one of the great things of the McCoy era: a fine supporting cast. Nicholas Courtney makes a welcomed return as UNIT's former commander Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart even if there are moments where he is pushing credibility at one or two moments. That said Courtney gets the best lines of the story including part four's classic "I just do the best I can!" plus some fine moments with McCoy's Doctor. Also of special mention is Jean Marsh who gives a well-stated and even believable performance as the Arthurian villainess Morgaine, the result being one of the single best performances of the McCoy era. There's also a nice performance from Angela Bruce as the new Brigadier in charge of UNIT, Winnifred Bambera, which makes it a shame that the show didn't get to go on much past this story and we never got to see more of the character. There's also nice performances from James Ellis, Marcus Gilbert, Robert Jezek and Angela Davis amongst others. That said there are some rather mixed performances from Christopher Bowen as an over-the-top (and out of place) version of Mordred and Ling Tai as the immature Shou Young. All said though it is as good a supporting cast as any to be found in the McCoy era.

The story has some nice production values as well. The sets and costumes are nicely done considering the low-budget the show was forced to work within. Thi is especially true of the Knights armor which, while not the sort of futuristic thing originally envisioned, stands up well today because it isn't futuristic. There's also the Destoryer in parts three and four who in a short space of time leaves a huge impression. Te Detroyer is a brilliantly realized creation as not only a fantastic monster but as a personification of Oppenheimer's "destoryer of worlds" as he described nuclear weapons which gives the story a nice piece of symmetry as well. That said the production values aren't perfect.

Battlefield suffers from two very distinct problems in the forms of its special effects and music. While special effects in the original Doctor Who series have a;ways been a mixed affair anyway here they are sadly lacking at times such as he Knights guns that do little more then shoot sparks or the sad looking exterior effects related to the Destroyer towards the end of the story. There's also the mater of the score by Keff McCulloch which works for the most part but is at times seeming out of place at times then too loud and too brash at others, especially in the action sequences. thankfully there is an answer to some of those problems (more on that later).

One of the more successful elements of Battlefield is the script by Ben Aaronovitch. Doctor Who has time and again proved itself capable of adopting mythologies for its own purposes the Battlefield is no exception. The story makes fine use of the Arthurian legend with its use of its heroes and villains, giving the story an anchor in on the long lasting and best known mythologies of the Western world. Even more interesting from the Arthurian standpoint is that the Doctor is identified as being as Merlin which not only makes for a nice plot device but adds a nice bit of mystery back to the Doctor. There's also a nice return to some of the elements of the series own mythology including the return of UNIT and its original commander Lethbridge-Stewart, the Doctor's old car Bessie and the morality about war and diplomacy that ran throughout the original UNIT stories of the 1970's. The latter is particularly evident in the Doctor's speech on nuclear weapons (written in fact by script editor Andrew Cartmel) towards the story's conclusion. While the story has some structural issues (such as a slow moving first episode and the Lethbridge-Stewart taking half the story before really making an impact on events) the script is a good one and it stands up well.

The second disc of the DVD release contains a special edition movie length version of the story. First off it contains some deleted scenes which add not only some explanations but add onto the relationship between Ace and Lethbridge-Stewart. Yet the biggest improvement to the story is the incorporation of new CGI effects. The aforementioned knight's guns now have beams with the sparks which help to make them believable plus there are some nice improvements to effects all through the story. Of particular mention is the effect of Morgaine summoning the Destroyer's shadow from her crystal ball which even had my little brother saying "whoa!" The special edition also attempts to fix the issues with the music as well though this is only a partial success and it is a shame that Mark Ayers (who supervised the special edition and created the best scores of the McCoy era) didn't take the opportunity to redo the music entirely Even with the issues the special edition is a considerable success and something of an improvement over the original.

The DVDs special features are as good as any as those on any other Who DVD. On top of the above mentioned special edition version of the story there are a total of four documentaries : three on the making if the story (including one about the famous water tank incident that occurred) and one featuring actress Jean Marsh discussing her three appearances on the original series of Doctor Who. There's an audio commentary featuring actors Sophie Aldred, Angela Bruce and Nicholas Courtney plus writer Ben Aaronovitch and script editor Andrew Cartmel in which the group discuss the story, their remembrances of it and give it criticism (especially from Aaronovitch and Cartmel) some needed some unneeded. Add on the usual info subtitle option and photo gallery and the special features are up to par.

So where does Battlefield stand? Well while it has its issues (even with the new special edition version included here) it is still an enjoyable and ever watchable piece of Doctor Who. While it might not be a classic story along the lines of say Genesis of the Daleks or later McCoy stories like Ghost Light or The Curse of Fenric, as an adventure story is a fine one. What more can you really ask for?"