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Inter-dimensional Arthurian warfare, helicopter ear sanitation and a demon’s wet mouth

Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Bagels to his friends) has been many things: a soldier; a hero; a skeptic; a teacher; and, as seen in this very serial, the world’s champion. But his greatest accomplishment is perhaps being the cutest (but dimmest) husband in the galaxy. He might have the sweet banter down but there’s still plenty he can learn about putting his wife, Doris, before thoughts of glory. And he’s about to be truly tested because UNIT is calling him out of retirement to team up with the Doctor once again.

UNIT, in all of its misguided heroism, is wandering around the countryside with a nuclear weapon. So when a load of inter-dimensional knights pop out of Arthurian legend, it’s a good thing that Doc and Ace are on Earth to tame the situation (or blow things up). Throw some sorcery into the mix in the form of Morgaine, Battle Queen of the S’Rax, and they’ll have to work hard to stop the world being destroyed by the evil forces waging their own little war or the sheer stupidity of the human military forces.

Here's what we think of C156 Battlefield

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.0

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what we think of C156 Battlefield

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.0

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.7

Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C156 Battlefield”
  1. GP Haynes | @FindingGspots (Insta & YouTube)

    Yay, the brigadier is back! And we get 2 for the price of one!

    This is an entertaining enough story, even if I didn’t quite understand how all the “other dimension” stuff worked

    Ace and the Doc are great together again, with some really touching moments, and the supporting cast were also all pretty good in general.

    The “Devil” Alien costume was amazing

    And the highlight was the return of Bessie!

    Once again the seventh Doctor shows a darker side, seemingly able to mind control people.

    The only thing I couldn’t work out, was that Psychic Paper that the Doctor used to first see the Brigadier?

    I can find no reference online that this was the first use, but it seems to me that this was the case?!

    All in all this was a great start to the final season of classic Who.

    It’s s shame it will all be over soon!

    Rating: 3.6 Sword fights with Knights from another dimension!

    Cheers

    GP Haynes

    Australia

  2. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Battlefield Mini Memories

    To prepare for the momentous third and final Season of Doctor Who (Doctor Who only began with McCoy) I ordered it on Blu Ray! Unfortunately the Blu Ray is stuck in a shipping container in Accra. So I’m going off memories from 1989 and possibly a grainy VHS from the 1990s.

    Likes

    EVERYTHING! OH MY GOODNESS. BAGELS. BESSIE. UNIT. SPACE KNIGHTS. A SPACE SNAKE. DON’T STEP OUT OF THE CIRCLE! THE DESTROYER. THE DOCTOR IS MERLIN. A HELICOPTER. DID I MENTION BAGELS?! “I JUST TRY TO DO THE BEST I CAN”. AHHHHHHHH!

    Beefs

    Go to hell.

    Rating

    5/5. Surviving UNIT troops suffering severe PTSD.

  3. Steven from Canada | @SAndreyechen

    For point of reference I watched the Reconstruction of the VHS extended version included on the Season 26 bluRay box set.

    Battlefield or as I like to call it “Bret Vion’s Revenge!” is a very bad ass story.

    I only have one gripe: The Doctor is completely wrong about there not being concrete in the 8th Century. Humans have been using concrete since 6500 BCE! (8521 years ago!)

    Overall this story earns 5 Practically Perfect Pertwee era references out of 5.

    Steven from Canada

    I even have sources, come at me:

    https://www.nachi.org/history-of-concrete.htm
    https://www.giatecscientific.com/education/the-history-of-concrete/

  4. Kristaps Paddock

    Not a high point of the Seventh Doctor’s run, but not that bad. Love Who tackling Arthurian legend, finally. Love the 80s knights and lasers vibes. Love the Destroyer and that big monster/devil mask. Somehow though, it doesn’t quite hang together. I’ll give it a generous two point four attempts to achieve racial and ethnic diversity to reflect modern Britain while simultaneously engaging with classic stories and characters out of five.

  5. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    ‘THERE WILL BE NO BATTLE HERE!!!’

    Two reviews here: One for the transmitted version and one for extended special edition, as a lot of stuff was cut for the transmitted version. Hence why there’s some weird jumps in the story and the missing of some nice lines, one being that the reverse of Clark’s law is also true (That not only is advanced technology indistinguishable from magic but so is advanced magic indistinguishable from technology).

    The Brigadier! And the other Brigadier! Somehow I feel twitter would explode with fury at a female Brigadier these days. Anyway Bambera is played by Angela Bruce who played the female version of Lister in Red Dwarf series 2 and is fairly well know as the councillor rescued by Del Boy and Rodey dressed as Batman and Robin in Only Fools and Horses.

    The Doctor as Merlin? Hmm, way not. He’s a devilish fellow. And Morgaine played by Jean Marsh, excellent. Jean of course was in The Crusade and The Daleks’ Master Plan, the latter of which she played Sara Kingdom, sister of Bret Vyon played by one Nicholas Courtney.

    Sophie Aldred almost died in the water tank as it cracked whilst she was in it and the water went everywhere, next to all that expensive electronics. McCoy rushed to get the power switched off and Sophie pulled out of the tank.

    There’s been some comments about Ace using a racial slur but as it’s during the chalk circle scene where Morgaine is messing with their minds, I think it’s just about acceptable.

    ‘Can this world do no better than you as their champion?’ ‘Probably. I just do the best I can.’

    3.6/5 as transmitted, 4.1/5 for the extended version Ps I strongly recommend the novelisation.

    Cheers

    Kieren

  6. Peter Zunitch

    For many years this story annoyed me. However I was missing the first episode so I guess I was being somewhat unfair.

    We get a lot of laughs. Annoyingly though, in one large chunk. Episode running short? Just cackle for two minutes. Bagels gets his swan song (his real one, not that undead cyberman crap). It’s okay, he saves the day but sadly most of his time is spent in a helicopter. I love the jealousy Ace has for him. All acting is decent, but I would’ve been thrilled if the 3 big characters were on screen start to finish.

    The alien culture is what really makes this story enjoyable. They really play up the honor and ritual behind their wars, and this makes them so well rounded. It’s also beautiful how they diverge from the Camelot story in the alternate universe vs how it plays out in ours. We also have Merlin and the Doctor and a story I can’t wait to see (but of course, never will). This is truly writing done with care.

    Once again however the story is let down by the producing and directing. The lack of linking scenes and glossing over what as an audience member is necessary is once again tragic. As a person in the business there are specific production choices that just make me cringe. There’s a lot that’s very soap opera, and subpar for that matter. The music, bah.

    Dear Doctor, Perfection died in the final edit. The Doctor. 3.7

  7. Oli Raven | @FoggyDrWho

    Hello again! Getting in early to try to get this read out because I can’t see the minis at the bottom of each podcast ep’s page lately.

    Two Brigs: Great to see Bagls but I liked Bambera’s attitude and her helicopter too. They didn’t have the guts to kill off the former at the hands of the big blue monster with the laser hands though. Cowards!

    Merlin & Excalibur: So… this is trying to link the Doc to Arthurian legend? Okaaaay then?? Was more up for that decades hence when my sister would watch The Sword in the Stone on VHS constantly, but am not really into it nowadays.

    Five-pound pints: Was supposed to be a nod to inflation/prices at tourist traps in the orbit of London, but the real futuristic-progressive reference would’ve been to buying half a litre of gluten-free 0.0% beer in the single European currency. Am I asking too much of a serial from 1989?

    Sophie Aldred was injured during filming, almost fatally! The one time that ‘serious’ falsetto voice of McCoy’s was actually used for good. Unfortunately it gets another rubbish outing in that “there will be no battle here today” scene.

    I did enjoy seeing Ace in just that towel, mind. As well as her apparently having an Asian girlfriend in this one. Ahem. And on that note, time for this reviewer to climax – uh, I mean, high time to leave it there already.

    Overall I give it 2.9 knights from the Dark Ages out of 5.

    Oli ‘Oshi’ Raven
    (IG: @foggydrwho – finally made that post about The Daleks the other day!)

  8. Neil | @neilandrozani & @neiljamesactor

    What up gentlemen! The final season of classic Who is upon us and I think it’s completely brilliant!

    Oh shame!

    I like this story more every time I watch it! The Brig is back, and the guest characters are all very enjoyable (for various reasons!). The location filming is cracking and personally I love all the Merlin stuff. We also get the last ever interior TARDIS scene of classic Who in episode 1.

    It’s a pretty cracking serial through and through, and with moments of brilliance like: the chalk circle sequence, the moment Morgaine cures Elizabeth’s blindness, and McCoy walking through the middle of a deadly swordfight, it’s easy to forgive the silly garden scene at the end.
    Rating – 4.7

    Neil
    @neilandrozani
    @neiljamesactor

    xx

  9. Peter Zunitch

    This was a super insightful and analytical podcast. I loved it. Thanks again.

    Jim, I’m sorry. I really tried to edit your post credit sequence but there’s just not enough footage of Lavell on her own to make a good outtake. Besides, we actually see her show up at the bar and get killed by Morgaine for asking if she could make a collect call (can’t blame her actually).

  10. Izaak (Ms. Monster Adams)

    Oh my gosh it’s Battlefield!

    Perfection. No notes! One of my top three favourite all time Dr Who stories. Ninety-ish minutes of amazing characters, action, monsters, sets and timey-wimey fun. If you were introducing classic who to a new who fan, then this is a great contender to get them invested.

    This is also the best Brigadier story! “Get off of my world.” Then bang! Shoots the devil dead. Stone cold, Brigadier.

    Anyway yeah 5/5 (and a real 5/5, not like that other 5/5 I gave out a couple of weeks ago.)

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