Once again BBC releases a new DVD of a previously unreleased story arc with Sylvester McCoy’s ‘Battlefield’. McCoy’s seventh Doctor is usually one of the least favorite of fans, and his era (which was the last of the regular classic series) was plagued by inconsistent writing, storytelling, and acting that usually was steps below the other classic Doctors.
‘Battlefield’ has The Doctor and Ace responding to a distress call and finding themselves in between the forces of U.N.I.T. and knights from another dimension. Jean Marsh (WILLOW) returned to DOCTOR WHO in this serial, and as fantastic as her performances is, she is shoved the side partway through the story, and even when she is on-screen she tends to be a lot like her character from George Lucas’ fantasy of the year prior to this story. Nicholas Courtney returned as The Brigadier, one of the fan favorite supporting cast from the time period of the Second and Third Doctors.
The storyline of ‘Battlefield’ is an OK story, but the entire thing gets really muddled and runs amok here and there before we get to the moderately unsatisfying conclusion. The shooting seems rough and really amateur when compared to the DOCTOR WHO stories of the same time, and it looks like it was filmed with a home camcorder.
One of the best things about the new releases of the classic DOCTOR WHO episodes, are the updated effects and editing. The new special effects make the story a bit more bearable and streamline the story so it makes some more sense than the original version.
Plus, the second disc of this has an all new movie length edit of ‘Battlefield’. This is a FAR MORE tolerable version of the show, and the re-edit makes this almost a really good episode of DOCTOR WHO. Almost.
The audio commentary on this DVD is kind of painful to listen to. A lot of the behind the scenes folks sit and be-moan the fact that the episode didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to, but finally are silenced to make room for other commentary by the actors who try their best to make it seem like it was a positive experience.
‘Storm Over Avalon’ is a good 22 minute making of documentary that gives the usual candid behind the scenes look at making the storyline, and there are few stories told that are worth hearing.
‘From Kingdom to Queen’ is a look at Jean Marsh’s career in DOCTOR WHO and all of her numerous characters that she has played over the years. This is kind of a fun retrospect and Marsh looks fantastic at almost age 75. Plus, if you are really a fan, she is doing some DOCTOR WHO Big Finish audio adventures as well.
A so-so DOCTOR WHO story that has some pluses, like new editing and effects, and of course Jean Marsh and Nicholas Courtney. Does all of that balance out the fact that the storyline is horrible, and this is from the doomsday period of DOCTOR WHO? Yeah. This is still a DVD worth having, and let’s face it, are you really going to leave gaps in your classic WHO DVD collection? I didn’t think so.