Doctor Who – Battlefield

Doctor Who Story 156 – Battlefield

Cast photo for BattlefieldThere are many things I love about this story, not least of which is the way it furthers the theme of change during the Seventh Doctor era. In the case of “Battlefield,” this change is applied to the Third Doctor/UNIT dynamic of Doctor Who. Jo Grant is name dropped as the Doctor pull out his identification. The Brigadier returns as a UNIT commander, albeit in a consulting capacity. An archaeological dig reveals ancient British mythology to be real and otherworldly in origin. A nuclear convoy leads to an arms cold war. These elements could have easily fit into the old Letts/Dicks model of Doctor Who. Here, they are given a Seventh Doctor spin with chess-piece manipulation by a future version of the Doctor even as the Seventh Doctor does his best to manipulate events in the present. There are only three problems I see with this story. First, the ambition far exceeds the ability of the show to portray it, although this is a great problem to have. Second, thematically, the Brigadier should have died. It was the original plan for this story, but Cartmel changed his mind. While I have no particular wish to see the Brigadier die onscreen, it would have fit in this story with its Arthur/Merlin parallels. It would have fit with the theme of change by reinforcing the way this story upends the Third Doctor/UNIT story in much the same way the destruction of Skaro signaled change in “Remembrance of the Daleks.” And third, the DVD of “Battlefield” has gone out of print in the U.S., so I can’t buy it for a reasonable price. It was a great story and worth owning.

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