‘She vanquished me and I threw myself on her mercy.’ Bits of this look like a bad pop video from circa 1985 (especially Mordred opening a gateway across the dimensions complete with excited muzak, disco lights and a lot of stage laughter). The first five minutes are a chore, with McCoy asked to gargh at Excalibur’s flying scabbard as Christopher Bowen delivers unsayable dialogue.
After this, things pick up considerably. Partly this is due to Jean Marsh who, while not quite convincing as a warrior (she doesn’t look entirely comfortable in her armoured bodice), is entirely queenly and quite compelling to watch. She’s malevolent, playful, flirtatious and imperious often in the same sentence. Her obvious disdain for her own ignorant son, and her respect for the Brigadier are great choices. Her delivery of her string of epithets, ‘the Sunkiller, Dominator of the Thirteen Worlds and battle queen of the S’rax’ and the Brigadier’s response, ‘I am Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’, is a joke that’s repeated exactly in Daenerys and Jon’s first meeting in Game of Thrones 28 years later.
I really like Ben Aaronovitch’s twist on his own Remembrance of the Daleks. There, the Doctor was manipulating Gilmore and the Daleks as part of his long game. Here, he’s the one being manipulated by a future iteration (my guess is the 12th Doctor – the other one with a Scottish voice pattern and a predilection for meeting British folk heroes) and having to piece together what he’s supposed to do from clues from his future self. There’s a giddy DWM comic strip style to moments like Ace pulling the sword from the stone and a helicopter being brought down by magic lightning, while the Brigadier facing a time-travelling witch in an English churchyard is pure Paul Cornell. This is mostly very entertaining, although why is one of Morgaine’s knights wearing red trackie bottoms?
Next episode: Battlefield – Part Three