If you didn’t know, Time Commanders was a TV show that ran for 3 series back into the early noughties. Using the engine from the then in-development game Rome: Total War. It challenged teams of bumbling policemen, vicars and office workers to take command of armies during pivotal battles of the ancient and early medieval world.
Usually it would turn out that even the combined brain power of Steve, Angela, and Paul from Surrey, didn’t quite match up to History’s great strategic minds. Where Napoleon might have stood, hand in jacket, coolly dispatching orders, waiting for his enemies to make a mistake; the contestants would argue and bicker, issuing conflicting orders. They didn’t make great leaders, but it did make for enjoyable television. In many ways Time Commanders was ahead of its time, somehow it managed to sneak esports onto BBC 2 in front of the general public back in 2004. Perhaps if League of Legends tournaments where entirely entered by men called Keith, 47, from Ipswich, they would have more success getting mainstream coverage in the West.
And now, Time Commanders has returned, helmed by none other than the internet’s favourite buttery biscuit bassist and apparent Total War fan, Greg Wallace. Back in 2004 Rome: Total War’s graphics where cutting edge and the swooping camera angles and intense score made for what was in essence, an incredibly high production let’s play. The reboot looks to draw on a wide range of Total War titles going as far back as Empire (2009) or Napoleon (2010). While the graphics might not be as ground breaking as they were in 2004, the show has decided pit contestants head to head. You can now look forward to one team of useless members of the public try and outwit their equally inept opponents as long suffering Creative Assembly employees watch from the side-lines.
It will be interesting to see how the series is received. On one side you have regular BBC 4 viewers, used to documentaries on classical music and 2 hours of country bus tour footage. On the other you have Total War fans, who will likely dissect every aspect of the gameplay, debating where the contestants went wrong.
Time Commanders airs December 12th, on BBC 4.