The troupe arrive in 12th century Palestine where Doc steals clothes, Ian is knighted, Vicky is inconsequential and Barb gets kidnapped (as usual)
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The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki arrive in the woods just outside of 12th century Jaffa and (a) Barbara immediately gets kidnapped by Saracens and (b) Doc kills a guy. Or perhaps he only causes him some lasting nerve damage; the jury’s still out on that one. Anyway, King Richard the Lionheart (played by none other than Julian Glover) is waging war against Saladin (played by Bernard Kay who previously appeared as ‘Tyler’ in Dalek Invasion of Earth), and Doc, Ian and Vicki immediately get embroiled in court intrigue.
Barbara, meanwhile, is held captive by Saladin, pretends to be King Richard’s stunning sister Joanna (played by future Doctor’s Companion, Jean Marsh) for a little while, and is then once again kidnapped, this time by master henchman and this serial’s bad guy, El Akhir (played by Walter Randall who previously appeared as Tonila in The Aztecs). Wait, let’s just take a moment to forget all about Barb’s predicament and instead marvel at this stellar cast, shall we? Ahh. There. Moment over.
It’s now up to Ian to be knighted by King Richard and rescue Barb from the clutches of El Akhir, except she’s doing a pretty fantastic job of rescuing herself already. And the Doctor and Vicky may as well not be in this story at all, because – apart from the Doctor robbing a morbidly obese merchant and Vicky posing as a young boy for no conceivable reason – they do very little.
All in all, spoiler alert, The Crusade is a super entertaining Doctor Who serial. What a shame that two of the four episodes are missing/reconstructed!
Big thanks to Al, JD, Gina and Kyle for their marvellous mini-reviews – all of which are included in this podcast episode and available for your reading pleasure here below.
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The Ratings & Review section of this podcast episode starts at the 1h12m mark.
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My crusade review, which ran really long.
This episode was utterly fantastic. Really just great. Particularly, the costuming and sets are great. But also the general story, the writing, and especially the action bits. Hell, even Vicky wasn’t bad. This whole serial also manages to shirk away from the Davis principle. Although most of the suspense concerns Barb and some very scary sexual vibes from various bad guys, she’s actually not a helpless damsel in distress. Her history skills are more apparent here than Ian’s science skills ever were, even knowing Richard the first’s hair color.
The action surrounding many of the scenes is very strong and quite impressive on both sides of the fighting, leading to unusually strong cliffhangers where I actually felt compelled to keep watching. Unfortunately, a lot of this compelling nature was really hindered by the reconed parts, and really the recons are the major faults of this story. Obviously it’s not this story’s fault that it has been lost but at least we have the two parts we do have. Although that makes watching part 1 and 3 such an enjoyable experience it makes for a striking contrast with parts 2 and 4. The major action scenes of part 4 are almost incomprehensible. Once again, we must grade on a curve but it’s still impossible to overlook.
There is some good comic relief in this story, especially with Vicky’s role, where she does seem very young here, definitely not in her 20s, although I don’t think her portrayal age-wise is very consistent across her stories. This also does lead to a very creepy and odd exchange between her and the doctor which I think was meant to be grandfatherly but is just weird with her previous portrayals as possibly a 20-somethings girl. This also does a great job portraying the gray morality of the crusades, with the doctor chastising both sides for needing to fight. This in particular leads to a great monologue from Joanna and a really heated scene between her and Richard the lionhearted.
The very ending scene still manages to be tense and comedic despite the recon status of it. This serial also gets points for Ian’s knighting and the exchanges of the doctor and the traders. This is also a really directed serial, feeling pretty constrained generally straightforward. This is better than being directionless, although a more loose structure, such as in the Romans can allow for more breathing room of the story. It’s obvious from the beginning though that it’ll all connect when doc and Ian are meeting the people barb and her fellow captor are pretending to be. Overall this story gets a 4.5 for very few detractors, such as a few odd logical leaps, some weirdly sexual bits and the necessary points taken off for the recon status.
Also, happy note: just this month, we got 9 out of the 106 missing episodes back,so there’s hope we may see this in full one day too.
Ahhhhh…. What a relief. After The Web Planet, I was reluctant to watch The Crusaders, but it was much better. Even with two of the episodes missing. Right off the bat, the Davis Principle gets instituted in this episode. Thanks a lot, Barbara. Then, we have Ian doing something useful as he rescues Barbara. The fight scene at the very beginning was executed very well, in my opinion, and I’m glad that episode was with us today. Unfortunately, I found parts of this episode to be somewhat boring, though that may have just been the fault of the reconstructions.
Hey look! We finally have as historical serial where creepy men don’t try to rape Barbara. It’s finally fit for children- oh wait, the dude in Episode 3 wants her to kill his daughter and herself if they are found. Also in Episode 3, we have a pedophiliac shopkeeper rubbing all over Vicki. Finally, they just had to bring up the Web Planet again when Barbara talks about their “adventure on an alien world ruled by insects”. Ugh! Don’t remind me!
I give this story a 3.2, because it was so much better than the previous story. I mark off because it wasn’t quite as interesting as the Romans or The Reign of Terror. Oh well. Finally, the TARDIS crew freezing at the very end didn’t have the intended effect. They had been frozen for the past 25 minutes.
Barbara and her team land in the Holy Land and is kidnapped and threatened with Rape for the 10th story since she stumbled onto the TARDIS.
What an amazing guest cast – Julian Glover and Bernard Kay would be good enough alone but then you have Jean Marsh, who apart from being an amazing actress will enter Doctor Who Lore very very shortly as Sara Kingdom, and then 24 years later as Morgaine in Battlefield (and would marry future Doctor Jon Pertwee)
Ian and Barbara are smoldering together on screen – and finally Ian does something useful after his character has been pointless for the past few stories. But Barbara once more takes on the role of “main character” far more than anyone else in the Hartnell years.
Oh… and Jean Marsh as Joanna gets simply the best speech probably done in Doctor Who so far where she just destroys Richard the Lionheart around the arranged marriage. Real passion.
Vicki’s irritation index is only a 3.2 this episode, mainly due to the fact that she spends bits of the story cuddling the Doctor and it’s faintly creepy.
Coming after the Web Planet ANYTHING would deserve a 5.0 – but this stands as a good story on it’s own, it’s not particularly fast paced but the acting and the script brings this up to a 4.2
I can actually say I enjoyed this story. I did have difficulty staying engaged with the reconstructions for episodes 2 & 4. I think this is one of the first times I found the plot, cast and sets equally interesting and engrossing. The Tardis crew once again was split up after landing in 12th century Palestine, during the time of the Third Crusade. I loved the parallels in the sibling relationships between King Richard and his sister and Saladin and his brother and how they were used to flesh out each leaders’ character. El Akir was an amazing villain, sinister and obsessive. This story had dark elements without getting too dark including the many deaths, the advantage vs disadvantage of war, and the price of pride.
I have noticed common tropes in these last few stories: The Doctor and Vicki get caught up in some political intrigue that Vapor rub just giggles and whines about (which she thankfully did less of in this story);The Doctor actively getting himself involved i! n said intrigue and later complaining about being in it; Barbra is kidnapped and spends the episode bravely & cleverly escaping, being caught, and escaping again; and Ian having a decreased story line with little to do, until he is needed to save someone.
I am finding that as the writers are increasing and expanding the Doctor’s role and abilities, there is less for the character of Ian to do. Have you guys noticed that the historicals (though missing any sci-fi elements) are the better quality stories? Even with the reconstructions, the story was enjoyable and a reprieve from The Web Planet. So my rating is 4.1 because it was an overall solid story and we got a semi shirtless Ian.
Te amo chicos!!!
Doctor Who Season 2 Episode 6: The Crusade Review The SHORT SHORT Version.
What better way to wash away the stink of “The Web Planet” than the far superior serial “The Crusade”.
Despite missing two episodes in their entirety, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and William Russells narration (at least in my copy) is engaging and mixed well with the surviving audio to keep interest.
The TARDIS materializes in the middle of a forest in 12th Century Palestine, and from moment one we are drawn into the conflict between the armies of King Richard the Lionheart and his crusade against Saladin, First Sultan of Egypt and his Saracen soldiers. Epic Shakespearean drama ensues.
1) Julian Glover/Jean Marsh/Walter Randall Trifecta.
The first two actors commanded every scene, no matter which scene they were in. Specifically, When Joanna confronts Richard about his marriage plans for her – Incredible.
Walter Randalls performance as El-Akir is perhaps the most terrifying singular enemy to date to appear in Doctor Who. Like, this guy is a total evil dickwad. And creepy as fuck. Amazing.
Honorary mention to Bernard Kay as Saladin – such an understated performance.
2) The Details
There was so much more consideration to the background of this serial, such as the sets, the costumes, and the lighting.
In each instance that the story changed location, I literally felt like we actually moved, instead of simply walking over to a different part of the stage. Not to mention the work put in on the dialogue. There was very careful treatment of both groups’ particular speech habits and mannerisms, and it was handled expertly without ever once coming across as racist or satirical.
3) Leaders of Men
The portrayal of Saladin and Richard as tortured, cautious opponents, mired by strategy and founded by compassion is in my opinion one of the big wins for this serial. It paints a heartbreaking bridge between two cultures too different to coexist, and highlights the paralleling inequality between the leaders and their men.
Sir Richard, Sir William Des Preaux and the Earl of Leicester versus Saladin, Saphadin and El-Akir.
What doesn’t work:
1) Repetitive themes
Can we please stop using Barbara as a foil to create conflict please? This episode clearly demonstrated just how formidable and strong a character she is on her own. She doesn’t need, nor deserve to be a Damsel in Distress (incidentally the original working title of Episode Two:The Knight of Jaffa).
2) Pointless/misused characters
No, i am not just talking about Victor/Victoria. Ibrahim, the socially disturbed bedouin who shows up in episode four to rob Ian and torture him in the desert with date honey and ants (Zarbi?), did absolutely nothing to move the story along. William Russell had been on holiday during production, which is why he was so absent. Why not just have Sir Ian arrive in Lydda after a journey to rescue Barb?
Also, while i thoroughly enjoyed the character of Haroun, seeking vengeance for his muredered wife and son, and searching for his lost daughter, the other one, Safiya, was kind of a dead end. I’m guessing she is still hiding in the closet holding the knife.
And whatever happened to Sir William Des Preaux? Forever alone in a sandy tent, with only his loyalty and chivalry to keep him warm? What a waste.
3) Weak finish
I didn’t buy into The Earl of Leicester’s focused dislike of The Doctor at all. Earl just wanted to fight the good fight, demonstrated by his impassioned speech with The Doctor in Richards court (which was a brilliant scene by the way!).
There was no investment for “revenge” against The Doctor once Richard conceded war was the only option. So why bother.
Except for Sir Fucking Ian Chesterton swooping in and saving the day. Keep that part. That was AWESOME!!
There have been many rumours this past year of supposedly lost serials being discovered. I’ve watched the two already released, and it was pure pleasure. It is my hope that the two missing episodes from “The Crusade” are among those relocated (at some point) and remastered. With a stellar supporting cast a tremendous historical backdrop, and a production value evident by it’s quality, this is a Doctor Who story that needs to be complete.
I give it a 3.8, only because the reconstructions just don’t do enough justice to this fantastic production.
I totally agree. The Acting here is through the roof. Everyone across the board takes their character (even the minor ones) to the next level. This, the Romans, and the Aztecs are three prime examples where the historical does not suffer in the slightest from not having a science fiction element. The most interesting part of these is the recurring discussion of what happens if history is changed? It comes in small pieces but really can make one’s imagination fly.
Ian is the bright star in this episode, and the Doctor a close second. Most importantly though is the ability of the writer to make the audience take an almost immediate vested interest in the secondary cast (the cast of the week). The intrigue on multiple levels drives the tension, while the ability to see (and in some way or another sympathize with) both sides of virtually every conflict in the series is exemplary. The doctor and Co. find themselves in an interesting situation here as (often in politics) their best intentions only get them in trouble. Luckily it is that same conviction that wins their favor again as well. Characters act logically here, not insanely fanatical, again a decision that fits the story perfectly.
It’s a glimpse at history that I knew about less than I should have before, and now I feel the desire to research it in depth. On top of that it kept me entertained from moment 1 to the end. While I feel that there were a few times when some opportunities were missed, I never felt short changed, confused or taken out of the story. If that’s not the sign of a great story, I don’t know what is. 4.5
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki land in the medieval Middle East. They are in the thick of Richard the Lionheart’s crusade into the Holy Land to recapture Jerusalem from the Saracen armies. Stumbling on the English King’s party out in the woods, they are quickly swept up into the action. Barbara is kidnapped; Ian is made a knight of Jaffa; the Doctor appoints himself supreme advisor to the king, and, inexplicably, Vicki dresses up as a boy.
King Richard is troubled at the progress of war and is considering making a diplomatic peace with the Saracens by marrying off his sister to Emperor Saladin’s brother. Unfortunately for him, Princess Joanna is having none of it and is ready to report him to the Pope. Meanwhile his armies are restless for a fight and the Saracens are happy to oblige.
This is a very well written script. The opening scene in the woods sets up the King and his nobles very quickly. They could easily have been 2D cut-out aristocrats, but they all have their own personality and the King is completely believable, played to perfection by the ubiquitous Julian Glover. Indeed with both him and Jean Marsh starring, the cast is truly magnificent. (As of this review, they have between then 275 credits on IMDB!) But there is a particular joy in seeing these great actors delivering poetic Shakespearian dialogue.
From the opening scenes of Episode One, we are back up to par after the disaster of The Web Planet, and although two episodes of The Crusade remain frustratingly missing, the story holds up very well right to the end.
Vicki seems to do very little in this story. Ian and Barbara both get their own sub-plots where each becomes the primary protagonist. The Doctor, as usual, chuckles and charms his way through the story. But Vicki just follows him around. Also, for no reason she appears in episode two dressed as a boy. (Strangely, the CGI reconstruction portrayed her wearing a very low cut top in this episode… It made it very incongruous to have everyone referring to her as a ‘boy’ all the time. Unless the English court simply assumed she had the largest man-boobs feasible?) In any case, she might as well have stayed in the TARDIS, for all the good she was in the story.
– The Doctor steals a cloak, justifying himself on the basis that the merchant probably stole it from someone else in the first place. He hides under the shop table to sneakily put on the clothes – a true gentleman!
– Barbara’s captor, embarrassed in front of Saladin, threatens to kill her in a thousand different ways. (“I can make her dance on red hot coals!”) Saladin turns and asks Barbara what she thinks of this. Coldly she replies: “It sound like a punishment for a fool!”. “It does,” agrees Saladin. “And who here is the most foolish?” Barbara looks up at her captor, who turns white with fear. Don’t mess with bad-ass Barbara!
– Saladin, speaking about Barbara to his guards: “Give her all liberty… except liberty itself”
– Richard indulges in a little monologue: “My armies roust about and clutter up the streets of Jaffa with the garbage of their vices. And now I learn my brother John thirsts after power, drinking great draughts of it, though it’s not his to take. He’s planning to usurp my crown and trade with my enemy, Philip of France! Trade! A tragedy of fortune that I am too much beset by them. A curse on this! A thousand curses!”
– Richard, of Barbara: “This woman can rot in one of Saladin’s prisons until her hair turns white!”
– The local tailor offers to give Vicki a makeover and turn her into a ‘veritable strutting peacock’, which sets the Doctor and Vicki into fits of giggles.
– “A girl, dressed as a boy?! Is nothing understandable these days?” sighs the Chamberlain, as the Doctor grins mischievously.
– “Will Princess Joanna agree to marry a Saracen prince?” wonders the Doctor. “You should rather ask,” responds Richard, “how can she refuse? To stem the blood, bind up the wounds and give a host of men lives and futures? Oh now there’s a marriage contract to put sacrifice to shame and make a saint of any woman!”
– No doubt inspired by the presence of Glover and Marsh, Hartnell delivers his lines as passionately as the best of them: “You stupid butcher! Can’t you think of anything else but killing, hmm?”
– Earl of Leicester, to the Doctor: “When you men of eloquence have stunned each other with your words, we – we the soldiers! – have to face it out. On some half-started morning, while you speakers lie abed, armies settle everything with sweat, sinew, bodies, and our lives.”
– Saladin, to his brother: “Hold one hand out in friendship; keep the other on your sword.”
– Joanna to Richard: “I am no sack of flour to be given in exchange!” Indeed this whole scene where Julian Glover and Jean Marsh face off is one of the best moments of dramatic acting in Dr Who so far. “How would you have me go to Saladin? Bathed in Oriental perfume, I suppose? Suppliant and tender and affectionate? Soft-eyed and trembling? Eager with a thousand words of compliment and love? Well I like a different way to meet the man I am about to wed!”
– Ian is subjected to one of the most bizarre death-plots ever devised. Pegged out in the sand with honey on his belly and a little trail of it running to a nearby ants nest. I believe the idea is that he will get eaten alive by ants, presumably over several days… It’s a horrible way to go!
– The Doctor to Barbara, peevish: “Oh why don’t you have a cup of tea or something!”
The Crusades, as a historical movement, are treated rather sympathetically, but what is worse, rather superficially. It would be one thing to consider the moral entanglements of the motivations behind mutual holy war: to consider it properly and then make a judgement in saying ‘It’s not as bad as people think.’ But it’s different to just waltz in and treat it as if it were some chivalrous political campaign between France and England.
Not only are the Crusaders let off ethically, but the Saracen are generally represented rather badly. They are all played by English actors, often wearing dark make up. (I won’t call it blackface, as that’s a very specific, deliberately racist aesthetic, which wasn’t on display here.) I wouldn’t get on my high horse typically about English actors playing Middle-Eastern characters in a production from the 60s. It’s applying modern concerns to historical material. But some of these actors put on caricature ‘foreign’ accents, sometimes sounding a little Indian in the process. This crosses a line for me, pushing their performances from ‘serious portrayal of a foreign person’ into ‘racist caricature’. This atmosphere of racism is heightened by the writing: there are many more schemers, betrayers, barbarians and general villains among the Saracens than among the English. Saladin himself is represented as fairly noble, but the story hasn’t aged well when it comes to concerns of representation.
Despite 21st century concerns about subconscious racism, this medieval melodrama is a highly enjoyable adventure. There is a lot of action and political scheming; the historical setting is a fascinating one, though a tad unexplored; the cast are magnificent and the dialogue unmatched. If anything, however, the overall story is a little lacking in cohesion. There’s a lot of B-plots going on, but the spine of the story, such as it is, is really just the TARDIS crew regrouping and escaping back to the ship. And it’s a shame that the BBC didn’t think to bring on actual Middle-Eastern actors to play the Middle-Eastern characters.