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Doctor Who Original Series 14 - The Crusade [Nov. 24th, 2009|09:34 pm]
[mood |awakeawake]

2.22 The Crusade Pt. 1 - The Lion Written by David Whitaker, Directed by Douglas Camfield

The travellers arrive and are immediately caught up in the Crusades.

Well, the first episode doesn't muck about - straight into the action! The Doctor even gets a bit of swordplay!

Richard the Lionheart is well-played, and Saladin gets a surprisingly even handed approach for the 60s. Both leaders are portrayed as men with layers. They aren't perfect, don't aim to be, and if something doesn't benefit them, or their war, it is irrelevant.

Hartnell seems to be enjoying himself in this episode, and Barbara also has some good moments.


"You must serve my purpose or you have no purpose. Grace my table tonight in more suitable clothes. If your tales beguile me, you shall stay and entertain." - Bernard Kay (Saladin)

2.23 The Crusade Pt. 2 - The Knight of Jaffa Written by David Whitaker, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Ian is sent to bargain with Saladin for the return of William des Preaux and Barbara.

Not too much to say, good performances, a bit of intrigue, the Doctor talks his way out of trouble, and a nice moment between Ian and King Richard.


"Saladin sends me presents of fruit and snow when I am sick and now his brother decorates you with his jewels. Yet with our armies do we both lock in deadly combat, watering the land with a rain of blood, and the noise of thunder is drowned in the shouts of dying men." - Julian Glover (Richard the Lionheart)

2.24 The Crusade Pt. 3 - The Wheel of Fortune Written by David Whitaker, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Bloody hell! What a fabulous episode! It builds and builds as it progresses. The Doctor getting caught up in royal politics, Saladin welcoming peace while preparing for war, Barbara wondering whether she can use the knife, Ian attacked, and the huge fight between King Richard and Joanna. I really wasn't expecting to be so blown away.


"His sincerity deserves our honest dealings. But caution... Yes, caution insists that my armies are ready." - Bernard Kay (Saladin)

2.25 The Crusade Pt. 4 - The Warlords Written by David Whitaker, Directed by Douglas Camfield

Barbara has been captured by El Akir. Meanwhile Ian has troubles of his own.

Though it feels a little rushed in some ways, a good final episode, thanks mainly to the last five minutes where things crack along enjoyably. Special mention must go to Tutte Lemkow, who has a huge amount of fun with the part of Ibrahim the thief.


"And I will sit in the shade of the trees and dream of all the treasures I will get when the ants discover you." - Tutte Lemkow (Ibrahim)

8.5/10 The Crusade

As you can tell by the score I've given it - Crusade rocks! Which is funny because if you'd asked me before I listened to it for an overall rating, I probably would have gone for seven out of ten. Eight just would have felt too high! As for eight and a half... But it earns this score well, due in no small part to fabulous writing by David whitaker.

Of particular note is the even-handed approach he took to the two warring leaders. A lesser writer would have been tempted to make Richard the Lionheart two dimensionally good, and Saladin just another bad guy. As it stands, Richard can be a bit of a prick, and must occasionally act unfairly in the name of court politics, while Saladin is shown to have just as many shades of grey as his English opposite number.

In fact most of the characters in the story are quite well written. Good or evil, they all get their moments. Ibrahim the thief is a particular delight. While not a subtle character, nor one lacking in the tropes of a stereotype, he's wonderfully written and enjoyably played.

The regulars all do a good job, and Whitaker makes sure that each of them gets their moment within the story. This is especially nice with Vicki, a character that was initially ignored by the show's writers, when we suddenly see how afriad she is of losing her new family. And it must be said that the moment when Ian is knighted is beautiful.

This is a great story, well written, well acted, and enjoyable. Even the weaker episodes have strong finishes. You may also notice that the two weaker episodes (in my opinion) are also the ones that only exist on audio - this is coincidence. Whereas episodes one and three start strong and build, episodes two and four are good, but each only really improves towards the end.

Even so, that's damning with faint praise. The overall quality is very good and every episode has a strong or enjoyable finish. It's stories like this that show the true strengths of the pure historical when well crafted.

[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-24 12:09 pm (UTC)
I've always thought this was one of the strongest Hartnell serials, due largely to Whitaker's script. The dialogue is exceptional.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-25 01:18 am (UTC)
Whitaker is a wonderful writer, and yes, the dialogue in this is gorgeous.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-25 01:38 am (UTC)
I think my favourite Whitaker script may indeed be The Crusade - it's a close run between this and Power of the Daleks.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 06:35 am (UTC)
I love Power, but I can't pick between them at the moment.

For me what works about Power is the Daleks using psychology and intelligence to get where they need to be.

That's one of the reasons I always got shitty with the idea you needed Davros to be their spokesperson. If you can actually write, you don't.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-27 06:45 am (UTC)
You read over and over again writer saying "Oh the Daleks are so hard to write for. They can't talk at length without sounding stupid". I think one of the things that most writers tackling the Daleks have failed to realise is that a Dalek silently looking at you is one of the scariest things Doctor Who can do. It's (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) cameo in "Waters of Mars" was extraordinarily haunting for this reason.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 07:03 am (UTC)
You know the micro-bit of that scene I really loved? The one tiny twitch the eyestalk does. So much better than a long static shot.

And yes, you're completely right. Genesis at the end when Davros is telling them off for starting the auto-production line, and they're silent is wonderful.

But also, when the daleks use their intellect, and understand when the threat of death is more effective than killing, or that seeming helpless is an effective strategy, that is awesome.

Now I want to win tattslotto, fly to Perth, and have a geek out dalek story session with you!
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-27 07:06 am (UTC)
To fall into our usual "if I ran the show" conversation...

I have a big fear of dogs, and one of my recurring nightmares is hearing a strange noise when I'm in my bedroom, walking into the hallway and suddenly noticing an enormous black Dobermann at the other end of the hall. Standing dead still, staring at me with its mouth slightly open. Just... standing there. Staring. The potential of being suddenly and violently mauled to death by this enormous dog is palpable. I wake up screaming.

I want to do that moment, that intensely, with a Dalek.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 07:17 am (UTC)
It would be especially chilling as a story opener without any hint of the word dalek in the title. But I want a tiny eyestalk twitch in there.

Oh oh oh! And then the dalek glides off without a word and vanishes. And the person doesn't know what they are. And it keeps happening! Every night...

And they think they're dreaming, but they aren't :)
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-27 07:45 am (UTC)
A Dalek silently gliding along the street, under moonlight, somewhere in suburbia. Ten year old child peeking out between the curtains is the only one who sees it.

This sort of creepy Dalek episode could write itself! (He says, knowing full well as a writer that no script ever writes itself...)
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[User Picture]From: pedanther
2009-11-24 04:12 pm (UTC)
If you haven't encountered it, Whitaker's novelisation is also excellent, as a novelisation, and not bad as a novel. (It has advantage of being one of the initial three-book trial, before the Target house style came into being.)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-25 01:24 am (UTC)
Yep, got three versions of the novelisation - original hardcover from '65, Dragon paperback, and Target paperback. It's a great book.

I've also listen to the audiobook version, read by William Russell. He does a great job with the narration.
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[User Picture]From: jack_ryder
2009-11-24 09:55 pm (UTC)
I really, really liked what I saw of Crusades - it played like a top-notch historical drama, rather than a Dr Who story.

However, I've only seen the third part - is all of it available now?
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-25 01:39 am (UTC)
Parts one and three are available on DVD in the Lost in Time DVD set, as well as (I think) audio recordings of parts two and four.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-25 01:50 am (UTC)
The first and third parts exist fully, while parts two and four exist on audio. All four episodes in those formats are available on the Lost in Time DVD box set. I theory I sell these, in practice they aren't showing up on the roadshow site.

The scripts can be downloaded from the Earthbound Timelords Doctor Who Scripts Project.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-11-25 03:11 am (UTC)
[GregT] My memory of The Crusade is being blown away by the quality of the acting from the guest leads, particularly Richard and Joanna. It's a brilliant and nuanced performance in what would normally for Who be stuffy and arrogant characters.
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[User Picture]From: nevryn
2009-11-27 12:00 am (UTC)
Julian Glover and Jean Marsh. They're quite good.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 06:38 am (UTC)
As good as Paul Jerricho?

Give them each a "Not the mind probe!" line and see who is left standing! That one always sorts'em out!
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-27 06:46 am (UTC)
Jerricho continues to claim the director told him he had to say it that way.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 07:06 am (UTC)
The Davison/Dicks commentary track talks about this... or is it the tennant commentary track? Anyway, he said it two different ways, and neither one worked. I think it was suggested that he couldn't get a handle on what a mind probe actually was, didn't know which word to emphasise and so did both.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-27 07:08 am (UTC)
What were his alternatives?

1. "Not the mind probe!" (as if Gallifrey also has and uses the arse probe, the arm probe, the nose probe, etc.)

2. "Not the mind probe!" (as if Gallifrey also has and uses the mind stick, the mind soap, the mind shirt, etc.)

3. Terrance Dicks could have written a less fucking stupid line.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-27 07:14 am (UTC)
I give both Paul and Terrence a lot of leeway on this. The whole thing was rushed. Terrence constantly apologises through the commentary for doing a half-arsed job. And on many other TV shows, if they were doing a huge special, they would have gone back and done 30 takes until Jerricho gave a good delivery. They did two.

Mind you, the threat of the arse-probe would be pretty formidible!
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