I've always thought this was one of the strongest Hartnell serials, due largely to Whitaker's script. The dialogue is exceptional.
Whitaker is a wonderful writer, and yes, the dialogue in this is gorgeous.
I think my favourite Whitaker script may indeed be The Crusade - it's a close run between this and Power of the Daleks.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 :)
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...)
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
Julian Glover and Jean Marsh. They're quite good.
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!
Jerricho continues to claim the director told him he had to say it that way.
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.
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.
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!