The crusade (1965)
About this serial
This was a four-part serial, first broadcast between 27th March - 17th April 1965. The serial was written by David Whitaker, produced by Verity Lambert and directed by Douglas Camfield. The script editor was Dennis Spooner.
What I've seen:
Parts one and three of the serial. Parts two and four are missing, but the soundtracks still exist and are included on the 'Lost in time' boxed set.
The Tardis crew find themselves in the Holy Land. Barbara is kidnapped by Saladin's Saracens while the Doctor, Ian and Vicki find themselves at the court of Richard Lionheart, who's trying to negotiate peace by marrying off his sister to Saladin's brother.
The good bits:
- It's a good story, and the pacing of the two surviving episodes is excellent.
- There are some fine performances, both from the regulars and the guest cast.
- The serial is well-directed.
- The story gives us remarkable nuance in its view on history, showing Saladin as a strong ruler - though also a ruthless one.
The less good bits:
- Vicki gets little to do in this story, apart from being cute and endearing.
- The Saracens are white actors in black-face, as was common practice at the time.
A couple of notes on this particular version of the serial:
- To someone who's trying to follow the story as a whole, the soundtracks of the second and fourth episode aren't very helpful. You hear music and dialogue, but you mostly don't have a clue who's talking or what's going on on-screen. Even some basic on-screen notes taken from the script ("A Saracen jumps out from behind the bushes and attacks Ian...") would be a great improvement.
- There are spoken introductions by William Russell (Ian Chesterton) for each episode, which give a brief summary of the story. Unfortunately these are a kind of Easter egg, and you can only view them by choosing the 'Play all' option on the DVD.
The bottom line
Even though this serial is incomplete, there's much to enjoy here.