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William Hartnell: The Lost Stories - THE CRUSADE

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Author Topic: William Hartnell: The Lost Stories - THE CRUSADE  (Read 259 times)
Vampyros Adric
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« on: January 02, 2011, 10:53:55 am »

The third of the missing stories is taken from the second season of William Hartnell's Doctor. By this time, the show was well and truly ensconced as must see TV within the Saturday afternoon schedules. The triumphant 'Dalek Invasion of Earth' had seen the departure of Susan (and also the departure of David Whitaker as script editor to be replaced by Dennis Spooner). New companion Vicki had joined the crew and we had been to the Web Planet to meet the Zarbi.

(As an historical footnote, there is one missing episode, which started off the second series, called Planet of Giants which not only has missing episodes but alas no soundtrack exists. It would appear that this truly is lost forever).



THE CRUSADE

Once again, I shall steal shamelessly from the blurb on the back of my BBC Audio CD release from 2005 to bring you up to speed with the plot...

The Doctor and his companions encounter King Richard the Lionheart in this classic remastered soundtrack adventure with linking narration by William Russell. The TARDIS materialises in the middle of a holy war between King Richard the Lionheart and the Saracen leader, Saladin, in 12th Century Palestine. As the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara explore their surroundings, they are suddenly caught up in a Saracen ambush and Barbara is kidnapped. For the time travellers, intrigue and espionage ensue as they once again become involved in living history. A newly-knighted Sir Ian of Jaffa makes haste to find and rescue Barbara, whilst the Doctor finds it difficult to stay out of trouble in the court of the King...This classic adventure, only two episodes of which survive in the BBC film archive, stars William Hartnell as the Doctor, William Russell as Ian, Jacqueline Hill as Barbara, and Maureen O Brien as Vicki. Amongst the guest cast are Julian Glover as Richard, with Jean Marsh as his sister Joanna.

Sounds good eh? Well, in truth it is ok rather than brilliant. One of the hallmarks of the early years of Doctor Who is the sheer number of historical dramas (by the time we get to the Crusades we've met Marco Polo, the Aztecs, been to revolutionary France and encountered the Romans). Indeed, while Doctor Who is clearly science fiction, stories such as The Crusade are notable for an almost complete absence of science and the emphasis squarely upon action/adventure. Written by the ex-script editor, David Whitaker, The Crusades is a compact, four part adventure which is strong on action - indeed it concentrates on driving the plot forward at times at the expense of characterisation.

A quick glance at the guest stars should indicate the great strength of this story - the acting is first rate, with Julian Glover's somewhat revisionist Richard playing well against Bernard Kay's Saladin. As with all of the early adventures, the one thing that really strikes me is the strength of Ian and Barbara as characters. By this time, both Russell and Hill are extremely comfortable in their respective roles and they are strong enough to carry large chunks of the story by themselves.

All things considered, this never goes beyond being an enjoyable romp. The historical content is somewhat dubious in places and the conclusion is little more than the Doctor saying 'Hey, your shoe lace is undone' which is far from satisfying. But the plot rattles along at a nice pace and, as with all of these missing stories, it is a very pleasant way of losing yourself for 90 minutes.
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2011, 12:05:24 pm »

I've heard this one and I have to say I wasnt overly keen. Though its pretty much standard Doctor Who fare, I think more than anything it was the setting and era that didnt really grip me and the ending was a bit of a letdown. Not a bad story by any means, but definately not that memorable.

Also, in news that might put a smile on your face, Chris, all three episodes of Planet Of The Giants are in the BBC archives. It even got a VHS release a while back but there is no word on a DVD release yet and as far as I know no work has been done on any bonus material or getting anyone who worked on the show in to do a commentary for it, which isnt such good news when you think some are recorded up to 5 or 6 years before a stories release. Thats not to say it wont be out in the next year or two though
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2011, 01:50:51 pm »

I've heard this one and I have to say I wasnt overly keen. Though its pretty much standard Doctor Who fare, I think more than anything it was the setting and era that didnt really grip me and the ending was a bit of a letdown. Not a bad story by any means, but definately not that memorable.

Also, in news that might put a smile on your face, Chris, all three episodes of Planet Of The Giants are in the BBC archives. It even got a VHS release a while back but there is no word on a DVD release yet and as far as I know no work has been done on any bonus material or getting anyone who worked on the show in to do a commentary for it, which isnt such good news when you think some are recorded up to 5 or 6 years before a stories release. Thats not to say it wont be out in the next year or two though

That is brilliant news Smiley and I must confess it had completely slipped under my radar! Time to take a trip on to the Bay of E to see if i can snaffle a VHS copy. Should i be successful, a review will wing its way back on to the site Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2011, 01:54:39 pm »

Glad I could help Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 09:47:05 pm »

While this isnt a bad story in itself, when compared to the dramatic Marco Polo or the comedic Romans as other great historicals of the era, it does seem a little pale in comparison. While the acting is great the story itself lacks that 'something' that made the other historicals so great and memorable. Its often very slow in places I thought and is hindered, as VA said, by a very unsatisfying ending.
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