Written by David Whitaker
Directed by Douglas Camfield
Lots of deals are arranged and Ian gets knighted.
“We dub you Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa”
With this episode I am back to missing episodes. The previous episode, The Lion, still exists, which is good for establishing the look of characters and sets. I’m often unsure of which I prefer, a story to be partial or completely missing. I’ll confess, that while I am grateful for all the work intrepid fans have done, I don’t much care for the telesnap reconstructions. I prefer to listen to the audio and let my mind fill in what details I need. But in the case of stories that partially exist, I want to see the episodes we have. For collecting purposes, I want one or the other (these things all take up space). So with The Crusade, I have the telesnap reconstructions. For those new to Doctor Who, this is basically a photo slide show set to the audio of the episode. For action sequences, there is a text scrawl. In general, this works well, but the picture quality is usually rough and in the cases of long sequences of action, it can be a bit hard to follow. Now that I think of it, I believe I already said some of this during The Reign of Terror. Oh well.
This episode suffers since we cannot see Julian Glover’s wonderful performance as King Richard. Glover commands the screen and truly makes the character come alive. It is powerful in audio, but how much better to actually see it. It would also be nice to see Jean Marsh’s portrayal of Princess Joanna. These issues aside, this is a great episode, just as good as the last one. It has a brisk pace, moving from scene to scene almost effortlessly.
The relationship between King Richard and Saladin is interesting. I stated last time that the King more interested in getting back to England rather than fight this crusade. This is reinforced as he realizes that Saladin’s brother Saphadin has a thing for Barbara. He has even sent her jewels. King Richard cannot understand an opponent who sends jewels to his sister and fruit to him when he fell ill. He decides to pursue peace and sends a letter to Saladin offering Joanna in marriage to Saphadin in return for an end to this battle. To deliver the message is Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa. Ian is the only one The King trusts to take this message. Ian is also to get Sir William and Barbara.
Unfortunately, Barbara has incurred the wrath of El Akir. He was the Saracen that captured her in the previous episode and made to look a fool when it turned out Barbara and William were not Princess Joanna and King Richard. Now he wants his revenge on Barbara. He schemes with the merchant Luigi Ferrigo, who agrees to get Barbara in exchange for an audience with Saladin or Saphadin for exclusive trade rights. Surprisingly, the plan works well enough for El Akir to capture Barbara. However, on the way to El Akir’s palace, Barbara manages to escape.
So, a lot of action, great dialogue and performances. What is interesting about The Doctor in this episode is how little he does. Sure, he gives some advice to King Richard here and there, but his role is little more than comic relief in this episode. Jean Marsh and Julian Glover tackle much of the meatier scenes, while the goings-on in the Saracen camp cover much of the rest. It is fascinating that even at this point in Doctor Who history, The Doctor is still part of the ensemble, not the entire focus of the show. I’m loving this dynamic.