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Thoughts on “The Crusade”/”The Daleks’ Master Plan”

I know this is going back quite a bit into the Hartnell years, but I just recently started watching the remaining episodes from the lost stories, and was pleasantly surprised by “The Crusade.”  It was the sixth story of the second season (fourteenth overall).  Only the first and third episodes of this four part story survive, but I was able to hear the audio of the missing episodes.

This episode took place before Barbara and Ian’s departure, so William Hartnell’s Doctor is still traveling with the trio of Barbara, Ian, and Vicki.  It’s one of the many historical stories that took place during the first Doctor’s era. Basically, the travellers arrive in 12th century Palastine, right in the middle of a conflict between King Richard the Lionheart and the Saracen ruler, Saladin.  Ian ends up helping a member of King Richard’s party fight off a Saracen (Ian was always an excellent fighter!), but Barbara is kidnapped by the Saracens, along with another member of King Richard’s party.  This development forces the travelers to join with King Richard in the hopes that he can help them get Barbara back, involving them in what was the start of the Crusades. In the course of the episodes, Ian is knighted and becomes Sir Ian, Barbara pretends to be  King Richard’s sister, Joanna, Vicki pretends to be a boy, and the Doctor becomes a thief (well, he stole some stolen clothes, so he feels that it is not really stealing).

This story was a bit of a surprise to me.  I felt that they actually did a nice job of representing both sides of the conflict.  I thought perhaps the Saracen’s would be the villains and would be portrayed as more barbaric than the British, but I didn’t find that to be the case.  I felt that Saladin was portrayed as an equal to King Richard, not an inferior leader.  He treats his prisoners with respect, and he accepts Richard’s plan for piece, without being foolishly trusting and naive. Both Saldin and Richard wanted peace, it was just impossible for them to work out.  It was interesting that the Doctor promoted King Richard’s peaceful solutions, even though he knew that it would not succeed.

It was interesting to see all the references to previous adventures in this story.  Barbara mentions several past adventures briefly when she is talking to Saladin (“The Web Planet,” “The Romans,” and “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”).  Plus, I can’t help but feel that since this story followed “The Web Planet,” the fact that at one point Ian is covered in honey so that he will be eaten by ants was meant to remind viewers of the Zarbi from the previous adventure.

I wish that all of this episode had survived.  I enjoyed the episodes that I was able to see, and wished that I could see the missing ones.  I loved the team of the Doctor with Barbara, Ian, and Vicki, and I’m glad that most of their episodes survived.  This would be higher on my list than say, “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” of which I’ve seen the three surviving episodes (episodes 2, 5, and 10).  Although I was excited to see Nicholas Courtney in his first Doctor Who appearance (and not as the Brigadier), and I was curious to see how the episodes fit into the story as a whole, I’d rather see more episodes of this story recovered.  Just to say a bit about “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” however, it was nice to see that the Daleks were being used in a different way.  The story seemed like it could have potential, I’m just not quite sure that it would really need to be 12 episodes long!

It was also interesting to see the the Monk from “The Time Meddler” was brought back.  I believe that he was only the second reoccurring villain on the show (the Daleks being the other).  He was definitely the first specific, individual villain to return. He was an interesting character in “The Time Meddler,” so I’d be interested to see more of how he was used.  He was only in episode 10 of the surviving episodes.

From what I’ve gathered this story also has the first companion death: Katarina, who had only been traveling with the Doctor since the last (lost) serial, “The Mythmakers.” This story also contained the first Christmas episode, in which William Hartnell breaks the fourth wall and wishes viewers a merry Christmas, but that episode is one of the lost episodes.

I don’t really have much else to say at this point because it’s rather difficult to form too much of an opinion about a story when you can only see a fourth of it, with no consecutive episodes surviving. Obviously, it’s easier to form an opinion about “The Crusade,” since half of the story survives and you can listen to the missing episodes.


3 responses to “Thoughts on “The Crusade”/”The Daleks’ Master Plan”

  1. Awix

    Audios of Dalek Masterplan are available too (also, and I know it’s not quite the same thing, a novelisation if you’re prepared to shop around for it). I’m curious to hear why you think the Daleks are being used in a different way in this story…

    I get the impression that a consensus has been building for some time that the earlier Hartnell historicals are probably smarter and better acted than most of the SF-themed stories. Certainly John Lucarotti’s scripts impress me more than Terry Nation’s!

    • Eventually, I’m hoping to either hear the audio or read the novelization. Again, I wouldn’t say that I have a complete understanding of the story from the parts I saw, but it seemed to me that the Daleks were exhibiting more cunning in this story by forming the alliance. Up to this point they had pretty much been working alone.

      I agree about preferring John Lucarotti’s scripts (and, actually, Dennis Spooner’s too) to Terry Nation’s. I always feel like Tarry Nation’s scripts tend to have too much filler. For instance, even though I enjoyed “The Daleks,” I felt like it would have been better if it had been an episode less.

      • Awix

        I’m brewing up a piece on Terry Nation, who I find a problematic writer. The thing about TDMP is that the alien delegates are just there to facilitate the plot, they don’t actually seem to be contributing anything to the story beyond a few narrative devices (someone for the Daleks to explain their plan to, and a pretext for the Doctor to sneak into the Dalek base and steal the core early on). My impression is that it gets better as it progresses, but mostly it’s just Nation in sleepwalking mode.

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