The King's Demons
|Dates||Mar. 27, 1965 -
Apr. 17, 1965
With William Hartnell, William Russell,
Jacqueline Hill, Maureen O'Brien.
Written by David Whitaker. Script-edited by Dennis Spooner.
Directed by Douglas Camfield. Produced by Verity Lambert.
Synopsis: The Doctor and company aid a wounded King Richard the Lionheart
after Barbara is captured by Emir El Akir, and discover enemies both with
Richard's court and from the armies of Saladin.
|Note: Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the BBC video release The Crusade & The Space Museum, with narrative links by William Russell. Episode three is also is available on the BBC Video The Hartnell Years. The reconstruction of episodes 2 and 4 are available at Missing Doctor Who Reconstructions & Audios.|
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 13/11/98
Undoubtedly one of the gems of the Hartnell era, The Crusade is what a good, solid Doctor Who tale should be. From the opening moments, the atmosphere of the story is felt as Barbara is kidnapped in the forest, setting the scene for more character development for the history teacher.
Coupled with highly charged performances from a versatile guest cast, Julian Glover as King Richard the Lionheart and Jean Marsh as Joanna come off particularly well; not to mention William Hartnell, who seems to relish every opportunity he can to spout new dialogue and you have a near perfect Doctor Who tale.
David Whitaker`s scripts give a fascinating insight into Arabic culture without managing to be racist. Barry Newbery`s sets are superb and Douglas Camfield`s direction assured. Add to this some wonderful dialogue from all parties, and you have a very adult storyline here, aimed (at the time of it`s original broadcast) for children, showing just how far Doctor Who as a series had come in such a short amount of time.
The only shortcomings are in the somewhat cliched characterisations of William Russell`s Ian and Maureen O`Brien`s Vicki, but this is a minor quibble, when compared to Doctor Who as a story in its own right.
"The Wheel of Fortune" favours Who Fans by Matt Michael 21/7/99
The Crusade is undoubtedly one of the very best Doctor Who stories. Even before the welcome return of "The Lion", the quality of the script could be seen in "The Wheel of Fortune", probably the strongest episode of the four. However, with the reappearance of the first episode and the fortuitous discovery of telesnaps for episodes two and four, for the first time it is possible to appreciate the serial as a whole.
David Whitaker's script is excellent, perhaps the best the series ever had. The dialogue shines throughout, particularly that of Richard and Joanna, and their confrontation in "The Wheel of Fortune" is an exchange of Shakespearean standard. It is doubly fortunate that the dialogue is so outstanding because the plot is rather slight: the Doctor and his companions are drawn along by events, and, because Ian is trapped on film for an episode, Barbara is the only regular to see much action. However, the historic events spotlighted by Whitaker are of sufficient interest to hold the audience's attention.
Of course a good script alone does not guarantee great television, and both Douglas Camfield and Barry Newberry must be congratulated for realising The Crusade so well. The design, as with most historically-based stories, is extremely good, with none of the listless backdrops that characterise many of the sixties space-based serials. The costumes are convincing and the brief film inserts help add a sense of scale to the production. Most importantly of all, the acting is generally excellent, with the regulars, and especially the wonderful Jacqueline Hill, turning in their usual good performances, and the guest stars, notably Julian Glover and Jean Marsh, relishing their dialogue. The villain of the piece, El Akir, with a Blofeld scar across his eye, is a masterpiece of casual evil. The cliffhanger to "The Wheel of Fortune", with El Akir telling Barbara, "the only pleasure left for you is death - and death is very far away", is one of the most genuinely frightening in the show's history.
Even the blacked-up actors are forgivable in a serial which treats Arab culture with such integrity and sensitivity. The Crusade is arguably the best 'Doctor Who' serial ever produced. And it easily deserves a 10/10 score. The BBC video release of the two existing episodes, plus the remastered soundtrack for episodes two and four (which works best alongside the telesnaps in DWM), is well worth the price tag of £19.99, even despite the fact that it's packaged with The Space Museum (a story so inferior in every way that you wonder why they didn't abandon the sci-fi serials instead of the historicals).
As a footnote, it's worth pointing out that the novelisation of The Crusade, released as "Doctor Who and the Crusaders", is superb and well worth searching out.
Shakespeare's Lost Tragedy by Peter Niemeyer 26/6/01
Wow. I cannot believe The Crusades was written for a children show. It has so many sophisticated adult aspects. I only read the novelization in my teen years, and I have no idea how faithful the novelization is, but I remember not being very fond of the story. If the novelization is in any way faithful to the story, then it's no wonder I didn't like it. I just wasn't old enough to appreciate it.
My highest kudos go to the dialog. It was so poetic, so Shakespearean in its form that I was mesmerized by several scenes. Julian Glover and Jean Marsh are two of the strongest guest stars up to this point in the program's history. (And given Glover's contribution to City of Death, he may be the best guest star of all time.) The plot surrounding Richard's plan to have Joanna marry Saphadin wasn't terribly complex, but the dialog and characterization layered many levels into this seemingly simple storyline. And the Doctor and Vicki were woven into it brilliantly.
Ian's quest to recover Barbara was less poetic in nature, but it was very action-oriented, which was a good counterpoint to the more cerebral storyline of Richard's court. And the characters that Barbara encountered were given such nice back stories. I found myself despising El Akir, not so much for what he did when he was on screen, but for what we heard about him from others.
I really have nothing negative to say about this story. I was just so thoroughly entertained by the entire story...what more could I ask for?
One Thing I'd Do Differently: I'm so sorry, but I really can't think of anything I'd do differently.
One Thing I Wouldn't Touch: There are so many things to chose from, but if I can list only one, I'd list how Barbara revealed herself to save Safia. This self sacrifice really elevated her heroism to a new level. (The Doctor's speech to Vicki about how he wouldn't leave her is a close second.)
Would I Like To Watch This Serial Again?: Absolutely!
Highly theatrical by Tim Roll-Pickering 12/10/01
This is a rather strange review because it is based on a combination of the BBC Video release and the Loose Cannon reconstruction, complete with each release's linking narration by William Russell and Julian Glover respectively.
I can well remember the day I first heard about the rediscovery of The Lion (the first episode of this story) because I spent part of it reading up for a first year history module on the Crusades! And I suspect that my choice of that module may well have been influenced by the already existing third episode The Wheel of Fortune. Consequently this story is exceptionally difficult to review objectively.
The Crusade is perhaps the unluckiest of all the stories with missing episodes as it it the only story in its season to be missing anything at all (other than The Time Meddler which is missing a few seconds in the last episode). Normally I would be wary of the view that the best sixties stories are the incomplete ones - certainly there's little to suggest that The Reign of Terror is superior to The Aztecs. But the surviving episodes alone of The Crusade show the story to be exceptionally strong in terms of dialogue, design, direction, music and co-ordination of all these elements. Indeed the third episode, The Wheel of Fortune is perhaps the strongest of the entire second season. More so than any other story from Doctor Who's second season, The Crusade is successful in combining the various different elements in the story's make up so that they all complement each another, rather than undermining one another as can often destroy a story, such as in the case of The Web Planet.
David Whitaker's script is one of the most theatrical ever written for the series. Each line of dialogue is carefully crafted, with the result that the interactions between the characters come across naturally and each character is a delight, whether they are a minor player such as the market trader Ben Daheer (wonderfully portrayed by Reg Pritchard) or one of the leading characters such as Saladin (Bernard Kay) or Richard the Lionhear (Julian Glover). Glover is one of the strongest actors to have appeared in the series so far and brings to Richard III a dominance that shows the king at his most majestic. The scenes at court are wonderful, as the Doctor seeks to weave his way through the various intrigues and confrontations that arise in order to find a way to rescue Barbara and then get everyone away. Of particular delight is the scene in The Knight of Jaffa where he successfully turns a confrontation with both Ben Daheer and the Chamberlain over his stolen clothes to his advantage.
The story also has its serious points, showing the weariness of war that hangs on both Richard III and Saladin. Each is portrayed as a human being who merely desires peace but has to deal with the upsets and intrigues within their respective courts. Each has their own trouble makers, such as the Earl of Leicester or El Akir, who succeed in only upsetting matters further for their leaders and each has a sibling who has reason to object to their brother's conduct of events.
The story is surprising adult and mature, presenting both Crusader and Saracen culture in a sophisticated manner and showing harsh scenes such as the harem or Haroun giving Barbara his knife to kill both his daughter and then herself rather than be discovered. Richard's supposedly incestuous relationship with his sister Joanna is toned down substantially but this is no simple drama for children.
The Crusade is the true highlight of Doctor Who's second season and a story that deserves to be enjoyed again and again. 10/10
Watching this story through a mixture of two different tapes can be a little disconcerting at times but fortunately it is easy to follow. The reasons for both releases having linking narration only are understandable and it is ironic that the BBC release has "The Knight of Jaffa" narrating whilst the LC version has "The Lion". William Russell's reprisal of the role of Ian is good and he manages to successfully convey the image of an old companion reminiscing about old time. Julian Glover's narration is given in the third person but is also notable because the actor reminisces about his time playing both Richard III in this story and also playing Scaroth in City of Death as well as providing some historical background about the former character. Each narration is successful in not only bridging the gap between the episodes not on the tape but also in ensuring that the viewer is not left asking questions afterwards. Both releases are highly recommended. BBC 9/10 Loose Cannon 9/10
A Review by Michael Hickerson 13/2/02
The Doctor Who world got a nice surprise a couple of years ago when the long-missing first episode of The Crusade was returned to the BBC Archives.
And while it didn't generate as much buzz and excitement as the discovery of all four episodes of Tomb of the Cybermen (I think part of this was that part three had been commercially released as part of the Hartwell Years collection tape), it did create a good deal of excitement among Who fans. After all, any time that an episode if found that you haven't seen, there's going to be some interest in it.
The BBC quickly turned the story over to the Restoration Team who worked their usual magic and got the story quickly released onto video -- along with a CD that contained the missing two episodes audio so that devoted fans, like myself, could experience the story in its entirety. Of course, the BBC also slapped an extra high cost onto this set, so that I basically shelled out $35 for one new episode of Who, but that's neither here nor there.
That said, I must say that the discovery of The Crusade's first episode just left me hoping the other two episodes would turn up at some point. I'd gladly shell out my hard earned money to see this complete story.
Outside of The Aztecs, it may be the best Hartwell historical story. (Bear in mind, I've not experienced much of Marco Polo, a story about which I hear GREAT things). David Whitacker's script takes the TARDIS crew, separates them and then puts them into a series of interesting and unique situations -- just as The Aztecs did. Whether it's following the Doctor's dabbling in the politics of the king's court or seeing Barbara's plight at being turned into a slave or Ian's becoming a soldier, all of the storylines are interesting and compelling. Of the early Who writers, it is David Whittaker who seems to have the strongest grasp on what makes these characters tick and he consistently delivers.
But the icing on the cake of this story is the supporting cast. In terms of supporting actors, it's hard to argue with Jean Marsh and Julian Glover, both of whom give superb performances here. Seeing the King's struggles with his role and what he must do in order to create lasting peace is interesting. On the other hand, there are those who will argue with the apparent political correctness of the Arabs in the story and their portrayal. I can understand that it can be upsetting in our day and age to see British actors who are made-up to appear Arabic, but considering the era this story was made, I don't find it that objectionable. And while the Arabs aren't always presented as sympathetic, you have to remember that for the dramatic conflict of the story, they are considered the villains, and must act as such.
Overall though, The Crusade is a welcome addition to the Who library. After two less than stellar Who stories -- The Romans and The Web Planet -- it's nice to see Who get back on track with a solid and enjoyable story. It's not quite a classic, but it's very close.
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 3/7/02
I count this as the best Historical that Doctor Who did. It's the most convincing (what a change from the last one - Web Planet) and it is the most enjoyable to watch. With the discovery of Episode 1 there has finally been unearthed something of real merit - showing that Doctor Who could do serious drama as well as far-out Sci-Fi. The Crusade is a masterpiece in political intrigue, and bold plotting. It is a showcase for some of the greatest actors and actresses to appear on the programme. It shows how great the 1st Doctor was. It also shows that even though we don't have 2 parts of this story it can still be enjoyed wonderfully well, with a little bit of thought and imagination as to how to present the missing 2 parts (I refer to Ian Chesterton's Diary entries, performed masterfully by William Russell).
I was babysitting one night for my Sister. I was single at the time, and thought it was noble of me to let them go to the pictures. The 2 kids were put to bed, night time stories (Mr Impossible and Sleeping Beauty if I recall) were read - and I hoped that I would hear no more from them. You see that very day I had acquired a copy of The Crusade 1 & 3, with narration inbetween by Ian Chesterton himself. I waited half an hour, listening attentively for any movement from the bedrooms. When I was absolutely sure there was none I inserted the video into the machine, lights dimmed, to watch The Crusade.
Maybe it was the atmosphere such a setting generated. Maybe it was the power of the storytelling. Maybe it was the sheer joy of watching a new Doctor Who story for me. Whatever it was I sat utterly transfixed throughout. I completely forgot where I was, and it was only when William Russell wandered back to where he had come from, and the video finished, that I thought I'd better check the kids again. They were fine, they usually were, they had stayed blissfully asleep whilst I had been with The Doctor, Vicki, Barbara, Ian and Richard The Lionheart.
It's memories like this, and there is a fair few more relating to other stories, that are what I like about DW. I trusted in it's magical storytelling power that night a few years ago, to entertain me whilst I was on my own. I was rewarded a hundredfold, and that happens time and time again with this marvelous programme.
I've watched The Crusade again recently. It didn't quite have the same magical impact, but it was still wonderful. I suppose I captured the ideal time and place in which to watch The Crusade that night. It remains a wonderful memory and it remains my absolute favourite 1st Doctor story. 10/10
A Review by Finn Clark 23/5/06
A marvel this, that one would not believe
Had one's own eyes not seen it on the screen.
I knew it in its Target-published form;
Novelisations rarely ever matched
The skill of David Whitaker and his pen
A-dipped in poetry and high romance.
However watching this was I surprised.
I played the DVD and there did see
In Shakespeare's tongue, a play of Doctor Who.
'Twas like some kind of challenge; ne'er before
Had I imagined such a thing could be
Yet so it was, with dialogue that sang,
With rhythm, style and language unsurpassed,
With imagery to soar like angels' wings
Transforming even soldiers into bards.
Warmongering fools, as dubbed by Hartnell, still
Did please our ears with poetry on screen.
In fairness I admit one further stab
Has since been made at Shakespeare's verse in Who -
The Trials of Tara, penned by Paul Cornell
And Virgin-published through a Decalog:
'Twas funny, but a limping string of gags
Whose rhythm only bore resemblance faint
To Shakespeare's verse... pentameter, my arse.
However this Crusade did hit the mark,
I never cringed, but in its stead admired
The brave imagination and the skill
That crafted lines like this for what in truth
Could be a weekly treadmill of a show.
Such language could alone have made this great,
But furthermore its story is unique,
In quality and crazy shit alike
Both reaching such a pitch that modern minds
Might reel in wonder, both at Whitaker
And what the sixties saw as children's fare.
Part one, The Lion, feels a trifle slow,
But after that it hardly touches ground
With danger, death, misogny and knives;
Our Barbara wonders should she cut a throat
While El Akir, the villain, gets his kicks
Inflicting rape and degradation foul
Upon his womenfolk, then when he's bored
A-butchering at whim to start anew.
"The only pleasure left for you is death,"
He says, while good King Richard in the script
Did have incestuous subtext with Joanna
Until Bill Hartnell had it taken out.
All hail this crazy bastard Whitaker,
To put this in a children's teatime slot,
Before The Space Museum and The Chase.
The history has points of interest too.
King Richard isn't unrevisionist,
In character at times a spoiled brat,
Which well described the real King Richard too:
At war and schemes a master, yet with men
A diplomatic fool and full of foes,
Whose name throughout the Middle East did live
In infamy for seven cent'ries thence.
Of course the ethnic side presents a snag.
Arabian Central Casting this is not.
Worse yet, this draws attention to itself
By virtue of the story's racial themes.
And Weng-Chiang gets bashed... this story too
Caucasian actors casts in place of those
Who could have played authentically its roles.
This is a shame, and yet I like the script,
Which has great sympathy for Arab views
And Saladin does show in better light
Than reckless childish Richard Lionheart.
Spookily the real King Richard bore
To Julian Glover some resemblance,
The image on his tomb in Fontevrault, France,
Does bear some witness to this claim of mine.
At six foot four, fair-haired and handsome too,
He captured hearts and minds despite his faults.
Overall this story simply rules.
It's bloody dangerous, with shocking death
And irony, as young Sofia runs
To fetch the dagger that so nearly could
Have by the hand of Barbara slit her throat.
Part three, The Wheel of Fortune, also has
An awesome confrontation 'twixt the king
And Marsh's fierce Joanna, which deserves
The rich Shakespearian language it employs.
Part four, The Warlords, is a tragic loss
To TV archives, yet its audio
Kicks arse - especially the desert bandit.
Astonishing this is, in every way.
Again the Hartnell era breaks the rules,
Again unequalled through all Doctor Who.
A Review by Ben Kirkham 20/10/08
I'm quite astonished at how good this story is. Let's face it; season two doesn't exactly grip you, does it? Planet of Giants is entertaining but hugely flawed, The Dalek Invasion of Earth is dull and cliched, The Rescue is a good but slight character piece, The Romans is a comedy romp, The Web Planet is an ambitious but odd tale that strays a bit too far, The Space Museum is completely flat, The Chase is so bad it's brilliant, and The Time Meddler is a pleasant runaround. So season two is missing a substantial tale. The Crusade is it.
All aspects of production are first class. Dudley Simpson's music is cultured and calm, Douglas Camfield's direction is controlled and dramatic, all of the guest performances are polished. But the best thing is David Whitaker's incredible script. It is pure poetry, powerful and precise yet also sparkling with wit and intrigue.
The TARDIS crew in this story are all excellently portrayed: The Doctor is at his best here, delighting in stealing the clothes from Ben Daheer's stall, winding up the Chamberlain, advising Richard and doing his best to stay out of trouble, but not succeeding. Ian gets a smaller role than usual, but gets to show his heroic side after King Richard knights him, and overcoming all obstacles to rescue Barbara. Barbara gets the largest role, dragged through hell and back as the evil El Akir kidnaps her. Unfortunately, Vicki is again sidelined but has fun as the Doctor's ward.
The guest cast are extraordinary. Julian Glover gives an incredible performance as Richard, and paints a picture of a complex man that often lets his heart rule his head as he struggles to find peace. On the other side is the fascinating Saladin. Soft-spoken but with a subtle hint of menace, he is by no means the villain of the piece. Bernard Kay plays him as cultured and calm, and his affection for Barbara marks him out as a noble man who believes his actions are right, just like Richard. He is markedly different from his blustering brother, Saphadin. Jean Marsh also does a good job as Joanna, a compassionate woman placed into a difficult situation.
The real villain here is Saladin's Emir, El Akir. He's prepared to throw away his position in Saladin's court because Barbara has embarrassed him, and he seeks revenge. He is cruel and callous, incredibly inadequate and he makes it his aim to find Barbara to get payback for a minor incident. How pathetic. When his end does come, it is justified.
There are some wonderful touches of high drama, such as when Haroun explains his family's plight to Barbara, and he tells her to kill his daughter and herself if they are found. The third episode, in particular, sees the most dramatic events, involving a ferocious argument between The Doctor and the Earl of Leicester, played to perfection by William Hartnell and John Bay. The scene between Richard and Joanna also crackles with intensity. But mixed in with this are the wonderful comedy touches, usually involving the Doctor and Vicki at court. Vicki's disguise causes the courtiers some confusion, as does the delightful predicament involving Ben Daheer and the Doctor.
The Crusade is wonderful, an example of how highly the series can reach when it puts its mind to it, and a shining example of the historicals at their best.
A Review by Paul Williams 13/7/19
The Crusade is a masterpiece in storytelling. Twenty supporting characters each make meaning contributions through rich dialogue laced with humour. Each individual has their own motivations and history. Sequences involving Ibrahim, the Chamberlain, and Haroun add depth to a fast-moving plot.
Unusually for this era, exposition and recaps are minimal. Walter Randall's El-Akir surpasses his performance as Ixta, and Julian Glover is outstanding as King Richard. The warring factions are contrasted perfectly without any preference shown. This perfectly created world is largely unaffected by the presence of the time travellers, except for Barbara's sacrifice triggering the murder of El-Akir.
It is not really a story about the Crusades but one about the people affected by the Crusades from leaders to merchants and thieves. An outstanding example of historical drama, only lessened by the unavailability of two episodes and by the unlikelihood of Ian being able to follow Barbara to Lydia, via Saladin's palace, and return in the same time as the Doctor's short stay with the Lionheart.
One Knight In Jaffa by Matthew Kresal 20/5/21
The pure historical is one of the things that sets the Hartnell era apart from the rest of Doctor Who, something I've talked about before, most notably in my review of The Aztecs. The show's second season began experimenting with the format, firstly with the comedy historical The Romans and, later still, the introduction of the pseudo-historical with The Time Meddler. Then, coming off six weeks of giant insects and as an alien as a world as the show yet depicted, the TARDIS crew found themselves back in time again. Only this, they were in the time in the era of the Crusades.
David Whittaker, the show's original script editor, returned to write his last story for this opening era of the programme. In doing so, he crafted a four-episode pseudo-Shakespearean drama, a tale of two different leaders and their respective cultures both tiring of conflict between one another. Into this moment of powers ill at ease, our travelers arrive, quickly split up with Barbara falling among the Arab Saracens as the Doctor, Ian and Vicki find themselves with Richard the Lionhart and his sister Joanna.
Whittaker's story features plenty of court intrigue, to be sure, but also moments of both action and humor. There's a theatrical quality to the dialogue, meant in the best possible way, drawing on a rich tradition, even then, of historical drama. It's a story, by nature of its setting, that could easily have been reduced to a 1960s vision of Clash of Civilizations thesis so popular among those on the right-wing, as demonstrated by works such as Frank Miller's 300 and its cinematic adaptation by Zach Snyder. Instead, Whittaker chooses to take the opposite approach. He treats both sides of the conflict as human beings, capable of acts of nobility but also foolish selfishness. It's a refreshing and even modern approach to telling such stories, something all the more remarkable given the passage of some 55 years since its first broadcast.
Indeed, in retrospect, it feels like the series' original head writer had come back to remind his successor, Dennis Spooner, of how the series should approach history. Yes, there are moments of humor here, but not reduced to the campiness that Spooner had gone to in The Romans. Nor, for that matter, to the depths of seriousness that John Lucarroti (and an uncredited Donald Tosh) would go to in The Massacre the following season. Whittaker finds a middle ground, one that suits the serial and series perfectly. What a shame it is that Spooner would forget the lesson soon enough.
It's also well-made for its era. Douglas Camfield directed his first full serial here, and many of the hallmarks of his later direction are already present here, from the sense of pacing to the well-staged filmed sequences. The cast, too, is first-rate, drawing such impressive names as Julian Glover and Jean Marsh as Richard and his sister, both drawing on Shakespearean experience to bring the story to life. Indeed, Glover had just a few years earlier been part of the BBC's epic live Shakespeare series An Age of Kings (directed by his future City of Death director Michael Hayes). It's something that perhaps shows off the kind of talent that the series, even at this early stage, could attract.
The Crusades has one major downside and one where this shows its age all too much. Namely, in the casting of Caucasian actors as Arabs, made-up in a way all too obvious today. One can't ignore the seemingly slapdash make-up put on the faces of actors such as Bernard Kay and Walter Randall, no matter how good their performances are (especially in the case of Randall as the sinister El Akir). As strong as the performances and the writing are, they neither excuse it nor stop it from standing out like a sore thumb to viewers now. The use of brownface, not the first or the last time Classic Who would do such a thing, is something that roots this story as being so much a product of the mid-1960s, and not for the better.
We're also trying to judge this story in an incomplete state. Notably for this season, half of The Crusades is currently lost to us. Revisiting this story for this review, I couldn't help but lament the wiped episodes of this story and what we've lost. And can only hope that if and when the time comes, the animation reconstruction will do this story justice. Even if, perhaps, we also note how much a product of its time that it is along the way.