What I Learned From Doctor Who: “The Crusade” (One, 1965)

Doctor: One (William Hartnell)

Companions: Ian Chesterton (William Russell), Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill), and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien)

Time: The reign of King Richard II of England.

Place: Earth, the “Holy Land”

Episodes: 

1. “The Lion” (Season Two, Episode Twenty-Two)
2. “The Knight of Jaffa” (S2, E23)
3. “The Wheel of Fortune” (S2, E24)
4. “The Warlords” (S2, E25)

Today’s Lessons

1. If these episodes are supposed to evoke the Crusades, championed by King Richard the Lionheart, the Middle East in this serial looks awfully woodsy and England-like…also, the opposing forces look like far Eastern, maybe Mongolian.  I’m instantly confused…

2. The Doctor engages in both fisticuffs and swordplay in this serial!  Pretty spry for an old guy.

3. The Doctor is not above pinching some cloaks from a materials and soft goods merchant to fashion a disguise for himself.  In this serial, Barbara is taken captive by Sarasins, who also believe they have captured King Richard.  In reality, they’ve kidnapped a guardsman posing as the King, who convinces Barbara to pose as his sister the princess.  In the meantime, the Doctor and Vicki search for the real King but stop in a city to procure some disguises.

4.The language in this serial is high-falutin’ and nearly Shakesperean in timber, which makes less sense, given that King Richard was King at least four hundred years before Shakespeare.

5. The second episode, “The Knight of Jaffa,” and the fourth episode, “The Warlords,” are lost episodes, with only audio and still frames from the original film surviving.

6. “The Knight of Jaffa” refers to Ian, who is knighted by King Richard when made an emissary to fetch Barbara and Richard’s man from the Sultan.  Ian is hesitant to kneel before the King, but the Doctor eagerly encourages this ceremony.  In addition, when Ian proves enthusiastic to start his journey to the Sultan, King Richard implies that Ian’s enthusiasm might be motivated by love for Barbara (or for peace).  Without the footage, I don’t know if he meant romantic love or, you know, love for one’s fellow man (or woman).

7. The Doctor later, wistfully, laments, “I almost wish I’d been knighted too.”  Vicki responds with a laugh, “That’ll be the day.”

8. The town chamberlain later finds the Doctor and accuses him (rightly) of stealing clothes from the chamberlain, but the merchant who was trying to sell the clothes accused the chamberlain of stealing the clothes from him, or viceversa.  In order to weasel out of this predicament, the Doctor reasons with both men: how could he have stolen the clothes if they had already been stolen from someone else?  In the end, he convinces the chamberlain to pay the merchant for the missing clothes, which pleases the merchant and befuddles the chamberlain.  The Doctor laughs at his own ingenuity in “getting out of that one,” and Vicki joins in.  She is hereby the companion that enables him the most (so far).

9. What’s more, in the next episode, the merchant brings the Doctor a finer cloak for free and offers to dress “the boy,” i.e. Vicki, who is pretending to be a page.  “Who’s your friend?” Vicki quips to the Doctor’s giggles.  They are a pair!

10. The King’s sister, Princess Joanna, overhears Vicki asking the Doctor why she can’t be a girl again.  In exchange for her confidence, Joanna appeals to the Doctor for help. When the Doctor asks why, of all people, she’s come to him for help, she responds, “Because there’s something new in you, yet something older than the sky itself.  I think I can trust you.”  The Doctor graciously agrees to help.  Interesting!

11. Vicki begins to have a veritable panic attack when the Doctor suggests that she will be better off in Joanna’s protection.  Vicki cries that the TARDIS is her only home now, and that she fears the Doctor will abandon her, especially when Ian and Barbara have gone in the manner they have.  The Doctor assures her that he will do no such thing, suggesting only that he might be caught up in court intrigue, which could be very dangerous.  He then embraces Vicki quite affectionately.  It’s official: Vicki is the Doctor’s surrogate granddaughter.  And One is not as grumpy as he pretends to be.

12. There is an explosive scene in the third episode, in which Princess Joanna is clued into her brother, the King’s, plan to marry her to the Sultan, which causes her to rail against him and threaten to entreaty the Pope over his head.  The King then accuses the Doctor of betraying his confidence, even though the Doctor expressly denied giving Joanna any clue as to the King’s plan.  This is after the Doctor and a Lord General in the King’s Army, the Lord of Leicester, had a similarly explosive debate in which the Doctor accused the Lord of having no brain and only the stuff of violence when the King wanted peace.  The acting is quite good all around in these scenes.

13. The King later admits that he knows the Doctor did not betray his plans, and that it was the Earl of Leicester who gave away the secret, but the King does not want to confront the Earl on the grounds of needing his fighting prowess against the Sultan’s forces.  The King indicates that he wishes more than anything to look upon Jerusalem; the Doctor assures him it will be so, though he later tells Vicki that “history must take its course,” as Richard is about to embark upon a battle he cannot win.  The Doctor encourages his and Vicki’s return to the ship (Vicki now dressed like a noblewoman of the time), but she whines that she does not want to go.  The King informs them that they have his favor.  The King also speaks with the formal “we” and “us” in reference to himself.

14. At the end of the serial, after Ian has escaped being tortured by ants in the desert, and Barbara has successfully averted an Arab warlord and the Sultan, the Doctor and Vicki are confronted by the Earl of Leicester, who threatens to execute the Doctor as a traitor to King Richard.  Suddenly, Ian appears and makes claim as the Knight of Jaffa to possess the right to execute the Doctor after his “friends” were set upon in the wood, implying that the Doctor was responsible for this ambush. The Doctor asks for a last request: to look upon Jaffa once more.  This request is granted by the Earl, so the Doctor spirits away to the TARDIS, followed in close pursuit by Vicki, Barbara, and Ian. When the TARDIS disappears before the Earl, he laments poor Ian, reasoning that the noble knight was captured by the brigand Doctor.  When Ian is aboard the TARDIS, he laughs that he might have gone through with the execution under the right circumstances.  When Barbara protests the joke, the Doctor, as amused as Ian is, spouts, “Oh, why don’t you just go have a cup of tea or something?”

“The Crusade” was even less revealing to the overall mythology and less interesting than the last serial and was slower moving, particularly given the missing episodes. Aside from the glimpse into the Doctor and Vicki’s special bond, there was nothing much going on in terms of a plot, even given the historical perspective of the story.  All in all, it might be the weakest serial I’ve seen to date.  It didn’t even include too many amusing Doctor-related behaviors.  On to the next one, I suppose.

Next serial: “The Space Museum” (Season 2, Episodes 26-29).

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · January 31, 2015

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