Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Sir Ian - Knight of Jaffa, Recalls this Long-Thought Lost Historical Serial for a New Generation
on 19 February 2013
N.B. This is a review for the accompanying feature of 'The Crusade'. I plan to review 'The Space Museum' on that serial's DVD page in due course.
During William Hartnell's tenure as the First Doctor, the most notable occurrence was the rotating historical serials to balance out the more science-engrossed space adventures on distant planets, with extraordinary alien species. For me, the early historical serials are the best thing about early 'Who' (apart from the Daleks, that is!), but unfortunately 'The Crusade' is one of those stories that is incomplete following the 1970s' purge of the BBC Archives. Two out of the original four episodes have been found following the 'purge', and all audio soundtracks of the missing episodes have been found and restored to a higher quality.
Following the restoration team's fantastic skills at cleaning up these forgotten episodes, they can now be shown to us; the eager fans, who have waited such a long time to actually experience this serial visually, in stead of settling for the television soundtrack Audio CD with linking narration (which is also a very good accompaniment to your collection!). This particular release includes the newly discovered Episodes 1 and 3 along with an Audio CD of the linking episodes 2 and 4. Also, William Russell provides a specially made introduction and linking notes in character as Ian Chesterson, who is one of the integral characters of this particular story. This summarisation is a great addition, making the serial easier to understand when the audio itself doesn't provide a lot of informative context.
The story itself, as the title suggests, concerns the events of the Third Crusade, in which Richard the Lionheart and his Christian followers, is in the midst of a holy war with Saladin and his Muslim army. Barbara gets captured by the Saracen El Akir, and spends most of the serial attempting to escape his clutches and get back to her companions. Ian is knighted as Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa and embarks on a rescue mission to bring Barbara back from the Saracens' encampment. Meanwhile, The Doctor and Vicki spend their time in the presence of Sir Richard and his sister Joanna, and inevitably get caught up in political intrigue, with some humorous moments along the way regarding Vicki's disguise as a young, adolescent boy. Following this story could become rather complicated if you haven't become familiar with the overall preface of the story, and I personally suggest listening to the television soundtrack (released in 2005 and again in 2010 on Audio CD format, as part of the 'Missing Stories' collection) beforehand in order to acquire more of a back-story to its visual accompaniment.
Overall, this near-completed serial, once thought lost, is a worthy addition to a Whovian's Classic Doctor collection. Please note, however, that this VHS edition of 'The Crusade', with introductory and linking narrative, has subsequently been reformatted onto the 2004 DVD Release of 'Lost in Time: Collection of Rare Episodes'. This leads me to believe that the purchase of the aforementioned 'Lost in Time' DVD is a more practical buy, rather than the VHS release which accompanies 'The Space Museum', (also on Double DVD alongside 'The Chase') on which this review is based.