I think something is a little bit wrong when I enjoyed a 4 part story with half of it missing, more than the previous story with all 6 parts in tact. Moving on, The Crusade isn’t really anything particularly special that we haven’t seen before. However, it does feature some interesting characters.
For example we have Richard the Lionheart, played by Julian Glover; a fantastic actor known for an Indiana Jones villain (so he automatically wins everything in my book), a Star Wars henchman, Aragog in Harry Potter, a Bond villain, the Grand Maester in Game of Thrones and of course Scaroth the Jagaroth in a Tom Baker story, City of Death (, an amazing story). So overall he is a top actor in my opinion. In fact there must be some kind of fan fiction in existence that claims that Richard the Lionheart was a fragmented version of Scaroth with his own ulterior motives.
So despite any possible fan fiction, The Crusade is a pure historical story which depicts, you guessed it, the crusades; or at least the political side of them. Barbara is the first to get split off from the group and has to go into hiding to avoid being caught by El Akir or Saladin. A man named Haroun ed-Din takes pity on her and lets her hide in his house, because he is their enemy too. When Haroun leaves to attack El Akir, he gives Barbara a sharp knife and says that if she and his daughter get cornered by the search party, she is to kill his daughter and then herself, because death would be far preferable to what El Akir would do. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how dark some of these story lines go in 1965.
Unfortunately, as this serial was made a fairly long time ago, things were considered acceptable, which nowadays would be responded to with an uproar. One of these such things is the apparent ‘blacking up’ of actors to fit with their description. I believe that this has been done to the actor portraying Saladin.
Although it is terrible to think that this was a practice carried out in the past, I will try not to let is affect my judgement of the story as a whole. There are some very good things in this story. The Doctor continues to warm in this story, and even possesses the twinkle in his eye to make you wish that he was your grandfather.
Ian is made into an even more prominent hero by going single handed to attempt to save Barbara. He is actually knighted at this point in the story by King Richard himself. The Doctor admits his jealousy of being knighted. Don’t worry Doctor, you get knighted by Queen Victoria in a few hundred years time. The dodgy shopkeeper is also quite a fun addition to the story. I don’t even know if he is gifted with a name but he reminds me of Matt Lucas for some reason.
Although these pure historical stories have a habit of just being about the Doctor and his companions being captured and rescuing each other; I do find myself enjoying them quite a bit. It makes me wish that there were some pure historical stories in the new series. There can’t be aliens at every stop, right? The story ends with the Tardis losing power, or being frozen. Having seen the following story previously, I believe that they are supposed to be frozen in time for a short sequence, but the episode could do a better job or conveying this. Overall, I enjoyed this story more than the previous adventure, but still find that there is little in the way of new plot points or ideas. Barbara gets confused for someone of high power, just like in The Aztecs, and the rest of the team have to make their way back to the Tardis while avoiding being executed. We have seen all of this before. Regardless, The Crusade is still an enjoyable story for a quiet afternoon. I award it five terrible-at-hiding Barbaras out of ten.