Saturday, March 30, 2013

All Hail Sir Ian of Jaffa!


The Crusade

First Doctor  - 14th Serial

4 Episodes, Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki, as before

Summary: Upon materialization, they quickly run afoul of Saracen warriors chasing European Crusaders. In the process of saving a few Crusaders (including King Richard), the Saracens make off with Barbara, and a loyal Knight claiming to be Richard.  They are exposed as frauds at the court of Saladin, but held because Barbara's beauty entrances Saladin.  Meanwhile, Ian, Vicki and the Doctor meet up with King Richard, and work to convince him to help rescue Barbara.  Political battles among both Saladin's court and King Richard's abound, and the  companions have a difficult task before them to navigate the war and the politics.  Barbara plays on her wild adventures thus far to become a veritable Scheherazade, telling the tales of classic (but future, from Saladin's perspective) literature and the TARDIS in return for her life.

The Doctor: He takes delight in stealing the clothes, not, I think because he is a thief  but because it's a challenge.  He shows himself to be a peace loving man, and an adept trickster and charlatan.  And I don't mean charlatan as a bad thing - he lives on deception of many types, and that's ok.

Companions: As Before, Barbara maintains her composure extremely well, her dignity and grace astound. When captured by the Saracen, she remains a true lady, a figure to admire and look up to.  I continue to be astounded by Barbara's portrayal.  Vicki is forced to dress as a boy to avoid capture, and does a pretty good job of not being a victim in this episode.  She's stronger here than before, and I appreciate that, but she shows some insecurities at being the newcomer to the group.  She's afraid of being left behind, and I hope she gets a chance to see that the Doctor isn't like that.  Ian is knighted as Sir Ian of Jaffa, and clearly is surprised.  He performs admirably, likewise, brave and steadfast, and even gains the respect of Saladin.

Continuity: This Serial did not feature the materialization sound they've been using, which is more or less the noise they'll use from now on.  The noise here was very disconcerting, and I;m glad they ditched it.  Also, there's no mention at this time of the Wardrobe on the TARDIS that I know we will see in future episodes - the Doctor and Vicki have to steal clothes, because they don't have any 12th century money, either.  

Rating: Enjoy it.  I really liked this Serial, the plot and pacing were good, but there was nothing truly stand out in this one.  It falls just short of Marco Polo, but is one of the better historical Serials.  The Doctor and the companions are a little upstaged by the politics of the Crusades themselves, but that is barely a speck of negative argument against this show.  The most poignant thing for me was to see that Saladin was treated very respectfully, while Richard was portrayed with little compassion.  Historically accurate, but it's nice not to see revisionist "our side was the good guys" propaganda sneaking in.