The TARDIS materialises in the middle of the holy war between
Richard the Lionheart and the Saracen leader, Saladin, in
12th-century Palestine. As the Doctor, Vicki, Ian and Barbara
explore their surroundings, they are suddenly caught up in
a Saracen ambush and Barbara is kidnapped...
debatable whether or not you really need to add this double
CD to your collection of Who adventures. Though the
second and fourth episodes do not exist in the BBC's film
and videotape archives, they have already been released -
twice - as audio-only tracks as part of the Lost in Time
DVD collection and, before that, on a CD supplied with the
Crusade/Space Museum VHS box set. The existing first
and third episodes have of course previously been issued on
both VHS and DVD. Indeed, this is the fourth outing for episode
three, The Wheel of Fortune, which was released first
of all on the Doctor Who: The Hartnell Years tape.
main reason for buying this CD is the new material provided
by William Russell, alias Ian Chesterton. His narration, which
was absent from the aforementioned audio-only tracks, explains
what is going on in terms of action during the dialogue-free
bits (though to be frank I had worked most of it out already
with the help of the telesnaps on the BBC's website).
The actor also reminisces about the making of the serial in
a 20-minute interview at the end of the second disc.
my reservations about the necessity of this release, there's
no doubt whatsoever about the quality of the story itself.
Guest stars Julian Glover in the role of King Richard and
Jean Marsh as his sister Joanna provide some truly intense
scenes, while Walter Randall is hissingly evil as the villain
El Akir. Large chunks of writer David Whitaker's dialogue
possess a lyrical Shakespearean quality, especially in the
case of the Earl of Leicester's (John Bay) "we the soldiers"
first and fourth episodes are at a bit of a disadvantage in
the audio medium, since several sections of the woodland scenes
are relatively devoid of dialogue. Ironically, however, Russell's
description of the fight in episode one actually makes it
seem more bloody and brutal than it is on television.
The story comes undone somewhat during the final episode,
in which the characters' disparate and desperate situations
seem to be resolved rather quickly. It's as if someone suddenly
broke the news to Whitaker that he was supposed to be writing
a four-part serial rather than a six-part one. In particular,
the robber Ibrahim (Tutte Lemkow) changes his allegiance with
aside, if you haven't already purchased this classic tale
in one form or another, then I whole(lion)heartedly recommend
this CD. If you do already own it on VHS or DVD, well, then
it's up to you.
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