Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start...
Day Seventy-Three: The Warlords (The Crusade, Episode Four)
The one down side to listening to this story as a narrated soundtrack, rather than as a recon is that it's very easy to not notice that you've hit the 'shuffle' button. Ten minutes in, I thought it was all a bit muddled and over very quickly, and that's when I realised what I'd done!
A quick reset back to the start and I was off again. Know what, though? It's still a bit muddled and over very quickly! I wonder if it comes back to my complaints from earlier in the story - because I just don't know this period of history, and I don't know the real-life stories of the characters we meet, it seems as though the story just… ends?
What happens to Joanna, for example? Yesterday's plot was constructed largely around her being married off in an attempt to end the war, we get that wonderful blazing row between her and Richard, and then… she's not even in this episode! Did Richard go ahead with the plans to marry her off? Did he end them?
It almost feels as though the entire story has swung off in a different direction for this episode, without really considering what's come before. There's even a moment when Richard tells the Doctor that he's not really angry with him (which is the state we left things in yesterday, and which was a very powerful moment), because he knows that he didn't betray him.
Then the Doctor slips away to the woods, and they're on their way. It has to be said, Ian's bluffing about the Doctor having killed many of his men as a distraction to get them inside the TARDIS was a great one - I think that was probably my favourite part of the episode today.
Overall, I think The Crusade has been a bit hit-or-miss for me. On the one had, you've got some fantastic performances from the guest cast, all of whom are really going for it. The script is rich, and dripping with detail on the period, it's just a shame that it really means nothing to me.
Perhaps most successful, though, is the design of this story. Frankly, it's gorgeous. The sets used for both of the major encampments for the story are stunning, and it's a perfect example of the BBC being far more comfortable with designing sets from history, rather than far-flung alien worlds.
And then we've got that cliffhanger. I hope it looked as good on screen as it sounded, described by William Russell on the soundtrack. It's eerie, and that's always a good sign…
Next Episode: The Space Museum
I've set up a Facebook page for the 50 Year Diary. If you enjoy reading the blog, please do pop over an give it a like! I'm sure I'll be using it to ask questions etc in relation to the marathon!