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The Crusade and The Space Museum

Video review by Neil Lambess

The first thing that struck me about the British version of The Crusade and The Space Museum boxed set was the lavish packaging which reminded me immediately of a CD-Rom box made out of heavy-duty cardboard with a lovely waxy feel to the surface... stunning.

Upon lifting the lid, we find a CD in a standard jewel case, a TARDIS key-ring (!), four black and white postcards, and the videotape itself. The CD contains a foldout booklet that details the audio and visual recovery and reconstruction very accurately, with the odd exception that mine and Paul's part in the recovery is completely missing. This is doubly odd given that, of the nine people that the booklet's write-up goes on to gives “special thanks”, at least four appear to have no connection whatsoever with the recovery or restoration! (I'm not sounding bitter and twisted, am I?) The quality of the CD is surprisingly good thanks to the sound engineering involved. Very nice.

On to the videotape itself, and the inside cover features a list of currently missing episodes and a brief history of recent finds. (The Australasian version doesn't have a cover for the videotape, and the information from the UK version's video cover instead appears on the inside lid). The bit about The Lion's recovery is almost totally inaccurate but at least Paul and I are alluded to this time (hey, I'm not sounding bitter and twist... Oh, sorry). The good news is that this has been amended for the Australasian release, thanks to the quick intervention of Steve Roberts at the BBC once the omission was noticed.

What of the tape itself? First off, we are greeted by William Russell in character as Ian Chesterton standing in Ian Levine's study, which is quite funny, as Ian was the person who said on The Missing Years documentary that it was totally unfeasible that any more missing episodes would turn up! (Keep saying this, Ian - some more might turn up!) Sadly, I don't think the “appearance” of Ian Chesterton works. It feels patronising in the extreme and seems unfair to William Russell's stature in the history of the programme.

Chesterton's reminiscence about the singing stones (mentioned in David Whitaker's novelisation of The Crusade) and the events of the novel The Witch Hunters will completely screw up any arguments about what is or isn't canon (won't it, Mr Preddle?!) The overall result is very cloying and assumes that the purchaser is about 12 years old. Apart from this, stylistically it doesn't work to go from Chesterton recalling the events of the story to the opening titles of the television series. How much better to have had William Russell recalling anecdotes from the making of the episodes and a ‘straight’ narration of the events in the missing episodes. Sigh.

As for the story, despite The Aztecs being my favourite Hartnell story, I'm not a great fan of historical Who. However, I quite like The Crusade. Its strengths are in its realistic portrayal of the Saracens as three-dimensional characters, particularly Saladdin, and it dares to suggest that Richard the Lionheart was a bit of a cad. Yes, there are even hints of an incestuous relationship between Richard and Joanna. The sets are fantastic and the acting and direction is at times outstanding. In fact, it's the maturity of the story that shows up the Chesterton introduction as being cheesier than what was probably intended.

The amazing thing is that having seen episode one and listened to episode two, the third part is certainly a hell of a lot better than I've thought in the past. It really did suffer by being the third act on its own, in isolation until now.

Sadly, the Restoration Team was unable to bring its full resources to bear on episode one, but nevertheless Steve Roberts and his team have done a magnificent job in toning down the tramline scratches, and cleaning up the print - trust me, I saw the original! Despite this, I can't help but feel that this release is a rush job done up in glossy packaging to capitalise on the worldwide media frenzy - a little more time and effort would have resulted in a better tribute to a great story. Ironically, a full set of telesnaps was recently recovered for The Crusade. Personally, I can't wait until Bruce Robinson matches these with the audio recordings to produce a telesnap reconstruction of the whole story. It will be truly superb and do this story fitting and proper justice. Sorry, Auntie Beeb, nothing personal, but my endorsement goes to Bruce Robinson!

Coupled with The Crusade is of course The Space Museum, another superb restoration. So superb in fact that it really shows up the painted backdrops and small sets. In fact, we even see shadows and creases on the hills and sky! This isn't of course the Restoration Team's fault, but that of the original production team. I can't help but think that my nth generation blobby bootleg copy that I've had for years made the production values seem better! Of course, I couldn't tell that those blobs were hills and sky... come to think of it, the blob I thought was Hartnell was actually Vicki!

All kidding aside, The Space Museum is always regarded as a lot of corridor running and not much else. Well, did you know that it's got Daleks in it, or that one of those Daleks has a Hartnell in it? Hmm, yes, hmmm, yes my boy, hmmm, yes it does... or did you know that it features that evil bounty hunter Boba Fett hmm yes, what about that, hmm in the form of actor Jeremy Bulloch, who features quite heavily in the episodes, playing Tor. Hmm, yes, quite, fetch me a glass of shoes, er, Chesterfield, would hmm, you her shoes, er, glass, umm - or that it features Hartnell's most fluff-ridden perfomance ever! Hmm, what, hmm, yes. Victor.

Actually, episode one isn't too bad, and is one of the few episodes to actually deal with time paradoxes in the show's history. Things get bogged down in the remaining three episodes and we get lots of naff corridor running - although the Moroks' interrogation of Hartnell is quite fun (sigh, oh God, I just can't do it... Why in the name of hell did they keep this and dump The Celestial Toymaker! Sob! There's no justice!).

Finally it ends, and we should be thankful I suppose that it does exist (and that it ends). After the credits roll, we pop back to Ian Levine's study to spy on Chesterton reading some books and polishing a suit of armour while the restoration credits roll. Here's where the odd bit happens and fate steps in with astounding synchronicity and makes the whole damn thing worthwhile. Once more, special thanks are given on the credits to six different people. Again, four of the names appear to have no connection whatsoever to the episode's recovery (by this stage I am aware that my fairly sizeable contribution is going to get no mention and I am proved totally correct in this assumption). I am suddenly shocked to see Paul Scoones' name on the credits. Not because he is mentioned and I am not, but because I suddenly realise what is The Space Museum's saving grace. I also suddenly realise how totally, utterly, Tom Bakeringly, stonkingly fantastic it is that Paul gets his name on the end credits of the official release of The Space Museum. It is so incredibly appropriate because The Space Museum is the story where the Doctor gets given a little thing called the Time Space Visualiser - that's ‘TSV’ for short!

Who says there's no justice?

This item appeared in TSV 58 (September 1999).

Index nodes: The Crusade, The Space Museum