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Cult Times Special #11

In the case of Max Eilerson, the questions that preface Crusade are pretty easy to answer. The IPX archaeologist wants money, fame and power. He serves his own cause, and trusts only himself. “Max is the acerbic capitalist in Space with a soft place in his heart that we haven’t gotten to yet,” says actor David Allen Brooks.

Max may be his own man but, on the Excalibur he is just one headstrong individual among a team of many.

“That’s a good observation,” nods Brooks. “They are all clearly defined. This is a character series, as opposed to action. I adore the idea that we’re moving past the violence in order to get things done. It’s more like it’s a negotiation and there are principles involved – it’s a war of principles and we’re playing that out as opposed to a war of arms.

“I think that is what the Space genre has done, and Star Trek has really helped to do that. Gene Roddenberry was very helpful in catalyzing the next stage of what Science Fiction is and J Michael Straczysnki has come along and made it more human. We can identify with that, and it’s the way it’s all going to go down if we all survive into the 21st and 22nd Century. It’s going to be the human situations manifested into the externals of space ships and living environments...”

Dr Sarah Chambers is the chief medical officer on the Starship Excalibur, a woman driven by the need to find a cure for the Drakh plague. The stakes are both professional and personal: her sister is back on Earth. If Dr Chambers fails in her task, her sibling will go the way of the rest of the human species.

“It is a drive but it’s an underlying drive,” says Marjean Holden of the family crisis revealed in War Zone. “That’s the first and only time I mention it. But we also got cut short by nine episodes and whose to say what would have happened in the back nine? We hadn’t gotten that far yet.”

Crusade entered production in August 1998 with the episode Racing the Night. Holden was instantly impressed with the relaxed, professional working atmosphere at the studio.

“They move very quickly,” she says of Straczynski’s well-oiled machine. “They had five years of practice on Babylon 5 so we stepped in to an ideal situation. They have it down to a science and when they have it like that it really frees an actor up to just be able to concentrate and focus on the work and not have to worry about, ‘Oh God is it going to take us forever to get this scene?’”

Surprisingly, Holden believes that some good came from Crusade’s first hiatus. TNT’s decision to stop the studio and enforce some changes resulted in a hike in budget, which she believes benefited the final product.

“We got a lot tighter after that point,” she insists. “We had five episodes and we warmed up, and after that we really started to cook and things started coming together. I feel I got more comfortable, a lot more relaxed, after that break.”

However, things were a little more bleak second time around when the channel chose to put the show to rest. “It was a complete surprise,” she concedes. “I thought, ‘Ah yeah it will go on forever’. All of a sudden the plug is pulled and you’re going ‘Wait a second…’”

David Allen Brooks as himself
David Allen Brooks

Spike gives Buffy the half-nelson
 Marjean Holden 

Interviews by David Richardson
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Excerpted from Cult Times Special #11Get the issue for the full interviews

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