The Doctor and Romana visit Professor Chronotis
(a retired Time Lord) at Cambridge
University on modern day Earth. Soon
the Doctor is racing to rescue Romana from Skagra who wants to find the forgotten prison of the Time Lords called Shada in
his attempt to gain knowledge to conquer the universe in this unfinished story written by writer Douglas Adams
Shada is the only DOCTOR WHO story
never to be completed due to various factors including a strike by the TV production crew unions and the BBC not wanting to
spend the money to remount the uncompleted studio sessions (they shot down two producers at two different times). It became a legendary story which the cats and crew think the story is great. However, Shada comes off as a half baked Doctor Who story that suffers from some of the worst stuff that
plagued even some of the more enjoyable stories of season 17 and that material better fits in a different kind of Douglas
Adams story like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and the Dirk Gently novels.
Doctor Who producer John Nathan Turner
did finally put together a version of Shada for VHS release in 1992 with Tom Baker doing linking narration for the parts that
were never filmed. The Tom Baker narration comes off as half baked with the introduction
being too way over the top. I think they could have used the narration
a little less and found a way to tighten up what looked like it was going to be a bloated six part story (the scenes with
Chronotis and Clara point to padding in addition to all of the chase stuff thrown in the story). Most of the first three episodes were made due to the fact that it was a combination of the location
filming in Cambridge and the studio scenes filmed during the first studio recording
session before the strikes put the kibosh on the second recording block. The
other three episodes are of diminishing returns as the VHS version more and more relies on Baker’s narration to fill
the gaps edited in with the scenes recorded from the first recording block for the later episodes (and whatever other Cambridge
location stuff left over). Shada is a curiosity that I am glad I have finally
received the chance to watch it.
The Production Notes subtitles track is
informative like other production notes tracks for other Doctor Who stories.
The only other extra for disc 1 is the
Flash enabled version of Shada adapted for the BBC web site as a co-production between BBCi and big Finish. You need to put the disc in a DVD-ROM on a computer to play
it and the flash animation is too static for my taste (and it even has less motion than motion comics).
TAKEN OUT OF TIME- actor Tom Baker, Daniel Hill (Chris Parson), the female production assistant that Dan fell in love with
on location (and married two years later), and director Pennant Roberts are interviewed for the making-of documentary of Shada
on the story’s production history, problems, and what eventually led to its demise.
NOW AND THEN- the location featurette is
a good guide to the Cambridge locations used and the only difference is many of
the locations look lusher and less worn.
STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!- a history of how
crew strikes hindered and helped Doctor Who stories during the 26 seasons of the original series.
BEING A GIRL- a look at how women were
represented on the series (the original show and the new show) and how it reflected the times (and what was going behind-the-scenes
when making the show). Interviews with various fans, actors, and crew
Photo gallery of behind-the-scene photos
and production photos from Shada
MORE THAN 30 YEARS IN THE TARDIS (88 minutes)-
a documentary made for the 30th anniversary of Doctor Who as the show probes the origins, history, and appeal of
REMEMBERING NICHOLAS COURTNEY- the last
interview of Nicholas Courtney is represented here as the interviewer also reflects back on the career of the man who would
be forever known as the Brigadier.
DOCTOR WHO STORIES: PETER PURVES-
THE LAMBERT TAPES Part One-
THOSE DEADLY DIVAS- a discussion of the
most diva characters of Doctor Who
Rounding out the extras are a behind-the-scenes
photo gallery of More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS and PDF materials of Radio Times listings (accessible via DVD-ROM)
FINAL ANALYSIS: SHADA is an unfinished story that isn’t as great as legend said it would be. This three disc set has plenty of extras and provides a worthy set for any Doctor Who fan that gets a glimpse
of what might have been if the show hadn’t been incomplete. Also the MORE
THAN 30 YEARS IN THE TARDIS is the best extra on the set that gives a great look at the first 30 years of DOCTOR WHO and the
phenomena it created.
This DVD review is (c)1-15-2012 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org