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TV show review: CONTINUUM season 4
DOCTOR WHO: SHADA (Story No. 109)
DVD Review by David Blackwell
DETAILS:  110 minutes (Shada VHS version)/ 97 minutes (extras disc 2)/ 87 minutes (More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS), production notes subtitle option, making-of Shada documentary, featurettes, photo gallery, PDF materials, BBCi/ Big Finish animated webcast version of Shada
VIDEO:  1.33:1 (features, some extras)/ 1.78:1 (some featurettes)
AUDIO:  English 2.0 Mono
Subtitles:  English SDH
STUDIO:  BBC Worldwide LTD/ BBC Home Video/ Warner Bros Home Video
RELEASE DATE:  1-8-2012


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 the series

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.



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 feedback@enterline.media.com