Shada: Doctor Who: Season 17









The Doctor is summoned to Cambridge around 1979 by his retired Time Lord friend Professor Chronotis. He needs the Doctor and Romana to return one of the Artifacts of Gallifrey,- a dangerous book dating back to the time of the all-powerful Rassilon he accidentally 'stole' from Gallifrey. When it goes missing from his study the Doctor tracks it down to student Chris Parsons.

A mysterious alien scientist called Skagra arrives on Earth, armed with a thought-draining sphere and plans to create one universal mind. But first he must get the Gallifreyan book to achieve his goal. Skagra pursues the Doctor and eventually manages to get the book and by capturing Romana he gets possession of the TARDIS.

Using the book and the TARDIS, Skagra can now break the secret of the book and travel to the hidden Time Lord prison planet of Shada where he plans to free powerful Time Lord criminal Salyavin. The Doctor, Romana, K-9 and Parsons have to contend with Skagra's slaves, the Krargs and stop Skagra from adding Salayavin's mind to his mind sphere collection and controlling every thought in the universe through his universal mind.

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The Doctor:
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)

Lalla Ward (Romana II)
David Brierley (K-9 Mk. II)

Guest Stars:
Christopher Neame — Skagra
Denis Carey — Professor Chronotis
Daniel Hill — Chris Parsons
Victoria Burgoyne — Clare Keightley
Gerald Campion — Wilkin
Derek Pollitt — Dr Caldera
John Hallet — Police Constable
David Strong — Passenger
Shirley Dixon — Voice of the Ship
James Coombes — Voice of the Krargs
James Muir, Lionel Sansby, Derek Suthern, Reg Woods — Krargs

Production Staff for Serial 5M:
Writer - Douglas Adams
Director - Pennant Roberts
Script editor - Douglas Adams
Producer - Graham Williams

* This six part serial was never broadcast.
* Filming for the serial was never completed

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Shada, hmmmm hard to rate when only half a story has been made.

Will have to go back and watch the available material, but from memory the location footage around Cambridge is perfect for this, the last of Dr Who's six part stories (technically the Two Doctor's isn't). The other things I remember is that the acting in this story is suddenly the first time maybe since City Of Death that ALL the cast members seem to take what's happening seriously and react accordingly. Professor Chronotis is suitably dotty and eccentric and surprisingly turns out to be a former teacher of the Doctor. The human characters were good and seemed to fit in well, the young, tall woman adding shaggedelia to the mix.

Even Skagra (who?) the scarred mad genius is played seriously sinister in the Hinchcliffe mode and seems not to be a panto villain like so many of the recent ones. Although his bright white costume complete with flowing white cape and floppy white hat seems to be channelling mardi gras. Then there's Tom and Lalla, who for some reason seem to have gone back to more restrained performances in the material filmed ditching much of the ridiculous undergrad humour, curious for a story set around a university town. But who knows? Had they actually filmed more perhaps Tom and to a lesser extent Lalla's manic egocentric comedy moments may have actually intruded on the episodes

What was it about? This Skagra chap has created a mind sphere that can suck out anyone's mind. He wants an imprisoned Time Lord that has mind projecting powers so he can use his sphere to link every mind in the universe and have absolute power through knowledge but has to find out where Shada is and free this dude. Oh the bad guy has help from the latest monsters to be made by Shit Productions Incorporated. Supposed to be creatures made from coal but again look like creatures made from flares and plastic shards. However the Kraargs at least had a nice 'burning' special effect on them to make them look better on the video release. One can only wonder at how the rest of the production could have looked as there seemed to be more than enough sets designed and built for it

Had they filmed one more of the two remaining studio blocks 75% rather than 50% of the story would have been completed and would have given us all more of a feel to the whole production. We would've seen Tom trying to communicate with an invisible spaceship computer, Skagra would have stolen the Tardis from our heroes trying to find Shada for nearly 3 episodes (how many villains in the past got away with that?) and we would've seen Shada itself. The climax in parts 5 & 6 is that among the mind controlled prisoners released from their cells on Shada were to be a cyberman, a dalek and a zygon.

Can only muse on what could have been. Think it would've been better than 80% of this series but on the surviving material can only rank a 4 plus 2 for potential so 6/10


Christ. Okay here we go....


Scene One: Boating on the River. Wow. That shot of Tom and Lalla on the River Cam looks staggering. Very nicely shot with Cambridge University in the background and the students, ducks and swans in the foreground. Lalla looks really nice reclining back there on the boat in her nice fitting costume and lovely hat perched jauntily upon her delicate bonce. Gee, Tom's really got a good firm grip on his pole hasn't he? He's really thrusting it LONG and HARD into the wetness beneath Lalla, isn't he? Each time he sticks his pole into the inky black depths you can just FEEL him GRUNT and he THRUSTS deeper and DEEPER to PUSH himself along.

And everytime he goes DOWN you can see Lalla just close her eyes and GASP slightly to herself as she feels at one with Tom, his stern pole and those mighty thrusts. Now Tom is SLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWLY pulling his pole back out of the depths and he's holding it tightly in his manly hands. Lalla looks even more impressed. Tom may have accidentally sprayed some water on her. Now she is slightly more moist than before. Tom gives her a knowing smile and SHOVES his pole back into the water. Lalla closes her eyes. She is clearly enjoying the moment. The pair of them enjoy the movement of Tom's pole as the boat glides under the bridge that straddles the full width of the river....

Scene Two: Gate. Gee, that shot of Tom scrambling under the gate is fucking awesome. Someone should get an award for it.



Is it the greatest story never made?

Or is it just the greatest story from season 17 never made?

Either way it's going to be a tough one to rate - we've set ourselves a challenge here!

Based on the way the story reads however, it should have been a very good one. Adding to the Time Lord universe can be fraught with danger - but it does make sense that they would have a Prisoner Planet. And it does make sense that it would be littered with evil geniuses such as Salyavan… although, it's odd that we wouldn't have heard about him though.

In a nice twist though, it turns out that he was an Evil Scientist turned good Cambridge Professor - and in the process we get the evil Skagra finding his way to Shada, and after learning of this twist, being imprisoned there himself. Along the way he pinches a book that tells him how to get there - is there a book reference in every Douglas Adams edited episode? We've got History of the Universe in Destiny, Shakespeare in City of Death (I think there was something else too?), Climbing mountains and Learning Tibetan in Creature, and I think something to do with Tardis repair or time travel in Eden and Nimon? It's almost like you need to have some kind of overall guide to say, I don't know, the galaxy or something!

Either way, it's better than Adams' original idea of writing a 6 parter about the Doctor having a holiday and going off the idea of saving the world every week!

Realising an interesting plot though is something that this era has struggled with - and unfortunately what we have left doesn't really give us an answer as to whether this would have been any different. What we do have is great, so it's promising - but I remember looking forward to finally watching this, and then pretty under whelmed with what I saw… mainly because the Tom Baker links were a bit boring. I'll give it another go shortly though - but for now, it's 5.5/10.

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Screen Shots:

Shada titles

Shada doctor and romana

Shada the prison planet

Shada k9 2

Shada Skagra closeup3

Shada kraarg

Shada attacked by mindsphere

Shada chris and doctor2

Shada clare closeup

Shada skagra and romana

Shada chris parsons closeup

Shada burning kraarg approaches

Shada chronotis and doctor

Shada skagra

Shada clare and romana

Shada burning kraarg

Shada k9 and chris

Shada skagra trapped

Shada thinktank

Shada romana closeup

Shada explosion

Shada doctor closeup