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Doctor Who: Shada DVD Review

Doctor Who- Shada DVD

“Shada” is a highlight from the 4th Doctor era.

In “Shada,” a forgetful college professor named Chronotis (who also happens to be a Timelord) becomes the target of a mysterious white cloaked man (Skagra) who arrived on Earth via an invisible ship. Skagra seeks a valuable Gallifreyan book that can help locate Shada (a prison) where he hopes to find Salyavin (a criminal Timelord) to help him conquer the world. Of course, Skagra first has to prevent the Doctor, his trusty companion Romana II, K9, and two students (Chris and Claire) from standing in his way.

Throughout the history of “Doctor Who,” many stories have been lost over time, but only one was never completed. That story was “Shada,” a fourth Doctor adventure penned by legendary author Douglas Adams. As you may or may not know, a portion of the story was filmed, but was never released until 1992 on VHS. The only footage that ever saw the light of day was the bit with the Doctor and Romana II punting on the river (which you may recall seeing in “The Five Doctors” special). Anyway, when all of the shot footage was released on VHS, Tom Baker provided introductions and narrations in order to fill the missing gaps/scenes. That release has now been ported over to DVD with an abundance of extras and greatly improved picture and audio quality.

So, how does the unfinished serialized tale fare you may ask? Simply put, it’s a top tier classic Who yarn. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as accomplished writer Douglas Adams has written some of the series finest with “City of Death” and the underrated “The Pirate Planet.” His imaginative, clever, witty, and well plotted scripts really encapsulate the joy of “Doctor Who.” Sure, we could probably all do without the goofy killer balloon, but any multi-part episode that contains fantastic location shooting and enriched Timelord mythology is worth paying attention to.


The episode, which is presented in 4:3, is in surprisingly good shape. If you’ve seen the VHS release as I have, the upgrade in picture quality is immediately noticeable here.  

The Dolby Digital Mono audio track is a bit on the flat side for a sci-fi series, but it does the job.

* Trailers for “Doctor Who” series 7 and “The Reign Of Terror,” info text, Radio Times Listings, and photo galleries.
* The flash animated webcast BBCi/Big Finish version of “Shada.”
* “Now And Then”- A look at the Cambridge and River locations at the time of the release and in modern day.
* “Taken Out Of Time”- A partial making of that contains cast/crew interviews, discussions of Douglas Adams script, and stories about the story being cancelled.
* “Being A Girl”- A fascinating and well made featurette about the role of female characters throughout the history of “Doctor Who.”
* “Strike! Strike! Strike!”- An interesting factual featurette about the guilds and unions impact on “Doctor Who.”
* “Those Deadly Divas”- Kate O’Mara, Gareth Roberts, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Camille Coduri, and Clayton Hickman chat about diva and or villainous female characters such as The Rani, Jackie Tyler, Krau Timmin, Yvonne Hartman, Lucy Saxon, and several other characters.
* “Remembering Nicholas Courtney”- A touching tribute to the late actor who played the Brigadier.
* “Doctor Who Stories- Peter Purves”- Peter Purves talks about his time and experiences on ‘Who’ as Steven Taylor.
* “The Lambert Tapes- Part One”- An interview with “Doctor Who” producer Verity Lambert talking about her career and “Doctor Who” naturally.
* “More Than Thirty Years In The TARDIS”- Last, but not least is the nearly 90 minute 30th anniversary documentary that contains episode clips, cast and crew interviews, discussions about the villains (namely the Daleks), outtakes, and much more.

Summary: It’s a shame this story was never completed as it is truly one of the best classic “Doctor Who” adventures. Still, even in its incomplete form, it’s a must see. Note: A novelization and a full cast radio drama of “Shada” are also available.

April 18, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , ,

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