Sunday 6 May 2012

531 Shada Part Six

EPISODE: Shada Part Six
TRANSMITTED: Unaired (planned for 23rd February 1980)
WRITER: Douglas Adams
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Douglas Adams
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: Unbroadcast
FORMAT: VHS: Doctor Who - Shada

K-9 fires at the Prisoners, driving them back but he is thrown aside by a Krarg. The Doctor, Romana & Clare grab K-9 and flee to the Professor's Tardis. Romana reminds the Doctor that his mind is inside Skagra's machine too. Skagra returns to the Tardis and tells the former prisoners that they will return to the carrier ship and be distributed through the universe to further his revolution. The Doctor follows his Tardis in the Professors, capturing it in a force field, and has himself placed into the Time vortex. The Doctor begins crossing to his Tardis, but his journey appears in vain when an accident occurs in the Professor's Tardis deactivating the forcefield, throwing the Doctor into the vortex. The Doctor finds himself in a room in his Tardis and starts building a helmet shaped device. The Professor's Tardis arrives on the carrier ship, as the Doctor reveals himself and struggles for control of the joint mind. Romana deactivates the Krarg generating equipment, tipping the gas contained within out and using it to destroy the Krargs. Skagra flees to his ship, but is taken prisoner by his ship's computer who has now decided to serve the Doctor. The Doctor promises to return the prisoners to Shada and summon the Time Lords. The Doctor returns both his and the Professor's Tardis to Earth, confusing the college Porter who returns with a policeman to find the room now back in it's usual place and the Professor taking tea with his guests.

As a dramatic production very little exists of episode 6 just the scenes in the Professor's room/Tardis and Skagra's ship's brig. The climatic battle in Shada itself is completely absent and without it you're relying on the narration which works better here than at any other point in the story.

The remaining material throws up a nice little deviation from the script by Tom: a "space time mystic in the Qualactin Zone" becomes a "space time mystic in the Quantocks", producing a nod towards Planet of Spiders' Buddhist community headed by an elderly Time Lord.

So what do we make of Shada? From what I can gather from the script & remaining video it's not quite up to Adams' previous works for the series, Pirate Planet & City of Death, both of which are personal favourites. Doing Shada for the blog has given me a better feel for the story but even then it does rather vanish at crucial points. The script book, which I'd never read before, does help to fill in the gaps and you can hear Tom speaking some of the dialogue which would have added a sparkle to something that, in all honesty, seems a little flat especially compared to the two Douglas Adams stories that went before it. However it would have probably made a fitting climax to the season that otherwise runs some six episodes short of the usual length.

We return to Douglas Adams' fifth novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Set in St Cedd's College Cambridge it features a Professor Chronotis who has been living in the same rooms in Cambridge for 300+ years which also double as his time machine. He's got problems with his memory and likes to tease visitors with how many lumps of milk he'd like in their tea. I think we can see where Douglas sourced that from! And, as we pointed out during City of Death, the backbone of the plot involves an alien race who's spaceship tries to take off on prehistoric Earth kickstarting the process of life leaving one of their number to try to reverse the situation. Essentially Dirk Gently's is a "Cut & Shut" job on two of Douglas Adams Doctor Who stories, albeit one with a considerable amount of work done on the detail. I re-read it in the run up to doing these particular stories and was astounded at the similarities but I also found it one of the best of his novels, right up there (for me) with So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish.

This is the last episode of Doctor Who written or Script Edited by Douglas Adams. As Season 17 had progressed so the success of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy had grown. A second radio series was in the works, a record was on the horizon as was a TV series. Plus the novel of HitchHikers had sold by the bucketload..... Douglas Adams went on to write 4 more Hitch-hiker's books, 2 Dirk Gently novels and several other works. He emigrated to America, where he died of a heart attack on May 11th 2001.

This is also the last episode of Doctor Who produced by Graham Williams. He left the BBC in the 1980s going on to produce television shows for ITV including Supergran. In 1985 he had submitted a story to the then production team entitled The Nightmare Fare, and featuring the Celestial Toymaker, which was in pre-production at the point the series was "put on hiatus" for 18 months by the BBC. In the late 1980s he left the television industry to run a hotel in Tiverton, Devon, which was where he was killed in a shooting accident on 17th August 1990.

As we have previously said Shada was finally novelised in 2011 by Gareth Roberts. The recorded sections were released on video in 1993. A DVD release is currently being prepared pairing this with the 1993 documentary 30 Years In The Tardis.

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