Thursday, 25 April 2013

Review - Doctor Who: Shada

In 1980, Season 17 of Doctor Who was cut short due to a strike at the BBC. As such, the season finale,
Shada, wasn't able to finish filming, and was subsequently cancelled.

In 1992, the BBC compiled the footage they had completed into a VHS release, with Baker narrating what they hadn't filmed. Now this version has been released on DVD along with the 2003 webcast version, the documentary More than Thirty Years in the TARDIS, and various Behind The Scenes features.

The Story
An alien named Skagra tries to capture all the most powerful minds in the universe and absorb them so he can control the universe. At the same time, the Doctor visits an old friend of his from Gallifrey named Professor Chronotis, who has a powerful book from the Panopticon archives that he wants to return to Gallifrey before he dies.

My thoughts
If there was one episode that should not have been unfinished, it's this one.  It's fantastic. The idea of putting
together all the great minds of the universe to make a Mastermind is a great one, and it's brilliantly executed. The story didn't drag in the middle as so many six parters
do, and it keeps your attention the whole way through.

The casting was also brilliant. Christopher Neame's Skagra is so incredibly evil looking that you can't help
but hate him, and Denis Carey is amazing at playing both a serious, war hardened, renegade and a bumbling old grandfather. The regulars are as good as always, and they are always very good, and Tom Baker's linking narration is much better than I expected (despite the continuity pain of having the Fourth Doctor recognise the Vervoids).

However, every episode has its highs and its lows, and this one hits a very low low with its special effects. If there was ever an episode that needed the updated effects that 2|E offers, it was this. The globe is so obviously superimposed, and would have looked much better if they had simply hung it by a string. The model work is laughable at best, and K9's lasers would have looked better if done in MS paint.

Overall, this was a very well paced, entertaining story. The cast was fantastic, the story was original, and the humor was Douglas Adams at his best. However, an otherwise super episode is brought down by its special effects and model work. An 8/10.

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