Okay I'll preface this with the fact that I love this version of SHADA over the 8th Doctor version. If others like that version over the Tom Baker one, I'm sorry. So sorry. I don't mean to say that you are not able to like that or that you are bad people if you do. I just found the 8th Doctor no 4th Doctor and Paul, as good as he is in most things, was not in SHADA. And he's no Tom Baker but who is? And WHO is? Anyway, the best way to watch this was the way th EMBASSY did it back in the mid 1980s (I think) with someone reading the script as it shows up on the telecine word processor on the screen...and we couldn't see it.
The late, great Rob Wessmin (and God I hope I'm spelling his name correctly and he's greatly missed as, sadly, he passed away awhile ago)actually read the script bits that were not visualized. Mind you, this was WAY before Tom Baker's video narration came out with the televised bits and as great as Tom is/was in that video, they left a whole lot out of the script by having him just synopsize the unfilmed/unmade bits. Rob did a GREAT FANTASTIC job reading those and he loved every moment of it, I could tell.
Anyway onward to a story that again, I love to pieces...SHADA!
This episode is oddly almost intact. After a three min or so intro by Tom Baker ambling around a museum ("I always feel at home in museums") of old Doctor Who monster suits ("Beat him, beat him, beat him"), Tom/Doctor Four(?) finds a Karg outfit and starts to remember SHADA ("SHHH!").
The video release adds music to the show and it sometimes jars. I recall watching this with the EMBASSY at that meeting and the strangeness of not having any sound effects and music made this seem...even better!
In any event, we have Tom Baker, Doctor Who, and Douglas Adams. Any one of those things alone would be a great exercise in entertainment but together...we have gold, especially in ep1. To digress however, Tom did fail in SHERLOCK HOLMES THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES mostly because he was so Doctor-ish in my mind but not in that show...he played it serious and yet in my mind he was the Doctor and then he wasn't doing any Doctor-ish things (or rather not doing any Fourth Doctor-ish things). It didn't help that one of the guest stars was Caroline John (Liz Shaw). I kept expecting him to say, "Liz,it's me. Me me. A new face but still the same person." ANd her: "You've changed!" Anyway...
SHADA: the location work gives this a new feel, something we haven't really seen of late and probably not this grand since...oh since...the Pertwee era (and SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE at that). It gives it that 70s UK feel...which is both cheap and grand at the same time. The first scene of the scientists seizsuring is a bit disturbing. Prof. Chronitis: just a marvelous character and worthy of both DW and Adams. I just love him and the actor playing him is just perfect. Almost all of the jokes work. And the fact that he's a Time Lord without us having been hit over the head that he is...and on Earth...is just so quaint. And lovely. Chris Parsons is introduced and that's just great as well.
The villain: Skagra is flamboyant. I can tell you both the villian the Prof being with letter S and I think this might have been deliberate to get us to think that the Prof was the villain and for a few moments I thought maybe he and Skagra were one and the same or that maybe the Prof alone was the villain or something even stranger than what we got. What we got wasn't bad though. All that comes later in a brilliant twist of "I want to rule the universe".
Back to the punting scene for a few: it's rare we get to see the Doctor relaxing. We get some hints of it and some aborting holidays and we get to see him fishing...but here a wonderful scene of relaxation at Cambridge punting occurs. The Doctor and Romana seem almost human here and almost domestic. It's a great scene and wonderfully shot. ANd scripted and acted.
The Doctor has visited the Prof before and once in a different body. We find out about the book that Chronitis stole from Gallifrey among a few others (4 or 7 others) and that it is dangerous. The villain starts his plans, but just what are they?
A creature is listening.
A great start to a story and with lots of funny bits. The Doctor tells Romana to search for a red book but the Prof, off camera, says, "May be green..."
This just does it so right. It's an academic, down to Earth Doctor Who with spices of spaceness and outer worldliness mixed with that Cambridge spirit and that anti establishlment feel that only the 4th Dotcor and Romana can bring to it without being overwhelmed by crassness or a violent feel. All that talk about tea helps. I can't praise this enough. It's just so entertaining.
Yep, I agree. I loved this version and it would be cool if the missing bits could be done to finish up this story. CGI, animation, whatever it takes.
The Prof tries to help them find the book that Chris took but his memory is like a...he can't recall what his memory is like, right away. He does recall it's like a sieve. Lots of funny stuff including the joke that he can't remember Chris's name but can recall what it starts with. He says, "BB..." and the Doc and Romana finish with, "C". Skagra gets normal clothes for a bit and kills someone, taking his mind while he fishes and leaving a body to fall face down in a lake he was fishing out of. Or least it looks that way. I tend to recall that the script might have had someone come and fish the man out.
There's a joke about the TArdis kitchen and where it is or something like that. Chris and Claire are promient members of the story now and the Doctor gets to race away on a bike with the book but loses it. Visually the chase is interesting and the Doctor adds his bike bell to a song being sung on the streets.
In the meantime, the Prof is attacked by the sphere and loses his mind but can briefly communicate...with his heartbeat!
A really creepy line from Romana to Chris is, "The Professor isn't human," and Lalla delivers it with such conviction and amusement and alien-ness it sends shivers down my spine.
There's also some nonsense with an invisible spaceshp. And some great stuff as the Doctor tries to talk the computer out of keeping him in the ship. Also some silly stuff about K9 blasting a wall when Romana and later Chris say the word blast.
In any event, a most gratifying two episodes. Oh and Claire has taken the Prof's TARDIS by mistake out of its place in the university. And the Prof has had all life functions cease. THe Doctor, correctly assumes the Prof has used up all his generations...but has he? ANd is he dead?
Some very interesting things going on here. Mostly Gallifrean wise: for one, the Doctor turns the spaceship into a TARDIS with some jiggery pokery and realigning the ship from analog to digital! Another thing is he hooks K9 into a Krarg. On his mind, continually seems to be Romana.
Another thing: the Prof comes back to life when Claire tinkers with his VERY OLD Tardis and he calls himself a paradox in an anomoly. She made his timelines cross or something. But he came back to life!
Another thing is that the Doctor tells Chris he has a lot to unlearn and one of those things is Einstein theory.
We also get to the crux of Skagra's background and what he's doing on this ship, what is plan is or part of it.
There's also plenty of jokery from Tom but nothing too over the top.
All in all an entetaining ep
So he was Salayvin all the time? A great bit but not really that surprising, after he put his mind into Claire but to be honest, I wasn't sure what was going on and who was who until the reveal and it made sense all the way through. I love the figuring out things bits with the tea and all and the Prof continues to amuse and be a lovely character. The idea is revealed that Skargra doesn't want to rule the universe but be the universe by putting his mind into everyone in it. A great idea and some great fun in this episode. It's also the scene I think where Tom gets nuts over being directed or rather as the lady that plays Clare is directed to pour tea a certain way. On You tube there's a Tom cursing bit from this scene. In any event, a good ep.
Just a joy to behold, read, whatever. The Prof is as charming as ever, what a great Time Lord! The ideas flow and the Doctor goes vortex walking. It's a shame that this story...well it's canon to me...but this story should not be thought of as lost because it brings to the table such things as vortex walking, older TARDISes that can bring a Time Lord back to life even if he's used up his regenerations, the Time Lord Prison, a Time Lord who can throw his mind, and a villain who can or tries to put his mind in everyone.
Tom acts like Tom and the Doctor, he and Lalla, especially Lalla, act very very alien here; they both have good companions to play off of with Clare and Chris, a sort of younger version of Ian and Barbara but with more wit. At the same time, both Tom and Lalla imbue the Doctor and Romana with a warmth and care not often seen in this time as they interact with the Professor. THe Doctor, as he did to K9 at one point this season, puts a pin on Romana.
The ending is just so quaint with the tea and all. The way Skargra is defeated and that hat wtih the table attached predates HOME IMPROVEMENT by many years.
I wish this would be released on DVD soon.
oh and another observation of the TARDIS window pane being...somewhat broken!
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