Doctor Who: Shada

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Interesting Douglas Adams story

Unfortunately never finished



Were you a bad Time Lord?

The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana (Lalla Ward) travel to Cambridge to visit an old Time Lord named Professor Chronotis (Denis Carey).  When it is discovered that Professor Chronotis brought a book from Galifrey to Earth, the danger grows as a Time Lord named Skagra (Christopher Neame) seeks out the book to free an old Time Lord named Salyavin from the Time Lord prison Shada.

Doctor Who:  Shada was meant to be the final serial of the seventeenth season of the popular British series Doctor Who.  It was supposed to be a six episode storyline airing between January 19, 1980 and February 23, 1980.  The show was meant to follow Doctor Who:  The Horns of Nimon, and has been collected in The Tom Baker Years as Story #109.


I look Fabulous!!!

Doctor Who:  Shada is incomplete.  A writer’s strike prevented the series from being filmed and there are chunks of scenes missing.  The DVD released for Shada is a copy of the 1992 VHS version and have Tom Baker reprising his role as the Doctor to tell the tale…kind of.  He talks like he is the Doctor but then refers to a lot of stuff in third person.  Of course the more expensive scenes in some of the segments were not filmed so the Doctor narrates what happened in them.  There were earlier attempts to animate the scenes bringing back Ward and Baker, but it has never worked out.   Scenes that were shot (Ward and Baker on the river) where used for Tom Baker’s Doctor in Doctor Who:  The Five Doctors when Tom Baker didn’t return.


I hate this damn thing

Doctor Who:  Shada is also where things turn all crazy for the number of Doctor Who.  Some consider Shada as part of the Doctor Who canon and others say that it never existed.  I do my reviews in the idea that it isn’t one of the true “Doctor Who” stories so the numbering gets off at this point.  While it is often listed as Doctor Who #109 (also in its packaging), it really is a non-number…much like the recent Doctor Who:  Dreamland.  I believe that Doctor Who goes Doctor Who:  The Horns of Nimon (Story #108) and then Doctor Who:  The Leisure Hive (Story #109).

It is too bad that the episode wasn’t entirely filmed.  Written by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy scribe Douglas Adams and a bit more fun that some of Doctor Who’s other scripts (though Douglas wasn’t a big fan himself).  The story loses a little momentum toward the last part (involving Shada itself), but it also isn’t helped by the fact that it is the area missing the most scenes.


A red shiny thing!!!

I like that it also brings back a lot of enemies (not seen in the episode).  A Dalek, a Zygon, and a Cyberman were all supposed to be prisoners on Shada…even without these appearing in the VHS version, there is a bit of a throwback with Baker visiting a Doctor Who museum…which “reminds” him of the missing Shada adventure.

Shada is a must for fans of Baker.  It is fun to see a Doctor Who episode which is raw and unfinished, but also sad to see the episode that could have been.  I don’t think I want Shada finished at this point and like to think of it as an oddity.  There was a novelization of the story by Gareth Roberts and the one-shot Doctor Paul McGann did an audio play of the script with Lalla Ward.  Doctor Who:  Shada was meant to be followed by Doctor Who:  The Leisure Hive.

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Related Links:

Doctor Who:  The Horns of Nimon (Story #108)

Doctor Who:  The Leisure Hive (Story #109)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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