The TARDIS hung there in space, exactly as a brick wouldnt.
May 3, 2003 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Who Shada Episode by Douglas Adams Flash or Real Player
posted by blue_beetle (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I believe that is the story on which Adams' novel 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' is based. There's a video clip of Adams talking about Doctor Who here (requires Real Player)
posted by crayfish at 4:45 AM on May 3, 2003

I miss Doctor Who. Call me a raging geek if you want, but it was great; whimsical and magical in a way that no other science fiction or fantasy show has managed, probably because people like Douglas Adams were writing it. Star Trek is too clinical for me; the other spaceship shows are like pale imitations, although I hear there's going to be death and carnage in the next series of Enterprise. Not that I want death and carnage, but some of us just don't care about tachyon fields. Jelly babies and big deadly dustbins, that's what it's all about.

*snaps out of it* Sorry, carry on ...
posted by bwerdmuller at 5:01 AM on May 3, 2003

Oh goody, a Dr. Who thread! My inner geek cannot contain itself...

A little info for those not in-the-know. Shada was a 4th doctor episode (Tom Baker), written by Douglas Adams. It was actually the season finale to the 17th season, so the producers wanted to make sure it was a good one. Unfortunately, the BBC went on strike during the filming of the episode, and it was never finished and thus was never aired. Clips of the episode were later used in the Five Doctors in Tom Baker's absence. Adams liked the characters he wrote so much he couldn't stand to see them linger in the BBC vaults, and in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency he revives Professor Chronotis.

To sumarize the story, I borrow from my trusty 1981 copy of The Doctor Who Programme Guide:

In a remote space station called Think Tank, a scientist called Skagra steals the minds of his colleagues, and escapes. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Romana visit present-day [ed. - well, 1979] Cambridge to see Professor Chronotis, a retired Time Lord living incognito as a don. He wants them to take a book, The Ancient Laws of Gallifrey, back to the planet of the Time Lords. Unfortunately it has accidentally been taken away by a post-graduate student, Chris Parsons. He and a colleague, Clare Keightley, are mystified by the book, which is made of no earthly substance. Skagra arrives on Earth in search of the book because it will give him directions to the Time Lord prison planet of Shada, where he believes Salyavin, the most powerful Time Lord [ed. - well, except Rassilon], is imprisoned. Skagra needs access to Salyavin to learn from him the secret of projecting a print of his own mind into every sentient being in the Universe, a technique which will guarantee the success of his plan for galactic domination. The Doctor retrieves the book but Skagra sends his mind-sapping Sphere after the Doctor. On a bicycle chase through the streets of Cambridge the Doctor looses the book, which is found by Skagra. Skagra heads for Shada in the TARDIS, having captured Romana to operate it. The Doctor takes Skagra's own spaceship and with K9 and Christ Parsons goes to Think Tank in search of Skagra and Romana. He encounters the monstrous crystalline Krargs, Skagra's servants. It transpires that Chronotis's rooms in Cambrdige are the inside of his own TARDIS, which he uses to rescue the Doctor from the Krargs. Against the Professor's wishes and with the aim of rescuing Romana the Doctor follows Skagra to Shada, where Skagra has freed the ciminals, including a Dalek, a Cyberman and a Zygon -- but Salyavin is not there. Professor Chronotis turns out to be Salyavin. The Doctor wins a mind battle with Skagra and imprisons him i his own spaceship. Returning to Earth, the Doctor leaves the Professor in Cambridge, promising to keep his identity a secret.

For those interested, there was a video released of Shada, featuring all the footage they got before the strike, narrated with a voice-over by Tom Baker who explains the missing parts. It's available on Amazon here.

Oh, and nice fucking link, blue_beetle!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:22 AM on May 3, 2003

God love the BBC for putting something like this flash bit together. I know the animation isn't the greatest, but as a supplement to the audio drama it's reqlly quite nice.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:52 AM on May 3, 2003

Another cool connection for those interested: Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame) wrote the book Don't Panic - the official guide to the Adams's Hitchhiker series. Also, Adams wrote two other Dr. Who episodes: The Pirate Planet and The City of Death, which features John Cleese, a friend from University days. John Cleese later appears in the Hitchhiker's TV series for a cameo.

Cool how they're all interconnected.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:06 AM on May 3, 2003

Pity about the limitations of the medium: Flash just cannot convey the awe and mystery of an alien landscape the way a disused quarry near London can.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 AM on May 3, 2003

Good summary Civil_Disobedient... too bad they haven't released it on DVD yet, as I don't even own a working VCR anymore. :(
posted by rogue at 10:54 AM on May 3, 2003

Oh, sweet mother of heaven, Douglas Adams and Doctor Who in the same thread. That's thirty-one shades of cool.

(Wow, I went a little geeky back there. . . )
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:39 PM on May 3, 2003

[This is beyond good - this is awesome!] Thank you blue_beetle.
posted by Lynsey at 1:26 PM on May 3, 2003

I was wondering how Gary, Nick and the team were going to work Shada into the current continuity and they've just about pulled it off (set after 'The Apocalypse Element' but before 'Neverland'). It is interesting to hear McGann interpreting lines written specifically for Baker, but it does show how much The Doctor is as much about how the actor plays the role as the script. Questionable as to whether the President of Galifrey would just bugger off with an old mate like that though. And I miss Charlie Pollard.

It's coming back to TV, I tell you. It's coming back.

[for anyone has no clue what any of the above is about, the creators of this drama, Big Finish have been putting out original stories on CD with many of the original cast members for about the past five years. You can read more about that here and here. In addition there have been solo series for The Daleks and Sarah Jane Smith. Their latest endevour is a What If ... style series featuring people like David Warner and the bloke who played Catweasle in the main role. Shada is bound to be released by them as well in time for Christmas.]
posted by feelinglistless at 2:00 PM on May 3, 2003 [1 favorite]

Why didn't they get Tom Baker to play the Doctor?

Added salty trivia goodness: Lalla Ward (Romana [2]) used to be married to Tom Baker, and is now married to Richard Dawkins (yes, that Richard Dawkins!)
posted by John Shaft at 2:57 PM on May 3, 2003

I'll have to pull out my huge old scarf and give the show a listen.

Somewhat off topic: my local Fox station runs The Simpsons every night, and last night's episode was Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming - the one where Sideshow Bob held Springfield hostage and demanded they destroy Television - and in one scene the Mayor calls in the "representitives of Television" to discuss the crisis. One of the representitives was Tom Baker's Dr. Who. No speaking part, but it was a good-n-geeky visual reference. Got me thinking about, and missing, the ol' Doctor.

And today we get Shada.

I'm with you feelinglistless - they've got to bring it back.
posted by jazon at 3:12 PM on May 3, 2003

Why didn't they get Tom Baker to play the Doctor?

Tom feels that in terms of actually playing the part he's done with Doctor Who (which is why he skipped The Five Doctors and only appeared in monologue on Dimensions in Time. He likes the convention circuit and the adulation but he's pretty much done all he can with the part (for more info see his autobiography 'Who on Earth is Tom Baker').

In terms of the actors who ARE working still, Baker #2 was pretty hard done by on TV and is making up for the lost opportunities, McCoy feels that the show was cancelled just as it was getting good again, McGann is having fun, and Davison is enjoying a general renaissance anyway and the audios are a chance for him to catch up with some old pals.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2003

Geeky Dr. Who question:

Um, maybe this was addressed in the non TV Doctor Who stories, but didn't Romana leave the show in a pretty permanent way, staying behind in a nearly unreachable E-Space thingy? And didn't the Doctor mention that the Time Lords were going to be pissed off for not coming back? How did she get back to Gallifrey, let alone become President?
posted by unreason at 4:05 PM on May 3, 2003

The best way to enjoy this lovely thing, is to play the high-quality real audio stream. The sound effects are really good.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:50 PM on May 3, 2003

Another terrific voice role by Paul McGann was that of Griffin Moss in "Ceremony of Innocence", the superb interactive CD-ROM interpretation of Nick Bantock's "Griffin and Sabine", which also featured Ben Kingsley and Isabella Rosellini, and incidentally was produced by Peter Gabriel's company Real World.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:54 PM on May 3, 2003

Douglas Adams and Doctor Who in the same thread. That's thirty-one shades of cool.
No, forty-two.

What no cameo appearances from anybody in Red Dwarf?
posted by wendell at 5:21 PM on May 3, 2003

Dr. Who's now available on DVD, ya know -- selected episodes, anyway. They've done a box set of Baker's "Key to Time" series, though. Hurrah!
posted by metrocake at 6:23 PM on May 3, 2003

Maybe if I don't say anything, none of these nerds will notice that my username is taken from an episode of Dr. Who...
posted by vraxoin at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2003

No, please, don't say anything...
posted by jazon at 8:29 PM on May 3, 2003

Forwarded post-haste to my pal with the MR SIN license plates.
posted by dhartung at 12:03 AM on May 4, 2003

My personal collection (very, very old tapes that I'm only now transferring to high-quality divx rips) includes all the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh doctor episodes, with a smattering of 1st and 2nd, as well as the one-off FOX version, (which was actually quite good).

McGann is the best Dr. Who. I just wish they gave him a chance (or the series, for that matter). Those who love the guy should watch Withnail and I. Oh, and more interesting trivia: Dr. Who is (was) the longest continuously running science fiction show, ever. All this, and the first episode aired on the day JFK was assassinated.

I have an autographed poster with everybody's (except William Hartnell) signature -- all the doctors, all the companions, K9's voice, both Romana's -- even producer John Nathan Turner and writer Terrance Dicks. All, that is, except for Tom Baker. The damned bastard tried to distance himself as far as he could from the series after he left, which is really a shame. He should have a talk with William Shatner about sucking it up. So I'm a bit bitter about Mr. Baker. Patrick Troughton was the nicest guy in person, though; I talked with him about a month before he died and was so taken with how kind and funny he was. He's one I really miss.

Ok, enough boasting. So many fond memories, though. I wish they'd bring it back.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:16 AM on May 4, 2003

How did she get back to Gallifrey, let alone become President?

Ahem. It wasn't (as far as I can see) explicitly explained why she left E-Space, but in the Virgin New Adventure 'Blood Harvest' they made her president (presumably because she was the best of the bunch they had). And she's been there through all the BBC novels and Big Finish Audios. So it made sense when writing her into New Shada to keep in that position -- the Blinovich effect stops him from picking her up from the Dalek prison she was stuck in at one point or from E-Space ...
posted by feelinglistless at 1:55 AM on May 4, 2003

All this, and the first episode aired on the day JFK was assassinated.

Must ... resist. No, can't.

It was aired the day after JFK was assassinated; the sombre, mysterious mood of the very first episode was absolutely perfect and probably took a lot of people by surprise. (They didn't reveal what it was all about until the very end of the half hour.)

Once again, I find myself hit with the geek stick.
posted by bwerdmuller at 4:14 AM on May 4, 2003

Eldrad must live!
posted by mark13 at 12:07 PM on May 4, 2003

Those in the UK who recieve the channel 'UK Gold' can spend all of Bank Holiday Monday watching 'Dalek Day': back to back episodes in which The Doctor has to battle the dreaded machines. You won't see many flights of stairs in these episodes.
posted by crayfish at 3:32 PM on May 4, 2003

Eldrad must live!

Did anyone else find it oddly sexual when Sarah Jane was running all over England saying that, with her little pink overalls on?

Or is that just me again.
posted by vraxoin at 6:18 PM on May 4, 2003

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