I haven’t told Sue what we’re watching tonight, and I fully expect a cushion in the face.
Sue: That’s what I’m looking for – the bloody exit. So what are we watching this week?
Tom Baker enters the Museum Of The Moving Image Doctor Who exhibit circa 1992.
Sue: Are we watching a Blue Peter special?
As Tom walks through the exhibition, he reels off the names of the Doctor’s enemies.
Tom Baker: Yeti, Gun-dan Robot, Vervoid, Sea Devil, Ice Warrior.
Sue: He’s reading the signs. He can’t remember the monsters’ names and he played the bloody Doctor. I don’t feel bad about forgetting them, now.
And then, completely out of the blue:
Tom Baker: SHADA!
Sue: Oh for ****’s sake. Not ****ing Shada. You promised!
Tom reminisces about the uncompleted story.
Sue: Hasn’t Ian Levine got something to do with this?
And before anybody asks, no, I wouldn’t show her the animated version even if I had a copy. I’m not in the mood for any death threats, thanks.
Sue: For ****’s sake. What is this? Is it a documentary?
Me: No, we’re going to watch Shada, but bits of it are missing.
Sue: Oh, so it’s a recon.
Me: Sort of. You’ll see. Just imagine it’s 1992 and you haven’t seen any new episodes of Doctor Who for three years.
Sue: Sounds wonderful.
Tom Baker: We all cried a lot. We were very sad. Shada, Shada, Shada…
Sue: Oh, get over it. These things happen.
And then the 1970s title sequence kicks in.
Sue: Oh for ****’s sake.
Me: What’s wrong?
Sue: I didn’t think I’d ever have to sit through this title sequence again. We’re going backwards.
Shada begins on a space station.
Sue: The sleeping arrangements in the 200th season of Big Brother leave a lot to be desired.
One of these sleeping men is Skagra.
Sue: Oh, it’s him from Peep Show. The one who isn’t married to the brainy woman who you fancy. You know, the other one.
Skagra does something heinous.
Sue: Is there a missing scene which explains what the hell is going on here? And who is doing the ****ing music?
Me: It’s Keff.
Sue: For ****’s sake.
Me: It’s Keff trying to be Dudley Simpson.
Sue: FOR ****’S SAKE!
The sleeping men begin shaking in their chairs.
Sue: Right, so we are in an airport longue and they are sitting in those chairs that massage you while you’re waiting for your flight. Is that it?
A sphere floats into the air.
Sue: Ah, it’s the Yeti!
Me: It’s not the Yeti.
Sue: But Tom Baker said it was the Yeti, right at the beginning. Are all the old monsters not in this, then? That’s disappointing. What was the point of that?
Sue is brought back down to Earth. Cambridge, to be precise.
Sue: Now this is more like it. We’re outside, on Earth, and there’s no ****ing music. Bliss.
The silence doesn’t last very long, though.
Sue: So Keff has found the oboe setting on his Casio keyboard, has he? It still doesn’t make him Dudley. I bet Dudley is turning in his grave.
Me: Dudley isn’t dead.
Sue: So why not just hire Dudley? This makes no sense at all.
Chris Parsons arrive at St Cedd’s College.
Sue: Nicol went for an interview at Cambridge and they turned her down, the idiots. Oh well, their loss. Maybe if she’d kept her double-barrelled surname, she may have stood a chance.
In Professor Chronotis’ office.
Sue: I wish my university office looked like that. It’s gorgeous.
Chronotis asks Chris Parsons if he’d like a cup of tea.
Sue: Is he a hobbit?
The Professor’s scatterbrained approach to life reminds Sue of someone else.
Sue: He’s very similar to Patrick Troughton. This actor would have been a great Doctor.
Meanwhile, on the Cam.
Sue: This looks lovely.
Me: Doesn’t this ring any bells?
Sue: Yes, you’ve made me watch this before. Why did you make me watch this before?
Me: The Five Doctors. Remember?
Sue: Oh yes, it’s all coming back to me now. Hang on, how can this happen twice?
Me: Well, Shada was never shown on television, so, erm…
Sue: So it doesn’t count?
Me: Well, not really, no.
Sue: SO WHY AM I WATCHING IT?
I change the subject.
Me: Aren’t you happy to see Tom and Lalla back?
Sue: I suppose so. When you have a break from someone you tend to miss them after a while, even if they were getting on your nerves at the time. You’ll understand once we divorce. Were they shagging at this point?
Skagra struts around Cambridge in a ridiculous outfit.
Sue: Well, that’s not conspicuous, is it? Who does he think he is? Gary Glitter?
Suddenly, an elderly Tom Baker interjects from the future:
Tom Baker: Chris Parsons went to the lab and discovered that one of the books that he’d borrowed was written in a totally unknown alphabet.
Sue: That was a bit shit. Is he going to do that all the way through? Oh dear.
The Doctor and Romana arrive at St Cedd’s College, where they met by Wilkins.
Sue: Oh look, it’s Ronnie Corbett.
When our heroes enter the Professor’s office, Sue begins to enjoy herself.
Sue: The script is very funny. I could watch these three all day.
Professor Chronotis is a retired Time Lord.
Sue: Hang on. If he’s been on Earth for hundreds of years, why hasn’t he helped out more? You know, when we were getting invaded by aliens, what the hell was he doing then?
Me: Marking student essays, probably.
Sue: Fair enough. That’s much harder than saving the world.
Skagra catches a glimpse of himself in a mirror.
Sue: Even in the 1970s, that outfit would have turned heads. Only one person could possibly pull a look like that off, and that’s Eddie Izzard.
Skagra confronts Ronnie Corbett.
Sue: Keffing hell! They are just having a conversation, it isn’t a Dalek invasion. Do you really need those bloody stings, Keff? Really?
The Doctor tells Professor Chronotis that he heard strange voices while he was punting.
Chronotis: Oh, undergraduates talking to each other, I expect. I’m trying to have it banned.
Sue: This is now officially the best Doctor Who script ever.
Skagra hitches a lift from a passing motorist.
Sue: Does a man opening a car door really deserve the DER-DER-DER! treatment? And can this villain hypnotise people or does this bloke in the car think he’s pulled?
Skagra takes the car to a nearby field.
Sue: He’s such a cocky bastard. He left the ****ing gate open. I really hate it when people do that.
Skagra enters his invisible spaceship.
Sue: If Tom Baker hadn’t mentioned the invisible spaceship in his introduction, that would have been a nice surprise.
The episode concludes with Tom delivering another piece-to-camera:
Tom Baker: In his invisible spaceship, Skagra absorbed masses of information about me and then informed the Commander of the carrier via the communicator that he would be joining him soon and that the universe should prepare itself. The Commander assured him that all was ready as his image solidified on the spaceship screen.
Sue: Is that it? It looks like they’ve glued some tiles together.
The credits kick in.
Sue: What a shame they didn’t finish it. The Professor is a lovely character. So is that it, then? I’d probably give it a 7 for…
Me: It isn’t over yet. There are five episodes left.
Finally, a cushion in the face.
Sue: Actually, I do miss these titles. None of that stupid winking bollocks. And proper music, too.
The Doctor and Romana are discussing the Gallifreyan criminal, Salyavin.
The Doctor: Oh yes. He was a boyhood hero of mine.
Romana: Really, Doctor? A great criminal your hero?
The Doctor: A criminal, yes, but he had such style, such flair, such –
Sue: If they are talking about the villain, then the Doctor needs to give his head a shake. He is anything but stylish.
Me: That’s not Salyavin – that’s Skagra.
Sue: Two silly names beginning with S. I can’t keep up.
The Doctor quizzes Chronotis about a book he borrowed from the Panopticon Archives on Gallifrey, but the Time Lord’s memory isn’t what it used to be.
Chronotis: A sieve! That’s what it is. I’ve got a memory like a sieve!
Tom Baker: Chris Parsons told his friend Clare about the book. Clare decided to wait with the book at the lab while Chris went back to the college to find out more about the extraordinary illegible tome.
Sue: I just wish this wouldn’t turn into Jack-a-bloody-nory every five minutes.
The Doctor: (to Chronotis) I’ll be back in two minutes. (to Romana) If I’m not back in two hours, you and the Professor lock yourselves in the TARDIS.
Sue: Brilliant. I really like Shada. We should have watched it sooner.
Skagra has changed into something less comfortable.
Sue: I never thought I’d be happy to see someone dressed like a geography teacher.
Skagra enters Chronotis’ office.
Sue: He should open a tea shop. All he seems to do is make tea.
Chronotis is attacked by Skagra’s sphere.
Sue: Oh no. I really liked him. Shouldn’t he regenerate or something?
And then K9 appears.
Sue: K9! I forgot that K9 was still around. Oh, this gets better and better.
The Doctor runs into Skagra in Cambridge.
The Doctor: I’m not mad about your tailor.
Sue: You should have seen what he was wearing five minutes ago!
Skagra’s sphere pursues the Doctor, who escapes on a bike.
Sue: His wheels could do with some oil.
The Doctor hurtles past some students who are singing Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Sue: They are so into the song, they didn’t notice the silver ball flying past their faces, the posh twats.
The Doctor leaves his bike behind.
Sue: Does he know that the book has fallen out of his basket?
Me: I don’t think so.
Sue: SO WHY IS HE LEAVING THE BIKE WITH THE BOOK STILL IN THE BASKET? Even though it’s not in the basket. Oh, you know what I mean.
The Doctor is pursued into a back alley (which in my mind reeks of fish and chips), but his exit is blocked by a locked gate.
Sue: Use your sonic screwdriver, you idiot! You’ve still got it at this point, haven’t you?
The Doctor tries to wriggle under the gate instead.
Sue: Is he taking the piss?
Sue: I’d forgotten how ****ing stupid this Doctor is.
Romana arrives in the TARDIS, which scares the sphere off.
Sue: How the hell did she know where to find him?
Tom Baker: Romana explained that K9 had traced the sphere after it had attacked the Professor.
Sue: I wish Tom Baker had been around to answer all my questions like this from the very beginning. Thanks for that.
Meanwhile, on a river bank.
Sue: He’s not a real angler. You can tell by the way he passed that line. He’s never fished in his life before.
Skagra’s sphere attaches itself to the faux-angler’s face.
Sue: You’d try to punch it out of the way, surely? That was badly directed.
The Doctor, Romana and Chris follow Skagra’s sphere to a field.
Sue: It reminds me of floating beach ball. I really hate beach balls.
The Doctor walks into the hull of Skagra’s invisible spaceship.
Sue: It would have been funnier if there were loads of unconscious cows dotted around the field.
K9 confirms that the spaceship is 100 metres long.
The Doctor: That should keep the cows guessing.
Sue: Best line so far. And there have been loads of good lines.
The Doctor notices something on the grass.
Sue: What’s the point of an invisible spaceship if you are going to advertise its presence with a red carpet? Is the bad guy holding an awards ceremony?
Skagra is back in his glad rags again.
Sue: He’s dressed for the after party. Jesus, he’s even wearing a medallion.
K9 and Chris Parsons are locked in the spaceship’s brig.
Sue: Why isn’t he asking K9 scientific questions to pass the time? He should be asking K9 questions about quantum physics and shit instead of moaning.
While Clare is exploring Chronotis’ empty office, she accidentally activates some hidden machinery.
Sue: Oh, he’s got one of those computers that Sarah Jane has.
And then the penny drops.
Sue: I bet this room is a TARDIS. If it is, it’s a very clever idea.
The episode ends with Tom Baker summarising thus:
Tom Baker: With a fascinating display of illogical logic, I convinced the ship that I was dead in order to secure the release of my companions. The ship agreed, but shut down the oxygen supply. As I sank to the floor gasping for breath, the last thing I heard was the voice of the ship. Dead men do not require oxygen.
Sue: Oh, what a shame. I bet that would have been a great cliffhanger.
Sadly, we are unable to bring you Part Four of Shada due to technical difficulties. So here’s Nicol with a quick summary:
Nicol: My mother believes that the monsters look like owls. She then complains to Neil that there are too many gaps in this story and they should watch the animated version instead. Neil refuses to budge.
Tom Baker: I introduced the ship to new concepts including the conceptual geometer from analogue to digital mode…
Nicol: Mother is amused by the reference to an analogue spaceship. When the Professor reappears, she wants to know where Wee Willie Winkie has been all this time. At one point she is convinced that the Professor regenerated into his own body, and even I know that would be silly. My mother then complains that the gaps are covered up too quickly and she doesn’t have enough time to visualise what she’s missing. It’s probably her age.
Tom Baker: In the TARDIS, Skagra was pondering over the book.
Nicol: My mother believes that Tom Baker must have been short of cash when he recorded these links. She can’t understand how a room full of old men could survive for so long without anything to eat. She also believes that the Think Tank sounds like something out of Dollhouse, whatever that is. My mother becomes increasingly annoyed by the number of names beginning with S, and when the monsters turn up, she doesn’t think they were worth the wait. And then, right at the end, she turns to Neil and screams: “Keffing hell!”
The Doctor, Chris and K9 escape from the advancing Krarg.
Sue: I don’t think much of the direction. That was a bit cack-handed. And Keff’s music sounds nothing like Dudley’s. This shouldn’t have been allowed.
Tom Baker plugs an exceptionally large gap in the narrative.
Sue: It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with what’s going on. Nice explosion, though.
Professor Chronotis and Clare bond in his office.
Sue: These two should have had their own spin-off series. She’s basically his Sarah Jane.
And then Chronotis’ eyes turn a funny shade of green.
Sue: Is he the Master?
Me: No, he’s the Great Intelligence.
Sue: Is he really?
Sue: Is he Saly-whathisface?
Damn, she’s good.
The Doctor and Chris rush into the Professor’s TARDIS.
Sue: That double-take was brilliant.
Chronotis: Cup of tea?
Sue: Yes, please.
Sue has fallen head over heels in love with the Professor’s TARDIS.
Sue: This is what my TARDIS would look like if I had one. Lots and lots of wood and an endless supply of tea.
The Doctor explains the plot.
The Doctor: Skagra had the capacity to take minds out of people, but he couldn’t put minds into them. That’s why he needs Salyavin in his sphere, and that’s why he’s going to Shada.
Sue: That almost makes sense. I’m back on track now. Thanks.
And then we finally see Shada for ourselves.
Sue: What the hell is that supposed to be? I was expecting something a bit less shit after all that build-up.
And then Tom Baker plugs another huge gap.
Sue: I’m becoming more and more irritated that Shada wasn’t finished. Because I’m convinced that it would have been good.
When Clare and Chris leave the Professor’s room, we are treated to a reprise of Keff’s ‘Opening and Closing Doors’ theme.
Sue: What is it with Keff McCulloch and ****ing doors?
The episode concludes with another piece-to-camera.
Tom Baker: Chris and Clare entered the chamber and the young man rushed forward to try to help. A sphere absorbed Chris’ mind in an instant. The prisoners, including Chris, advanced menacingly towards me.
Romana reminds the Doctor that a copy of his brain exists inside Skagra’s sphere, and he’s so pleased, he gives her a medal.
Sue: Awww, that was very cute. They are definitely shagging at this point.
In the space-time vortex, two TARDIS intersect.
Sue: That doesn’t look great, does it?
Me: God knows what it would have looked like in 1979.
Tom Baker: With increasing difficulty, I was able to reach the TARDIS in the time tunnel.
Sue: This is ambitious. I’m not convinced that they would have been able to pull it off.
Clare releases her switch she is holding down and the console explodes.
Sue: Sarah Jane wouldn’t have been that stupid. She’s got a lot to learn.
Tom Baker: I managed to lash up a helmet-like affair made with bits of electronic equipment and a chunk of a table top.
Sue: Aww, I really wanted to see that.
And then Tom Baker takes over for ages.
Sue: I’m sorry, but I can’t keep up with this. I’m completely lost. Slow down!
After all that, Skagra is deposited back on his ship.
Ship: Do you know the Doctor well? He is a wonderful, wonderful man. He has done the most extraordinary things to my circuitry.
Sue: So the spaceship has fallen in love with the Doctor? I’ve definitely missed something important.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Corbett has reported the theft of a college room to the police.
Me: (as Ronnie) I said to my producer, I said, “I’ve lost the whole room!”
But the room has returned, and the Doctor has turned the place into a book club.
Sue: Thank God he’s not reading 50 Shades of Grey to them.
Chronotis: Cup of tea?
Sue: Yes, please.
Sue is very happy that Chronotis is alive and well.
Sue: Is he definitely okay? He’s going to be all right?
Me: Well, he’s got his annual appraisal coming up, and loads of marking to do, but apart from that, yes, he’ll be fine.
Sue: What a shame. I bet that would have been good if I’d understood it.
Me: Just for fun – this doesn’t really count – but what score would you give it?
Sue: It’s impossible to judge it, there’s so much missing. I enjoyed what I saw, so I’ll give what I saw.