I haven’t told Sue what we’re watching tonight, and I expect a cushion in the face when she eventually finds out.
Sue: 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?
Tom begins reeling off the names of the Doctor’s enemies.
Sue: He’s just reading off the signs in this exhibition. 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 yells: “SHADA!”
Sue: Oh for ****’s sake. Not Shada! You promised, Neil!
Tom reminisces about this uncompleted story.
Sue: Doesn’t Ian Levine have something to do with this?
Before you ask, I wouldn’t show her Ian’s animated version even if I had a copy. I’m not in the mood for receiving death threats, thanks.
Sue: For ****’s sake, Neil. What is this? Is it a documentary?
Me: No, we’re actually going to watch Shada, even though 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 cried a lot when Shada was cancelled, and the cast were very sad, too.
Sue: Oh, get over it. These things happen.
And then the Doctor Who title sequence circa 1979 sequence suddenly kicks in.
Sue: Oh for ****’s sake.
Me: What’s wrong?
Sue: I didn’t think I’d ever have to sit through this 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 you fancy. You know, the other one.
Skagra wakes from his slumber and does something heinous.
Sue: Who is doing this ****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 to shake in their chairs.
Sue: It looks like an airport lounge, where you get a massage while you wait for your flight.
A sphere floats into the air.
Sue: It’s the Yeti!
Me: It isn’t the Yeti.
Sue: But Tom Baker mentioned the Yeti at the beginning. Are all the old monsters not in this, then? So what was the point of that beginning?
Sue is brought back down to Earth. Cambridge, to be precise.
Sue: Now this is more like it. We’re outside, we’re on Earth, and there’s no ****ing music. Bliss.
Unfortunately, the silence doesn’t last very long.
Sue: Just because Keff has found the oboe setting on his Casio keyboard, that doesn’t make him Dudley. I bet Dudley is turning in his grave.
Me: Dudley isn’t dead.
Sue: So why not hire Dudley, then? This makes no sense at all!
Chris Parsons arrives at St Cedd’s College.
Sue: Nicol went for an interview at Cambridge but 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.
We enter Professor Chronotis’ office.
Sue: I wish my university office looked like this. It’s gorgeous.
The Professor’s scatterbrained approach to life reminds Sue of someone else.
Sue: He’s just like Patrick Troughton. He would have been a great Doctor.
Meanwhile, on the Cam…
Sue: This is 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 possibly happen twice?
Me: Well, Shada was never shown on television, so, erm…
Sue: So it doesn’t count?
Me: Not really, no.
Sue: SO WHY AM I WATCHING IT?
I quickly change the subject.
Me: Aren’t you pleased to see Tom and Lalla back together again?
Sue: I suppose so. When you take a break from someone, you still miss them after a while, even if they were getting on your nerves. You’ll understand when we divorce, Neil. So were they shagging at this point?
Skagra struts around Cambridge in what can only be described as a thoroughly ridiculous outfit.
Sue: Well, that’s not conspicuous, is it? Who does he think he is? Gary Glitter?
An elderly Tom Baker interjects from the future.
Sue: That was a bit shit. Is he going to do this all the time? Oh dear…
The Doctor and Romana arrive at St Cedd’s College.
Sue: Oh look, it’s Ronnie Corbett.
It’s only when our heroes enter the Professor’s office that Sue finally 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 a minute… If he’s been on Earth for hundreds of years, why hasn’t he helped out more? What was he doing when Earth was being invaded by aliens?
Me: Marking student essays, probably.
Sue: Fair enough. That’s a lot harder than saving the world.
Skagra glimpses himself in a mirror.
Sue: Even in the 1970s that outfit would have turned heads. Only one person could pull off a look like that, and that’s Eddie Izzard.
Skagra is forced to deal with Ronnie Corbett.
Me: Keffing hell! They’re only having a conversation. This isn’t a Dalek invasion! Do you really need all these bloody stings, Keff? Really?
The Doctor tells Professor Chronotis he heard strange voices while he was punting. The Professor thinks it was probably undergraduates talking to each other, which he’s trying to ban.
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, Keff? And does this villain actually hypnotise people, or does this bloke in the car think he’s pulled?
Skagra drives the car to a nearby field.
Sue: He’s left the ****ing gate open. I hate it when people do that.
Skagra enters his invisible spaceship.
Sue: If Tom Baker hadn’t mentioned the invisible spaceship in his introduction, I’m sure that would have been a nice surprise.
The episode concludes with an image of a Krarg.
Sue: Is that it? It looks like they’ve glued some tiles together.
Sue: It’s a shame they didn’t finish this. The Professor is such 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. There’s none of that stupid winking bollocks for a start. And proper music, too.
The Doctor admits he used to have a boyhood crush on the stylish Gallifreyan criminal known as Salyavin.
Sue: The Doctor needs to give his head a shake. He’s anything but stylish.
Me: That isn’t 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 professor’s memory isn’t what it used to be.
Sue: The bits which survive are brilliant. I just wish it wouldn’t turn into Jack-a-bloody-nory every five minutes.
Skagra decides to change into something less conspicuous.
Sue: I never thought I’d be happy to see someone dressed as 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 keeps getting better and better.
When the Doctor finally runs into Skagra, he tells him he isn’t mad about his 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: Those wheels could do with some oil.
The Doctor hurtles past some students singing The Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
Sue: They are so into that 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 his bike with the book still in the basket, even though it’s not in the basket? Oh, you know what I mean!
The Doctor enters a back alley, but the exit is blocked with 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 was.
Romana arrives in the TARDIS and the sphere buggers off.
Sue: How the hell did she know where to find him?
Tom Baker: Romana explained K9 had traced the sphere after it had attacked the Professor.
Sue: I wish Tom Baker had been around to answer all my questions from the very beginning. Thanks for that, Tom.
Meanwhile, on a river bank…
Sue: He isn’t a real angler. You can tell by the way he passed his line. He’s never fished in his life before.
Skagra’s sphere attaches itself to the 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 nearby field.
Sue: It reminds me of a floating beach ball. I hate beach balls.
The Doctor walks straight into the hull of Skagra’s invisible spaceship.
Sue: That would have been even funnier if there were loads of unconscious cows dotted around.
The Doctor notices something odd about the grass.
Sue: What’s the point of an invisible spaceship if you’re going to advertise its presence with a red carpet? Is the bad guy holding an awards ceremony or something?
Skagra is back in his glad rags again.
Sue: He’s dressed for the after party. He’s even wearing a medallion!
K9 and Chris Parsons are taken to the spaceship’s brig.
Sue: Why doesn’t he ask K9 scientific questions to pass the time? He should be asking him questions about quantum physics instead of moaning.
Clare explores Chronotis’ empty office and accidentally activates some hidden machinery.
Sue: Oh, he’s got one of those computers like Sarah Jane’s.
And then the penny drops…
Sue: I bet this is a TARDIS. And if it is a TARDIS, that’s a very clever idea.
The episode ends with Tom summing up. Again.
Sue: What a shame. I bet that would have been great.
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 thinks the monsters look like owls. She complains that there are too many gaps in this story, and they should watch the animated version instead. Neil refuses to budge. 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’s convinced the Professor regenerated into his own body, and even I know that would be silly. My mother then complained the gaps were covered up too quickly, and she doesn’t have enough time to visualise what she’s missing – it’s probably her age. She also believes Tom Baker must have been short of cash when he recorded these links, and she can’t understand how a room full of old men could survive for so long without anything to eat. She believes the Think Tank sounds like something out of Dollhouse, whatever that is. My mother then becomes increasingly annoyed by the number of names that begin with the letter S, and when the monsters turn up, she doesn’t think they’re worth the wait. Then, right at the end, she turns to Neil and screams, “Keffing hell!”
The Doctor, Chris and K9 escape 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. It shouldn’t have been allowed.
Tom Baker then 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.
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-whatshisname?
Me: Damn, you’re good, Sue.
The Doctor and Chris burst into the Professor’s TARDIS.
Sue: That double-take was brilliant.
I think it’s fair to say that Sue has fallen head over heels in love with the Professor’s time machine.
Sue: This is what my TARDIS would look like if I had one. Lots of wood and an endless supply of tea.
The Doctor explains the plot.
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 lot less shit than that after all the build-up.
Tom Baker plugs another huge gap in the narrative.
Sue: I’m becoming more and more irritated that Shada wasn’t finished because I’m convinced that it would have been quite good, actually.
When Clare and Chris leave the Professor’s study, we are treated to a reprise of Keff’s ‘Opening and Closing Doors’ theme.
Sue: What is it with Keff McCulloch and ****ing doors?
And wouldn’t you know it, 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.
Sue: Okay, this is really beginning to irritate me now.
When Romana reminds the Doctor that a copy of his brain exists inside Skagra’s sphere, he’s so pleased, he actually gives her a medal.
Sue: That was very cute. They are definitely shagging at this point.
Two TARDISes collide in the space-time vortex.
Sue: That doesn’t look good, does it?
Me: God knows what it would have looked like in 1979.
And then Tom Baker takes over for absolutely ages.
Sue: I can’t keep up with this. Slow down, Tom!
Skagra is deposited back on his ship.
Sue: Has his spaceship fallen in love with the Doctor? I’ve definitely missed something important somewhere along the line.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Corbett has taken it upon himself to report the theft of a college room to the police.
Me: (as Ronnie) So I said to my producer, I said, “I’ve lost the whole room!”
But the room has already returned, and the Doctor is currently using it to host a book club.
Sue: Thank God he’s not reading 50 Shades of Grey to them.
Sue is pleased that Chronotis is alive and well.
Sue: So he’s 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: I bet that would have been great if I’d understood it.
Me: Just for fun – and this doesn’t count – what score would you give it?
Sue: It’s impossible to judge, there’s so much missing. I enjoyed what I saw, though, so I’ll give it: