I wasn’t sure whether to cover Shada, the cancelled sixth serial of season 17. Unlike the reconstructions from the sixties, Shada was never actually finished, and has to date never been aired on TV. However, rather than worry that it would make the events of the story irrelevant and not expected to exist within established continuity, instead I thought “well, why not?” and watched it anyway. Approximately 50%-60% of the serial was made, and an older Tom Baker narrates the events that occur inbetween.
Shada actually explores the Time Lords’ history and lore. I have no idea if any of this is revisited in future stories, but Shada is the name of their prison planet, which was purposely hidden from official records by one of the former inmates, who went into hiding on Earth as a professor at Cambridge. When a maniac with a god complex goes looking for this professor and the prison planet, the Doctor and Romana get caught up in a plot to take control of every mind in the Universe!
Due to the nature of TV production, the existing scenes are all from the same locations, so watching this now can lead to visual fatigue. As much fun as it is listening to Tom Baker talk, he does whizz through his descriptions of the missing scenes all too quickly. Some animation or artwork of these scenes would have helped to break up the repetition. Still, it’s interesting to see where production stopped back then. There’s a fair bit of outdoor location shooting, some interiors of the spaceship were shot, and the rest is from the professor’s room (which it turns out is another Tardis). Sadly, there is very little existing footage of the villain, Skagra, or his monsters, the Krargs.
While watching Shada is a frustratingly incomplete experience, overall I was glad to see it. It hasn’t got the same level of silly humour as Douglas Adams’ other episodes (although it does have some), but it still touches on some big concepts and has some fun with the universe and characters. This would have been a pretty good season finale.