Whovian Leap got “Shada” for Christmas and it is certainly no turkey!
Over the years I have casually dipped in and out of the various versions of the incomplete tale “Shada”, be they online, video, book or fan reconstructions. I never really tried to understand the story. I preferred to remain in ignorant bliss. Maybe because it didn’t “count” as a proper story or because I wanted to leave it with its shroud of mystery intact.
With the recent release of Charles Norton’s partially animated version, now was perhaps the time to seize the day – or should that be floating sphere!?
I was hoping for a story on a par with “City of Death” also written by the much-missed Douglas Adams. The lovely location filming and Mark Ayres’ 70s style soundtrack reminded me greatly of the classic Parisian escapade.
“Shada” didn’t quite manage to reach its heights – the pace is a little slower and the performances, though likeable, are not quite so memorable. Fortunately Tom Baker plays the Doctor without the excessive silliness that marred some of his later stories and his ‘surprise reappearance’ in a newly filmed sequence at the end is wonderfully sentimental icing on the cake.
It is a relief to say that the animation blends in perfectly with the filmed sequences. I would go as far to say that the SFX required for the story probably look better animated than what could have been achieved in the late 70s.
I didn’t mind the jumps between animation and film and soon got used to them – after all, if AHA can do it, why not Doctor Who? What’s more, the quality of the animation made for a very easy watch. It reminded me of the cartoons I enjoyed as a child.
“Shada” outranks most other stories produced at the time. It would have been a splendid conclusion to Graham Williams’ run on the show as producer and fondly remembered as Douglas Adams’ final contribution to the show. It was tragic that strike action stopped “Shada” in its tracks all those years ago. This new definitive version of the story, however, more than very nearly makes up for it.
At long last we can say that Shada actually exists and that certainly is something worth getting animated about!
(Above image created with Prisma app)