Lost 'Doctor Who' Episode Written by Douglas Adams Is Resurrected

Sunday, 26 November 2017 - 3:16PM
Doctor Who
Sunday, 26 November 2017 - 3:16PM
Lost 'Doctor Who' Episode Written by Douglas Adams Is Resurrected
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Around the time that sci-fi author Douglas Adams released the first novel in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (which would become a five-book "trilogy" as Adams liked to call it), he also wrote an episode of Doctor Who during the show's Tom Baker era in 1979, called "Shada."

Sadly the episode was plagued with issues, including an engineering strike which ultimately stopped production on the episode midway through filming, and "Shada" was never completed. Until now, at least: 38 years later, BBC Worldwide is finishing the episode, bringing back much of the original cast (including Tom Baker himself) to finish filming the script written by the late Adams, who passed away back in 2001.

Since Baker looks noticeably older than he did almost four decades ago, the new segments are all animated, with Baker and everyone else voicing their old characters. The end result is a sort of Frankenstein-esque episode that switches between live action and Charles Norton's new animations. Take a first look at "Shada" below:

As exciting as it is to see Adams' name pop up, the animation honestly doesn't look great - it's jagged and vaguely reminiscent of those Star Wars animated Forces of Destiny shorts, which looked alright in stills but moved with a lot of clunkiness. But the humor is certainly still intact, and Douglas Adams' sharp and extremely British wit does shine through it all nonetheless.

And Baker is more than happy to reprise his role, even if the voice acting aspects don't allow him to wear his colorful scarf this time around. He said the following about "Shada" in the episode's release trailer:

Opening quote
"'Shada' was one of my favorite 'Doctor Who' stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I'm so glad that BBC Worldwide [has] found a way to bring fans a complete visual version."
Closing quote

The plot of the episode revolves around the Doctor investigating a planet called Shada, which was turned into a prison for dangerous space criminals by a group of Time Lords. A villain plans to extract all the prisoners' collective intelligence into a "Universal Mind" to make himself an evil genius, and discovers a Time Lord hiding at a British college under the guise of "Professor Chronotis" who knows where Shada is hidden. That professor naturally calls the Doctor for help.

If you're a fan of Douglas Adams, you may recognize Professor Urban "Reg" Chronotis from his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which reused a handful of characters and themes from the unfinished episode (the character doesn't appear in the recent Dirk Gently show, however). Because why wouldn't he? He never thought "Shada" would see the light of day, although a handful of novelization and radio drama adaptations were tried.

"Shada" is now available to download on iTunes, with a DVD coming out in the UK on December 4, 2017 and in the US on January 9, 2018.
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Doctor Who