The infamous incomplete Douglas Adams story should have finished out Season 17. The six part story revolves around the lost planet of Shada, wherein a prison was built by the Time Lords to keep dangerous villains trapped.
A former inmate, Skagra (Christopher Neame) is trying to locate the hidden planet, and possibly release all the baddies of the universe, but specifically, Salyavin, a dangerous being who could read minds and impose his will upon them. It seems there is one person who knows where Shada is, a retired Time Lord (is there such a thing?), Chronotis (Denis Carey), who has made his home on Earth, serving as a professor at St. Cedd’s College.
Happily enough, the Doctor (Baker) just happens to be on Earth visiting an old friend, the very same professor…
We get to join the Doctor and Romana (Lalla Ward) as they are punting down the river, rather relaxed, and it looks great because it was a location shoot. I do like the two of them together, they do seem to have a lot of dun together. Their time is spoiled however by Skagra’s plans.
They have to find a book that Chronotis removed from Gallifrey that has to with the law governing Time Lords and is in fact an artifact from the time of Rassilon.
There is also some fun dialogue, it really does seem like Adams and the Doctor are a good match, so it seems like a real loss that this one was left unfinished due to circumstances beyond the show’s control.
I will say this though, whomever designed Skagra’s costume was really stuck in the 70s. Wow.
Skagra has a personal army of krargs working for him, strange mineral like beings. And his orb reminds me a lot of a similar device as seen in Phantasm.
The video version has missing parts being narrated by Baker, and they can only hint at how amazing the story could have been. It’s big, rather epic feeling, and has lots of laughs through some well crafted dialogue. Including a sequence featuring a young student, Chris Parsons (Daniel Hill) who is stunned to learn about K9, and the size of the TARDIS, being bigger on the inside and all.
And who doesn’t love seeing the Doctor tear around on a bicycle?
From Earth they travel in the invisible spaceship, trying to find a way to stop Skagra from unearthing the location of Shada, and the Doctor and company meet a number of strange men, forming a scientific think thank, as well as facing off against the krarg with K9 at his side.
I have to say, this story really boots along, and even with portions missing, I was completely engaged, and loved the way this one played out. I’m not sure if that will drive me to read the novel version of the episode, or listen to the Big Finish audio version, but it is definitely a fun ride, and a true loss that it was never finished.
Next week, we dive into Season 18, Baker’s final year, with The Leisure Hive.