Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Doctor Who - The 4th Doctor Story, 'Shada,' NOW FINISHED and Soon on DVD!

Doctor Who - The 4th Doctor Story, 'Shada,' NOW FINISHED and Soon on DVD!

Completed at last thanks to animation, with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward returning to their roles

Posted by David Lambert
    For the first time ever, BBC Worldwide will release a completed version of the previously unbroadcast 1970s Doctor Who story SHADA, written by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency) and featuring the return of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor!

    In 1979,SHADA was set to be the celebratory end to the seventeenth season of Doctor Who. Critically acclaimed writer Douglas Adams had completed the script, Tom Baker's Doctor was at the height of his popularity, and the series had bigger audiences than ever before. But a strike at the BBC in November 1979 interrupted production and the adventure was abandoned. The story became legendary among fans.

    Now, thirty-eight years later, SHADA will be seen at last in a new version combining remastered original footage with brand new, hand-drawn colour animation to complete the story. The animation will feature the newly-recorded voices of the original cast, including Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, performing the original script.

    Tom Baker says, "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 have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version."

    SHADA finds the Doctor in Cambridge working alongside companion and retired Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, to defeat the evil alien Skagra who is attempting to steal the secrets to the prison planet, Shada.
In the summer of 1979, Douglas Adams began work on a script for what was initially called "Sunburst"...intended to air in January 1980 as the final serial arc for the 17th season of the original Doctor Who program. It was eventually renamed, and shooting began in mid-October for Doctor Who - Story #109: Shada, starring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor and Lalla Ward as his companion, Romana (also a Time Lord...or Time Lady, if you prefer).

Unfortunately, at the same time in October 1979 as Shada production began, the BBC began dealing with a union strike, and as a result there was no lighting available for Doctor Who to film on location with. They tried to continue as best as possible, only getting around half of the filming done. The strike dragged on until November, and then December. When it became clear that the production couldn't be continued until at least January (when the first of 6 episodes was supposed to have been airing!), the production was shut down permanently (leaving Story #108: The Horns of Nimon) as the season seventeen finale).

In 1983, a scene from the produced portion of Shada was taken and re-purposed for the 4th Doctor's appearance (becoming frozen on a gondola) in the 20th Anniversary special, Doctor Who - Story #130: The Five Doctors. That wouldn't be the last we would see of that Shada footage, however! In 1992, a VHS version of Doctor Who - Story #109: Shada was released, with Tom Baker narrating from the original script for the parts which had never been produced on film. In 2013, BBC Home Entertainment released a DVD set titled Doctor Who - Story #109: Shada: More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS. Besides the VHS version of Shada, it also contained the documentary "More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS," along with a Flash (computer) version of Shada (starring Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor, and Lalla Ward as "Romana"), and a long list of other bonus material (many Doctor Who fans bought it for the extras, rather than the feature!).

Now, however, Shada is getting finished at long last! Several weeks ago the BBC News reported that "Tom Baker finishes abandoned 1979 Shada serial," explaining in the details that "It will be released on BBC Worldwide with the original footage combined with new colour animations and voiceovers to complete the story. The newly-recorded lines from Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as his companion, Romana, will follow the original script by Douglas Adams, the creator of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." In the UK, Shada will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on December 4th, following a digital release less than two weeks prior.

This morning we've discovered that both and the BBC Shop have added listings for a January 9th DVD release in the USA for this new version of Doctor Who - Story #109: Shada. There are only DVD listings for now; no Blu-ray entries have been located at either seller. And the Amazon listing isn't accepting pre-orders at this time, although the BBC Shop is taking them now! The discounted cost at the BBC Shop is $19.98, for a 2-disc set. Extras, if any, aren't listed. It will also be available in Canada on the same date, we've learned (our thanks to one of our readers, "Chris," for letting us know about that!). Here's the cover art:
buy at BBC Shop Doctor Who - Story #109: Shada

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