Doctor Who #529: Shada Part 2

"A sieve! That's what it is. I've got a memory like a sieve."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Unaired. See Part for the scoop.

IN THIS ONE... Professor Chronotis is killed by Skagra. The Doctor on a bicycle is chased through the streets by a floating ball.

REVIEW: With about 20 minutes extant, Part 2 doesn't quite achieve the comedic heights of Part 1, but it does have a cracking chase scene as the Doctor zips through the streets of Cambridge on his bike - by a singing group for extra atmosphere - while a sphere flies after him. It's dynamic, well-shot, and it's not always clear how they achieved the effects! It's a video superimposition most times, I imagine, but the sphere sometimes passes behind a post or hits a passerby upside the head, so a variety of techniques were probably used. (In fact, the effects were completed in 1992.) It's great fun and not a little remindful of The Prisoner's Rover, in miniature. Sadly, the sphere looks a lot sillier when it attacks poor Professor Chronotis and sucks his brains out. Full points to the production for making the memories it absorbs not feature any faces - Chronotis is just too forgetful and confused for that - though it hardly seems to matter to Skagra.

If Chronotis' absent-mindedness doesn't amuse as much as in Part 1, it's due to two things. First, Adams doesn't use him to take any more shots at university politics, and second, his problems are revealed to be much closer to dementia or Alzheimer's. Couple this with his eventual death, and it's hard to laugh at the kindly old man. Only Time Lords would have access to prosthetic brains, but even that doesn't save his life, or even allow him to get a full warning out using the beating of his hearts to produce Gallifreyan Morse code. Somebody slap K9 for being so chirpy when he calls time of death. And somebody slap Chris Parsons for giving the cheesiest speech about science ever (though I'll give him props for coming out of the TARDIS breathing heavily - they really need to keep the first aid kit closer to the control room).

One of the most frustrating things about Shada not quite existing in the canon is that Adams (and the actors' ad libs) gives so many details on Time Lord culture. It's a little as if The Deadly Assassin had remained unfinished and unaired. Part 1 mentioned "time tots", which we all hope was deadpan Romana being witty, but Part 2 includes the Time Lord oath and mention of the Doctor's boyhood hero, Salyavin, a Time Lord criminal with panache. Given the number of times this previously unheard of renegade is mentioned, the Doctor's defensiveness when Romana asks if he'd ever met his hero, AND Chronotis being a contemporary of the supposedly dead Time Lord, it looks like there's every chance Solyavin and Chronotis are one and the same. He's in the possession of a stolen artifact, after all (though not anymore, the Doctor clumsily loses it). Of course, Adams' City of Death was full of red herrings, so I shouldn't be too sure of that. In any case, that makes him the third Time Lord influence on the Doctor's formative years, after Borusa (the teacher he didn't listen to) and K'anpo (the wise hermit). Together, they gave the Doctor a reason for leaving Gallifrey, though his heroism would only grow through his companions' influence.

- Well-produced and interesting, it loses points for Chris' lame speech. It's that schmaltzy.



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