Doctor Who-Shada (Blu-ray) (1979)

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Released 10-Jan-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-multiple
Featurette-Making Of-multiple
Deleted Scenes
Bonus Episode-two other full stories/versions
Additional Footage
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 138:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pennant Roberts
Charles Norton

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Lalla Ward
Christopher Neame
Daniel Hill
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is hard to believe that any television show could run for 50 years, let alone what started as a little sci-fi series designed for kids on the BBC. This series has enthralled, excited and inspired generations of children and adults alike. There have been spin-off series, movies and more over the years. Season Eleven of the new series is due to begin later this year, 2018, with a female Doctor for the first time (although not the first female time lord).

     Back in 1979, the Seventeenth Season of the original series was being made featuring Tom Baker as The Doctor and Lalla Ward as his companion, female Time Lord, Romana. The final planned serial of that season was to be titled Shada, the name of a Time Lord prison planet. Location shooting was completed and then production moved to the BBC studios and some studio work was also completed. Unfortunately, industrial action meant that shooting in the studio was halted and never recommenced. Eventually, the BBC decided that there were higher priority shows to complete in their roster and Shada was canned. It languished in the archives as the "great lost Doctor Who episode" until 1992 when the completed footage was strung together in a logical sequence. Added to this was Tom Baker in the Doctor Who museum providing an introduction and then explaining what was supposed to have happened in the missing footage, between each segment. This was released on video tape but never aired on television. Another attempt was made in 2003 to tell the Shada story this time as an animated audio play, starring Paul McGann as the Doctor. The animation is very basic on this version and both this and the 1992 version are included in the extras as a Blu-ray exclusive bonus disc. This 3 disc Blu-ray set focuses on the latest attempt to bring the story into the public domain. In 2017, the BBC decided to complete the original Shada serial by adding new effects and models, a small amount of new footage with some of the original cast and new better (although still nothing special) animation for the missing scenes, voiced by the original cast. Disc One contains this version as one long feature rather than the original episodes.

     So, what is the story about? A young post graduate student at Cambridge, Chris Parsons (Daniel Hill) visits the rooms of a strange and eccentric professor, Professor Chronotis (Denis Carey) to borrow some books. He borrows the books and returns to his lab where he realises that one of the books is very strange indeed, containing writing he cannot read and that seems to affect the passage of time when it is opened. Meanwhile, two other people are also looking for Professor Chronotis, The Doctor and his companion, Romana, and a strange alien, Skagra (Christopher Neame) who seems to have some sort of nefarious plan. Before long, naturally, all three parties along with Chris' girlfriend, Clare Keightley (Victoria Burgoyne) and the irrepressible K9 are caught up in a galactic adventure involving Time Lord prisons, invisible spaceships, a mind control sphere and aliens made of molten rock called The Krargs!

     The feature runs for nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes which is probably about 40 minutes too long. I think it would have worked better as a serial over a number of weeks (as originally planned) rather than one long show. The concept and ideas are certainly interesting and there is some sly humour which adds to the audience's enjoyment. It was penned by Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers Guide fame but he subsequently dismissed this as a substandard script which he was not proud of. Doctor Who fans will certainly be pleased to see this full version of the story, however, for the casual fan this story is probably not one of the greatest of the classic Who serials.

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Transfer Quality


     The video quality is very good, restricted by the various sources rather than the transfer.

     The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio of the recorded footage from 1979. It is 1080i rather than full 1080p.

     The picture was sharp and clear throughout considering most of it was shot for television in 1979, without ever looking spectacular. Shadow detail was fine considering the source.

     The colour is good in the older footage for the age and very good in the animation.

     There was some specks and dirt in the older footage, minor motion blur during fast movement and some little bits of aliasing, more in the animation. Time and effort has obviously been spent on the restoration.

     There are subtitles available in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read but included some mistakes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio quality is very good.

     The disc contains an English soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1, a stereo track in DTS HD-MA 2.0 and a mono track with the same technical specs. There is also an audio commentary track, also in DTS HD-MA 2.0.

     Dialogue was quite clear throughout. The 5.1 track provides a quite separated and immersive experience compared to the other two but is obviously restricted by the mono source. The stereo and mono tracks allow for fans to choose how close to 1979 they would like the sound to be

     The music is quite good without being really exciting.

     The surround speakers were used mostly for music and atmosphere.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     A large collection of extras are included. They are 1080i and DTS HD-MA 2.0 and have subtitles available.


     The menu features the Tardis control room and noises from the show. Audio Navigation is available as an option.

Disc 1

Commentary - Hosted by Toby Hadoke

     As Toby Hadoke explains this is not really a commentary as the BBC said they did not have budget for one. What Toby has done is cobble together various interviews he did with people involved in the show over the years into a track which plays over the show but is not scene specific. Despite the source, this track is really quite interesting featuring actors Christopher Neame and Daniel Hill plus animator Anne-Marie Walsh and animation designer, Martin Geraghty. Name and Hill talk about the shooting and their memories of the strikes and challenges involved and the animators talk about their process and challenges in matching the production including things like how hard it was to animate Tom Baker is.

Disc 2

Taken Out of Time - The Making and Breaking of Shada (25:37)

     A 2012 production which chronicles the writing, the involvement of Douglas Adams, the locations, sets and more. Includes interviews with Baker, the director, production assistants and cast members. Interesting and worth watching.

Now and Then (12:53)

     Another 2012 production which focuses on the specific locations and how they have changed or otherwise over the years from 1979 to 2012. It also covers logistics, filming schedules, trivia and more. This is OK but a little dry.

Strike, Strike, Strike (27:36)

     A 2012 production which is a fascinating history of union and strike action impacts on Doctor Who over the years. It is really surprising how it worked back in the 1960s and 70s. Includes interviews with former union leaders, producers, directors and actors. Really interesting stuff.

Studio Session 1979 (44:27)

     On set footage taken at the time of shooting with text captions to explain. Includes on set sound such as director comments, cast questions, etc. Shows lots of logistics and setup. Interesting for film-making aficionados but probably a little long for the casual fan.

Dialogue Recording (14:12)

     Footage of the actors recording the dialogue in 2017 for the new animated sections.

Studio Shoot 2017 (6:04)

     On-set footage of the new scene shot with Tom Baker in 2017 including the Tardis control room, setup and rehearsals.

Model Effects Shooting 2017 (4:37)

     Behind the scenes of the new effects shots and models created for the new version.

Deleted Scenes (1:18)

     Basically just some extra dialogue which was recorded but not used.

Title Sequence film (4:22)

     Various pieces of title footage from Doctor Who.

Live Action Reference Footage 2017 (2:44)

     Reference footage for the animators of actors playing the roles, some original cast.

1979 Gallery (4:48)

     Gallery of stills from the 1979 production set to music.

2017 Gallery (2:49)

     Animation stills plus on set shots, effects and models set to music.

Disc 3 - Blu-ray exclusive

1992 Video Compilation (108:46)

     The first attempt at bringing Shada out of the archives. The original 1979 footage with Tom Baker providing an eccentric intro plus comments between scenes to explain what was missing. Certainly of interest to completists. 1080i and DTS HD-MA 2.0

The Return to Shada - 2003 Webcast (138:07)

     An audio play starring Paul McGann as the Doctor with a similar story/sequel which is accompanied by some very ordinary animation. Again certainly of interest to completists but hard to sit through otherwise (for 2 and a half hours!)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This special is available globally seemingly in the same format.


    The final reconstruction of a classic Doctor Who serial first planned for 1979.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are a huge selection of mostly worthwhile content.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMR-PWT500, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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