Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Recap: Doctor Who: "Shada" Episode 3

Happy Towel Day, NewtCave Readers!

So grab yours, stick a fish in your ear, and stick out your thumb as the plot finally begins to thicken!

Hopefully.
When we last left off, the Doctor was about to be noodled within an inch of his life. Luckily, Romana appears with the TARDIS before you can say "deus ex machina." The Doctor rushes inside the TARDIS so fast that he gets his scarf caught in the door, and they prepare to return to Professor Chronotis's room.

Tom Baker: "Romana explained that K-9 had traced the sphere after it had attacked the Professor. I decided to retrieve the book."

Chronotis suddenly disappears right in front of Parsons as the TARDIS fades in.

Doctor: 'Who are you?"
Parsons: "Chris Parsons, Bristol Gramma School and Johns."
Doctor: "Never heard of you."

The Doctor blames Parsons for causing all the trouble, and they compare notes. The book is gone, and the prof's body disappeared into thin air. The Doctor examines the spot where the prof was, and comes to a conclusion.

Doctor: "He's gone."

What? Noooooooo. Are you sure?

Doctor: "He must have been on his very last regeneration."

So here's a bit of Doctor Who lore that nobody seems to ever talk about: the disappearance of Professor Chronotis.

The Doctor's comment here implies that this is what happens when a Time Lord runs out of regenerations and finally dies: they simply disappear. Interestingly enough, this would seem to be backed up by a much later episode, "The Name of the Doctor," where the Doctor's tomb in the future contains not a body, but a physical manifestation of his own timeline.

Why isn't there a representation of Chronotis's timeline here? Well, apart from the fact that that particular plot point hadn't been thought up yet... well, let's just say that we haven't seen the last of Professor Chronotis....

Anyway, the Doctor pegs Skagra as the man behind this, since the prof's mind was removed, which is what Skagra threatened the Doctor with. The mention of Skagra leads Parsons to repeat Chronotis's last messages: "Beware the sphere, beware Skagra, and beware Shada." The Doctor takes particular interest in the name "Shada," though he doesn't know what it means. But he quickly vows to track down Skagra, and has K-9 look for the noodler's signal again while they all wait in the TARDIS.

Doctor: "Come on, you too, Bristol."

Calling people by the name of their hometown was a habit of Tom Baker's at the time. Lois Lane had yet to take it up.

Elsewhere, some poor extra is attempting to fish, when he quickly gets noodled, thanks to the lack of effort he puts into resisting the noodler.

"Well, this is certainly happening."
After that oddly random noodling, Tom Baker gets to narrate some more.

Tom Baker: "Clare was woken from a deep sleep by the teleprinter. She tore off the text and rushed out."

She rushes to Chronotis's room and enters shortly after the TARDIS departs to track down the noodler, arriving in the middle of a field. The Doctor and company exit the TARIDS in time to watch the noodler suddenly disappear into thin air. But there are more pressing dangers at hand.

Doctor: "Watch that cow pat."
Tom Baker: "The sphere reported to Skagra that I had escaped and was approaching the ship."

Once next to the ship, Doctor gets to do a bit of mime work.

Um... A man knocking on a door with his hand stuck in the letter slot?
Doctor: "There's something here."
K-9: "Affirmative, master."
Doctor: "Then why didn't you tell me, you stupid animal?"

Yeah, it's no secret that Tom Baker hated K-9 for barely working properly and continuously messing up takes. In fact, K-9 barely moves around during this scene because his wheels don't work over grass. Heck, they barely worked over smooth cement.

K-9: "I assumed you could see it, Master."

K-9's voice, now 12 years older or so (since they never recorded the dubbing for his line until then) explains that what they don't see is a large spaceship. More than that, he can't say.

K-9: "One hundred meters long."
Doctor: "One hundred meters? That should keep the cows guessing."

Show of hands, who else would have loved to see a knocked-out cow or two around Skagra's ship?

The Doctor spots a nearby carpet, and this turns out to be where the entranceway to the ship is. Because when your ride's invisible, you'll want to know where the door is.

Tom Baker: "Skagra instructed the ship to allow us to enter."

After they do so, Tom gets to explain some more.

Tom Baker: "Finding no sign of the sphere, I suspected a trap. Suddenly, a cube of light surrounded Romana, Chris, and K-9 and they disappeared. Skagra revealed himself to me and took me deeper into the ship, assuring me that my companions would come to no harm. I chided him for the death of the Professor, but Skagra revealed to me that he was only interested in the old man's mind."

Boy, I bet that verbal sparring would have been nice to see.

We cut back to Clare attempting to find Professor Chronotis or Chris Parsons before Tom get some more stuff to explain.

Tom Baker: "And in the ship's control room, I was shown the book by Skagra, who attempted to force me to reveal the code in which it was written. Of course I refused, but I kept on asserting my own stupidity."

As he tends to do in these situations.
Tom Baker: "Responding to Skagra's gesture, the sphere attached itself to my head and I let out an agonizing cry as I fell back in my seat."

Back in the filmed part of the episode, Parsons, Romana, and K-9 are failing to find a door in their holding cell, having been teleported in. K-9 can't sense anything, and Parsons is musing over the paper he was supposed to present that night, which supposedly disproves the existence of life on other planets.

Parsons: "Well, I can deliver it next month. Have to be a complete rewrite, though."

Romana lets out a frustrated "blast it" over her failed attempts, which K-9 interprets literally by shooting a laser beam that ricochets off the walls, narrowly avoiding Romana and Parsons.

So far, friendly fire has been the most dangerous obstacle for our heroes.
But suddenly, K-9 begins picking up the familiar inhuman babble that surrounds the noodler. But now, there's a new voice in the mix: the Doctor's.

Back at St. Cedd's, Clare runs into Wilkins and fails to explain the situation about the radioactive book in a way that Wilkins understands.

Clare: "A book a friend of mine was taking to him, well, I think it's very dangerous."
Wilkin: "Well, what I say is people shouldn't write things if they don't want people to read them."

"Though it's not like I break into the dorms to read your diary. Every Thursday."
At Wlikin's urging, Clare goes back to Chronotis's study to wait for him.

Wilkin: "I don't know, nowadays they'll publish anything."

Consider yourself lucky that you won't live to see E.L. James get a trilogy published, Wilkin.

Over with Romana, she's indulging in a bit of wordplay.

Romana: "Are you positive, K-9? Absolutely negative?"
K-9: "Affirmative."

There are no further signals of any kind. With nothing left to try, Romana wishes out loud to be out of there. And her wish is granted by way of floating energy cube. Parsons tries wishing for himself, but with considerably less luck.

Parsons: "Oh, blast."

Luckily, he quickly tells K-9 not to make with the zappy-zappy again.

Skagra exits the invisible ship with Romana and the noodler, taking them both inside the TARDIS using a key stolen from the Doctor. The TARDIS soon vworps away while Clare pokes around Chronotis's place for a bit, looking for the book. Eventually, she stumbles across a hidden control panel, and activates it in a shower of sparks.

Tom narrates how the Doctor came to and explained to the ship's computer why he wasn't dead. Apparently, the Doctor faked stupidity so convincingly that the noodler decided to just make a copy of the important parts of the Doctor's mind, leaving the original intact.

Back at St. Cedd's, Wilkin goes to find Clare in Chronotis's study, only to get quite the shock when he opens the door.

Fun fact: This was after they told the actor to tone down his performance.
Tom Baker: "With a fascinating display of illogic logic, I convinced the ship that I was dead in order to secure the release of my companions."

I bet that would have been great to see. You can't even give us an example, Tom?

Tom Baker: "The ship agreed, but shut down the oxygen supply. As I sank to the floor gasping for breath, the last thing I heard was the voice of the ship. 'Dead men do not require oxygen.'"

Gah, that would have been such a great cliffhanger! Curse you, Play School clock! Curse you!

No, you know what? Let’s take a look at the original script and see exactly what this “fascinating display of illogic logic” entailed.

-----
DOCTOR: No! I know. I am dead! And if I'm dead, then I'm an ex-enemy of Skagra's. Correct?
SHIP: Correct.
DOCTOR: (a little dangerously.) Then, if I'm dead, I cannot give orders that would be any kind of threat to Skagra. Correct?...
SHIP: Correct.
DOCTOR: Then, will you please release my companions?
SHIP: They will be released.
DOCTOR: Excellent! Thank you. (He smiles, until he notices a change in the atmosphere of the room...) It's getting very stuffy in here.
SHIP: You are dead?
DOCTOR: Yes! I thought we'd sorted that out.
SHIP: I am programmed to conserve resources. Since there are no live beings in this area, I have shut down the oxygen supply.
DOCTOR: What!

(The DOCTOR begins gasping for breath, and he sinks to the floor. The last thing he hears while conscious is the voice of the Ship saying over and over:)

SHIP: Dead men do not require oxygen!

(The DOCTOR loses consciousness..... and lies motionless.....)
-----

"A fascinating display of illogic logic" indeed. Tom’s narration isn’t doing the missing portions justice at all.

Coming up in Part 4! Ship-swapping and tea.

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