Thursday, May 26, 2016

Recap: Doctor Who: "Shada" Episode 6

The final part of "Shada"! Who will do more recapping, Newt or Tom Baker?

Smart money's on the man with the teeth and curls.
The episode opens with Tom Baker reiterating that bit about all the mind-controlled prisoners advancing towards him.

Tom Baker: "K-9 was quick to the rescue. He fired at one of the prisoners, who collapsed. One of the Krargs lumbered over to K-9, picked him up, and hurled him through the door."

A moment that probably would have been very cathartic for Tom Baker.

Tom Baker: "Seizing my chance, I made a run for it with Roman and Clare in tow, and, with K-9, burst through the nearest door."

"The nearest door" leads to Chronotis's TARDIS, and they all take a moment to think. The Doctor desperately tries to think of a way to defeat Skagra's collection of brilliant minds (and Parsons), and Romana reminds him that Skagra's collection of minds includes a copy of the Doctor's.

The Doctor is so impressed by this that he gives her a random medal, complete with a little ceremony.

That's just adorable.
Tom Baker: "Skagra and his entourage of prisoners returned to the TARDIS, where he announced his intention to return to the carrier ship."

Seeing as how his entourage is controlled by Skagra's mind, they probably already knew that.

Tom Baker: "From there, each of them would be taken by small craft to various population centers. The great mind revolution was about to begin."

The Doctor has a plan, but Romana doesn't like it very much.

Tom Baker: "Skagra realized that something was wrong."

You mean apart from the fact that he drained Salyavin's brain twice?

The Doctor enacts the first stage of his plan by following his own TARDIS through the time vortex in Chronotis's TARDIS while generating a forcefield.

By the look of the vortex, I'd say they're passing the 1970's.
Doctor: "Come over here and hold onto this, then."

Yeah, Tom knows exactly what he's doing with innuendo like that. He apparently got a heck of a laugh on set with that ad-lib.

Look at Lalla Ward. That is the look of an actress who doesn't want to ruin the take by laughing.
The Doctor cribs some quotes from Richard II as he speechifies, and tells Romana to shut off the forcefield behind the tea-trolley. She does, and the Doctor manages to step through the ensuing space-time eddy to enter the time vortex. Clare is so impressed that she momentarily fails to hold the switch down. You have one job, Clare!

Tom Baker explains how the Doctor slowly makes his way through the time vortex while Romana and Clare struggle to hold the controls down. There's a tool they could use to hold down the increasingly-hot controls, and Clare leaves the panel to get one.

You had one job, Clare!
How did you manage to screw up twice?
The Doctor fades away as the two TARDISes fly away from each other. Romana bandages up Clare's hand, saying that she doesn't know what happened to the Doctor. But they'll be keeping calm and carrying on with the next phase as planned.
Tom Baker: "Then I regained consciousness in a small equipment room in the TARDIS."

And probably not for the first time. Those Betelgeusians sure know how to mix a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Tom Baker: "I rummaged through the equipment. In the carrier ship, the TARDIS arrived. Skagra planned an infinite concert of the mind as he surveyed the stars from the command deck, unaware of my presence onboard."

K-9 manages to fix the proper circuits, and Romana pilots the TARDIS while Tom narrates.

Tom Baker: "I managed to lash up a helmet-like affair made with bits of electronic equipment and a chunk of table top."

Okay, not showing us that amazing contraption is practically a sin.

Tom Baker: "The Professor's TARDIS, now in its usual form of a door, materialized on the command deck. An unpleasant welcome committee was prepared for me, but it was K-9 who emerged from the door. I'd been watching all this on my own TARDIS screen and emerged wearing the strange helmet."

Here, you might as well have some picture of a time-traveling doctor wearing a funny hat.
Tom Baker: "All the prisoners turned to face me as Skagra threatened my life. I pressed a button on my helmet and looked hard at Skagra, as did all the prisoners in unison. With intense mental effort, Skagra tried to control the prisoners, but I told him he'd forgotten something, and that the deranged billiard ball had been used once too often..."

Either Tom's referring to the noodler, or he's just making stuff up at this point.

Tom Baker: "And that my brain was in there as well. Skagra strained for control. The prisoners nearest him turned to face me, the ones in the middle of the hall were confused, and the ones near to me were firmly fixed looking at Skagra. A mighty battle of wits took place, with me gaining the upper hand."

You know, I doubt this mental battle would have been very interesting to watch, even if it had been filmed. Psychic battles can be cool and trippy.... but not on a 1970s Doctor Who budget. All we would have seen is two people staring at each other intently.

Tom Baker: "Momentarily, distracted by a Krarg, I lost control and a prisoner swung towards me. 'Fire, K-9,' I called..."

Because that worked so well earlier.

Tom Baker: "...and the metallic computer held the Krarg in a beam near the door to the generation annex. The prisoners split into two groups as I regained some lost ground. The two groups wrestled with each other, obeying mental instructions from their two leaders."

Wait, there was going to be a grapple fight? Now you're talking!

Tom Baker: "I maneuvered Skagra nearer to the dangerously overheated Krarg. The evil genius ordered the Krarg to back off. It did, and fell backwards into its generation vat, where it dissolved."

Makes sense, I guess...?

Tom Baker: "K9 was firing relentlessly at the reinforcements of Krargs who arrived."

Seriously, couldn't we at least get some crude storyboards of any of this? Maybe a splash shot of the criminals of Shada fighting?

Both the Abzorbaloff and Nimon were charged with the same crime: Being in terrible episodes.
I mean, even for 1992, they still had people who could have whipped up a storyboard or something. The Doctor’s mental battle? Fighting prisoners?

At this point, even this is starting to be preferable to Tom’s droning.
Tom Baker: "Skagra thought victory was within his grasp as Romana emerged cautiously from the door and into the generation annex, where she tipped over the vats of heavy gas which poured into the main command deck. She examined the wire of the main vat, pulled them out of the sockets, and, trailing the wires, marched forward to Clare. The girls made for opposite sides of the room, which was now swimming in the green gas. Skagra had turned the tables on me."

How could he? You're wearing part of a table.

Tom Baker: "I was being forced towards burning Krargs. Romana and Clare plunged their wires into the gas. The Krargs started to dissolve. As Skagra stood appalled, I took mind control, and the prisoners, in a solid phalanx, turned on Skagra, and he ran for his ship. Onboard, he ordered it to take off instantly, but a block of light engulfed him and he vanished... and was deposited in the ship's brig."

Finally. Tom Baker has been talking for three minutes and twenty-two seconds. Now, that may not sound like much, but trust me. It's an eternity of being told that stuff happened, rather than seeing it yourself. Seriously, you'd think they could have done something to help visualize the story.

I would have even accepted puppets.
Anyway, yes, Skagra is in his own brig, since his computer seems to have taken a liking to the Doctor.

Ship: "I am very much afraid I can no longer accept your orders."

Uh-oh, we've got a Code HAL.

Ship: "You are an enemy of my lord the Doctor."
Skagra: "I am your lord! I built you! Release me, I command you."

But the ship starts going on and on about how wonderful the Doctor is, and what extraordinary things he did to her circuits, which sounds... suggestive.

"Why did I program my ship to be able to orgasm?"
The ship decides to start yammering on about how amazing the Doctor is, like any proper Doctor Who fangirl, as Skagra screams for mercy.

Tom Baker: "Romana and Clare were tending to the prisoners, who were in shock, while I was dissecting the spheres to restore the genii's minds to them."

And I'm sure they would appreciate that, if they hadn't been killed by the exploding space station earlier.

Tom Baker: "I intended to take them back to Shada, as I refused to play judge and jury."

Remember that line in a bit.

Tom Baker: "I informed them that Shada was only forgotten because Salyavin made the Time Lords forget. He didn't want his escape discovered, hence he stole the book when he left Gallifrey."

Back at St. Cedd's, Wilkin has called in a cop to investigate the mystery of a stolen room.

Wilkin: "Oh, well, I got to the door of the room and I opened it, and beyond it there was nothing."
Cop: "Nothing at all, sir?"
Wilkin: "Absolutely nothing at all. Well, nothing except for this sort of blue haze."
Cop: "Ah, well, the blue haze, you see, sir, might be the vital clue we're searching for."
Wilkin: "And I was not drinking."

"This time."
Tom Baker: "Romana wondered whether Chronotis, or rather Salyavin, was still alive on Shada, considering that the reason the Professor called me to Earth in the first place was because he thought he was near the end of his lives."

Wilkins and the cop go through Chronotis's door, finding Chronotis's room on the other side. The Doctor is reading the tragic death of Little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shoppe, a part which, as he would later tell Charles Dickens himself, cracks him up every time.

Professor Chronotis: "Hello, can I help you?"

Yep. Chronotis is alive and well on Earth, instead of in Shada, where he technically belongs. So much for the Doctor not playing judge and jury, then.

The cop gets pretty upset over what he perceives to have been a prank, only to get more upset about the police box in the corner. And when the Doctor and Romana get inside of it and disappear...

Cop: "Where did that police box go?"
Professor Chronotis: "What police box would that be, officer?"
Cop: "Right. Right. Coats on, everyone. You're all taking a little walk with me down to the Bridewell."

Arrests all around! What a happy ending!
Tom Baker: "Romana explained how she found it hard to believe that the Professor was the great Salyavin when he was such a nice old man... and I speculated that in a few hundred years, someone would meet me and say, 'Is that really the Doctor? How strange. He seemed such a nice old man.'"

And with that, “Shada” ends. So now… well, let me see how exactly to go about reviewing this….

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