Shada currently exists in three legitimate forms - the DVD/VHS release with Tom Baker sorta out of character providing narration explaining the missing scenes, the Paul McGann/Big Finish audio/webcast version available here with the 8th Doctor filling in for the 4th Doctor in an audio adaption of the original script (with extra scenes to explain the 8th Doctor's presence) and most recently a novelisation by Gareth Roberts almost ghost-writing as Douglas Adams with a substantial RTD-era influence.
However a fourth unofficial version has been made - utilising the existing live-action footage and new animated sequences to cover the unshot parts with as many of the original cast returning to voice their characters. The fan animators were contacted by Ian Levine, a controversial 'super-fan'/record producer with deeps pockets who is responsible for the return of a number of missing classic Doctor Who episodes and served as an unofficial fan consultant in the 80s. (I'm also obliged to say he played a part in the making of the record Doctor in Distress and claims he was denied credit for the writing of Attack of the Cybermen).
Levine wanted his animation to appear on the recent Shada DVD but due to politics and perhaps the irregular way he went about this production it was not. Whether that was the case is debatable and the kind of discussion to get you banned off Gallifrey Base or shouted at on Twitter. There's also some unpleasantness between him and some of the animators that he took public on Twitter - so suffice it to say this is a controversial bootleg version! Let's move on to actually reviewing the product...
I watched this with my girlfriend who is a big Douglas Adams fan but a stranger to classic Doctor Who. She often finds classic Doctor Who hit-or-miss. Meanwhile I am a big fan of Douglas's Doctor Who I've never actually read any of his books. I have watched the original Shada VHS, the Big Finish audio is one of the first and best audios I've heard, and I've even listened to the audiobook of Gareth Robert's novel, read by actress Lalla Ward. So I like to think I knows me Shada.
The episode we watched was on a Raspberry Pi running RASPBMC (basically we watched it on a small HD-ready TV). There's a DVD version out there, but as my lousy cheap DVD/TV combo no longer plays DVDs we didn't watch that version.
|Sadly the first piece of animation we see in|
this special edition is a great view of the phone
as Chris Parsons twitches and glides
across the room.
As one proceeds further into Shada more and more of the episodes consists of newly animated material. By and large the artwork ranges from okay to beautiful, with excellent likenesses. It is clear several artists worked
|The book size changes throughout the |
animated segments and appears to be
in a different time-stream from the humans.
|Ian Levine Presents: Doctor Who on ice!|
|Action scenes are not the|
animators forte I'm afraid.
Judge Mr. Jones's impersonation for yourself... here's the first animated Tom Baker appearance:-
Overall this is an impressive fan project, albeit one whose legalities are highly debatable. The animation ranges from superlative (some of the initial scenes in Shada are of comparable quality to the Invasion animation) to comparable to fan animations on youtube. It is probably not ready to be released on DVD but with some retouching of some of the poorer animations, and getting a certain Mr. Baker to replace Mr. Jones's impersonation this could be a real treat. The jump from animation to live-action was not as jarring as I'd thought, though I'd prefer it if it was either all animated or all-live action.
However for me, the Big Finish version is my favourite as it is a rebooted production with an all new cast. Kevin Fox is a wonderful Chronotis, Suzanna Harker is wonderful as Claire, Andrew Sachs is a better Skagra to Christopher Neeme (though Neeme makes an excellent Sith Lord)...