If you're a fan of Doctor Who, Tom Baker, or Douglas Adams, then we have some great news for you. If you're a fan of all three and happen to live in the United States, well, grab some jelly babies and declare this a personal holiday — the newly reconstructed version of Douglas Adams' lost Doctor Who serial, Shada, (now finished thanks to animation) is finally available stateside.
If you missed its arrival, you're not alone. The rescued serial (now cut into a single 185-minute episode) has been out in the U.K. for some time, but we didn't have access to it in the colonies until now. It showed up almost like a thief in the night — BBC America showed it on July 19, 2018, with almost no fanfare at all. They are still showing it here and there, referring to it as "The Lost Episode: Shada." For all of you cord-cutters, the episode is now available for purchase on multiple platforms, including iTunes.
Originally, the Douglas Adams-penned Who installment was supposed to end the show's 17th series in 1979, but a BBC strike threw it off course. The episode was never finished, and so it never aired. But many attempts to rescue it have been made over the years.
A 1992 VHS version of the footage used narration from Tom Baker to pull the unfinished story together, and this version eventually made it to DVD. A novel of the episode's story was released, and Adams himself did a bit of his own salvage work — he took this story, cut the Doctor and anything Time Lord-related out of it, and used it as the basis for his novel Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. That book, it should be noted, had very (very) little in common with the late TV series of the same name.
In this newly sparkling version of Shada, the original footage has been remastered and joined together with new animated sequences, which now fill in the gaps. Tom Baker returned to voice the Doctor for these animated sequences, as did Lalla Ward, who plays Romana. The animation style is the same as it was in the rescued 2nd Doctor serial, "The Power of the Daleks." That serial had to be animated entirely, because only the original audio recordings survived after a BBC archive purge in 1974. If you liked the black-and-white style of that serial, then you should enjoy the colorized version of it here.
The end result is a bit of a Doctor FrankenWho's monster, but any opportunity for some fresh Tom Baker absurdity, as written by Douglas Adams, is cause for celebration. If you've been waiting for this one since November (but then forgot about it, as some of us may have done), then wait no longer! Who knows what wonders await you? Who... nose...?