Friday, 28 March 2014

Shada by Gareth Roberts

Based upon the script by Douglas Adams for the the fourth doctor era of Doctor Who, Shada tells the adventure of the Doctor and Romana, as played by Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, as they go to visit an old friend of theirs, Professor Chronotis. The old professor is on his final life, and so has retired to Cambridge where he shall carry out the rest of his days in reasonable comfort. The doctor, however, has picked up a distress beacon, originating from Cambridge. Worried for the Professors health, the doctor, Romana and K9 head to Cambridge, where they discover the professor has committed a terrible crime, he stole the The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Galifrey, a book he shouldn't possess. Because the book is the key to a deadly location, a location which could cause evil in the wrong hands. And Skagra has the wrong hands. Skagra is determined to steal the book, and he doesn't care if it means taking peoples minds. But the book falls into the hands of Chris Parsons, a confused student who doesn't understand the significance of this edition. And so the adventure begins...

The negatives first. My only problem with the story is that its maybe a bit too long. Obviously, this sounds like a really rubbish criticism, but there is a reason. The story is split into several different sections, each section being presumably a different episode. This means that each part is quite long. Because there can't be constant action and revelations, this can make some section a tad boring, but the author combats this with the humour and wit that is constant in all of Adams works.
Apart from that the story is sound.

Now for the positives. As a big fan of Doctor Who, I'm obsessed with Tom Bakers era. The main reason is that if you want to start watching classic Doctor Who, there's a high probability you'll end up watching Tom Baker. Because of this, I'm quite aware of the format of which some episodes conform to. In the episodes I've watched, with the doctor, Romana and K9, there's a common theme of the doctor going off to have an adventure with a new found male companion whilst Romana gets imprisoned and K9 stays in the Tardis. To a certain degree, Shada sticks to this pattern, giving the whole story a level of realism.
In all of Douglas Adams work there is a brilliant mixture of wit, genius and all round brilliance, something that Gareth Roberts does well to replicate in this. The story is a well written interpretation of Adams' work and, whilst containing the wit and humour of a hitchhikers adventure, brings in an element of modern doctor who, making the book relevant to fans of doctor who, old and new, and fans of Douglas Adams work.
The plot is absolutely brilliant and it would make a truly beautiful episode. I love the way in which the doctor will go from saving the world one second to having a conversation with the ship. This makes the story fun to read and not too dramatic.
And my favourite moment is brilliant and near the end of the book, where the professor explains how he stole the book. He explains that he replaced the book with another, from Earth. He couldn't explain what it was though. Something about towels and thumbing a ride. I find that moment beautiful and it's one of the highlights of the book.

In conclusion, Shada is an excellent telling of one of Douglas Adams lost scripts, with Gareth Roberts demonstrating why he's so brilliant at Doctor Who. A funny, clever and thoroughly entertaining adventure, I give Shada nine out of ten.

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