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Doctor Who: Scream Of The Shalka DVD Review

Doctor Who- Scream of the Shalka DVD

‘Scream of the Shalka’ is strictly for “Doctor Who” completists and collectors.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Doctor Who” 10 years ago, BBC commissioned a 6 part flash animated web series called “Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka.” In this adventure, we are introduced to what was originally intended to be the Ninth Doctor voiced by actor Richard E. Grant (who has recently appeared in “Doctor Who” episodes as Dr. Simeon). This grouchy and sometimes angry new Doctor teams up with a bartender (Alison) in order to stop underground dwelling aliens (the Shalka) from enslaving humans and invading Earth. That’s the basic story in a nutshell.

While the script and the project itself are certainly ambitious, ‘Shalka’ feels like pure fan fiction. You can tell writer Paul Cornell’s imagination was running wild with possibilities (especially since he is given the chance to create a new Doctor), but unfortunately, his vision was simply too big for this 78 minute yarn. Not only is the story structure awkward, but the script feels rushed and incomplete. It often feels like many scenes are missing and that additional characterization was edited out.

On top of that, this incarnation of the Doctor just doesn’t work. He’s far too grouchy and unlikable and it’s flat-out embarrassing to see him engage in a sing and scream off at the end. I can’t blame Richard E. Grant who does the best he can with the material he is given, but it’s not hard to see why this incarnation never really took off.

‘Shalka’ is not without merit, however, as there are a few geeky moments that will please longtime Who fans. First and foremost, the robot Master was an unexpectedly interesting inclusion. While it may be questionable from a writing perspective, the idea is made more appealing by the fact that actor Derek Jacobi does the voice work for him. As many fans know, Jacobi went on to play The Master in the great “Utopia” episode. Last, but not least, Whovians will definitely want to keep their ears open for a pre-Doctor David Tennant doing some voice work.

Note: The side of the box says this is a 2 disc release, but it’s not.

Video/Audio:

The animated web series, which is presented in widescreen, certainly looks better than it ever has on DVD, but it’s far from Cosgrove Hall’s best animation work (especially when compared to their fantastic work on classic “Doctor Who” episodes lately). The flash animation quality just looks mediocre here as evidenced by the stiff and clumsy character movements.

The Dolby Digital Stereo track is impressive, but the actual ear piercing screams of the Shalka will make you want to turn down the volume (or mute it at times).

Extras:
* Trailers for “Doctor Who” Series 7 Part 2 and “Terror of the Zygons,” info text, and a photo gallery.
* The full 27 minute soundtrack album. I like the revised opening theme, but the rest of the score is forgettable.
* “Interweb Of Fear”- A 24 minute featurette about the history of BBC websites (and the official “Doctor Who” website).
* “The Screaming Sessions”- A collection of interviews with many of the voice cast members such as Sophie Okonedo and Jim Norton. Sadly, David Tennant, Derek Jacobi and Richard E. Grant do not appear in this.
* “Carry On Screaming”- James Goss hosts this making of that includes cast and crew interviews, discussions about how this web series project came about, etc.
* Commentary by Paul Cornell, James Goss, Toby Hadoke, and Wilson Millam. The passionate Paul Cornell does a great job on this commentary which is certainly more entertaining than the web series itself.

Summary: “Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka” is an endurance test, but curious Whovians may want to give it a spin.

September 11, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] <b>Doctor</b> Who: <b>Scream Of The Shalka DVD</b> Review « <b>DVD&lt… […]

    Pingback by Doctor Who @ BBC , Scream of the Shalka DVD trailer | September 12, 2013 | Reply


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