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DVD Review

DVD cover

Doctor Who
Scream of the Shalka


Starring: Richard E. Grant
Distributor: BBC DVD
RRP: £20.42
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 16 September 2013

The Doctor is forced to land on Earth, once again, against his will. Landing in a small town everything looks normal except for the fact that no people are on the streets and the place is deathly silent. Wandering into a nearby pub he discovers the three people within conflicted and frightened, while outside his TARDIS is pulled into the earth. Joining up with his new temporary companion, Alison, the Doctor discovers that a race of alien beings is living beneath, intent on using their sonic technology to invade...

Scream of the Shalka (2003 - 1 hr, 19 min, 37 sec) is a six part flash animation which was originally created to mark the fortieth anniversary of the show and made available over the Internet. This is the first time the show has been collected together and made available on DVD.

Written by Paul Cornell and directed by Wilson Milam, the show is noteworthy on a number of counts not least because the Doctor is played by Richard E. Grant, who would also appear in the same role for Comic Relief as well as playing Dr Walter Simeon in the show. In a continuity boon, the Master is played by Derek Jacobi, who would go on to reprise the same role for television. Appearing as the voice of Alison is Sophie Okonedo, who would pop up as a future Queen opposite Matt Smith and to complete the fevered fan desire David Tennant appears in the small role of the Caretaker.

Originally mooted as the ninth Doctor, Grant's Doctor was relegated to the side-lines when Christopher Eccleston became the ninth Doctor. His portrayal has more in common with Colin Bakers original interpretation, haughty and dismissive making him a difficult Doctor, seemingly lacking much empathy to the plight of those around him. As the story continues his portrayal becomes softer and funnier.

Paul Cornell has written extensively for Doctor Who, so performances notwithstanding, he still turns in a well-constructed Who story with an interesting villain in the Shalka, an intelligent creature with a technology based on a sonic scream, sophisticated enough to create wormholes. Ron Grainer's title music has been given the once over with a funky drum beat, the only time you will hear it played this way.

Surprising, for a web show there is a decent amount of extras on the disc. There is a commentary, mediated by Toby Hadock, with contributions from Paul Cornell, director Wilson Milam and producer, James Goss.

Carry on Screaming (26 min, 53 sec) takes a look at how and why the animated show was made. Presented by James Goss, the executive producer of the show, it has contributions from Martin Tricky, executive producer, Jelena Djordjevic, producer, who was ultimately replaced by Maurinn Lane Kelly and writer Paul Cornell. They recount the highs and lows of bringing the show to fruition, when the process gets to the stage of animation Jon Doyle, Director, Cosgrove Hall joins the reminiscences. It’s a good tale of the creators, passionate about bringing back Doctor Who in some form, only to see their dream becoming a side-line when the BBC announced that the show would be returning two months before the animation even came out.

The Screaming Sessions (7 min, 20 sec) has contemporary film of the cast talking about their roles interspersed with shots of the audio being recorded. Sadly there is no contributions from Richard E. Grant or Derek Jacobi, although most of the main cast provide their insights.

Interweb of Fear (23 min, 48 sec) looks at the creation of the Internet and Doctor Who’s relation with it. Like some of the best extras this looks at Who from an odd angle, which illuminates both the history of Who and the social changes within which it was created.

Next up is the photo gallery, a self-playing set of twenty pictures. If you so desire you can listen to the isolated music track (26 min, 58 sec). The disc closes with the usual Information text and a Coming Soon for Terror of the Zygons.

So we have a little diversion in the journey of Who, the criticisms aimed at the show are unfair and if the show hadn’t come back the first story was strong enough to have, possibly, become the future of Who.


Charles Packer

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