Scream of the Shalka

 

 

Year: 2003

Synopsis: The Doctor, with a robotic Master as his initial companion, reluctantly finds himself fighting aliens in Lancashire, England, side by side with UNIT.

Pros:
• An almost traditional Doctor Who story that is still original.
• Though largely unstated, it followed the continuity of the 1996 TV film.
• It was genuinely interesting to see the show in an animated format, which has largely been relegated to reconstructed episodes from the 1960s and 1970s.
• Richard E. Grant’s version of the Ninth Doctor is dark, mysterious, and reluctant, all hinting at unseen events.
• Elements like the Master working with the Doctor as a companion did appear in the revived show in some form, along with Darek Jacobi appearing as the Master (YANA incarnation).

Cons:
• The animation sometimes does not seem right for the show.
• Backstory for elements like a robot Master as a companion, where the Doctor meant to go, and the regeneration into the Ninth Doctor go largely unexplained without even the promise of explanation.
• The story can be somewhat predictable.
• There was no real “what could have been” feel.
• The story does not stand out well against the rest of the Doctor Who cannon.

Discussion:
One might get the sense of this being an afterthought, now being all but forgotten within and without of the show’s production. The story, while not lazy, is not the most remarkable. It would seem the special was not well liked by Russel T. Davies, who helped to revive the show in 2005. Perhaps the decision to ignore Shalka was for the best, in the context of The Last Great Time War story arc, which narratively admits to the continuity problems of the franchise between 1989 to 2005.

One could easily see the production meeting and coin flips that went into the show’s revival. What survived those meetings and what did not is interesting, considering how the show has progressed since. Of what survived those meetings, it is also interesting to see what elements of the New Adventures and Shalka survived in some form. Regardless, Scream of Shalka has become the forgotten child of the Wilderness Years, much more so than the New Adventures novels. Whatever the plans were surrounding Shalka, the true future of Doctor Who was already nigh …

Related:
Doctor Who Franchise


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