Thursday, October 9, 2008

Doctor Who "Scream of the Shalka"

In 2003, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of its long running science-fiction show Doctor Who, the BBC commisioned an animated story, Scream of the Shalka, to be distributed as a webcast. That story featuring Richard E. Grant (see here) as the Doctor, Derek Jacobi as his nemesis, The Master, and future Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo as his assistant Alison is available in full at the BBC's website and you can watch episodes one and two (of six) at YouTube, see the clip at below.

This wittily written and beautifully drawn animation shows the promise of such a medium for science fiction. With the cost of animation being an amount per animated frame, the special effects possible are limited only by the writer's imagination, not by the price of real-world set design. But after commisioning this new story and two previously written but unproduced shows he BBC eventually opted to reinstate the live-action series.

Grant's performance here is brilliant. His delivery is perfect for the benevolent but put-upon explorer who is willing to help, but who doesn't want to be reminded that the Time Lords are controlling his destination according to their needs for hero-on-the-spot. Grant had long been rumored as a possible cast to portray the Doctor. And he did so as well in the charity spoof, The Curse of Fatal Death, also available on YouTube. The BBC ended up casting Christopher Eccleston and then David Tennant to play him instead. But the live action series is thriving, and once Tennant concludes his run, we can only hope that Grant will reprise the role.

Scream of the Shalka 1.1

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