I didn’t know much about this particular Who animation, but the voice cast caught my attention… and to be honest, I just couldn’t resist. The Infinite Quest, and its less impressive Dreamland, were both enjoyable additions to the Who-verse.
Shalka, however, was something different. It began life as the 40th anniversary of Doctor Who approached in 2002… when Who had been off the air for almost 15 years (or 6 years if you include the McGann movie) and everyone had about given up on its return. The result is an odd anomaly as it introduces its own version of the 9th Doctor, who is neither Eccleston nor Hurt (again, depending on how you count or when you did the count).
Enter Grant (Downton Abbey) as the never-to-be 9th Doctor. And a reasonable job he does as well. There are aspects of his performance that mirror what was eventually to come. Opposite him, as the new companion is Okonedo (The Escape Artist), who has bits of Rose and Martha in her; she is an intelligent woman of gumption and opinion. Also keep an ear out for a couple surprise voices created by Tennant and Jacobi. And, yes, you can assume that their involvement here led in some ways to their inclusion during the Davies’ years.
The sequence is a fun “what if” as it is. The extras on the disc, however, are a riot. The history of how this episode ended up coming to being is just as, if not more, entertaining than the story. I even discovered my life intersected with this production on a tech level. There are a wealth of information that covers the back story of the production and it is all done tongue-in-cheek, almost Pythonesque.
This isn’t a great piece of animation, though it has a style all its own. The script is no better or worse than other classic Who, meaning you can tolerate it and the story is still kind of fun. Because it was animation, they really could push the boundaries of the story more than usual. And the language is decidedly more adult than than the show ever was. If you’re a Whovian, you kinda have to see this at some point. And, as mentioned, the extras are worth the time.