Another old Who review. Originally posted Bronto, 2008-07-11. This is about Scream of the Shalka, starring Richard E Grant -- which is timely, as Grant's set to show up in this year's Christmas special.
Scream of the Shalka is an animated Webcast from '03 that was originally intended to serve as a pilot for a new series.
All in all, the biggest weakness is Richard E Grant's Doctor: bluntly, he's a prick. He's got all of Eccleston's sarcasm and condescension, with none of his whimsy or manic energy.
Now, there's a reason the Doctor is a prick, it's just not a very good or interesting one. The canonical #9 and #10 have done the "guilt and isolation" schtick too, but much better; the Doctor covering up his personal pain with constant wackiness is much more enjoyable than covering it up by simply insulting everyone and brooding all the time.
The most interesting element of the series is the robotic Master -- one of very few hints that Grant's Doctor has a sense of humor, and the only thread I would have liked to see developed had this made it to series. (The one brief nod on the current series: Derek Jacobi appearing as the Master in Utopia.) The serial's writer, Paul Cornell, would go on to use a similar idea years later in his Action Comics run, starring Lex Luthor and a robotic Lois Lane.
Aside from that, it's a generic alien invasion plot. The animation is serviceable -- and, since it's properly-done Flash, vector graphics and all, looks great on an HDTV -- but very low-budget; it would definitely look at home alongside any number of current cartoons on Nickelodeon or CN. Animations are simple, backgrounds are practically nonexistent (but lots of Kirby dots!). The animators' later attempts (the missing eps in The Invasion and The Infinite Quest) look a good deal better.
Anyway. It's worth checking out; the price is right. And I'd like to see more animated Who (either new stuff or more Invasion-style fill-ins of missing episodes). But ultimately, it's like the '96 movie: it's an interesting "What-If" for a series that never was, but the one we got instead is much better.