The Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive in 20s Hollywood, with the transition between silent and “talkie” films in full effect. This story plays with the concepts well, but I can’t help but feel in a few weeks time I’ll have forgotten about it. It’s one of those Fourth Doctor Adventures stories that just isn’t very memorable. Not bad, not great, just… alright. Let’s take a closer look to see why…
On the set of a busy Hollywood movie in the late 1920s, a damsel is in distress! As cameras roll, she opens her mouth to scream and… nothing comes out. Nothing at all. It’s happened again.
The Doctor, Romana and K9 have arrived in a terrified Tinseltown. A new film is being made and several stars of the silent screen are viewing it as a potential comeback… but it may prove a poisoned chalice. Actors are vanishing and strange creatures stalk the streets.
Something evil is lurking behind the scenery. Can the Doctor stop it when he doesn’t have a voice? It’s time for his close-up…
Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor is having a rare geek out moment, tracking down silent film star Lorretta Waldorf while he was “in the era”. Of course, this turns out to be the centre of something much greater…
Romana (Lalla Ward) – Romana finds herself in amongst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood… but seems pretty bored. Even when near 2D film silhouette creatures attack!
K9 (John Leeson) – The always faithful robot companion, K9 is confused by the notion of actors and films… you’d think his databanks would have the data, really… especially since just two stories ago he was on stage in a theatre!
Dr. Julius (Alec Newman) – Crazy fan from the future who believes he’s “saving” the now out of work silent movie stars… by preserving them in horrendous forms that he controls. *shrugs* I know more obsessive fans…
Lorretta Waldorf (Pamela Salem) – Lorretta is on her way out of the movie business, her career as a silent movie star fading away… much like her voice…
Very snazzy cover. Even the sidebar has been changed!
Although some of the accents are a little… grating, the setting is at least reasonably fresh and interesting. With celluloid creatures and movie lots, early plastic surgery and the storage of film prints, they certainly went all in with the early Hollywood concept! Plus Tom Baker seemed to be having a ball with the material, which always helps any script.
At the very least I liked the characters of Lorretta Waldorf and the studio owner Lulu Hammerstein. They had cheesy accents, but at least they weren’t off-putting and had some funny lines.
I can’t think of anything really bad, but the story does feel flat. I enjoyed it as it was playing, but a few hours later I couldn’t think of a line or a particular scene that was memorable. The villain was dull (and had a cheesy accent), the resolution was very nearly Matt Smith-levels of “magic sonic screwdriver solves it”, and Lalah Ward sounds bored, as she seems to do nowadays, but I think it was made worse by Tom Baker having such a fun time.
Nothing to note, this doesn’t really link up with anything.
Not much else to say about “The Silent Scream” I’m afraid. It’s a short review, but that’s because the story was so average that nothing much stood out as needing to be praised or punished, so to speak. If you get it cheap, I doubt you’ll feel robbed of your time, it flows along fine enough, but at the end of the day it’s going to slowly vanish into your collection, never really cropping up in any discussion about the best or worst of … well, anything.