It can be hard to determine exactly what Scaredy Cat is about, considering that three plotlines are introduced in almost as many minutes. There’s a little girl running around a peaceful planet chanting “scaredy cat, scaredy cat” before something falls from the sky… and starts killing everybody. There are a set of anthropologists discussing a “restricted area” and a test subject who is apparently being tested to destruction. And then there’s the TARDIS, where C’rizz asks to see an unspoiled planet.
It’s standard reviewing technique to stop discussing the plot in Episode One, but I have to break that rule a little bit because it’s not until Episode Two that all of these disparate threads finally resolve into a coherent plot – that there are a set of scientists on that unspoiled planet running experiments on the natives, their project literally haunted by a chanting little girl.
Shindler insists in the liner notes that Scaredy Cat has always been a Doctor Who script, but it has all of the earmarks of a Sapphire & Steel story with the serial numbers barely filed off. An almost motionless pace, conflicting plotlines shattered over several timelines, a strange child constantly repeating a nonsense phrase (“scaredy cat” almost never ties into anything happening at the time and never moves the plot) — all of these are usually a sign that irregularities are being handled by the forces controlling each dimension.
Doctor Who elements do get unconvincingly bolted on – there is time travel and an argument between the Doctor and C’rizz about protecting the web of time vs changing history. But it’s an unconvincing join, unable to patch over huge foundational gaps like nobody noticing the secret (but highly technological) research station arriving and being supplied on the planet nobody visits but everyone watches.
Rather than filling in the holes, Shindler goes for a lot of technobabble to try to distract the listener, and when that doesn’t work, the screaming and the suggestive sound effects are deployed. The overall result is a highly unsatisfying story – a failure as both a Doctor Who adventure and as anything remotely scary.
Scaredy Cat (by Will Shindler; starring Paul McGann, India Fisher, Conrad Westmaas) was released by Big Finish Productions in October 2005.