Monday, 17 January 2011

Doctor Who The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories review

Now, before I start to write about this, I think that I should declare a bit of an interest.
A few months ago, Big Finish ran a competition were new writers were able to pitch ideas for a one part adventure featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. Like a lot of other writers, I gave it a go. And like all but one of them, I failed! The winner can be heard on this release. I was nervous before listening... It’s true I didn’t know which one of the four loosely related tales was the winner before listening, but I figured that because I didn’t know which was which, then my judgement should be impartial, right?
Well, I think it was, because on the first listen, the competition winner was one of the ones that really stood out for me.

We begin with The Demons of Red Lodge. This is a pretty straight up horror thriller type tale. It is well told, well acted and paced perfectly. I like an historical Who, and this has a nice sense of time and place to it. The writer does an impressive job of telling a fairly complex story, with flashback scenes and everything, in the 25 minutes that have been allotted to him. And here, as with all four of the tales in the collection, it was nice to see the character of Nyssa being fleshed out a bit. I don’t think she whines once throughout!

The Entropy Composition is next, and this is the competition winner, written by Rick Briggs. This has some pretty big sci-fi concepts! It has that special type of science in it that you can only get in the best of Who. By that I mean something that the Doctor will explain very quickly during an action sequence that, because you don’t have time to take in, sounds plausible, and as long as you just watch it from the corner of your eye and don’t look at it directly or think too much about it, it works fine!
Part of the brief for the submission was a 25 minute adventure, with, as mentioned, the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa and another three speaking parts. Briggs raises to this challenge brilliantly. He even goes to the audacious lengths of having one of the main characters not even appear in the story! I’m looking forward to seeing further adventures from this writer. I’d like to be annoyed, bitter and resentful, but in truth, his story is a hundred times better than the one I pitched!

Third comes Doing Time, which starts with a wonderful joke and carries on this light tone throughout. Well, almost throughout. Things take a nasty turn, as we expect them to in tales such as this. What I liked most in this story though, was what the writer was saying about the nature of politics in our world. Something brought home with some dark synchronicity as I listened to this again at the weekend, as news of the Arizona shooting came in.

Finally, and possibly my favourite is Special Features. This is an idea so damned obvious I find it hard to believe that it hasn’t been done before in an audio play. What we are treated to is the recording of a dvd commentary track to a 1970s British horror film. If any of you have ever listened with despair to a group of bored people attempting to dredge their memories for anything interesting to say about a minor job they did thirty or forty years before, then you’ll find yourself sporting a smile as you listen to this! A brilliant idea, perfectly executed. 
There is also a brilliant subscriber only extra for this particular tale- you can download the 'movie' which the characters are commenting on, and it is hilarious. It's a wonderful pastiche of the classic horror movie The Wicker Man and is full of wonderful hammy performances.

No comments:

Post a Comment