01/03/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
Doctor Who: The Demons Of Red Lodge And Other Stories. pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute 4 stories. Price: CD: GBP 14.99 (UK), Download: GBP 10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-538-9.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com.
The Demons of Red Lodge by Jason Arnopp. cast: Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Susan Kyd, Duncan Wisbey and John Dorney
When the Fifth Doctor and his companion Nyssa wake they are alone and afraid in the dark. Something is coming and it wants them.
This atmospheric take is set in the seventeenth century. Conjured up by a few phrases and the articulation of an old woman called Emily, we are quickly drawn into the story. Using this Hammer horror scenario injected with extras, this story owes a lot to the film format that sets up our expectations by using the traditional concepts of paranoia and claustrophobia. There is nothing wrong with this as it is always useful as a start point which it then subverts. The twist in the tale is an excellent use of the nature of the Doctor and the brains of his companion.
The Entropy Composition by Rick Briggs. Cast: Andree Bernard, Ian Brooker, Joanna Munro and James Fleet
The Entropy Composition is by Rick Wakeman...oh, ok Rick Briggs then. It looks at the transformative power of music and gives all a new and non-culinary use for cheese. After listening to this, I am more convinced than ever that my Dad was right about ‘Top Of The Pops’.
When the Doctor feeling nostalgic takes Nyssa to the ‘ipod of the universe’, he is not prepared for what will be unleashed there. It all leads back to a small country recording studio where a rock star is leading a secluded life-style while he prepares his greatest ever work.
Doing Time by William Gallagher. Cast: John Dorney, Susan Kyd and Duncan Wisbey
The Doctor is not totally unhappy. He’s taught the prisoners cricket and educated them, too but he’s trying to prevent a disaster, not be their parole officer. The Governor won’t listen as she has her own plans. Nyssa is trying to get into prison but it’s easier to catch a cold than get into the high security complex.
The opening lines of the audio may sound familiar to any of you who have ever watched Ronnie Barker’s ‘Porridge’ and this is a little homage to that show.
‘Doing Time’ by William Gallagher comes as a bit of light relief after the dark doings in the first two plays. It is articulate and funny with some cracking ideas. Lifted by the humour, it’s got everything from prison movies and TV that will make you very happy. It also manages a cheeky use of time and possibly the first Doctor Who beard.
Special Features by John Dorney. Cast: James Fleet, Ian Brooker, Joanna Munro and John Dorney
A not so brilliant cult horror film, finally gets its chance to become a director’s cut. A special edition with the inevitable commentary can lead to many things but not usually several brutal deaths. Just why is Doctor John Smith here to oversee the proceedings? Martin Ashcroft, the director is played by James Fleet, alumina of ‘Four Weddings And A Funeral’ and ‘Vicar Of Dibley’. Martin Ashcroft sets the scene perfectly as he begins his commentary with the leading actor Sir Jack Merrick (again played by Fleet) and supporting actress Joanna Birke. She’s bemused to know why she’s been included as she only had a small part. They all comment on the youthful looking Dr John Smith, after all it’s been twenty-five years since the film was made.
This is the horror Hammer (and hammy) special with the inside joke that Peter Davison is notorious for his own brand of humour on Doctor Who commentaries. Nicely set up in the confined space of the editing suite, this builds on the claustrophobia as we find out along with the participants what is really happening here. With the added touch of the film soundtrack punctuating revelations we learn why the movie is so significant to all the people in the room. Truths will be unearthed about accidents, the curse and the missing scene. It’s going to be a long night.
With such well-developed stories that belie their short running time there is plenty to enjoy here as the Fifth Doctor gets to flit around the universe and back to earth. It is very satisfying to get to the nub of the plot so quickly; there is no time to mess about. Memorable voices and characters are the key as they have to be brought in swiftly to get and keep our attention. This format has not been overused by Big Finish. I have listened to ‘Circle Of Time’ (Fifth Doctor) and ‘45’ (Seventh Doctor) and they also worked very well. These episodes have the joy of a short story and offer different challenges to both the writer and the listener.
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