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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories


Starring: Peter Davison
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99 (CD), £12.99 (download)

ISBN: 978 1 84435 538 9

Available 31 December 2010

During a long, dark night in 17th-century Suffolk, the TARDIS travellers find something nasty outside the woodshed...

The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories is another of those anthologies of single-part stories that Big Finish likes to do from time to time. Having applied the format to all four of its Doctors, the production team now turns its attention back to the era of the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), who starred in the first such release, 2007’s Circular Time.

This anthology takes its title from the opening story, a creepy tale written by Jason Arnopp. It is genuinely unnerving at times, especially at the beginning, as the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves in pitch darkness, for reasons as mysterious to them as they are to us, and experiencing inexplicable terror. However, the overall plot is rather slight, even given its short running time.

So much for The Demons of Red Lodge - what about the other stories...?



A lost progressive rock symphony is unearthed from the vaults - with catastrophic consequences for the entire cosmos...

Fortunately, this double CD gets better as it goes along. The Entropy Composition, by competition winner Rick Briggs, contains more memorable moments than its predecessor, including Nyssa assuming the guise of a groupie!

In fact, both this episode and the next one, Doing Time, contain amusing scenes of Nyssa pretending to be less than her usual lily-white self - though here her deception is more successful than her attempts at criminality in Doing Time. One could argue that, following Circular Time, another of the Fifth Doctor’s companions should be given a turn at the anthology treatment. However, there’s no denying that the Trakenite gets some interesting and unusual things to do during this release, and she comes across as particularly capable and level-headed in Briggs’s script.



On the planet Folly, justice catches up with the criminal mastermind “The Doctor” - but can he endure a year in solitary confinement...?

William Gallagher’s Doing Time works extremely well within its half-hour duration, possibly because the very essence of the story deals with compressed time, in terms of both the traditional “time-stealing” effect of a prison sentence (the piece opens as a pastiche of the intro from the sitcom Porridge) and the sci-fi concept of a time-dilation field.

Nyssa proves to be a resourceful individual once again. Following some unsuccessful attempts as a thief, she lands a job, and rather enjoys it, while the Doctor is banged up.

My only real complaint about this episode is that characters’ voices are slowed down when they are trapped in the time field. Surely from their own point of view they should sound normal, while from the perspective of those outside the field, they should sound speeded up.



At last, the cult 1970s horror anthology Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror is set for release on DVD, complete with a commentary from director Martin Ashcroft, leading actors Sir Jack Merrivale and Johanna Bourke, plus the film’s historical adviser, the mysterious “Doctor John Smith”...

The ingenious Special Features, penned by John Dorney, accurately captures the inanities and tedium of audio commentaries at their worst: actors and production personnel wittering on about people who’ve died, people who were lovely to work with, wondering whether they should give away the ending, and all the awkward silences in between. All the while, the movie’s main audio track (the production of which was a logistical challenge in itself, as director Ken Bentley explains in the actual special features at the end of the disc) can be heard in the background, punctuating the dramatic revelations that take place within the commentary booth.

The writer also picks up themes from the previous three stories and deconstructs the nature of the entire release. Like Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror, The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories is a portmanteau piece in which several of the performers, including Dorney himself, double up to play multiple roles.

Special Features provides a suitably special conclusion to the anthology.


Richard McGinlay

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