Judge Dredd
Pre-emptive Revenge

Starring: Toby Longworth, Simon Pegg and Ian Hallard
Big Finish Productions
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84435 055 X
Available 08 November 2004

2114AD. Judgement Day Plus One. Billions of human beings and former human beings have perished in a nuclear holocaust that destroyed the zombie menace of Sabbat the Mecromagus. In China's dangerous Radlands of Ji, Judge Dredd must begin the long walk home. All he has is a short-range radio, a chip on his shoulder, and a very reluctant travelling companion called Johnny Alpha. Dredd is hundreds of miles from home, marooned with a mutant he can't stand. They've got unfinished business, but so have the vengeful survivors of the nuclear strike on Sino-Cit One...

Pre-emptive Revenge sees the pairing of Simon Pegg (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead) as Strontium Dog Johnny Alpha, and Toby Longworth as Dredd. These Judge Dredd audios have been consistently good and the two previous Strontium Dog audios from Big Finish have also been impressive. So, I was really looking forward to hearing this release. Alpha and Dredd in one story seemed almost too good to be true.

Sadly, this release doesn't live up to the (rather large) expectations I had placed on it. That's not to say that it isn't any good - on the contrary. It's just that I was expecting something a little more... fun.

Neither Alpha nor Dredd are particularly keen on the others company. And while this could have resulted in some much welcome comedy it plays like an old married couple bitching at each other. While this is played for laughs, it got very tiring very quickly. And it is Alpha that seems to outshine Dredd - Dredd sounds like a washer woman as he moans and complains.

While I know this audio was designed to be light-hearted, a lot of the jokes didn't work too well. This was mainly down to the fact that Dredd is played as a bumbling fool - not knowing how to open a can that contains an instant campfire, being tricked by Alpha into leaving a dangerous area (I won't spoil the details of this event) and, on entering a mine field, has the following exchange:

Alpha: "Dredd! Don't move!"

Dredd: "What?"

Alpha: "Stay very, very still."

Dredd: "What is it?"

Alpha: "Mine!"

Dredd: "Your what?"

Alpha: "It's not my anything. It's a mine."

While the above joke is funny, it just seemed a little out of place. I, personally, don't see Dredd as a Sylvester Stallone type - all muscle and no brain. And, for the majority of audios that have followed this release, that is not how Longworth has portrayed him.

Fans of Back to the Future will love the time travel elements to this story, and it also helps to tie-in the events to the 2000AD universe.

This is still a very fine audio production, but I can't help feeling that a great opportunity wasn't exploited as well as it could have been.

Darren Rea

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