Big Finish has released tales in such a format before, namely 100 and Circular Time where separate stories make part of a bigger tale. Where The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories (or TDoRLaOS as weâ€™ll refer to it from now on, thank you) follows this style, not all the stories are necessarily easy listening.
Thatâ€™s not to say that any of them are bad, far from it. Each tale is well written, acted and directed with a different style and format for each episode. But where two of the tales stand out of the crowd, the other two slightly fall behind due to their own structure.
The Demons of Red Lodge by Jason Arnopp is easily the best of the bunch. When the Doctor and Nyssa awaken to find themselves trapped in a very small space and panicking, youâ€™re instantly tense and wary for the two leads. As they walk through dark and deserted woods, scared, alone and being followed, you could break the tension with a knife. Itâ€™s genuinely creepy stuff reminiscent of the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project, especially if you listen with the lights turned off. As the story unfolds, itâ€™s not only clever and well written but also quite sad in parts. Reminiscent of the Third Doctor story The Daemons, this little tale keeps your toes curled with tension the whole way through.
The Entropy Composition is a well written tale and is a strong beginning for newcomer Rick Briggs (no relation) who won the Big Finish New Writers competition last year to get a place on this chronical of adventures. The Doctor and Nyssa to battle with a creature from beyond the dawn of time who has deadly control over sound. Itâ€™s a breathless action piece and one that, although keeping the listener engaged, feels like a script that was written more for television then audio. The epic finale is ever so slightly hard to visualise in oneâ€™s head but thatâ€™s just plain old nitpicking, this story is amusing and enthralling at the same time.
Doing Time by William Gallagher finds the Doctor on the planet Folly doing a â€œone stretchâ€ for all the wrong reasons. This is the lighter of the four offerings and offers some truly laugh out loud moments (wait until you hear about the Doctorâ€™s beard) as well as some tender sections as well. Â The direction and pacing of this particular story is very well done and the last ten minutes of frantic storytelling play out well.
Special Features by John Dorney is a very interesting take on the audio format for Doctor Who as it finds the Fifth Doctor recording a DVD commentary with the cast and crew of a film called Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror. The Doctor has to weed out an uninvited guest who was present at the filming and may just be at the recording of the commentary as well. Whilst itâ€™s a great idea, Special Features falls down ever so slightly as the first 15 minutes really do feel like a run of the mill DVD commentary. No one person is particularly engaging or interesting. Whilst the story has been written that way intentionally (and it is very accurate) it does tend to let down the first half. Once the action kicks in however, itâ€™s all hands on deck and the story blooms into something special.
Overall, TDoRLaOS is a solid offering from Big Finish. The variation of the tales means that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Download this now to see just how different the Doctorâ€™s life can be at any moment in time and space!
You can buy The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories on CD or via download now from www.bigfinish.com