The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories (2010)

For the last few years, there has been a single release that has consisted of four single stories. This year it was the turn of the Fifth Doctor to get this treatment. What is quite special is that one of the writers won a competition set up by Big Finish and was won by the curiously named Rick Briggs. I suppose anyone who submitted a story for the competition and didn’t win might be slightly envious of Rick for this opportunity and are eager to see what he produced that won him this spot.

The Demons of Red Lodge is the first story written by Jason Arnopp and sees the Doctor and Nyssa wake up to find out that they don’t remember where they are and after investigating the surroundings they find that the speara (not sure about spelling) are planning an invasion and are trying to convert the inhabitants and the first stage is to basically knock them out and then the second stage is to take full control of their personalities. The Speara are trying to convert the Doctor and Nyssa but think that their human and when they try to copy the Doctor’s two hearts affect the plans of the Speara.

I really liked this story. It’s a I thought that there was enough threat from Speara and it was great how the Doctor and Nyssa seemed genually scared at the beginning of this story. With a few tweeks this could easily make a hour long or even four part drama. Jason Arnopp has written a good opening story and it’s a good starter for this release.

The second story is the one written by Rick Briggs called The Entropy Composition. It sees the Doctor and Nyssa arrive in 1968 in a prog rock musician called Geoff Cooper who wrote a song called White Waves, Soft Haze that was never released. He is accompanied by Erisi and there are clues early on when the animals disappear. Erisi is a Entropy Siren and the music is basically eroding all the music on the archivist planet and is creating chaos. There is a lovely scene where the Doctor and Nyssa are trying to convince Mrs Malloy who they are and Nyssa trying to pretend she’s a swinging 1960’s girl but not understanding what the term groupie means.

I found this a harder story to understand than the previous one. It took a few listens to fully understand it and that shouldn’t really be the case in a 25 minute story. Don’t get me wrong I do think that it’s an interesting story but when you have such a short amount of time to tell a story then it should be far simpler than it was. I did like the characters that Briggs has written. I thought that Mrs Malloy was a lovely character and her exit was quite a shock and Naloom was also very entertaining as the archivist.

The third story was called Doing Time written by William Gallagher and sees the Doctor in a prison on the planet Folly. The opening dialogue was a mirror of the opening scene of the BBC Sitcom ‘Porridge’. The Doctor collects a future echo that tells him a planet is going to explode but arrives a year too early. He is put in prison by a very nasty Governor who has desires of becoming President. The whole story is very entertaining story that sees the Doctor create an interplanetary version of the Cricket Ashes.

It’s a good story with some good characters and in particular Susan Kyd as Governor Chaplin. She was very entertaining throughout and was probably the best guest character of the entire release. Gallagher has written a fun and often amusing story.

The final story of this release is called Special Features written by John Dorney and is a 25th Anniversary DVD commentary to a 1970’s horror film called Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror. This is an original way of telling a Doctor Who story. It’s quite a brave attempt because commentaries are improvised and require the viewer to be actually seeing the images as opposed to just listening to the action. There is a lot of talk between the contributors about a curse and the bad luck that befell some of the cast. I thought it was a really good story because this takes place over the course of 20 or so minutes and in one long scene. The story manages to pack a lot in despite the short running time but this is thanks to the writer.

All the cast do a great job and along with Dorney’s writing this is my favourite story of the entire release. John Dorney has been one of the shining stars in 2010 with Solitaire springing to mind and he does another good outing with this story. He’s managed to make this episode seem like it was done like a normal commentary.

So the final regular release of 2010 is a good one. They were all good in their own way and despite the Rick Briggs story, they were all very straightforward and enjoyable. On the subject of Rick Briggs I think that he should be allowed to write a full four part story like Steven Hall did this year with A Death in the Family because I think that he could do a good job. The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories should be listened to by anyone who likes short stories and who likes creepy stories.

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