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     Big Finish 085: Red    
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Tuesday, September 05 2006 @ 10:49 PM EDT
     Viewed:  1,179 times  
    DW ReviewsSylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor with Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush.

    Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to listen to trailers. I listened to the BF trailer for this and thought that it sounded dreadful. So it was with some trepidation that I loaded the discs to my Ipod for the first listen of this play fully expecting not to enjoy one moment of it. Two things struck me; immediately the starkness of the sound and later how this play is very similar to “Something inside” (reviewed previously and to be found in these pages.) I cannot put my finger on what it was about the sound and feel but it gave exactly the right quality to what is for the 7th Doctor a retrospective story because of the companion.

    The story is about a society that has eradicated violent crime by the use of a control chip which is inserted into its citizen’s brains. The chip is monitored by a sentinel computer called Whitenoise who can edit people’s memories and control their violent impulses. The Doctor and Mel materialise the Tardis into this environment after the Tardis is attacked during a journey and immediately stumble upon a dead body. Mel and the Doctor very quickly become separated and the Doctor is brought before Whitenoise and “chipped.”

    (continues below)

    A serial killer stalks this “Eden” and Whitenoise cannot find it but the chip inside the Doctor fails and causes a strange synchronicity between himself and the killer and so the chase begins. Slowly the Doctor comes closer to the killer while Mel finds herself to be the target of its violence.

    As I mentioned earlier; this story is very similar to “Something inside” and this is a trap that Big Finish seem to be falling into. Several of the recent stories seem to bear a startling resemblance to previous stories (The End of Time and Entropy Tuesday from The Nowhere Place and Singularity respectively) and this story is no exception. Both Stories take place inside closed environments, both involve a killer which resides in a host mind and both have the Doctor separated from their companions for most of the play.

    The difference betwixt Something Inside and Red is Whitenoise and Mel. Bonnie Langford puts in one of her best performances as she attempts to track the killer and John Stahl is excellent as Whitenoise the very H.A.L. like sentinel computer who’s slowly losing control without knowing why or how.

    So despite my preconceptions from the trailer I actually ended up liking this story which is a (full length Doctor Who) debut for writer Stewart Sheargold.

    The story itself explores what happens when people are denied the darker emotional outlets that are normally found within themselves and the role of enforced censorship within society.

    This is not by any means the best 7th Doctor story but a good solid performance for McCoy which is accessible to new listeners but may fail to hold the attention of experienced Big Finishers. Where this story works and Something Inside doesn’t is the 7th Doctor’s darker nature and the more proactive role of Mel.

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