‘THE DEMONS OF RED LODGE AND OTHER STORIES’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Four mini adventures with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa
I love the Big Finish audio adventures of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa! 🙂
With ‘Circular Time’ being my favourite Fifth Doctor and Nyssa audio anthology, I was pleased to hear that a brand new audio anthology featuring four one-part adventures featuring the TARDIS duo would be released at the end of December in 2010. I was so looking forward to hearing this on a CD.
I wasn’t disappointed when I heard ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ in its entirety. It showcases the best of the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa as a TARDIS duo as well as featuring some amazing story ideas. It inspired me to pen the ‘Merry Christmas From The Doctor, Nyssa and Billy’ anthology.
I’ve had my CD cover of ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ at the NEC in Birmingham in November 2017. I’ve also had it signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘London Film & Comic Con’ in Earl’s Court, London, July 2011, which is terrific!
When I saw Sarah in London in 2011, she agreed with me that the four stories featured in ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ are very good. This includes the first story, which is quite frightening, and Sarah enjoyed doing the fourth story, which is all about a DVD audio commentary. 🙂
At the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention, Sarah recalled she laughed so much during the recording session of the DVD audio commentary episode that she ended up laughing on the floor, which is very funny to imagine. I’m sure there’s plenty to enjoy when listening to this particular audio anthology. 🙂
‘THE DEMONS OF RED LODGE’
The first story of the anthology is of course ‘The Demons of Red Lodge’ by Jason Arnopp. This audio story really terrified me when I first heard it. It put me in mind of an ‘Avengers’ episode from the 1960s TV show with Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. I was scared for Nyssa when she became scared.
In the episode, the Doctor and Nyssa find themselves waking up in a woodshed, with no idea how they got there in the first place. I wondered how the Doctor and Nyssa got in that woodshed and what would happen when they got out of it. They both seemed to be rather scared for some reason.
Nyssa struggles to hold back her fear whilst the Doctor helps to calm her down. They soon find themselves ending up at a cottage in the village of Red Lodge in Suffolk in the year 1665. In the cottage, Susan Kyd as Emily Cobham lives there with her twin sister Ivy (also played by Susan Kyd). 🙂
It was interesting how the episode unveiled and how it turned out that Ivy didn’t have a twin sister and that Emily modelled herself on Ivy. The ‘demons’ in this story happen to be the Speera, and they can model themselves on any person and take their form when they’re attempting to invade the Earth.
This includes the Doctor and Nyssa, as our main heroes encounter their doppelgängers in the story. The Doctor and Nyssa’s doubles are rather cold and scary when they talk. It’s clear that Peter and Sarah enjoyed playing their evil doubles in this story as well as portraying the real Doctor and Nyssa.
I do get terrified when the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa sometimes become the bad guys in ‘Doctor Who’. It’s happened a few times, including when they were the Lord and Lady of the Manor in ‘The Eternal Summer’ and when the Doctor and Nyssa later became Mara-possessed in ‘The Cradle of the Snake’.
I like how the Doctor and Nyssa thwarted Emily and the Speera when they attempted to drain their life-force and assimilate them into their ‘collective’, so to speak. Nyssa works out a flaw in the Speera’s plan. It involves the Doctor having two hearts and him and Nyssa being aliens, not humans.
I’m pleased with the way this episode ended, as there’s a beautiful scene between the Doctor and Nyssa where they stop to look at the sunrise. I liked the links to Nyssa’s past from ‘The Keeper of Traken’, as there’s a sense of peace between her and the Doctor as they watch the sunrise together.
‘The Demons of Red Lodge’ rating – 10/10
‘THE ENTROPY COMPOSITION’
The second story of the anthology is ‘The Entropy Composition’ by Rick Briggs. Rick Briggs won the Big Finish’s Opportunity for New Writers contest out of 1,200 submissions, according to script editor Alan Barnes. I was unaware of this contest, as I was studying my final year at Cardiff University in 2010.
I would have liked to have submitted a story featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa to Big Finish for that contest. Nowadays, I send submissions to ‘The Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trip Opportunity’ every year, and I write my stories on my blog as well as for the Divergent Wordsmiths.
‘The Entropy Composition’ takes place in two times and places. There’s Earth in the year 1968 and there’s the planet Concordum, which is like ‘an MP3 player on a planetary scale’. I wonder if people use MP3 players nowadays. I still listen to ‘The Moon Stallion’ audiobook on one of my MP3 players.
In the story, the Doctor and Nyssa have to stop an entropy siren called the Erisi (voiced by Andrée Bernard, who you may have seen in ‘The Shakespeare Code’ and as Angie in ‘The Brittas Empire’). The concept of an entropy siren is clever and well thought-out by Rick Briggs in terms of the writing.
It’s also interesting how entropy is used in a music medium when a progressive rock composition is created to spread entropy on Earth in 1968 as well as on the planet Concordum. Entropy is significant to Nyssa’s character especially, since her planet Traken was destroyed by an entropy field.
There are a lot of really good moments featured between the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in this story. I enjoyed the ‘cheese in the ears’ moments between the two and Sarah Sutton’s groupie Nyssa is very funny. I liked it when Nyssa called the Doctor ‘sweet’, since he’d taken her to Traken for her benefit.
This is because there was a Traken song on Concordum that was her father’s favourite. The Doctor brought Nyssa to Concodrum to cheer her up. This episode also features Ian Brooker as archivist Naloom, Joanna Munro as Mrs. Moloney, and a brief appearance of James Fleet as Geoff Cooper. 😀
Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton shine throughout as the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in this episode. It’s interesting how this episode concluded on a semi-cliffhanger, since it seems that the Erisi is still alive, despite the Doctor and Nyssa defeating her. As of 2022, this certain tale hasn’t had a follow up yet.
‘The Entropy Composition’ rating – 8/10
The third story of the anthology is ‘Doing Time’ by William Gallagher. This is a little bit like a ‘Porridge’ episode, although I don’t watch ‘Porridge’ much. 😀 Despite that, this does have the feel of a situation comedy set inside a prison on an alien planet called Folly, which I greatly enjoyed hearing.
In the episode, the Doctor has to spend a year in prison, as he tried to warn the people of Folly about an explosion taking place on the 10th of May. Unfortunately, he got locked away, as people, including Governor Chaplin, believed he was making threats to blow the prison up, which he wasn’t.
Peter Davison delivers a superb performance as the Doctor in this episode. I enjoyed the frustration he delivers when trying to convince people like Governor Chaplin that he means what he said. It’s also nice he gets to befriend prisoners like Janson Hart as well as the prison guards like Nathan Dask.
Susan Kyd guest stars as Governor Chaplin, who turns out to be a real tyrant in this episode. There’s also John Dorney who plays the charming yet troublesome Janson Hart. And there’s Duncan Wisbey as Nathan Dask, a prison guard Nyssa and the Doctor befriend during the time they spend on Folly. 🙂
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa also gets to do a lot in the episode, since she works at the prison as a security guard with Dask as well as at a hospital. I found it very funny when at the story’s beginning, Nyssa tried to be ‘a desperate criminal’ in order to get inside the prison and she’s really terrible doing that.
It’s clear that Sarah enjoys doing the comedy scenes that she has with Nyssa’s character in ‘Doctor Who’, which come often rarely in the TV series. It’s also nice to listen to the tender moments featuring Nyssa’s character, especially when she manages to meet up with the Doctor in the prison. 🙂
I liked the references made to a certain ‘Michael’ that Nyssa meets at the hospital in the episode. Not sure if this is a reference to Sarah Sutton’s husband Michael, though it probably is. 🙂 There could have been a potential romance story for Nyssa to enjoy had that angle of the episode been explored.
Sadly, that wasn’t to be, as Michael ended up marrying someone else. Poor Nyssa. 😦 At least Billy Walker will soon come into her life. 😀 I like how the Doctor managed to thwart Governor Chaplin by the episode’s end. It was also funny to hear Jabreth’s scenes, especially when he was regurgitating. 🙂
‘Doing Time’ rating – 8/10
Do you remember the TV episode ‘Blink’ where the Tenth Doctor warned Sally Sparrow about the Weeping Angels via a DVD Easter Egg special feature? Well, ‘Special Features’ by John Dorney does have a Steven Moffat ‘feel’ to it, though in an enjoyable way and one I was able to follow very easily.
In this episode, Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor participates in a DVD audio commentary of a cult 1970s horror anthology film, moderated by James Fleet (Hugo Horton from ‘The Vicar of Dibley’) as the film’s director Martin Ashcroft. The final product ends up being more than it seems in this story.
The episode also has Ian Brooker as actor Sir Jack Merrivale and Joanna Munro as actress Johanna Bourke. I like how John Dorney unravels the complexities of this story by linking the events of a mid-19th century incident to the film’s location filming in 1976 to the DVD audio commentary recording.
The story cleverly mocks the DVD audio commentary format, especially when inspired by the real-life audio commentaries of the ‘Doctor Who’ stories featuring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse. Johanna Bourke’s comments were also inspired by Janet Fielding.
I enjoyed how the Doctor is quiet for most of the commentary recording before he sits up and realises that the Rasht nursemaid isn’t dead. He takes things seriously and explains to everyone in the commentary recording how they’re in great peril and he explains what the Rasht are as aliens. 🙂
The reveal of one of the commentators being ‘the one’ (I won’t say who it is here) was quite a surprise as I listened to this episode. I’m pleased with how the Doctor sorted out the Rasht nursemaid. I laughed when Sir Jack Merrivale said, “I think we’re going to have to do it all again!” It’s very funny. 😀
Sarah Sutton as Nyssa is very good in this episode too. In ‘Special Features’, Nyssa takes part in ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ segment of ‘Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror’ by playing the character of Felicity. I wanted to switch the commentary track off in order to hear Nyssa being an actress in a horror film. 🙂
Hopefully, I won’t be taken over by a Rasht nursemaid once I hear ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ with the commentary track off. 😀 ‘Special Features’ is definitely one of the best stories featured in ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’, and deservedly so, as it’s cleverly well-put together here. 🙂
‘Special Features’ rating – 10/10
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’, starring Colin Baker, Maggie Stables and John Pickard. There are also behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, writer Rick Briggs, script editor Alan Barnes and director Ken Bentley. I’m pleased with how the behind-the-scenes interviews began and ended with Sarah being interviewed. It starts with Sarah mentioning ‘Circular Time’ in relation to ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ and it ends with her mentioning that she listened to two Big Finish audios recently, which have become her favourites, including ‘Spare Parts’ and ‘Castle of Fear’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a bonus ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure called ‘The Four Doctors’, starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. There are also PDF scripts and extended extras of ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ and ‘The Four Doctors’. There’s ‘The Devil’s Whisper’, the central play in ‘Special Features’ without the commentary track (which is great), and a bonus Short Trip audio adventure called ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ with the First Doctor, Steven and Sara; read by Beth Chalmers.
‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ is a great collection of audio stories featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. The thing that stood out for me from this audio anthology is the lovely Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. She works well as a companion for Peter Davison’s Doctor both on TV and on audio.
I’m sure that Sarah enjoyed doing the ‘loads of things’ that Nyssa got to do in all of the four stories featured in the anthology, including ‘The Entropy Composition’ and ‘Special Features’. This collection of audio stories definitely helped and inspired me with writing my own Fifth Doctor series of stories.
‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ CD rating – 10/10
‘THE DEVIL’S WHISPER’
N.B – There are two reviews on ‘The Devil’s Whisper’.
Please feel free to comment on my reviews.
The 1970s Cult Horror Classic that Nobody Talks About
by Douglas Agnew
I’ve purchased the 45th anniversary Blu-ray of ‘Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror’! 🙂
I greatly enjoyed this! This is a rare 1970s anthology movie that I never thought would see the light of day on home media. ‘Doctor Demonic’ was supposed to be released for its 25th anniversary back in 2001, but for strange reason, it got cancelled. Thankfully, the film has been resurfaced on Blu-ray.
I’m happy to share my experience of seeing this film. I did watch a limited re-release of ‘Doctor Demonic’ at my local cinema in the late 1990s, but for some reason, I forgot what happened in it. Hopefully, I can share what I have seen of the film on Blu-ray before I forget the experience again. 😀
‘Doctor Demonic’ is a very creepy film, starring Sir Jack Merivale, Johanna Bourke and Nyssa Traken (who I’m a huge fan of). This anthology film contains four short stories in it. It’s almost akin to ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’ by Disney as well as that ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ film.
I’ve had my Blu-ray cover of ‘Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror’ signed by the lovely Nyssa Traken, who I met at a convention. She told me I would be alright once I’ve seen this film. I didn’t understand what she meant by that, but she seemed a very sweet person when I saw her at the convention. 🙂
‘THE DEVIL’S WHISPER’
This first story of this anthology film called ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ is set in the rural village of Beachamwell in Norfolk in the mid-19th century. The story is about Professor Bromley and his niece Felicity. They get caught in the village’s strange occurrences and there are pagan sacrifices involved.
I found ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ a creepy tale by the film’s writer, Phillip Mongston. Incidentally, the film is well-directed by horror legend Martin Ashcroft. I enjoyed the fight scenes that took place in ‘The Devil’s Whisper’. I also found the performances by the cast really good whilst watching the film.
Sir Jack Merivale is very scary as the narrator – Doctor Demonic himself – in this horror film. I also enjoyed his performance as Professor Bromley in ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ as well as the late Johanna Bourke as the seemingly sweet Carlotta. Johanna Bourke’s death continues to be a ‘mystery’ for me.
The standout performance of this film of course is Nyssa Traken as Felicity. I’m surprised that this is her only film credit, as she’s a very good little actress. She does so much with her face when she becomes scared. Her character’s twist towards the end of ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ took me by surprise.
It’s interesting that this film is based on a historical legend, according to historical advisor Dr. John Smith on the original DVD audio commentary, which was meant for the 25th anniversary DVD release. I’m not sure how much is historically accurate, though I’m sure creative liberties were taken.
There are times when ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ can be funny, including moments like when Felicity and Professor Bromley are jumping out of a carriage about to go over a cliff. They end up in the mud. 😀 It’s also amusing that Bromley fell asleep after worrying about Felicity who got captured by evil men.
It was funny when Bromley said he shouldn’t have eaten ‘all that cheese’ on the first night at the inn he and Felicity were staying at. 😀 I must admit, the sacrifice scenes were terrifying to watch, but thankfully, good triumphed over evil. It was a huge surprise that Bromley turned out to be a priest. 🙂
‘The Devil’s Whisper’ is a good story to open the anthology film. The performances of the cast are very good, and Nyssa Traken is definitely my favourite out of the group. The action sequences are very good, and I’m pleased that Bromley managed to overthrow the evil that was in Beachamwell. 🙂
The Blu-ray special features are as follows. There’s the aforementioned 2001 DVD audio commentary with director Martin Ashcroft, Sir Jack Merviale, Johanna Bourke and historical advisor Dr John Smith. Sadly, there aren’t any trailers and there’s no making-of documentary about the film.
‘THE DEVIL’S WHISPER’
I enjoyed ‘The Devil’s Whisper’, the central play of ‘Special Features’, without the commentary track. I wanted to hear this play without the commentary track for quite a while. I’m pleased I was able to hear it when I subscribed to the Big Finish website for ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’.
Thankfully, no Rasht nursemaid infected my mind when I heard the play. At least I hope it didn’t. 😀 It was surreal to hear this without Martin Ashcroft, Sir Jack Merivale, Johanna Bourke and the Doctor commentating on it and how it matched up with the audio commentary aspect of ‘Special Features’.
As this is part of an anthology film, ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ would have been watched on screen. It was unusual to hear scenes in their entirety without anyone talking over them. The fight scenes and some of the runaway scenes with Bromley and Felicity can be long-winded when hearing the play. 😐
Ian Brooker is great to listen to as Sir Jack Merivale playing the narrator Doctor Demonic as well as Professor Bromley. The twist in Bromley’s character was a delight to listen to, especially when he turned out to be a priest who thwarted the satanic evil that spread from Carlotta and her own gang.
It was interesting to hear how ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ depicted what could have happened when the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa visited Beachamwell in Norfolk in the mid-19th century and thwarted the Rasht nursemaid the first time. Obviously, Bromley is the Doctor whilst Felicity is Nyssa in the play. 🙂
Joanna Munro as Johanna Bourke playing Carlotta is equally delightful to listen to. It’s intriguing how Carlotta started off being nice and friendly to Bromley before she became the evil monster running the pagan sacrifices. The echoes of what occurred in the mid-19th century incident are very evident.
Sarah Sutton’s performance as Nyssa playing Felicity is my favourite from ‘The Devil’s Whisper’. I couldn’t help giggle when Nyssa became the actress and Im glad I was able to hear Sarah as Nyssa properly as an actress in ‘Special Features’ through ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ without the commentary. 🙂
I’m curious as to what the rest of ‘Doctor Demonic’s Tales of Terror’ is like and what the three other stories were. Whether two were ‘The Walls Have Teeth’ and ‘Children of the Cull’, according to the Twelfth Doctor adventure ‘The Shining Man’, I don’t know, but it would be interesting to find out. 🙂
In order to hear ‘The Devil’s Whisper’ on audio, you will need to subscribe to the Big Finish website with ‘The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’ for either a 6 or a 12 CD/download subscription.
‘The Devil’s Whisper’ rating – 8/10
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Loved the review’s my friend great attention to detail & wonderful synopsis & great pictures too, i think Demons Of,Red Lodge & Other Stories are the best single parters release to date, DVD extras in particular.
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Hello Timelord Simon. Thanks for your comments on my ‘Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories’. Glad you like the detail I’ve put in describing the synopsis of each of the four stories. Glad you like the pictures too. Yes these four stories are great to listen to and ‘Special Features’ is one cracking good episode by John Dorney. Thanks. Tim. 🙂
Love this collection of four short stories, each one is intersting & engaging listen, my favourite of the short stories range folled very closely by Circular Time.
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Thanks very much Simon!
Yes ‘Circular Time’ and ‘The Demons of Red Lodge’ are two of my favourite short story collections with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’ from Big Finish!