Saturday, March 30, 2013

Big Finish - 99 Code Red

The 11th release in the Big Finish 2000AD range, 99 Code Red by Jonathan Clements, directed by Nicola Bryant.

Dredd responds to a threat to release a viral plague in a Brit-Cit themed tourist attraction. He has to deal with some less than competent fellow judges, a storm, and a hospital locked down in quarantine. Things are going to turn very ugly if Dredd can't identify who has the deadly vial in time.

One of the problems with any heroic fictional character is that they are often surrounded by incompetent assistants whose errors the protagonist can correct. Judge Dredd is the product of an intensive training and conditioning programme in the Academy of Law. Yet so few of the other judges seem to come up to his high standard. This is particularly the case with the bunch of sloppy, doughnut eating colleagues he encounters in this theme park sector of Mega-City One. Their names and the briefing scene pay a nice homage to that classic of American cop shows, Hill Street Blues, but they are just there as comic relief and Dredd has to do all the hard work himself.

The storyline gets rather complicated and confused with parodies of British culture, Shakespearean robot actors, and a media blitz led by the Enigma Smith newscaster character. It took a while for things to settle down and it was only in the final third that I got a clear idea of what Dredd was up against and who the suspects were. Still it does allow Toby Longworth to do plenty of shouting as he tries to get control of the chaos in the hospital.

Interestingly this was directed by Nicola Bryant, who plays the Doctor Who companion Peri. I believe she has also directed one of the UNIT stories for Big Finish as well. Maybe it is her direction or maybe it's the script but this one rather left me neither shaken or stirred. Again it's not a bad story, just not as memorable as either of the two Strontium Dog stories that Jonathan Clement has done. Nor is it anywhere near the heights of Death Trap or Get Karter. Another middle of the road 2.5 out of 5 exploding pustules.

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