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on 16 April 2007
This is the best Big Finish audio play for ages. There has been a recent trend to reflect the new TV series (very blatantly in "The Gathering" and "The Reaping") which I think is a bad move, but thankfully this play doesn't do that. I hated Mel on TV and loved Ace, but this is infinitely better than those early McCoy/Ace audios. Mel makes a decent companion and Sylvester McCoy is on great form (if a bit different from his TV days, I detect more of a New Adventures influence again). This is a dark adventure, which immediately sets it above from the lighter comic romps for me. It has a great atmosphere and pulls the listener in to a well-realised future society, laying on the tension and creating a desire to find out what is happening and what is going to happen. Plus it deals intelligently with the current issues of censorship and violence, making it a great slice of science fiction. It's that whole effective combination which makes this so good. In fact it's right up there with `...ish' in my estimation.
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on 4 September 2007
A totally awesome and powerful voice on the stupidity and wastefulness of violence. Well, one might think this wouldnt be a very nice subject to try and get across, but here Stewart Sheargold does a fantastic job of creating a believable story with real menace and horror. Red is the colour of anger, and Sylvester Mccoy is brilliant on this audio. And Bonnie again doesnt have to scream but instead is a good and strong character who gets plenty to do in a rip roaring tale that left me wanting a sequel straight away. This story has no let down moments at all, its strong from the start to the finish. Big Finish are aptly named...99% of their audios are brilliantly polished and well performed productions, and this story is up there at the top with the Reaping and The Gathering and Frozen Time...yet another brilliant story dripping with atmosphere....
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This is the eighty fifth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Sylvester McCoy as Seven, Bonnie Langford as Mel and Sandi Toksvig as the would be hedonist Vi Yulquen. There are 4 episodes, roughly 30-35 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.

Seven and Mel arrive in a society where everyone has a chip in their heads, controlled by a computer that removes their criminal impulses and creates a perfect society. So why are people being murdered? And why does no one know about it?

I have to confess that, despite popular opinion, I was underwhelmed by this story. The set up feels a little over familiar, The Doctor and Mel land in a towerblock where strange things are happening (a-la Paradise Towers), and other ideas feel recycled, for example the menace being locked in a mind and jumping from person to person was used very recently in Something Inside and the Doctor battling a supercomputer trying to outwit it goes back to the War Machines and William Hartnell. However, the series is 50 years old, and there are only so many ideas, so it is only to be expected that there will be some recycling. When this happens a bit of clever story telling is required to make it stand out rather than feel tired. Unfortunately that is not present here.

The script made little sense to me. I just didn't get what the menace was, or why it connected with the Doctor. In fact the script seemed little more than an excuse to get Sylvester McCoy to roll his r's a lot. None of the supporting characters were particularly well drawn, and apart from Sandi Toksvig all merged into a homogeneous `other character' in my mind. At a shade over two hours, like many of the contemporary Big Finish productions it just feels too long. Trimming 20 minutes from it would probably have improved it no end. It really didn't grip me. Some parts were fun, and hearing Seven in full on r rolling mode was entertaining, but there was little here that really interested me. 2 stars.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 26 August 2015
This is the 85th cd set in the Big Finish Main Release range. The story features the Seventh Doctor, travelling with Mel.

The Tardis lands, and while the Tardis travellers don’t know where or when they are, the Doctor feels that something is very wrong. Something has upset the Tardis, and the Doctor and Mel must find out before they can leave. All too soon, they find themselves in the midst of murder, in a place where murder cannot possibly occur. The inhabitants of The Needle have had violence and responsibility removed from their systems; but that doesn’t mean that some of them at least don’t still crave the experience.

This is a fantastic story. The setup, with The Needle, and the inhabitants who have chosen to live there being able to live their lives in a safe environment with others who share their values of no violence and no responsibility, seems like an idyllic environment. But human nature itself seems to have been overlooked, and when Whitenoise, the monitoring system in The Needle finds that things occur which cannot possibly be occurring, what must it do to preserve its operating parameters?

The Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy, is in top form here. He is required to act in a manner that could easily have become overstated, but his performance here is just in the right tone. Mel, played by Bonnie Langford, plays a pivotal role in the story, and does so staunchly. The supporting cast, including Sandi Toksvig as Vi Yulquen, John Stahl as Whitehoise, Sean Oliver as Chief Blue, and Kellie Ryan as Celia Fortunate in particular are really well cast, and offer extremely strong performances. I found this story riveting from beginning to end, and never felt that the story missed a beat. Top notch stuff.
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on 10 May 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. I adore storylines where they explore the inside machinations of the human brain. What I also liked about 'Red' is that there seemed to me to be an underlying message of how such advancements in technology can be harmful to the human condition - such as administering chips to curb their violence. I mean I got a message that good can never be so fully appreciated without, at the very least, knowing about/experiencing the bad, and that 'aesthetically' curbing a human's violent tendencies would seem to be a good idea, when in reality it is simply eradicating a portion of free-will *shrug* In my opinion, a stellar message if that was the author's intention :-)

One very quick side-step into the utter nonsensical: Sylvester McCoy's high pitched whinnying(?) when the Doctor was in a spot of bother was, for me, completely and utterly........... adorable - chuckle. I dunno, it simply brought a smile to my face every time *blush*

Aaanyway, *ahem*, great story, great effects and Sylvester's acting makes this one for me. Highly recommended.

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on 21 January 2015
This is my first review on Amazon - and it is due to this amazingly written, directed and performed piece of whovian narrative. The setting of the story is original and fascinating and intriguing, with many haunting and high tension scenarios. The best word to describe this story is 'unnerving' and 'disturbing'; the soundtrack that would accompany this would be the Jaws theme tune.
A civilisation that has rid violence and thoughts of anger through the use of computer chips, with which are controlled by a central machine with a conscience begins to crumble and rock at the very foundations of its existence.
The only colour that you will see is RED and instinct takes control and you are loose to carry out obscene acts of violence.
But fear not, the Doctor and Mel arrive on the scene to save the day... unless of course the Doctor starts chanting RED RED RED RED... Cue those late 1980s Who title sequence!
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The seventh doctor and mel arrive on a strange alien world. Not by choice. Typically separated and forced to investigate different parts of the society, they find a world where the privileged elite live in luxury, and have their behaviour controlled by a computer chip that is overlooked by a master computer.

The perfect crime free society.

or is it?

Bad things are happening. People are aware of them. And people are dealing with it their own way. Conflicts of interest are resulting.

Who or what is causing these killings?

And why does it seem to have a particular interest in the doctor?

This is set in doctor who's twenty fourth season, but it feels a lot like something from the two that followed, as it tackles interesting concepts. And like those seasons, it's effort is admirable, but the results don't quite come off. A lot of the play is characters standing round talking and you really have to work hard to keep your attention at these moments. And like several big finish stories, the episodes are a little too long for their own good, and would have been better shorter.

But it's not bad. When it works it works well, the events of the story are anything but predictable, and the alien world is a very original creation and well realised.

Not as good as it possibly could have been, but not bad
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on 2 April 2009
The citizens of the Needle are all chipped to prevent them from committing violence. When the Seventh Doctor and Mel arrive, they arouse interest as the only people able to cause harm...
Red is the shortest title of any Doctor Who audio play, serial or book, with the possible exception of ...ish. Unfortunately the play itself is nowhere near as interesting as that piece of trivia. I am a fan of the Seventh Doctor and think he has gone from strength to strength in his Big Finish outings. The trouble with 'Red' is that it just isn't that inspired or interesting.
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