The Red House

Doctor WhoThe Doctor, traveling in the company of Charlotte Pollard, arrives on an island populated by werewolves; there are werewolves in law enforcement and there are werewolf refugees as well. Charley is captured for the local constables and taken to meet “Doctor Pain”, while the Doctor is surrounded by the refugees and begins planning to help them free Charley and themselves. “Doctor Pain” is Dr. Paignton, a scientist seeking a way to permanently reverse the lycanthropy that has taken hold on the island, but she doesn’t believe Charley’s claims to be human. Fortunately, Paignton’s porter is a Time Lord, operating undercover, and he frees Charley from Paignton’s psychic extractor. He warns Charley that the Doctor is embarking on a course of action that could lead to genocide, and sets her free to warn him. As the werewolves take over Dr. Paignton’s facility, a last-ditch failsafe protocol is set into motion: nuclear missiles from the planet’s mainland will “neutralize” all life on the island unless the Doctor can stop them.

written by Alan Barnes
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Howard Carter

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Michael Jayston (The Valeyard), Ashley McGuire (Sergeant), Andree Bernard (Dr. Paignton / Constable), Rory Keenan (Ugo), Jessie Buckley (Lina), Kieran Hodgson (Arin / Dennis)

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: One of my favorite concepts that Big Finish has pulled off was pairing a future Doctor’s companion with an earlier Doctor who must never learn her true identity or origin, lest that knowledge undo his entire timeline, and thus hers since she met the eighth Doctor first. That a companion would have to actively withhold information from the Doctor, and that he would eventually recognize it, was a great idea, a great setup for tension, and a daring phase of Doctor Who that simply could not have been done on TV. (It was also delicious that Charley went from traveling with the endlessly polite eighth Doctor to the very brusque sixth Doctor.) Just as Charley can’t resist the temptation to continue traveling in the company of the Doctor – any Doctor – it’s tantalizing to return to that era. The Valeyard almost becomes surplus to requirements.

The Red House really doesn’t conjure up the best stories of the sixth Doctor/Charley era, though – it conjures up the most typical, middle-of-the-road stories. Of all the stories in The Last Adventure box set, The Red House feels most like it’s struggling to fill its single-CD run time – a bit of a letdown when the best sixth Doctor/Charley stories were able to sustain their tension for an entire four-part, two-disc story. It’s hard to tell if the Valeyard’s presence enhances the main plotline or distracts from it.

For those of us who have been with Big Finish for the long haul, though, it was nice to hear Charley together with the Doctor – any Doctor – one more time.