Judge Dredd: 99 Code Red by Jonathan Clements – Audio Drama Review [Shadowhawk]
Shadowhawk reviews another Judge Dredd audio drama for his Advent Reviews series. This is Day 16.
“As a first introduction to the Judge Dredd/Mega City One setting, this is utterly fantastic.” ~The Founding Fields
I’m on a bit of a roll with Judge Dredd reviews for my Advent Reviews series (which you can follow here): I’ve done two audio drama reviews already, and have also done a comic review featuring the big bad Judge Dredd himself. It’s fun to go back to listening to these great audio pieces by Big Finish, who produce some truly amazing work. 99 Code Red is no exception. It was my first taste of the whole franchise (the Stallone-starrer notwithstanding) and it was highly enjoyable.
The story here is that some criminals have stolen vials of a very dangerous plague solution from a laboratory and are planning on infecting everyone in the Big Meg with it. Their chosen “point of contact” is the opening of the new Shakespeare play at the White Cliffs of Dover, which is a theme park in the city and is modeled after life in Ye Olde England. Jonathan Clements writing is superb. He shows off a variety of the goofiest characters of the Big Meg, from a group of strippers and their pimp to the self-serving and self-involved journalist Enigma Smith. There are lots of commentaries about the modern-day world as well, such as when noted play critic Adrian remarks why the theme park is putting on a play by a nobody like Shakespeare when they could be putting on stuff by (J.K.) Rowling and (Terry) Pratchett. Or how the traditional dishes of Ye Olde England are kebab and tikka (note: these are Indian subcontinent dishes actually). Simply, this audio makes you laugh a lot. It is silly at times, yes, but it is the good type of silly. It simply shows off how goofy the whole setting itself it, even though it has a very serious tone as this is very much a (sort of) post-apocalyptic world. The second half of the audio drama focuses on Dredd as he tries to contain the spread of the plague and here it all turns into a sort of police procedural/detective story, with lots of dead bodies floating around. The scenes set in the Mega City General Hospital are just as (seriously) entertaining as the ones from the streets of the Big Meg and at the theme park from the first half of the audio drama. The tension really does ramp up and it’s all simply wonderful.
Toby Longworth as Judge Dredd; there aren’t enough words in the English language to show how good he is. So let’s just say that he is damn good. Jon Cartwright’s Doctor Clooney (I wonder if the name is intentional?) is quite decent too, and the character has some great scenes at the hospital. Regina Reagan’s Enigma Smith however is the standout performance, alongside Toby’s. Her voice for the reporter is just perfect (and kind of reminds me of Sigourney Weaver, which is weird). There are a few more voice-actors for the audio but those are all fairly minor roles, although they are all performed admirably, particularly Raymond Brody as Med-Judge Block. The sound effects on the audio are also incredible. I particularly love the opening theme. The production value of the script is just fantastic with all the nice little touches here and there.
Again, to put it simply, this is a fantastic audio drama!