Big Finish Folly, Part 103a – The Red House (Last Adventure: 2), by Alan Barnes
The Doctor and Charley arrive on an island populated by werewolves. But these are not your normal, garden variety werewolves – oh no, this is an endangered species. And the Doctor’s presence, coupled with the sinister machinations of Doctor Pain in the Red House on top of the hill, just made their life expectancy that much shorter…
As previously stated, this second stand-alone-but-connected adventure in the Last Adventure box set has a lot to live up to if it’s going to match End of the Line’s ambition and success in translating that into a fast-moving and gripping script. To be fair, it almost manages it. If you can get over the conceit that the werewolves here change into (almost) humans instead, and that they police themselves to prevent this change happening, you should be alright for the rest of the play. That logical leap should be easier to make than it is, and the script tries to smooth the path by having a group of rebels explain things to the Doctor while they freely express themselves under the light of the sun.
What makes more sense is that this little race of werewolves has been penned away on an island for the sake of the safety of the planet’s properly human colonists, who are otherwise intent on killing off what they see as a clear and present danger. The human scientists up in the Red House are, in this regard, less bad guys than the last line of human tolerance for anything alien. Once again the Doctor has to question why he likes humanity quite so much…
Charley, as she was during much of her run as the Sixth Doctor’s companion, is a bit annoying. So blasé about the Web of Time and such, reminding of nothing so much as modern-time TV companions. A po-mo Edwardian Adventuress – and yet naive too, as proved by her encounter with the Valeyard. (An encounter which, given events in the next chapter, has necessitated yet another examination of the chronology to make sure that Charley sits before Flip)
Michael Jayston meanwhile, positively revels in the opportunity to lord it over one of the Doctor’s companions. The Valeyard hates the Doctor’s reliance on companions as much as he hates (as he is a negative version of) the Doctor himself. While End of the Line could easily have been split off as a standalone adventure (I can see that happening to entice people in to buying The Last Adventure), The Red House is the first time that we see a sort of arc plot or plan. It means that the central mystery is relegated in importance a little, which is a shame as the moral implications of human colonists vs native shapechangers would have made a very good in-depth four-parter in the Main Range (arguably it would have done that better than Loups-Garoux did).
So it’s good, not brilliant, and a something of a linking play to boot. Fair enough.