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Audio Drama Review


2000 AD
Judge Dredd
The Pit


Starring: Joseph Fiennes

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio

ISBN: 978 1 78108 998 9

Release Date: 04 March 2021

Penguin Random House UK Audio releases Judge Dredd: The Pit. Judge Dredd is the iconic leading character from the renowned British comic 2000 AD. A number of 2000 AD stories have been adapted to kick-off this range, including The Ballad of Halo Jones, Brink: Volumes 1-3, Slaine The Horned God, and Judge Dredd: America. In Judge Dredd: The Pit, Dredd is placed in charge of a rag-tag but determined group of Judges to clean-up one of the dirtiest, crime-ridden sectors of Mega-City One. These action-packed audio recordings are performed by an ensemble cast, in this case headed by narrator Patterson Joseph (Neverwhere, Timeless) and Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, The Handmaiden’s Tale) as Dredd himself. The original comic story was written by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. This audio is available for download...

It's difficult to know exactly how to interpret this one for a prospective audience, as more audio dramatisations should be encouraged and not dismissed out of hand, which is so often the case. I used to collect these and still possess the majority of that collection – including the Orson Welles The War of the Worlds, the original Superman radio series, the excellent Star Wars audio, and several BBC (Earthsea, The Hobbit, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, etc.) and Big Finish examples.

The problem with this one is that I’ve been spoilt by many years of generally excellent Audio Movies – adapted, directed, and often written and produced by the very talented Dirk Maggs. His releases are literally feature films without the pictures, with film score music, a multitude of stock and newly-created sound effects, and very talented voice artists and mainstream actors. Most importantly perhaps, they are tightly edited and push the stories along at an exciting rate of knots. These are the areas in which many modern audio dramatisations are falling behind. Dirk directed two Judge Dredd audios himself, the first of which injected humour via a power crazy megalomaniac.

Judge Dredd: The Pit is probably not helped by the fact it is depicted as a police procedural, albeit a somewhat unorthodox one. It seems as though there is a cast of thousands, although this is certainly not the case and adds confusion to the plot. The story involves weeding-out corruption among some Judges. There is a main villain who is eventually identified and confronted, only for Dredd and his trusted Judges to discover he is a pawn for a much more dangerous and as yet faceless crime boss.

The plot seems to swim in and out with little flow or continuity. To excite the interest of a new generation of listeners there has to be adrenaline, genuine peril, and progressive energy. I found my attention to be wavering. Even Dredd sounds younger and more politely-spoken, rather than the gruff and ruthlessly tough but fair hero we are used to through film adaptations. I had to smile, too at the regular use of basic footstep sound effects which hark back to a much earlier age of radio plays. I wouldn’t by any means call this derisory, but it needs to be given a proverbial kick up the backside to bring it to life. I’m looking forward to listening to Judge Dredd: America to ‘Judge’ how it compares.


Ty Power

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