Prog #144: Let Me Stamp Your Permit, Pal! (Christmas Comes a Little Early to Des O’Connor Block)

Case File

Barney the City Hall computer tries to bring some happiness into the lives of the citizens – but it doesn’t end well. Merry Christmas, creeps!

Ol’ Stoney Face

Dredd hits the citizens with the cold truth about fake happiness – and how the Judges will have to come in and clean up the mess. For Dredd though, strict maintenance of the Law is happiness.

The Big Meg (and Beyond)

At least some of Government in Mega-City One is left to Barney, the City Hall computer with “the down-home voice and video smile”. We met him before briefly when he ran the Mayoral vote. He is apparently connected to all other computers in the Big Meg, and stores a huge range of important documents.

Barney exceeds his remit here, deciding to spread some Christmas joy early to the citizens of a particular Cityblock. This includes organising the delivery of huge amounts of presents, and sending letters to individual citizens answering their wildest dreams.

As Dredd predicts, this doesn’t take very long to end badly. At a “Grand Christmas Party” in Des O’Connor Block Plaza, peace, love and joy run out quickly and fights soon break out.

Creeps

I suppose we have to place Barney in this category – although everyone seems pretty sure he’s gone haywire, as opposed to just developing emotions and wanting to make everyone happy. Regardless, Barney’s actions cause a great deal of damage. When a desperate mother begs Barney to restore her little daughter to life, he realises he’s gone too far and switches himself off.

It’s worth pointing out here that Barney does not like the Judges, and even tries to ensure they can’t enter the Cityblock. If Barney is in control of much of Government, I wonder what he knows about the Judges that the citizens don’t?

We also spend a brief bit of time with Hunk Smythe, a serial killer holed up in Des O’Connor Block. He gets a letter from “Judge Dredd” saying he can kill anyone he wants – but this note doesn’t protect him from ending up facing the real Dredd.

Block Mania

As the title suggests, the action takes place in Des O’Connor Block – also the name of a nearby freeway.

Rap Sheet

Dredd takes down Hunk Smythe, and the Judges make a number of other arrests.

Resyk

Mr Gregori from 32-112 is the first to die at the Block Party. The owner of the Level 63 Penthouse is forcibly evicted – out the window. A little girl is trampled in the chaos.

Verdict

A strangle little (early) Christmas tale, with attempts at happiness once again set against the implacable force of the Law. Best not to overanalyse it too much, but enjoyable enough.

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