Drax, for those out of the know, is a Time Lord who attended the Prydonian Academy (they’re always Academies nowadays) with the Doctor in the Class of 92. If you’re unaware of Drax, he appeared in the Fourth Doctor story The Armageddon Factor. But what exactly is The Trouble With Drax? There’s only one way to find out…
Altrazar. The temporal Atlantis, a place lost to time. Believed by many to be a myth, it has long been the perfect location for the rich and powerful to hide away their most dangerous secrets.
Because the somewhat crooked, not exactly honest, wheeler-dealer cockney Time Lord known as Drax has found a map that leads to its location. And, at the behest of a manipulative businessman, he’s going to use it.
When the TARDIS is dragged out of the space-time vortex, its crew aren’t best pleased to see the Doctor’s old school friend, even less when he pressgangs them into joining a raid on the most secure safe-house in history. However with Romana and K9 held hostage, the Doctor has little choice but to agree. With Drax in tow, he heads for the planet.
Which is where the trouble starts.
I always love being back with the Fourth Doctor, especially through Big Finish. There’s just something about the way that they manage to capture the sheer opposite sides of the Fourth Doctors era of the show; the silliness and the gothic, that’s an absolute treat. I must say though, that the opening minutes of The Trouble With Drax reminded me a lot of Partners In Crime, the music that was used and the hustle and bustle impression was really similar, in my opinion at least, to the opening montage of the Tenth Doctor and Donna narrowly missing one another constantly.
We’re almost immediately introduced to Drax, played by Ray Brooks, is presented as a dodgy dealer, a bit of a crook and a low life. Think a space Del-Boy. In my opinion, the best way to introduce a character into a story, whether we’ve met them before or not, is by showing them at their most vulnerable and most threatened, and that’s exactly what John Dorney manages to do here.
It’s not long before the Doctor and Romana are introduced to Drax, who is on his third incarnation; it seems that all of the TARDIS gang are seemingly displeased to be reunited with their Time Lord ‘pal’. Even K9 acts somewhat hostile towards him. Poor Drax.
Altrazar. Prepare to hear that word a hell of a lot in very quick succession. It’s another Time Lord fairytale that’s supposedly real, and Drax has a map leading to the legendary lost city. And they’re pretty much already there.
If I’m being honest, I’d say that the first episode in The Trouble With Drax feels a bit like an overlong set-up to the events of the second. There’s a lot of talking and exposition and not a lot of action or particular development. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like the first episode though, as John Dorney manages to make this exposition and set up rather entertaining, especially through Drax. He’s exactly the type of slime ball that you can’t help but love, even if you’re against his seemingly lack of morals and spine.
The cliffhanger at the end of the first episode really makes the episode seem worthwhile though, it’s a total curveball that is really satisfying; although it’s rather similar to The Two Masters, which a shame…
The second episode picks up with Drax and his all-too-familiar accomplice leaving the Doctor stranded and alone; which is arguable the time when the Doctor is at his most dangerous; of course with this being Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, we get some absolutely stellar delivery from Tom Baker himself.
Of course with there being lots of Time Lords and Ladies running around, it’s only a matter of time before the Doctor gets embroiled in a case of mistaken identity; as Inspector Fleur McCormick believes that the Doctor is in fact an incarnation of Drax…
Speaking of Drax, Drax and his accomplice begins an auction to sell the Enigma Casket to the highest bidder, meaning that they’ll make the most possible profit. It’s in scenes like this where I think that the listener really gets to understand just how ruthless, persistent and meticulous Time Lords can be, if they apply themselves. Drax’s failsafes seemingly have failsafes too; it’s great that John Dorney hasn’t just made him a total fool.
Inspector Fluer McCormick however, seems to be just as ruthless in tracking Drax down, even if she is going down the wrong route of enquiry. After she gives the Doctor a thump, she soon believes that he isn’t actually Drax, mainly due to the Doctor’s logic that somehow oozes sarcasm yet is totally believable (and in this case, true).
It soon transpires that Drax and his accomplice aren’t the only ones in on this job; in fact Drax has seemingly a fleet of people working with him, infiltrating during every possible event to ensure that this con goes off without a hitch. I won’t ruin any of the surprises; but I will say that you’ll be reintroduced to one or two people from the Classic era…
If there’s one TV series that I think The Trouble With Drax reminded me of, it was the BBC series ‘Hustle’. Everything from Jamie Robertson’s sound design and music, to the explanation of how everything worked out in the closing few minutes; it just seemed to me that is was very familiar. Luckily, I am a huge fan of Hustle, so I rather enjoyed this story, with it’s many twists and turns; it’s just a shame that certain elements crossed over from The Two Masters which was released yesterday. Maybe if the time between The Two Masters and The Trouble With Drax’s releases were slightly longer, it wouldn’t have felt as similar to me.
Overall though, I rather enjoyed The Trouble With Drax; the character of Drax has been brilliantly expanded on, and I personally hope that we hear more of this Time Lord’s misadventures. Boy is Drax good at what he does.
Should you want to purchase The Trouble With Drax, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £10.99 on CD or a £8.99 download which you can purchase here.