DW: Planet of the Drashigs Review

dw planet of the drashigs

The Doctor and his new companion Ann Kelso visit their first alien world together, and it just so happens to be a bit Jurassic Park-y (and Alien-y!)… but with Drashigs! I’ve always loved the Drashigs, they were heavily featured in my first Jon Pertwee story, and I always thought those shots of them screaming and suddenly twisting their heads towards the camera was unsettling… at the time. Anyway, I’m glad they’ve finally been brought back, and even made to work well on audio! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

When the TARDIS lands on an alien planet, the Doctor’s intentions to show Ann Kelso an advanced future society are thrown into disarray.  Because they have arrived on Drashig World – a park where every known species of the terrifying predators has been gathered together to entertain and thrill the public. The familiar wetland Drashigs, the albino burrowing Drashigs of the desert, and deadliest of all, the tiny Emerald Drashigs of the rain forests.

And it’s not the best day to have arrived. The park has been shut down due to a visitor fatality. A Galactic Attractions inspector is on site meaning everyone is extremely tense and under pressure.

It’s exactly the right circumstances in which someone might make a mistake. And on Drashig World, mistakes are deadly.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Tom Baker) – The Doctor has finished building K9 Mk.II, and is now ready to resume his adventures, now with a new companion in Ann Kelso…

Ann Kelso (Jane Slavin) – Ann is excited to see an alien planet, or perhaps her own race’s future, or even both! It’s a shame she’s been stuck waiting in the TARDIS console room while The Doctor tinkers with something…

K9 (John Leeson) – The second K9, or K9 Mk.II, is literally fresh out of the box and willing to help his new master and mistress.

Vanessa Seaborne (Fenella Woolgar) – Vanessa is a brilliant scientist who is working with Lord Braye in order to get his Drashig Park project up and running, and therefore get more research money, even if it means taking some rather extreme measures…

Lord Braye (Jeremy Clyde) – Lord Braye grew up being amazed at the stories and footage of the Drashigs, and has achieved his dream of creating a world where all the different species of the monstrous creature could be viewed by the public… that was until one member of the public was eaten alive…

Trencher (Lizzie Roper) – Trencher is the game keeper in charge of keeping the Drashigs in the right place without hurting them… though when needs must…

Titus Wayland (Andrew Ryan) – Mr. Wayland (why does that ring a bell…Wait, that was Weyland, never mind!) has been tasked to assess whether the fatality at Drashing World was a one-off that will now be prevented, or whether the park should be closed perminantly…

Plus more… if you count Drashigs!

The Good:

dw planet of the drashigs cover

Nearly 20 years of audios, and only now do the Drashigs appear on a cover… foreshame!

As I said in the opening paragraph, I’ve always had a soft spot for Drashigs, I always loved their design and the way the acted and sounded in their one TV appearance, so to finally get a new story with them was great. The story itself is a mash-up of Jurassic Park (or World, if you wish) and the first few Alien films, complete with a park of dangerous creatures that get loose, and scenes with characters in vents with motion sensors and fatalities, respectively.

If that last bit confused you then let me explain: in the story there are several kinds of Drashig, from the large regular ones seen in “Carnival of Monsters”, to Albino ones that burrow deep underground (though they’re only mentioned), and most importantly “Emerald Drashigs”, which are far smaller than other species, but more intelligent. The ambitious scientist Vanessa Seaborne creates a device which ends up linking her mind with the hive mind of the Emerald Drashigs, giving them even more intelligence and most importantly, knowledge of how to escape their pen and reach the main building…

In the middle of all this is The Doctor, a new K9 and poor old Ann Kelso, her first proper journey in the TARDIS involves being stalked in a building by killer monsters… oh right, sounds like most companions first trip, I guess! Ann works well, specifically with scared inspector Titus Weyland and serious and skilled game keeper Trencher, the trio (along with K9) being the poor unfortunates who had to re-enact the vent / motion sensor scene, complete with Titus being eaten alive.

The Doctor ends up using Vanessa’s own head device thingy to make all the Drashigs in the park go crazy, and therefore get everyone out in the TARDIS while they’re distracted. It’s said they’ll soon calm down and then it really will be “Drashig’s world”, which is a scary thought for people who come across the planet in the future…

The Bad:

The only real bad is the usual old problem with the FDAs, and that’s length compared to character development leading to a bunch of real familiar stereotypes. Lord Braye is the businessman who doesn’t want his project shut down even if there was a death, Vanessa Seaborne is a scientist whose experiments put her and everyone else in danger, Trencher is a dry and sarcastic hunter, and Mr. Wayland is a wimpy accountant type. This means we don’t have to worry about backstories eating into the single hour time limit, but it also means it’s hard to card about them when they find themselves in danger…

The Continuity:

The only one (beyond this following on from “The Sinestran Kill”) is the Drashigs, which first appeared in “Carnival of Monsters”, a Third Doctor TV classic. While they may have appeared in the many Novels, I’m pretty sure they’ve never appeared in any of the three mediums I cover, so this makes for a long-awaited return!

Overall Thoughts:

A new Drashig story that combines parts of Jurassic Park and Alien, three things I really like? Funnily enough, I really enjoyed this story! While it lacks too few original elements to get a solid 5, I’m happy enough with the story, and The Doctor and Ann continue to be a fun pairing, even when apart from each other. Let’s hope the next story continues the momentum!

4 Star Listen

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