December 1, 2022

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Doctor Who “The Trouble With Drax”

The Doctor's old school pal Drax gets him and Romana in quite a bit of trouble.

Well, here’s a charming little story, one where the entire universe isn’t at stake or anything.  It’s just the Fourth Doctor dealing with his old pal Drax again.  And again.  And again.  And again.

So, there was this character named Drax, a less reputable Time Lord than most, who appeared in a Tom Baker Doctor Who serial as a Time Lord who went to school with the Doctor and got himself into a bit of trouble that the Doctor, working with the First Romana, had to get him out of.  This serial does also feature Lalla Ward as the Second Romana and John Leeson even has some lines as K9.  That said, though Big Finish often tries to get the original cast members back, they were unable to get the actor who played Drax back.  According to the interviews at the end of the CD, that actor was very willing to come back and play the part again, but he passed away before he could get a chance to record anything.  As such, when the Doctor encounters Drax, we’re told this is his third incarnation.  He still has his distinctive cockney accent, and that’s about it.

Or is it?

See, there’s something wrong here.  Drax recognizes the Doctor and the Doctor recognizes Drax, but Drax does not recognize Romana.  That, however, should be impossible.  As Romana explains later in the story, Time Lords have the ability to recognize each other no matter what face they are wearing, so Drax should have known who he was dealing with.

I am pretty sure the Master has tricked the Doctor multiple times with various disguises, but I’ll let this one slide for now.

Regardless, Drax got into a bit of trouble as he was recruited by some superrich billionaire to retrieve a rare artifact from a lost planet where people from across the universe used to dump things they never wanted to be found again.  Drax found said planet, but he also knows that only particularly time sensitive types can make the journey.  Anyone else would probably die instantly.  And, to ensure the Doctor’s co-operation, the businessman takes Romana and K9 hostage, complete with a weapon nullifying field to keep K9’s nose laser from doing much of anything.  Granted, K9 can still do other things, and he does make sure Romana escapes from their cell without too much trouble.

That said, the real fun here isn’t that the Doctor needs to go to this random planet and find something.  It’s the extent of the con.  See, Drax isn’t working alone.  He’s got a partner…another Drax, this one a future incarnation.  Drax got his hands on two different machines, one that allowed the sort of time paradox that keeps Time Lords from working with their own past and future selves from working out too well, so he can remember all his past encounters with himself.  The other is a device to prevent other Time Lords from recognizing him right away, but that one works too well, hence the reason he didn’t recognize Romana right away.

Oh, and it turns out, there are a lot of Draxes running around this story, all of them working together to pull off a con.  Every time it looks like the Doctor or Romana have figured what’s going on, they realize there’s another Drax making things worse for them.  By the time the story is over and the Doctor realizes the extent to which he’s been deceived, all he can do is have a good laugh.  Yes, Romana doesn’t find all this funny, but the Doctor sees his old pal is just up to some antics and it isn’t worth chasing him down.

So, this was really just a light-hearted caper.  In the end, it didn’t even seem as if anyone was in real danger.  It was just one guy trying to pull a scam, and no one really got hurt as a result.  Heck, the Doctor just had a good laugh over it.  I could go for more of these.  Not everything has to involve the end of the universe.

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