Planet of the Drashigs review

Phil Pulryne takes the writer’s chair for the second story in the new Fourth Doctor Syndicate Master Plan season with new companion Ann Kelso. The title Planet of the Drashigs gives away some of the story: it’s a surprise return for a monster encountered by the Third Doctor in the 1973 story Carnival of Monsters. Following the events of The Sinestran Kill, Ann is now travelling with the Doctor who has a surprise: his robot dog K9 (John Leeson). Ann is suitably impressed (she’s from 1978 after all) at his ability to both talk and fire laser beams. Being ever-practical, Ann quickly forms a useful relationship with K9 as a being, not a machine and different in style from how others have worked with the tin dog.

Meanwhile back on theme park DrashigWorld…

Planet of the Drashigs

Yes, the Drashigs have their own theme park! As the synopsis explains:

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 DrashigWorld – 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 Drashigworld, mistakes are deadly.
You can imagine the pitch: it’s Jurassic Park, in space with Drashigs instead of dinosaurs. Simple, direct and in Phil Mulryne’s hands a masterclass in taking a one-off monster and expanding it to cover a cast range of breeds with different strengths and strategies for the hunt. Add in the almost bumptious park-owner Lord Braye (Jeremy Clyde), the reticent park keeper Trencer (Lizzie Roper), obligatory scientist Vanessa Seaborne (Fenella Woolgar) and out-of-his-depth inspector Titus Wayland (Andrew Ryan) and you’ve the recipe for a disc’s worth of adventure for Ann Kelso to get her teeth into.
The story gives Ann a chance to see something of the future (but not a lot), and exposure to some technology (mainly transmats) but in the end it’s a situation requiring common sense, action and a calm head. Ann Kelso take a bow.
As is often the case with story two in a boxset, this ignores the big arc and allows time for the new character to get her feet on the ground, and does an excellent job of it.
Roll on The Enchantress of Numbers!

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