The latest entry into the Big Finish Short Trips range is Year of the Drex Olympics. Written by Paul Ebbs, it features the classic trio of the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. With the TARDIS stolen, the Doctor and his friends have to enter the Drex Olympics for a chance to win it back.
This is what the Short-Trips range is supposed to be. A rewarding story. The sort of entry you might find in a collected stories book. It also gives us a little insight into how the Doctor learned the Venusian Aikido that the Third Doctor was so very fond off.
Written by Paul Ebbs
Paul Ebbs has previous experience with Big Finish having written two Bernice Summerfield adventures back in the early 2000’s. From the outset you’ll notice an enjoyable amount of dialogue and location setting, painting the planet in very vivid colours. Venus comes to glorious life thanks to the wonderful descriptions that Ebbs provides. Ebbs also allows Jamie and Victoria to get much of the spotlight here. Elements of sportsmanship, metamorphosis, theft and commentary on the use of performance enhancing drugs are all incorporated. While these are elements that, at first glance, might not seem to blend well together, Ebbs pulls them together well, showing a deftness and skill that result in something particularly amusing.
Victoria is much sassier than she ever was on television. Surprisingly, this works well as she takes the Doctor, Jamie and a couple of Venusian participants down a peg or two. With Deborah Watling sadly no longer with us, it is nice that Big Finish are still including her character. Further stories for Harry Sullivan and Katarina are also coming up in the not-too-distant future.
Ebbs’ handle on the funnier side of the Second Doctor is particularly excellent. The lighter and fluffier side of the Second Doctor is well known and loves coming out to play. While the stakes are pretty low, you do feel some genuine concern towards the end, especially as that lighter side gives way to his darker undertones as the story reaches the climax.
Read by Frazer Hines
Thanks to the convention circuit and his work at Big Finish, Frazer Hines has become just as famous for playing the Second Doctor as he has for playing Jamie, thanks to his wonderful impersonation of Troughton. Over the course of the Early Adventures range, there have been moments when you may have thought Big Finish had performed some form of audio trickery to resurrect Troughton. It’s always nice when Hines gets a chance to do his Troughton voice and makes for a wonderful inclusion here.
On the narration front, Hines handles the duties with ease, retelling the story as if he were talking to old friends. His impersonation of Victoria captures Watling’s spirit excellently. The story rattles along nicely, never slowing down and keeping listeners invested and interested throughout the thirty-minute run time.
Year of the Drex Olympics is a very enjoyable piece of fiction. The script from Ebbs is very enjoyable and rather amusing, keeping things light in tone. This allows the TARDIS trio time to have fun rather than only facing Ice Warriors and Cybermen. Showing a fun and sassy side of Victoria’s character is particularly notable and ensures that her character can still be freshly interpreted. The combination of Frazer Hines as narrator and Lisa Bowerman as director keep things hurtling along at an enjoyable pace.
Make sure you pay a visit to this audio adventure, you might find more than you thought you would!
All the Doctor wanted to do on Venus was learn their aikido. But as ever, his plans have gone awry. The TARDIS has been stolen to be a prize in the Venusian Olympics. The Doctor is furious, not only at the theft but also that it is the third place prize! Now Jamie and Victoria must compete to get the TARDIS back, and soon find themselves winning every event.
The TARDIS crew normally win, but this time it might cost them everything…