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Doctor Who Re View The Claws of Axos

July 17, 2021

The Story

In essence, the story is The Trojan Horse. In reality, it is a psychedelic combination of ideas that makes as much sense as the average Gong’s Flying Teapot album! Admittedly, that album was released a couple of years after this story was aired, but its outlandish approach has a lot in common with this somewhat confusing (!!) storyline.

The original script had a spaceship in the form of a giant skull landing in the middle of Hyde Park, which became an organic spaceship landing in Dungeness in Kent! The original script called for the destruction of Battersea Power Station which was scaled back to a small scale explosion at the Dungeness Power Plant. The Master had to be added to the script and, although he is his usual urbane self, he has something of an Indiana Jones role in proceedings, in that his actions have absolutely no impact on the way the story plays out. Authors Bob Baker and Dave Martin were asked to reduce their original script from 6 episodes to 4 as well as adding in scenes for the Master. The impact is a headlong rush of a story that sees the Axons land on Earth in gold and white leotards before changing into proto-Krynoids (the plant based monster in The Seeds of Doom) crossed with Zygons, as their true intentions become known. Why? Who knows! Their organic ship has various tentacles and claws to hold prisoners and the Axons themselves are part of the ship, or it is part of them.

Suffice it to say, this is the kind of Doctor Who story to avoid showing a non-fan as the baffling plot combines with costumes and special effects that never work. Whovians can watch it with amusement but anyone else would probably be put off for life!

The guest stars do their best to carry the material with Donald Hewlett, a member of the Croft and Perry stable who became most famous as Colonel Reynolds in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, giving a good performance as a scientist. Peter Bathurst has great fun with the officious Chinn, the man from the ministry. Paul Grist played an American who becomes a captive of the Axons then spends the rest of the story helping Jo and The Doctor. He is very good value and gives the story a real lift whenever he appears.

Favourite Moments

A number of the scenes had me laughing, but that’s not really the same thing! Katy Manning’s reminiscences on the Blu-ray are brilliant, from comparing the opening of the Axon spaceship to a certain part of the anatomy, to being grabbed in various areas – specifically the chest – by the claws on the spaceship, and having great fun at the expense of Bernard Holley who played the lead Axon whose walk could have something to do with trying to avoid unsightly bulges in the leotard!! She was absolutely hilarious as ever and definitely the best part of both the story and the behind the scenes.

Final thoughts

Whilst it has its moments, this is one of the worst stories of the Third Doctor’s time at the controls of the TARDIS. With today’s special effects they might have been able to pull it off, but with 70s era special effects it was way too ambitious. File under ‘Never watch again’!   

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