The Claws of Axos
A little trivia before we begin. Originally we were supposed to watch Mawdryn Undead because we wanted this months Non Fan Opinion to be a Brigadier story in honour of Nick Courtney’s demise. That was the plan but Simon stubbornly refused to watch a story with the 5th Doctor and Tegan (two of his least favourite characters in the show) and so we settled on The Claws of Axos instead. As a punishment for his pig headedness our story next month is The Greatest Show in the Galaxy featuring Simon absolute least favourite pair, the 7th Doctor and Ace. Unfortunately I had to threaten that or divorce…and it was on the fence for a while! I can foresee problems every time we go to watch a 5th and 7th Doctor story…
…but in the meantime this is a fascinating story to choose for a non-fan to watch. Unlike anything else on the telly and pretty much unlike anything else in Doctor Who’s canon, how would this trippy experience go down?
As is often the norm the story opens with two operators discovering that a comet is heading towards the Earth. However there is something a bit different about this one. ‘How can it be a comet if it has altered its course?’ Because it’s a spaceship! The extremely phallic looking Axon ship bumping and grinding its way towards the Earth. ‘I’m really sorry’ Simon looks embarrassed ‘but that really isn’t very good, is it? Even for the time…’
We cut to UNIT headquarters where bumbling fool of the story Chinn looks through the Doctor’s file. ‘I love the naiveté that shows up in these 70’s shows – a folder with huge black letters saying TOP SECRET – that’s ridiculous!’ The Axons are on their way and Simon is glad that the Doctor is there to remind the Brigadier of his moral duties. At first Simon questions Chinn’s methods but then changes his mind: ‘why are they shooting at it? Actually I guess you would have to err on the side of caution.’
Pigbin Josh dithers about in snowy Dungeness, finding a bicycle and riding it into a river. ‘I bet that water is fucking freezing! That old tramp doesn’t need to act!’ Josh stumbles on Axos and Simon is gob smacked as a rude looking tendril reaches out and drags him inside! ‘That tramp has been grabbed by an ultra long Peen-eye (Joe: that’s Simon’s nickname for male equipment)! The Peen-eye of death!’
UNIT soon turns up to investigate but Jo is not allowed to join in. Not that that would ever stop our Ms Grant. She follows and walks into Axos. ‘Why don’t any of those soldiers stop Jo from going in inside? What do they think this thing is?’
The Axons materialise in their golden glory and Simon is impressed. ‘That’s really good make up, I really like those freaky eyes!’
The first episode ends with a scream from Jo and Simon seems to be enjoying himself immensely. ‘I really like the ones with Pertwee and the Brig, I always have! Although given the properties of Axonite I am worried that this story is going to become attack of the giant cow! They are going to use the element to create a giant cow to have a month’s supply of beef for the world but unfortunately they won’t be able to kill it! The Cow of Death!’
Episode two begins and he is still laughing at the story. He chuckles and nods at the Doctor’s assertion that Axos cannot increase the human races common sense!
He’s not sure about the episode’s politics, however and questions Chinn’s decision to limit Axonite to the UK: ‘Nowadays that would all be dealt with by the UN, it would never be exclusive to the UK. If you share the responsibility, you share the cost!’ Maybe Bob Baker and Dave Martin needed Simon as political advisor!
The Master is set free by the Axons but Simon questions this: ‘How come they wont give him his TARDIS but they will give him a gun? Why doesn’t he just shoot them and take his TARDIS?’ He laughs at the Master creeping up on the UNIT soldier driving the van: ‘He’s behind you!’
‘The scientist and the politician (Windsor and Chinn) are like overgrown children! You just wouldn’t find people like that in their responsible positions!’ Simon growls but his attention perks up as ‘look that man turned into bubbles!’
Soon the monsters are attacking and Simon is confused as to where they have all come from and why they don’t just appear in the room rather than in the corridor where they can make an entrance! Still as the episode comes to a close he is still positive: ‘There’s so much going on it keeps you thinking. It makes The Mark of the Rani look as intellectual as the Tellytubbies (Joe: Yes he is still going on about that one!). Jo Grant is okay but she is a little melodramatic, grabbing her head and screaming every time she sees a monster and she does exactly what was expected of her at the time – nothing. I do have one question – why do all these alien attack England?’
We break for the day but Simon leaves episode two on one last thought: ‘Do you think that is why our cat is so fat? Has she been enhanced by Axonite? She’s an Unidentified Fat Object, you know.’
A couple of days later and I find that Simon cannot recall a thing about the first half of the story so I read back his comments and it all comes flooding back. ‘Oh yeah it was quite good! Probably the best we have watched so far…ooh I dunno William Hartnell was good. Put the kettle on and we can start!’ We cannot start the DVD, it appears that the remote is broken: ‘Try taking the batteries out and rubbing them on your jumper!’ he laughs, remembering last weeks episode of Russell Howard’s Good News
Simon thinks Bill Filer is dead. ‘Oh well.’ And he sums up Chinn’s contributions to the story: ‘Fucking idiot!’ And he’s also getting a little bit annoyed by Jo Grant’s insane panic attacks inside the Axon ship: ‘Katy stop screaming!’ Could this story be taking a downturn for my hubbie?
‘How many catastrophic security leaks have their been?’ he asks as Chinn’s questions as to which one the Minister is talking about. He’s not convinced by the technology on display: ‘They most definitely did not have videophones in the 70’s! How unrealistic! It has two buttons and a dialling pad!’
A mysterious figure storms into the nuclear plant and accosts Benton. Simon is fooled completely. ‘Obviously that’s Chinn up to no good! Oh no wait I bet its Roger Ackroyd!’ I tell him his name is Roger Delgado, not an Agatha Christie character. ‘It must be the Master! At least he’s not disguised as a scarecrow this time!’
Simon blanches at the screen as Jo Grant is horrifically aged to death! ‘She looks really witchy! Thank goodness Katy Manning didn’t grow old like that! She’s a glamorous Gran, you know!’ He’s also quite taken with the hairdos on display: ‘I wonder where that Axon fella got his hair done?’
Looks like Simon has been dragged back into the plot again but he does question why they are using a classroom map to distribute Axonite.
The Axons are on the march! ‘How long is it going to take before that guard sees the monster? It is a bit of a silly monster, isn’t it? It looks like spaghetti bolognaise come alive!’ I remind him that he watched The Seeds of Doom with me recently which had exactly the same monster in it but a different colour and he didn’t complain then. ‘Ah yes but it was gween! As writer, script editor, producer and no neck King of Interviews Terrance Dicks says “The colour for monsters is always gween!”’ Simon loves listening to me enthuse about my deity, the great Terrance Dicks and often feels it is necessary to do a Sontaran impression and pretend that he has no neck when doing impressions of him!
Filer tosses and turns in his bed. ‘Argh! I hate that! Why do these shows have characters on the edge of consciousness spit out plot exposition? When does that happen in real life?’
He’s about as impressed as the Master by the state of the console room. ‘You have to admit the new console room looks a lot snazzier.’ I can’t argue.
The third episode ends and Simon is on the fence about this story now. ‘I am a child of my era and it does seem a bit slow and that episode was definitely padded compared to the others. Nowadays it would all be done in 45 minutes and you would have time for padded third episodes. The Doctor has been sitting on a chair that looks like a scab for a whole episode and I’m not feeling the same energy from it that I could at the beginning.’
The Doctor is close to escaping from Axos but heads straight into a faceful of spongy crab claws that grab at him. ‘Clearly there is space – why doesn’t he just walk around them?’ The Doctor rescues Jo but she is still spazzing out like mad. ‘Get a grip Jo! Why is she freaking out like that? Hasn’t she seen floating heads before? She looks likes she is having her first orgasm prostrating against that wall!’
‘That’s a pretty spectacular death!’ Simon cries as the director somersaults over the bridge after he is electrocuted!
He’s less convinced by the Doctor’s apparent betrayal. ‘He’s obviously not betraying them – its Jon Pertwee for goodness sakes! He just needs them to help him fix his ship!’
Monsters attack en masse and Simon wants to whisper a ploy in the Brigadier’s ear: ‘With all the commotion going on you could just shoot Chinn and get him out the way, Brig!’ ‘Wonderful contribution there, Jo’ he says as she stands in front of the monsters grabbing her hair and looking horrified.
‘Ooh what a lot of devastation that explosion caused – there’s only one girder left!’ he says of the explosive finale!
I ask Simon to find two things he really liked about the story and two things he felt needed some work. He really liked Jon Pertwee and thought it really makes a difference having a proper, serious actor in the role and he also mentioned that the stories on Earth always grip him more because he can relate to the danger. On the downside he said the Axons were a pretty cheap looking monster and Jo spent the whole story screaming and that was all she contributed.
Summing the story up he said ‘it started off well but I think the novelty of all the weirdness wore down by the end’ and he gave this story an above average 6/10
From a Planet of Giants to a space vampire. This month Charlotte and I watch...The Claws of Axos...
A ship is coming into land...on Earth!
“What the hell is that? It looks like the end of an elephant’s trunk!”
Interesting, but what’s that?
“The spaceship’s breathing!” Hmmm, wonder if that’ll be important later....
Here with are with the good old dependable Brigadier, and Jo’s escorting an American, Bill Filer from the CIA to meet him. We also have Chinn, a bureaucrat who the Doctor doesn’t like too much. What of Jo though?
“She looked all nice and smart, until you notice she had a short skirt and boots. I wonder if we’ll see Jo’s knickers in this one?” Probably, it’d be more of a shock if you didn’t.
The ship’s getting closer to Earth! There’s a sudden strange sound...
“It looked like the Doctor made that noise with his mouth!” Maybe he did, he is an alien!
The ship’s landing – finally – in...South East England!
“That’s convenient for the plot!”
Why look, it’s good old Pigbin Josh! But where’s the ship gone?
A technician gets above his station now, getting a bit shirty with the Brig who doesn’t understand what’s going on.
“Of course he doesn’t understand! You haven’t told him yet!”
Oh Josh, that bike’s no good! Straight in the water with you!
“So cold! That must have been horrible for the stuntman!”
Oh, we’re back with Bill Filer. He’s American, right?
“Is that a fake accent?” I wouldn’t be surprised...
From one odd accent to another and we’re back with Josh.
“Ooh ar? Ooh ar? Where’s he from?” Maybe the Bill Filer school of accents. But now he’s been sucked into the ship! They’re probing him! But what with?
“What is that thing?” I’m not sure I want to know!
Now Filer’s been sucked in too! Chinn, being Chinn, just wants to destroy it. Jo wants to help, but is told she can’t come.
“Poor Jo! She’s like a dejected child.”
Josh’s body has been chucked out of the ship, and it does...something.
“Why did it go white? Is it censored?”
The Doctor’s in the ship now, pulling some odd faces. Filer’s trapped inside too, but what’s that noise?
“It sounds like a pulse.” I wonder if it could be...
Oh no! The Master’s been caught too!
Those poor Axon actors have got ping-pong balls for eyes!
“How can they see?” Maybe they can’t! They do have a “food animal” though, somehow.
“Where did they get the frog from? It’s snowy outside!”
Oh no Jo! Watch out for that monster!
Jo’s been menaced, but the Axons insist she’s been hallucinating.
“Why is the Doctor believing them without doubt? Surely he knows he can trust Jo more!”
Filer’s going to be replicated! But what’s happening to that Axon? It’s got a nasty squishy face!
“Urgh, that’s horrible!”
The incident music suddenly takes a turn for the discordant, like someone’s banging random keys.
“I reckon Nola [our 4 year old daughter] could play that tune!”
More pressingly, what’s that on Jo’s outfit?
“She’s got a little mouse on her collar!”
Back on the ship the Master finds out that “no one is irreplaceable”. Ooh er! But’s what’s that? It’s the phallus of Axos!
“That looks really dodgy! It’s swinging as well!”
Now Filer’s trapped once more by claws...of Axos!
“Is someone underneath him?” Probably, good old 70s effects!
In the lab, a scientist seems deaf what’s going on around him.
“How is he writing and not noticing their heated argument?”
The Master wants his...what?
“When does the Master have a laser gun? I thought he had a black dildo to shrink people!”
Well, not now it seems. But he’s about to jump onto a lorry.
“Another stunt! Stunts ahoy in this one!”
Doctor, watch out! It’s a fake Filer! But wait, Filer to the rescue! And he’s got a gun!
“That must be weird, shooting himself. Which one’s which? That’ll be the next dilemma!”
Oh, that’s not good!
“Oh, that wig’s awful!”
Filer dies! Or does he?
“How did he know it was the right one? Probably the wig.”
Oh no, the Doctor’s made an error! And now he’s been called a quack! Now the Axons are quick to attack, but in a different form this time.
“It just looks like someone under a blanket – and that looks like an overgrown beetroot!”
Oh Doctor, don’t say that!
“Everyone says ‘Don’t you see?’ – it’s just a way to let us know stuff!”
Now Axos has the Doctor again!
What does the Brigadier want though?
Now the Axons are lying! Boo! And the Doctor and Jo are being menaced by the claws...of Axos! Axos is planning to “suck Earth dry”. Thankfully the Brig’s back in charge now, but...
“What about his pizza?” I’m feeling hungry now – where’s mine?
Oh no! Worldwide Axonite! What a bad idea! And now Filer’s tossing in bed!
“Who talks in their sleep like that? No one makes sense when they talk in their sleep!”
Who’s the strange officer hiding his face?
“It’s the Master! I wasn’t expecting that – I should have been though. They’re probably thinking, ‘What rotten luck! A surprise inspection on the day of a disaster!’”
Filer’s tossing again.
“What’s the point in that bit?”
Who knows, but Axos is quizzing the Doctor, and the Doctor’s fibbing.
“Why’s he lying? He doesn’t normally lie about who he is, does he?”
Sometimes, but now we have odd music again.
“What was that music? It sounded like a Nintendo game!”
Watch out random UNIT soldier! Another Axon! Too late! He’s disappeared!
“Where’d he go? What did it do to him?”
The Brig’s threatening to blast the Master into pieces! But the Master has a plan to help, and talks...science?
“When the writers are writing this bit, I wonder if they’re thinking of real science or making up stuff?” I’m guessing a bit of both.
Oh no! More claws...of Axos! Watch out Doctor!
“Why can’t he walk round them? There’s plenty of room!”
Jo’s trying to escape too!
“I think we just saw her knickers then – it was only a matter of time!”
But the Master’s plan means they’re both going to die!
Poor Jo and the Doctor! Menaced by...faces!
“What are the floating heads about?”
Now what’s the Doctor doing? Slapping Jo! You swine!
“He slapped her! But he slapped her left cheek and she’s holding her right one!”
Now he’s getting her to do some numeracy problems!
“Is she good at maths then?”
Not too bad it seems...and now they’re outside! But what of the ship?
“It was moving on the inside, but it’s not on the outside!”
Someone’s trying to fix the particle accelerator.
“Why’s he wearing that thing on his head?” Fashion?
Now there’s talk of Axos putting its claws in Earth’s carcass!
“Carcass? Surely that’s how you describe a dead thing? The Earth’s not dead!” It might be soon though...
Outside the weather’s changed.
“It’s not snowy anymore!”
Chinn’s trying to add to his chins by munching a chicken leg.
“It’s not the time to be eating, is it?”
The Doctor and the Master leave the Doctor’s TARDIS and Charlotte’s got a theory.
“I’ve just figured out the door system – I think. There’s the outside doors, then a little corridor, then the inside doors.” Perhaps that’s how it was back then, but it seems different these days.
The Axon spaceship lifts off.
“It’s a giant chicken leg! It’s the chicken leg that guy was eating!”
Now some Axons are attacking a UNIT jeep!
“There’s a duvet climbing up the back of the car!”
The Doctor’s decided he’s leaving. He says he liked Jo...but no one else.
“That’s a bit callous really! Surely he liked the Brigadier a bit – just a bit.”
What’s that the Master said?
“Is that death by stiletto? It sounded like he said ‘shoeicide’!”
The Doctor’s now trapped in his own loopy plan! And some more interesting music...
“It sounds like the Jaws music!”
Phew! The Doctor’s free, and the power complex has exploded...but everyone’s safe.
So, what did Charlotte make of it?
“5/10. It was just aliens invading and rubbish costumes!”
Oh well, maybe better next time when we visit...The Greatest Show in the Galaxy!