‘THE CLAWS OF AXOS’
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“Axos calling Earth! Axos calling Earth!”
This ‘Doctor Who’ story is bonkers! But it was fun to watch!
I enjoyed watching ‘The Claws of Axos’ when I purchased the original DVD. It’s an inventive; imaginative and original story from the Jon Pertwee era and something of a classic. ‘The Claws of Axos’ has been repackaged and restored into a 2-disc Special Edition on DVD, which I have enjoyed.
I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘The Claws of Axos’ signed by five people at conventions. These include Richard Franklin at ‘Big Blue Box 2’ in Tunbridge Wells, March 2013 and also by Katy Manning, John Levene, Bernard Holley and co-writer Bob Baker at ‘Pandorica 2014’ in Bristol, September 2014.
‘The Claws of Axos’ is a U.N.I.T. story with the Third Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier, Captain Yates, Sergeant Benton and the Master. A strange alien ‘spaceship’ lands on the planet Earth. It contains the Axons from Axos. They contact Earth for help. They claim the need to refuel before they can take off again.
The Axons offer a ‘gift’ to the humans called Axonite. This happens to be a thinking molecule which can improve the human race with food and power supplies. Easily seduced, the humans take it. But it’s all part of a dastardly plan by the Axons when they intend to suck the planet Earth dry of energy.
‘The Claws of Axos’ is the first four-part TV story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who would be regular contributors to ‘Doctor Who’ in the 1970s. Here they deliver an imaginative story, the first of many that’s full of crazy and bonkers ideas that must have driven script editor Terrance Dicks insane. 😀
Jon Pertwee is excellent as the Doctor. Jon is definitely at his dashing and heroic best when playing the Doctor, now exiled to Earth by the Time Lords and working with U.N.I.T. I liked the scene where Jon’s Doctor gets agitated by Mr Chin’s persistent querying on who he is and that he is not welcome.
There’s a defining moment when the Doctor erupts in anger at Chin’s ‘British’ ways. The Doctor is quickly suspicious about the Axons and their claims to be low on power. He analyses and discovers what the Axonite property really is since the Axons, Axonite and the Axos ship are all the same thing.
I love Katy Manning as Jo Grant in this story. Katy is a really lovely person, full of delightful personality and energy. I’m amazed that I’ve met her at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. Jo doesn’t get much character development in this adventure, but her scenes with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor are great.
I liked it when Jo gets curious and goes into the Axos ship. She gets a shock when she hears Filer and a scare when an Axon in real-form appears out of nowhere before her. There’s a horrible moment when Jo gets aged to death before the Doctor’s eye as it is very impressive effects work for its time.
Nicholas Courtney is great as the Brigadier. The Brig leads his men into action with the Axons and gets easily frustrated and annoyed when Chin tries to interfere and take over the U.N.I.T. operation. The Brigadier doesn’t like it when Chin brings in the regular army when he and his men are arrested.
I liked it when the Brigadier, Mike Yates and Benton manage to catch the Master in the power reactor room before they reluctantly help the Master to stop Axos destroying the world. I liked it when the Brigadier protests to the Master in destroying Axos whilst the Doctor and Jo are still inside.
Roger Delgado guest stars as the Master. This was the first time I’d seen Roger properly as the Master. Beforehand, I’d already seen Anthony Ainley and John Simm as the Master. Watching Roger as the Master was a treat and I really like how he plays the character with evil and charm in the mix.
The Master is working with the Axons since he’s made a bargain with them, but can’t gain access to his TARDIS. I liked the Master’s scenes with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in this story, since the two actors spark off each other as opponents. They also speak quite charmingly when they’re working together.
I enjoyed Richard Franklin as Mike Yates and John Levene as Sergeant Benton. These two don’t get much of a character development in this story, since they’re mostly in the action and doing the standard soldier thing with their characters. But they do pretty well when battling against the Axons.
I enjoyed the scene in ‘Episode Four’ where Mike Yates and Benton are in a jeep and they’re attacked by spaghetti-like Axons out on location. I can safely say that I’ve met all surviving members of the U.N.I.T. family including Katy; Richard and John. I wish that I could’ve met Nick, Jon and Roger.
The guest cast also includes Paul Grist as American agent, Bill Filer; Peter Bathurst as Mr. Chin and Tim Pigott-Smith as Captain Harker. There’s also Donald Hewlet as George Hardiman and David Savile as Winser in the story. There’s also Fernanda Marlowe as Corporal Bell, who previously appeared in ‘The Mind of Evil’. And there’s Derek Ware as Pigbin Josh – that tramp riding his bike. 😀
Axos or the Axons are an interesting monster. They’re led by Bernard Holley as the Axon Man. At first, the Axons appear beautiful and golden when the humans meet them. But the gold appearance is a disguise, as their true forms, which are spaghetti-like monsters, are so ugly and grotesque to see.
However, the Axons in true form also look pretty appalling, especially when they’re attacking Yates and Benton in the jeep. They look like spaghetti monsters which I couldn’t take seriously at times. I did like the concept of the Axons; the Axonite and the Axos spaceship being the same thing though.
The original DVD special features of ‘The Claws of Axos’ are as follows. There’s a commentary with Katy Manning, Richard Franklin and producer Barry Letts; deleted and extended scenes with studio recordings and also a ‘Now and Then’ featurette on the story’s locations, narrated by Katy Manning.
There’s the ‘Reverse Standards Conversion – The Axon Legacy’ 10-minute documentary, which looks into the restoration of ‘The Claws of Axos’ on DVD. There’s also a ‘Directing Who – Michael Ferguson’ interview; a photo gallery of the story and an info-text commentary option to enjoy.
The 2-disc Special Edition DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s the commentary, the deleted and extended scenes plus studio recording and an updated info-text commentary option to enjoy. There’s also an ‘Easter Egg’ which is the ‘Reverse Standards Conversion’ documentary.
On Disc 2, there’s the making-of documentary called ‘Axon Stations’ featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. There’s also the complete ‘Studio Recording’ session of ‘Episode One’ that is over 70 minutes compared to the ‘deleted and extended scenes’ featurette found on Disc 1. The ‘Now and Then’ featurette and the ‘Directing Who’ interview can also be found on Disc 2.
There’s also an interesting special documentary called ‘Living with Levene’ which has comedian Toby Hadoke spending a weekend with John Levene who played Sergeant Benton in the series. I would personally like to spend a weekend with Sarah Sutton (Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’) and get to know her. 🙂
I’ve met John Levene at a two conventions already. He seems to be an interesting person and I enjoyed an interview panel with him at a convention. I’ve chatted to him during signings; shared some of the stories I like with him as Benton and also chatted about Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado.
There’s also the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story to enjoy. The story’s photo gallery can also be found on Disc 2 of the 2-disc Special Edition DVD. There’s also ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Legacy Collection’ DVD box set. This has the VHS version of ‘Shada’ and ‘More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS’.
‘The Claws of Axos’ is very imaginative ‘Doctor Who’ story that’s impressive for its time from the 1970s. I’m glad I’ve had my original DVD cover for this story signed by five people at conventions. The story has a fun atmosphere and engrossing to watch with the Doctor, Jo, U.N.I.T and the Master.
‘The Claws of Axos’ rating – 8/10
‘DOCTOR WHO AND THE CLAWS OF AXOS’
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Deep Into The Heart of Axos
I wonder if the Terrance Dicks ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations are the best ones out of the lot. 😀
I’ve read and listened to ‘Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos’ by Terrance Dicks! This is the Target novelization/audiobook on the TV shown in 1971 during Jon Pertwee’s second season as the Doctor (Season 8). I greatly enjoyed reading and listening to ‘The Claws of Axos’ novelization/audiobook here.
‘The Claws of Axos’ is a ‘Doctor Who’ story that has a bonkers’ attitude to it, especially from the minds of Bob Baker and Dave Martin. Thankfully, Terrance Dicks, who wrote a lot of the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’, manages to deliver a clear and coherent book version of the tale for readers to enjoy.
I seem to find Terrance Dicks as a good writer for these Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ compared to other writers I’ve come across when reading and sometimes hearing these books. Terrance Dicks always delivers faithful novelizations of the stories shown on TV including the ones not written by him.
And if anyone is wondering, I have met Terrance Dicks in real-life at ‘The Capitol II’ convention at the Arora Hotel in Gatwick, May 2017. It was brief, and I managed to get an autograph from him, but I’m glad I met and told Terrance how much I enjoyed his Target novelizations which he was pleased about.
The Target novelization of ‘The Claws of Axos’ was originally published in 1977, six years after the story was transmitted on TV. I purchased the 1979 edition of the Target novelization from Amazon.co.uk, which has the images of the golden Axon Man and two spaghetti-looking Axon monsters on the cover.
Speaking of which, the two Axon monsters on the 1979 edition book cover…are green. Not orangey-coloured as I would expect Axons to be. This feels wrong somehow. The Axons look like a Krynoids from ‘The Seed of Doom’ on that book cover. I know they re-used the Axon costumes for the Krynoids.
But still, why did the publishers decide to go for green-coloured looking Axons where they could easily be mistaken for Krynoids. Did they base the Axons on the costumes that were repainted for the Krynoids in ‘The Seeds of Doom’? That would make sense, but didn’t they have publicity photos of the Axos as well?
The story is divided into 12 chapters in the book. This is the usual Terrance Dicks approach to dividing the story into chapters in book form. But it doesn’t match the exact same episode structure with its cliff-hanger endings. This was the case for Terrance Dicks doing the ‘Terror of the Autons’ novelization.
The cliff-hanger endings for the ‘Part One’ and the ‘Part Three’ segments of the story are in the book. But for the ‘Part Two’ segment, it doesn’t end with the Doctor, Jo and Filer being attacked by Axons. It finishes a bit earlier with the Doctor attacked by the Filer duplicate sent by the Axons to collect him.
In the audiobook for the novelization, the story is read by Richard Franklin who played Mike Yates in the TV series. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Richard Franklin read a ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook. He also read and performed ‘Vengeance of the Stones’ as well as the audiobook for ‘Last of the Gaderene’.
I was delighted to hear Richard Franklin read the story. Richard’s a great narrator and provides good tones for the voices of the Doctor, Jo Grant, the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton as well as Mike Yates himself. I liked his voice for Mr. Chinn in the story as well as the American accent he provided for Filer.
In terms of changes to the story’s plot, well there’s not much to be mentioned. As I’ve said, Terrance remains true to what was in the original story. He embellishes more though on the thoughts and feelings of certain characters, since he knows the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’ inside and out here.
In the novelization, Terrance reinserts the scenes that were cut from the original edit of the story as demonstrated in the DVD special features both for the original and the 2-disc Special Edition releases. I recall the early scenes cut out from ‘Part One’s original edit and I am so glad to find them in the book.
This includes the scene where Jo Grant meets Bill Filer for the first time and where Bill mistook for Jo for being a man upon arrival. I’m disappointed that scene wasn’t included in the final edit of the story as it would’ve set up the relationship we were going to see between Jo Grant and Bill Filer pretty well.
I like how the Brigadier’s thoughts and feelings about Chinn are explored in the novelization, since he clearly doesn’t like working with and for him. There’s even a point where the Brigadier daydreams about having Chinn taken out the back and shot through the head. That’s a bit extreme isn’t it, Brigadier?!
Chinn also comes across as very unlikeable as he did in the TV story. It’s clear in the novelization that Chinn is a stupid man and is only concerned for gaining the credit in his political situation. His determination to see U.N.I.T., the Brigadier and the Doctor out of the way is explored further in book.
It was interesting how Chinn interacts with the Defence Minister in the book and how Richard Franklin voices that character in the audiobook. Richard has the Minister laughing whilst talking to Chinn, which is a complete contrast to how Kenneth Benda played the character in that very cold, efficient manner.
The Pigbin Josh scenes in the story are all confined to one sequence in the book. This is different to how the TV story did it considering they cut from U.N.I.T. HQ back to Pigbin Josh out on the snowy road before discovering Axos time and time again. I think it works fine to have Pigbin Josh in one scene.
Incidentally, Corporal Bell doesn’t make an appearance in the Target novelization of ‘The Claws of Axos’…at all! I suppose Fernanda Marlowe was well-liked for her appearance in ‘The Mind of Evil’ to be make an appearance in ‘The Claws of Axos’. Shame Terrance didn’t reuse the character in the book.
It was interesting to find how Jo Grant had some suspicions of the Doctor siding with the enemy when he took an interest in Winser’s scientific work with the Particle Accelerator. This is even during when the Doctor asks Jo to tell him what she saw when she thought she heard Filer’s voice in the Axons’ ship.
The suspicions Jo has about the Doctor siding with the enemy resurface when the Doctor convinces everyone that he’s joining the Master when attempting to leave planet Earth. It was interesting to find how Jo was so anxious about the Doctor leaving Earth and her feelings over it get explored in the book.
The Doctor and Jo are inseparable when held captive in the Axon ship. The Doctor doesn’t have to go off and find Jo when the Axon ship becomes under attack by the Master with the Particle Accelerator. Even when the Doctor sees Jo aged to death by the Axons, they don’t separate from each other in this.
The Doctor even checks Jo to see that she’s alright after her aging to death experience to which she assures him she’s alright. The scene where the Doctor and Jo try to get out of Axos and the Doctor helps Jo to recite her times table as they get out was so tense and gripping to read/hear in book/audio.
I don’t think it’s clearly established how the Master ran into the Axons after escaping Earth. I assume the Master ran into the Axons after he left Earth in ‘The Mind of Evil’. The references made to the Master in ‘Terror of the Autons’ and ‘The Mind of Evil’ from Jo Grant’s point of view do get established.
When the Doctor is about to leave with the Master in the TARDIS and Bill Filer pulls out a gun to stop them, it’s the Master who lets out the Doctor is coming with him. In the TV version, it was the Doctor who openly declares he’s going with the Master before Filer pulls a gun. Not sure which is better here.
In the climax where the Doctor catches Axos in a time loop, it’s not established that there are Axons piled on top of the Doctor inside the TARDIS console room. The book just has the Doctor hearing the Voice of Axos speaking to him whilst he presses a button for the TARDIS to escape from the time loop.
The book concludes with an extended ending as there’s additional dialogue after the Doctor says he feels like ‘a cosmic yoyo’ rather than ‘an intergalactic yoyo’ when his TARDIS gets pulled back to Earth. There’s also arguing between the Doctor, the Brigadier, Mike Yates and Benton on moving his TARDIS.
‘Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos’ has been an enjoyable and faithful novelization of the TV story by Terrance Dicks. I’m glad I read and heard it, especially with Richard Franklin reading the story in the audiobook. The story does feel clear and coherent in terms of reading the book and hearing the audio.
I also like how the characters and their motivations are explored in the story compared to the TV version. You get hints of their motivations when watching the TV story of course, but it’s nice for Terrance Dicks to have it explained to us and he’s well-into the characters of the Third Doctor era here.
‘Doctor Who and the Claws of Axos’ rating – 8/10
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