Saturday 10 September 2011

292 The Claws of Axos: Episode Four

EPISODE: The Claws of Axos: Episode Four
TRANSMITTED: 03 April 1971
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Michael Ferguson
SCRIPT EDITOR: Terrance Dicks
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - the Claws of Axos
Episode Format: 625 video

With Axos disrupted by the power the Master is feeding it, The Doctor & Jo managed to escape. Axos feeds the power back to the Nuton complex, killing Hardiman as he disconnects the link. The Doctor arrives back at the Nuton complex saying he is needing the Master's help to defeat Axos. However when he has the Master alone in the Tardis he tells him he needs his help repairing the Tardis so they can both escape. Axos begins to surface ready to start feeding energy from the distributed Axonite causing the observing Yates & Benton to flee. The Doctor & Master depart together to the horror of the Jo and the Brigadier as Axons attack the Nuton complex. The Doctor brings the Tardis saying he wishes to bargain the secret of time travel for an alliance against the high council of the Time Lords. Axos agrees and the Doctor wires it into the Tardis intending, as the Master notices, to Time Loop Axos. The Master flees, attempting to get to his own Tardis. Axos and the Axons dematerialise becoming Time Looped but the Doctor, shielded by the Tardis, rematerialises in the Nuton complex just as it's destroyed in a huge explosion. The Doctor persuades the Tardis to make another rematerialising in the ruins of the Nuton complex.

The Doctor is quite duplicitous here, first deceiving the Brigadier and co, then the Master to gain his co-operation and finally Axos forcing them into the Time Loop. I'm pretty certain he was intending to make his getaway at the end of this episode but alas he discovers the limits the Time Lords have placed on him..... which we will shortly see relaxed so he can do their bidding. But at the end of these 4 episodes I still find myself left with no great love for the Claws of Axos. I'm sorry, it just doesn't appeal to me.

Although the end of this story is the last we see of Axos and the Axons we do get to see an Axon monster costume again. One was later resprayed green and used as a Krynoid in the fourth Doctor story the Seeds of Doom

One particular technical element of this episode has attracted considerable debate over the years: As Benton & Yates are attempting to drive a jeep back to the Brigadier they're attacked by Axons. During this sequence the long shots of the jeep are on location and the close ups of Yates & Benton are filmed in the studio. Behind them is a featureless blue grey background. The argument runs is that a poor attempt at a sky, which doesn't really match the location sequences, or is it a CSO shot where someone's forgotten to key in the background? For years watching this story on video I was a subscriber to the later theory but now I'm not so sure especially when compared to a similar shot of Filer driving his car in episode one that while a different colour looks equally bad compared to the location footage around it. Two other factors weigh against it being CSO: Firstly the blue isn't that bright as it's usually a bright colour used for CSO. The second is that Doctor Who tended to avoid using the colour blue as the Background for it's CSO work due to one of the major props in the series, the Tardis, being coloured blue!

The Claws of Axos was novelised in 1977 by Terrance Dicks. In 1979 it became one of the first Target Doctor Who books to be rejacketed with a new cover. A video version of Claws of Axos was released on 5th May 1992 alongside Tomb of the Cybermen and the Woolworths exclusive The Twin Dilemma. It was released on DVD on 25th April, 2005 and was the fifth Third Doctor DVD to be released. At this point a reasonable portion of the range was Pertwee releases but that slowed down leaving the last few years of the DVD range with several Pertwee stories a number of which need extensive restoration work.

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