Tuesday, 5 June 2012

57: The Claws Of Axos - Beware of Golden Aliens Bearing Gifts

Written by: Bob Baker & David Martin.
Companions: The Doctor, Jo Grant, Brigadier, Captain Yates, Sergeant Benton.
Monsters/Villains: Axos, The Master.
Brief Synopsis: A crippled alien ship lands on Earth bearing a miraculous substance called Axonite.
Rating: 4/10.

I have been putting off the write up of The Claws of Axos as I don't really have much to say on this one.  It's not that it doesn't have anything going for it, it's almost that it tries to do too much and therefore doesn't achieve anything. There are so many ideas jostling for attention and none of them get given the time they need to develop; many are good ideas but we seem to move on to the next one before we can even fathom where the previous was heading.

The humanoid Axons, bearing Axonite.
In a nut-shell this alien ship tries to land on earth, the Conservative MP defence minister Chinn decides to destroy it and when that doesn't work, he has a change of heart and along with UNIT and the Doctor decides to go aboard. Inside they meet the beautiful, golden humanoid aliens, the Axons, who's science has taken an organic path. They claim they are in desperate need of fuel and in return will offer their amazing, miracle element which can, grow, shrink and replicate any substance, which I guess could be pretty useful. Also the Masters there too. At some point before the episode starts he's got himself kidnapped by Axos, but he's got a deal to lead them to earth in exchange for the death of the Doctor and all life on earth. The Axons randomly copy a visiting american agent, Bill Filer and send him to stop the Doctor from learning what Axonite really is, but the Doctor learns that Axos is one gestalt entity planning on feasting on the earth's energy. Then the Axons reveal their true appearance, capture the Doctor and Jo and threaten to age Jo to death if the Doctor doesn't give them the secrets of time travel. Axos then plans to use a local reactor to cause a nuclear explosion. The Master helps UNIT and stops Axos in return for his freedom. The Doctor escapes and ends up tricking Axos, trapping them in a time-loop. The master escapes again, and reprograms the doctor's TARDIS to always return to earth.

The natural Axon form.
It just can't decide what it wants to be, where it's going, or what kind of story it wants to tell. The design is also incredibly inconsistent. The Axon costumes are so varying in quality. The Golden Axon masks are great but the jumpsuits are awful and you can so clearly see the zips at the back. The raw axon costumes are pretty good, but there's one that is so bad it looks like a sleeping bag, painted orange. The Axon ship is pretty terrible too, with it's tendrils and eyes. The music is quirky to the hilarious.

A Sleeping-bag Axon.

The saving graces of this somewhat messy story are, Roger Delgado's excellent performance and you have to love Pig Bin Josh, the random homeless man who, unfortunately for him, is the first man on the scene when the alien ship lands. 

Pig Bin Josh!
The argument I find the most interesting and indeed most currently relevant in this story is when the power-hungry Minister, Chinn says "I have a duty to my country-" and the Doctor replies, "Not the world?" 

Today in the U.K it's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and I found myself in several conversations defending my lack of interest in the royal family and being called unpatriotic. By definition, patriotism is a devotion to one's country, and when harpooned with the usual arguments I agree with the Doctor. I am patriotic and therefore devoted to my world, not just my country. It's like Pablo Casals said, "The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?" Certainly the two are not mutually exclusive, and there are many things I love about my country, the royals are just not one of them. Many exemplify them as our national heritage, but surely in our modern age an elected official or a parliamentary system would be more effective and realistic than this outdated constitutional monarchy.

Jo does pretty much nothing in this one apart from scream and nearly get aged to death.
If you liked The Terror Of The Autons you might like The Claws of Axos as it's basically exactly the same story. An alien invasion aided by the Master, who at the last minute has a change of heart and helps the Doctor defeat the menace before escaping again. There are certainly some good bits, but for the most part this feels over extended and doesn't really have much to say for itself.

Join me next time for what I consider to be possibly the most underrated Doctor story ever, The Colony In Space.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Oh well, everyone to their own. I have always loved this story for the visual elements and the the way it sounds. I personaly think that the design of the Axon ship was excellent. The music was interesting and the voice of Axos was almost hypnotic in quality.
Pigbin josh is one of the worst elements of this production!
Colony in space is an over padded and underwhelming 6 parter with none of the visual interest of Axos.