The Claws of AxosBookmark and Share

Friday, 24 March 2006 - Reviewed by Adam Kintopf

People seem to want to like ‘The Claws of Axos,’ and others have shown that there are things *to* like about it. The organic, parasitic spaceship with its satellite ‘crew’ is a good idea, one that I would say is better realized here than in ‘Terror of the Zygons.’ The exchange in which the Axon ‘leader’ hesitates on the word ‘ship’ is particularly nice in communicating the idea that these are not typical sci-fi aliens (i.e., humans with scales, extra eyes, etc.). The Axons look good in all their incarnations, and the way in which they transform is horrifying and quite wonderful.

But ultimately the story remains a minor one at best, and even considered as such, is less than the sum of its good parts. For starters, the plot is needlessly complicated – this is one of those stories that seems straightforward enough, but if you stop for a moment and think, you’ll realize you have no real idea what’s going on. As is the case with many of the Pertwee stories, there really is no need for the Master to be in it at all; the character is included for one reason only - to give the Doctor access to a working TARDIS, so he can create the time loop at the end. And, speaking of which, Axos’s desire to achieve time travel is itself another pure contrivance, designed simply to allow the Doctor to use a TARDIS as a silver bullet to eliminate them. Why else have them try to do anything more than suck the earth dry? (Isn’t that frightening enough?) I suppose Baker/Martin and the production team wanted to come up something a little different than a typical ‘blow everything up’ Who finale, but it all seems a bit awkwardly assembled to me.

And there are blatant stupidities besides. Not only does showing the Axon monsters in the prologue spoil the suspense, it also has the unfortunate side effect of making the Doctor look stupid, since he tells Chinn not to assume that Axos is hostile after we already know that it *is*. And while the Doctor or Jo might be curious (and reckless) enough to climb inside the Axos pod at the first opportunity, I find it hard to believe that such a huge party, including the head of UNIT, important Ministry of Defense officials, and Nuton Power Complex administrators, would just traipse blindly into this completely unknown alien organism. 

As for the actors, Peter Bathurst throws himself into the part of Chinn, but the character is still pretty tedious – such a broadly drawn caricature of an old-fashioned ‘England for the English’ conservative that even lefties will find it hard to enjoy. (Although Chinn should quickly be pointed out to critics of the new series who claim that liberal sympathies first came to Doctor Who with Russell T. Davies.) The other actors are better – in particular, it might have been nice to see Filer reappear in some other UNIT stories – but they sort of disappear in the messiness

Let’s see, what have I forgotten? Well, there’s Pigbin Josh, of course – alas, poor Pigbin! There’s not really much to say about him; the very *idea* of him is in poor taste, needless to say. But I have to admit, I crack up every time his ‘rustic’ musical theme plays, and his death is so unnecessary that . . . well, you just can’t help feeling sorry for the cracked old stereotype, can you?