I think the best way to describe ‘The Claws of Axos’ is an experiment. Is it one that succeeded? Some would say yes, some would say no. Personally, I would call it a success. It’s far from perfect, for sure, but it is an interesting, entertaining and different four episode tale.
We have the idea of an organic space ship to start with, and with the concept of Axos – which is in fact the ship, the Axons on board and a substance called Axonite as well that Axos tries to use to suck Earth dry so it can keep on moving and surviving. It’s a tale about greed, double crossings and at times sheer stupidity.
Written by first timers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, ‘The Claws of Axos’ is not only innovative in ideas and writing, but also in direction. Michael Ferguson deserves a lot of credit for this story, the way it looks, the way he has presented the writers’ vision with remarkable originality and at times genius. His use of multi-camera here is fantastic,
|A soldier fights an Axon.|
Every aspect of the production needed clever thinking – from the different weather conditions thrown at the team each day they shot. The interiors of Axos are a combination of strange material-based walls coupled with overlays to disguise the rough edges, the Axos have at least two forms, the more human form where they wear tights and the monster version featuring tentacles which do look rather good. The tight-version has zippers clearly showing which is a shame, and they attempted so much in this story we couldn’t expect everything to be perfect.
|The Doctor and Chin.|
Our regular cast, including the Master, is back for the story. The Doctor seems to be at the centre of a little controversy in this tale, people have argued that he isn't very likable. I would argue that the third Doctor is on the whole a bit anti-authoritarian – definitely anti-civil servant, although occasionally he presents the opposite way in some stories. The presence of the character ‘Chinn’ begins the story wanting to find out exactly who the Doctor is. He is precisely the sort of pen-pushing annoying ignorant and greedy man that the third Doctor can’t abide. So we start with an outraged Doctor.
|The Master at the controls of the Doctor's TARDIS.|
This leads into his offer to the Master to escape before Axos destroys Earth in his TARDIS – the interior being seen the first time since the Troughton era. Of course, this is all part of a trick to trap Axos in a time loop – a rather clever and original idea at the time! But then he is quite happy to try and escape Earth on his own. Of course, the limitations set by the Time Lords on his TARDIS won’t allow that.
But the Doctor wants to be free – should the viewer feel bad that he wants to leave the Brigadier and Jo? No, it’s seems a natural want to me, although by now they have become somewhat close. It’s an interesting thought. Does it spoil the story? Well it didn’t for me.