Saturday, June 14, 2014

Doctor Who Weekend: The Claws of Axos

Here is the El family Fortress of Ineptitude, we have a weekly Doctor Who Night. Mostly we run through the episodes from the 2005 relaunch; our current re-watch is up Series 3 where we've watched the first 3 episodes with the Doctor and Martha. And haters are gonna hate but I was a big fan of Martha. That being said, the next two episodes are the Dalek episodes with the human Dalek hybrid dude with the weird sausages wiggling on his face. I'm in no hurry to watch these but my daughter is all anxious to see the Doctor Who episodes that have her beloved Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield.  

Anyway, we take the occasional detour from the new series re-watch to catch up on the odd classic story. And last weekend, that was the 3rd Doctor adventure, The Claws of Axos.  

The Doctor thinks it over and decides, yes,
he WILL have the lemon chicken.

This is the El family's second exposure to Jon Pertwee's Doctor; their first 3rd Doctor story was Jon's first, Spearhead from Space.  In The Claws of Axos, my wife and daughter had their first look at Jo Grant as a companion. (Well, their first look at YOUNG Jo Grant; they first met Jo in a more "baked" form in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode, Death of the Doctor

It was 1971. No, Jo Grant
was NOT dressed for Rio. 

This was also their first time seeing Roger Delgado in action as the Master. My daughter was not as impressed, preferring I guess the more over the top, scenery chewing John Simm as opposed to the comparatively more sedate and certainly more refined persona brought to life by Delgado.  I guess the Master was not exactly at the top of his game, frequently at the mercy of the Axons, UNIT and the Doctor himself. Still, I missed Delgado's time as the Master and even from this story, I would still say his Master is the one for others to beat. 

Look out! The Master is armed
with a feminine applicator.

The story itself is pretty good. Of course we've seen the "benevolent aliens only want to help us so they can eat us" routine before.  The Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man" dealt with the same theme 10 years before this episode aired.  But The Claws of Axos is still well done. The Axons (the humanoid versions, anyway) are straight out of a production of Hair but are effectively designed for the early 1970's.  

The Axons also worked for David Bowie
as the road crew on the Ziggy Stardust tour. 

In their NON-humanoid form, yikes! Oh, its painted rubber galore but my jaded 21st century daughter admitted that these creatures were still very creepy and more than a little disturbing.   

"On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese.
I hope, Mr. Alien, you don't eat me please!"

But I would be remiss if I didn't put the spotlight on... Bob Filer, American. He's a US government agent who's out to bring the Master to good ol' American justice. Bob has a gun...and uses it! And if shooting doesn't work, Bob will punch stuff! Shootin' and punchin'? Go USA! USA! USA! 

He has a southern accent and a gun.
He is Bob Filer, American. 

One thing that takes a bit of getting used to is how patrician the 3rd Doctor can be. The glib fast talking personas of his future, particularly since 2005, would be put in time out by this Doctor. Jon Pertwee's Doctor chafes at authority but he himself behaves in a very authority like manner. His last line of the story, grousing about being a "galactic yo-yo" is as close as one gets to a "timey wimey" remark.  A lot of this owes to Jon Pertwee looking to separate himself from his comedy background and also perhaps an acting choice to convey the Doctor's irritation with being exiled on Earth.   

The Claws of Axos has some weak points but overall is an enjoyable story. It will be interesting to explore a future 3rd Doctor story once he has control (more or less) of the TARDIS again. It's been many years since I last all of the Pertwee episodes so I don't remember if he ever lightens up once the brakes are off.  

For more story summary and background details, click here for the Wikipedia entry for The Claws of Axos.  

Tomorrow on the blog, it's a reflection on Father's Day and my life so far as a father.

And in 7 or 8 days, a NEW installment of Doctor Who Weekend as I report on seeing Doctor Who in a movie theater...again!  

Until then, be good to one another.   

Doctor Who: The Dalek Planet - Episode Four

DISCLAIMER:  I'm doing this for fun, not profit. This is not officially sanctioned by the BBC and the producers of Doctor Who.   In c...