Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Time Warrior"

Written by Robert Holmes
Directed by Alan Bromley

Sarah Jane: “What’s happening?”
The Doctor: “You’re asking questions again.”

After three years with Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, the start of the eleventh season for Doctor Who would not only herald the last season for Jon Pertwee’s dapper Third Doctor but it also introduced two things that the show needed – a new companion and a new set of recurring villains that would both go on to be enduring aspects of the series history.

New companion wise we got a feisty journalist by the name of Sarah Jane Smith. Combining the best elements of the Third Doctor’s previous two assistants, Sarah was a woman with both heart and a steely determination to uncover the truth. In fact her meeting with The Doctor while posing as her aunt has more to do with scientists going missing from a security institute than it does with our Time Lord.

Fresh from battling the BOSS computer, The Doctor is sent by The Brigadier (who has nothing else to do) to see why so many of the scientists are going missing and it doesn’t take him long to realise who Sarah Jane really is. Then again if you’re going to pose as your aunt, be prepared for at least someone to smart enough to see through it.

Sarah Jane and The Doctor do have an interesting banter session. He patronises her by telling her to make coffee while she annoys him by questioning him. It also doesn’t help when Professor Rubeish goes missing that Sarah Jane ends up sneaking into the TARDIS as The Doctor looks for the missing scientist.

This leads to the second big event of the episode – the Sontarans. Okay so an alien with a spud for a head shouldn’t be the most riveting of villains but they’re not entirely a chore to watch either. Sontaran Linx winds up in the Middle Ages with a crashed spaceship.

Needless to say he wants out of here but he’s at the mercy of the scientists he abducts to repair his ship and the mercy of the thuggish Irongron and his aide Bloodaxe. Irongron basically wants to be king and although Linx would rather waste him, he agrees to help the idiot in exchange for his help.

Linx’s methods of helping require giving him advanced guns and an all killing robot that Irongron has fun testing on Hal the Archer. However throughout the whole serial, the alliance between both Linx and Irongron is a sour event. Irongron spends far too much time belittling the Sontaran while Linx’s obsession with Irongron’s quest for war matches his own.

The one thing that seems to be very noteworthy about the Sontaran race is that they seem to enjoy battle quite a lot. Even when The Doctor attempts to reason with Linx, the Sontaran has little interest in having his mind changed. Linx might think Irongron is an idiot but it still doesn’t stop from giving Irongron as much weaponry as possible.

If Linx and Irongron’s dynamic are turbulent, then it’s interesting to see that The Doctor and Sarah Jane also don’t see eye to eye either to begin. At first Sarah Jane is convinced that The Doctor is in cahoots with Irongron and stages a capture with Hal. However when she does find out that he’s one of the good guys, her next obstacle is grappling with the fact he’s a Time Lord.

It’s great that Elisabeth Sladen and Jon Pertwee have brilliant chemistry from the word go. I like that Sarah Jane is able to challenge The Doctor and I also appreciate that she constantly questions. For instance it takes her a while to actually believe she’s in the Middle Ages and I enjoyed her standing up Irongron more than I thought I would.

She was also determined in helping capture The Doctor and she wins points for not screaming when she first Sontaran Linx. She might not be the first strong willed companion we’ve had but like Barbara and Liz before her she’s definitely one of the strongest and most engaging.

As stories went, the Sontarans are actually a decent enough race and clearly made enough of an impact to be brought back to terrorise the Second, Fourth, Sixth and Tenth Doctors but the medieval setting really does little to make this story really stick for me. To be honest I think it would’ve been a lot wiser had we seen been taken to an alien world for this particular meeting.

Kevin Lindsay is wonderful as Sontaran Linx as is June Brown as Queen Eleanor but all the other supporting players just don’t engage you quite as much and the actor playing Irongron was quite dreadful. There are some OTT performances that you just really don’t need to see and his was one of them. Then again the one thing that does succeed is the Third Doctor/Sarah Jane team up and that is what really does matter.

Also in “The Time Warrior”

Originally this episode had been considered being called “The Time Fugitive” or “The Time Survivor”. Neither would’ve sounded that great.

Irongron: “More weapons? Like that that smote the sword from my hand?”
Linx: “Other weapons fitter for your purpose. Weapons that can strike a man dead from far away. You can a supreme warrior.”
Irongron: “I can be king! But what do you ask in return apart from your life?”
Linx: “Shelter.”

This was released on DVD in September 2007 with an interesting commentary from Elisabeth Sladen, Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. It’s also being re-released in May 2008 as part of a Sontaran themed box set.

The Doctor: “I read your paper on the teleological response of the virus. A most impressive piece of work.”
Sarah Jane: “Thank you.”
The Doctor: “Particularly when I realise that you must’ve written it when you were five years old.”
Sarah Jane: “Ah er yes, that is rather difficult to explain isn’t it?”
The Doctor: “But you’re going to try, aren’t you?”

Sarah Jane: “Look please. Now you’ve had your laugh now, you know, just stop it and let’s talk sensibly. I mean if it’s any consolation to you, you’re scaring me out of my wits.”
Bloodaxe: “P’raps the wench is crazed, Captain.”
Sarah Jane: “Come on, what is this place?”

This was the first serial in the show’s history to mention Gallifrey, The Doctor’s home planet. I wonder why it took this show so long to do that.

Irongron: “Linx.”
Linx: “Silence! This is important! My mission is threatened. Explain ‘The Doctor’.”
Sarah Jane: “He is a scientist. He was at the research centre. He said he was very fond of Delta particles.”

The Doctor: “You’ve been getting around, Sarah. Are you on visiting terms with all the local nobility?”
Sarah Jane: “Doctor, let’s get a few things straight shall we?”
The Doctor: “Oh dear. Well I’m afraid you’re going to be awfully confused if you ask me to explain about the TARDIS.”
Sarah Jane: “The TARDIS?”

I love the design of Linx’s spaceship. It looked very compact and the mention for killing a Sontaran is neat.

Sarah Jane: “You talk as if you weren’t human.”
The Doctor: “Yes, well the definition of “humanity” was always a rather complex question, wasn’t it?”
Sarah Jane: “You know perfectly well what I mean; are you or aren’t you?”
The Doctor: “If you mean am I a native of terra, the answer is no, I’m not.”

The Doctor: “Well don’t you want to know why I returned?”
Linx: “It is of no interest to me.”
The Doctor: “I came to offer you my help.”
Linx: “We’re sworn enemies, Doctor. Why should you help me?”

There is no chronology between this serial and “The Green Death” so I’m not sure how much time has passed since Jo Grant left with Cliff Jones.

Although seen as a fan favourite to many, I have to admit that with even with repeat viewing and listening to the commentary that “The Time Warrior” isn’t one of my favourites from the Third Doctor era. It’s alright but it could’ve been a lot better in my opinion.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Green Death"

Written by Robert Sloman
Directed by Michael Briant

Jo: “You don't mind, do you?”
The Doctor (re Clifford): “Mind? He might even be able to turn you into a scientist.”

Much as I’m a sci-fi fan, I’m not generally taken with the idea of threats being of the bug or maggot variety so I have to admit that I had some reservations about the season finale to the series’ tenth season. After all, we got an opener that featured all three Doctors, so I think on my part; I was looking for something just as ‘big’.

To be fair, this serial is rather big. It’s another six parter like the previous season’s finale and it also marks the beginning of the end for the UNIT era, something which is definitely made abundantly clear in the next three seasons.

Speaking of three seasons, that’s just as long as we’ve had Jo Grant and this is her final appearance on the show. Unlike other companions, both past and future, Jo was one who never resurfaced after this story, thereby giving it more impact than you’d expect to have.

The opening part of the episode shows a nice evolution of her and the Doctor’s relationship. At first he was unsure of her presence and now over time, he’s become quite fond of her. I have to admit that Jo is one of my favourite companions as well and this serial does her justice.

There’s the plot of a corrupt business Global Chemicals, which is involved in a series of deaths at a disused mine in South Wales and when the likes of Clifford Jones isn’t protesting about it, UNIT are also very interested in discovering what exactly the company has to hide.

It’s not exactly easy for UNIT to get any straight answers given that the seriously creepy Stevens makes it his mission to derail things as possible. Even The Doctor doesn’t fair that well either, what with his ethics immediately making him a source of much irritation for Stevens.

The first half of this story does have a fair bit of meandering but nothing that really causes consternation for viewers. We get to see miners seriously affected by the diseased mine and the maggots themselves are actually more effective than expected.

The Doctor’s influence is obviously something that plays strongly on Jo as she decides to go down the mine herself to investigate. In her defence, the Brigadier was being a tad unhelpful but only because he wanted to use his own means for getting answers from Global Chemicals.

Needless to say that Jo’s snooping does result in her and Bert being placed in direct danger. Still it’s a good thing that The Doctor was also investigating the mine at the same time as well or else Jo would be as diseased as poor Bert ended up becoming.

Of course there are other significant thorns than Steven. He’s basically just a minion and while he does take pleasure in either hypnotising or killing various co-workers who get in his way, it’s only too obvious that he’s being controlled himself what with the constant spaced out look he has as well.

The thing in question pulling all the strings is a computer called BOSS or Biomorphic Organisational Systems Supervisor. Now I don’t have a problem with homicidal computers, provided my own laptop doesn’t get any ideas of it own so for me, the BOSS is an excellent villain.

It’s what got Stevens to endanger so many lives and it only seems right that The Doctor himself would fall victim to it during this story as well. Of course, The Doctor is clever in outwitting BOSS and there’s a wonderful scene where the Time Lord castigates the evil machine on it’s abuse of humans and so forth.

The other strand of this episode is Mike Yates. I know he isn’t as well loved by some viewers as the Brigadier or Benton but I’ve always had a soft spot for the character and even though he only appears in the second half of the story, he’s actually better served than either of his UNIT comrades.

First off he’s there undercover to get as much information about Global Chemicals to UNIT as he possibly can but secondly, it’s the events of this serial that spell a potentially darker side for the character that was touched upon in the next season.

While he’s able to have jokes at The Doctor’s expense, he’s actually taken over by the BOSS computer and tries to shoot The Doctor at one point. When he snaps out of it and goes back to Global Chemicals, he winds up getting chained up by Stevens’ men for his trouble.

The other part of the story aside from The Doctor eventually taking down both BOSS and Global Chemicals is the romance between Jo and Clifford Jones. Because unlike the Doctor/Rose relationship of the 21st Century, The Doctor and Jo were always strictly platonic, even though later serials showed that he really cared for her.

Hooking up with Clifford says a lot about Jo too when you think about. The parallels between both Clifford and The Doctor aren’t exactly subtle and do seem to be mentioned more than once too just to emphasis it. I guess in a way, Jo ending up with Clifford is almost like a weird precursor for Rose winding up with a human version of The Doctor thirty five years later.

Still at least there’s some good chemistry from Jo and it’s nice to see her exit eliciting strong emotions from The Doctor. When he sneaks away from her engagement party, it’s very telling moment for him and from the way that Jo visibly reacts to it as well but after three years on the series, this did serve as a good ending for actress Katy Manning.

Also in “The Green Death”

One of the subplots for this episode was The Doctor getting a blue crystal from Metebelis 3. He gave it to Jo as a wedding gift.

The Doctor: “Protein's the thing for breakfast, Jo.”
Jo: “Eggs and Bacon - yeurgh!”
The Doctor: “Yeah, that's where we're going to next.”
Jo: “Where are we going?”
The Doctor: “Metebelis Three. The TARDIS can't miss this time. I've actually wired the coordinates into the programmer.”

That scene did have me in hysterics. I also loved that the Brig got into eating Clifford’s fungus food, even if it did serve as something to kill the maggots.

The Brigadier (to The Doctor): “It's exactly your cup of tea: the fellow's bright green and dead.”

The Doctor: “I've been wanting to meet you for a long time. Your paper on DNA synthesis was quite remarkable for your age.”
Clifford Jones: “A promising youngster, huh?”
The Doctor: “No, no, no, I mean for the age that you live in. Now, you were about to make a suggestion, I believe, Professor?”
Clifford Jones: “Why don't we just go back to Global Chemicals and take the equipment, by force if necessary?”

The actor playing Clifford – Stewart Bevan was Katy Manning’s actual boyfriend at the time. This show does have a history of one set romances as do many others.

The Brigadier: “Are you threatening me, Mr. Stevens?”
Stevens: “Yes, I think perhaps I am. Or perhaps I'm just counselling a little prudence.”
The Brigadier: “If necessary, I can bring influence to bear at Cabinet level.”
Stevens: “Oh, you have friends in high places, have you? Well so have I!”

The Doctor: “You say one word!”
Mike Yates: “I like your handbag.”
The Doctor: “Do you? Well watch out, I don't slosh you with it!”

There’s something rather inconsistent with the end credits in some of the episodes of this story for some reason.

Stevens: “What's best for Global Chemicals is best for the world, is best for you!”
The Doctor: “Such as a little touch of brainwashing?”
Stevens: “Freedom from fear, freedom from pain…”
The Doctor: “Freedom from freedom!”

Jo: “Don't go too far away, will you? And if you do, come back and see us sometime.”
The Doctor: “Yes.”

This was released on DVD in 2004 with a commentary from Katy Manning, Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks. There’s also a wonderful featurette with Mark Gatiss worth checking out as well.

For a story about bugs, “The Green Death” was definitely devoid of irritation. I don’t know if it would’ve been the kind of story I would’ve ended the tenth season with but in retrospect it does have all the right ingredients and gets more enjoyable on repeated viewing.
Rating: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Three Doctors"

Written by Bob Baker And Dave Martin
Directed by Lennie Mayne

The Brigadier (regarding the First Doctor): “That old chap…”
Jo: “Afraid so.”
The Brigadier: “Three of them. I didn't know when I was well off.”

When it comes to Sci-fi and fantasy programmes, while their impact on TV can be timeless even years after their end, rarely do many of them actually make it to a decade in terms of produced episodes. This series is a notable exception.

There are plenty of ways the writers could’ve celebrated the series hitting such an important year but one of the ideas was to do a story where Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell would all team up together as their respective versions of The Doctor to take on a treacherous Time Lord.

Sadly that isn’t The Master but the idea of multiple Doctors first came from this and would be a trend that would appear in further serials such as “The Five Doctors”, “The Two Doctors”, “Dimensions In Time” and recently, “Time Crash”. Honestly this could be the cream of the crop really.

The story starts off well enough with a superluminal signal sent to Earth and a massive blob with one mission – capture The Doctor. Okay so that’s hardly the most original mission but the blob’s determination is what makes the story as good as it gets in my opinion.

When it’s not catching passers by, equipment inside UNIT HQ, it does nearly manage to snare The Doctor and Jo outside UNIT. They manage to get away but old Bessie isn’t quite as lucky as the blob literally gobbles the prized vehicle up in no time.

One of the strongest points about this serial is that we get four episodes and throughout the episodes, there’s very little hanging up. Half-way through the first episode alone we’re reunited with both the Second and First Doctors and suffice to say our Third Doctor isn’t particularly pleased in seeing his former selves.

Jo is also a little taken aback by seeing the men who used to be The Doctor but luckily the script doesn’t take ages in her getting the general gist. Within seconds she seems used to her own Doctor and the Second Doctor, who is physically there to help them out with the blob. The First Doctor meanwhile is caught in a time eddy so he’s not as a big player as you might have hoped.

Still it’s not a huge loss as there’s an excellent rapport between Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton who throughout the serial bicker like school kids but never in a way that undermines the actual storyline. These are two of my favourite Doctors so having them together onscreen works a treat.

When the blob does eventually catch up with the lot of them, they all manage to get teleported to another world. Jo could’ve been safe back at UNIT for a while had she not actually wanted to be by her Doctor’s side. Not that you can blame her as the real menace made sure that even UNIT wouldn’t be safe for long.

As other worlds go, this falls into the series stable for using a quarry during a sunny day but it’s nice enough and it’s great that we’ve finally gotten a non-Earth bound story in perhaps the longest time on the series. This was something we should’ve seen a bit more often in the Third Doctor’s era.

On the baddie front, we have a weird set of creatures known as Gel Giants. They basically looked like Christmas baubles but they had a neat time in attacking UNIT soldiers back on Earth and capturing everyone else who landed in this mystery world. They were however not the main baddies of the serial, which is a relief.

That honour went to Omega. Proving that The Master wasn’t the only insane Time Lord out there, Omega is one of those characters with great potential and is fantastically served in this episode, even the actor voicing him did have a tendency to a bit too OTT at times.

Omega was the lucky bugger who managed to discover the concept of time travel, giving the Time Lords their moniker in a way. Of course because the Time Lords aren’t the most loyal of people, he was also abandoned and left to his own defences in an anti-matter universe.

This universe, like Omega’s sanity is also unstable and with his will being the only that’s keeping it together, the sociopath wants to use both Doctors so that he can escape. Of course they aren’t exactly eager to help Omega out and there is a series of mind games played out by both Omega and the Second and Third Doctors for the remainder of the serial.

Of course while Omega might be a seething volcano of malice and fury, his defeat comes at the hands of the Second Doctor’s recorder coming into contact with the anti-matter universe. As deaths go, this is probably one of the best ones that could’ve been given to Omega.

Although we have to wait another ten years to actually see him again, it’s almost a shame that the writers had never considered recurring the character. Not in the same way they did with The Master but it would’ve been nice if Omega and The Doctor had had a few more meetings. I liked his character a lot and although a part of me was disappointed that we didn’t get Daleks/Cybermen/The Master, I’ll freely admit that Omega made for a good big bad.

As for the companions, this is probably one of my favourites for Jo, whose loyalty to The Doctor really does come into play. She’s also assertive a few times in the serial as well and I’m delighted that Benton got to play a slightly bigger role in the serial. His reaction to the inside of the TARDIS was brilliant. The only fault was The Brigadier who came across as a buffoon in this serial and Mike Yates, who was a no show.

Also in “The Three Doctors”

The original title for this episode was going to be “Deathworld”. Although obvious, I think “The Three Doctors” was a better choice.

Second Doctor: “My dear fellow, you are being a bit dim, aren't you? Your effectiveness is now doubled.”
Third Doctor: “Halved, more like.”

Originally this serial was going to have Jamie and Zoë but Jon Pertwee objected to them. Maybe he had a point, much as I love Jamie and Zoë.

First Doctor: “Have you done anything?”
Second Doctor: “Well, we've... err... assessed the situation.”
First Doctor: “Just as I thought. Nothing.”

Third Doctor: “Well, Sergeant? Aren't you going to say that it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside? Everybody else does.”
Benton: “It's pretty obvious, isn't it?”

This is also the only time that Benton actually to go in the TARDIS and on a trip. Does that mean that Mike Yates is the only companion not to have done?

First Doctor: “Oh. So you're my replacements... A dandy and a clown.”

Third Doctor: “I am he and he is me.”
Jo: “And we are all together. Goo-goo-goo-joob?”
Second/Third Doctors: “Huh?”
Jo: “It's a song by the Beatles.”
Second Doctor: “Oh, how does it go?”

William Hartnell was actually ill when this was being made so that’s why his role is limited compared to Patrick Troughton.

Brigadier: “Well, in that case, Doctor, I suggest you contact those all-powerful superiors of yours!”
Second Doctor: “Oh, I don't think that would do any good. You see, at the moment, they're far from all-powerful. That's why it's been left up to me and me and me.”

Third Doctor: “How did you manage to survive?”
Omega: “How does anyone survive? Force of will. Mind, you might say, over anti-matter.”

In the fashion sense of this episode why did Jo have to wear that hideous fur blue top that looked twice Katy Manning’s size as well might I add.

The Brigadier: “Now see here, Doctor, you have finally gone too far.”
Second Doctor: “I rather think we all have. What's it like out there?”
The Brigadier: “There's… well, there's sand everywhere!”
Second Doctor: “Oh, splendid! Who's for a swim?”

Third Doctor: “All my life I've known of you and honoured you as our greatest hero.”
Omega: “A hero? I should have been a god!”

This serial was released on DVD in 2003 and there’s a brilliant commentary on it by Nicholas Courtney, Katy Manning and Barry Letts as well as interviews with the actors and Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton.

The Brigadier (on the Doctor): “Wonderful chap. Both of him.”

I have to give some serious praise for the use of score music during the end scene of the third part of this serial.

The idea of multiple Doctors is something that works brilliantly on screen as it might do on paper. “The Three Doctors” is one of the best ways they could’ve celebrated the series tenth anniversary and it’s easily one of Pertwee’s best serials to boot as well.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "The Claws Of Axos"

Written by Bob Baker And Dave Martin
Directed by Michael Ferguson

Axons: “We must have the secret of time travel.”
The Doctor: “Must you. Why?”

This is probably one of the trippiest stories of Doctor Who I’ve ever watched and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. It’s just I did find it a little confusing to begin with and thankfully some repeated viewing has made me see things a little more clearly.

The story opens up with yet another spacecraft coming to Earth but while UNIT and The Doctor are curious to find out about its purposes, the annoying Mr Chinn seems happier to blow it to pieces. It’s moments like this that nicely explain why The Doctor exhibits a reasonable level of distrust around governmental types.

Chinn is a character that is annoying throughout the entire story but manages to both survive and not redeem himself. When he’s not bellowing orders or stealing rank from The Brigadier, he’s the source of blame and ridicule from his Ministry and even allows his very human greed get in the way of things.

It’s his flippancy at the start of proceedings that has Bill Filer banished and then captured by the Axons and their psychedelic looking ship. Seriously, 1970’s designs alone, that bloody ship is one of the best looking vessels this show has shown, more so on the inside than the outer exterior.

Filer’s an immediately likeable character who’s primarily goal involves arresting The Master. Given that Roger Delgado was practically a regular in the eighth season of the show, it makes sense to have him factor in this episode. The Master might not entirely dominate proceedings here like he did in both “Terror Of The Autons” and “The Mind Of Evil” but he’s certainly put to good use.

It’s him that forged a deal with the Axons to invade Earth and unleash their Axonite in a bid for his own freedom. Filer isn’t particularly impressed with having to work with The Master in order to bid for his freedom and it also doesn’t help matters that a duplicate of him is sent to capture The Doctor before he actually escapes himself.

The Doctor on the other hand is also not in the best of positions. Being bound to UNIT is one thing, at least he actually like the Brigadier, Sergeant Benton, Captain Mike Yates and Jo Grant but having to deal with Chinn and his horde of idiotic advisors is something of tedium for him.

Then there’s the meeting of the Axons themselves. The Doctor might have not wanted them dead but he’s naturally suspicious of their motives to give Chinn free rein to distribute the use of Axonite on a worldwide basis and when Jo discloses her own encounters with a hideous creature in the ship, he’s got more reason to doubt their intent.

The old fable about something being too good to be true is nicely put in place with this story. Chinn’s greed for acclaim of the Axonite is a good example of The Doctor’s fears of such a thing falling into the wrong hands being justified. Even The Master was able to point out how stupid humans are capable of being.

The Axonite itself is interesting. It recreates, absorbs and seemingly grows anything but is also sucks many things dry including a modest array of bodies throughout this entire episode. When The Master is forced into admitting that The Doctor is also a Time Lord, the Axons soon realise they could dominate many other places and times aside from the Earth.

Because of this, there’s a good few attacks on the Nuton Power Complex also throughout the story. The Doctor’s experiments with the Axonite under the Light Accelerator causes many of the creatures to come and attack. Surprisingly enough, all Filer gets is briefly comatose but The Doctor and Jo face much worse.

While torture scenes in the series and the new series are never going to be on the level of gory, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. The Doctor certainly got tortured effectively enough in order to be forced to aid the Axons determination to venture into time and space. Then again, the threat of ageing Jo until she was at the stage of decay could’ve been a good incentive for The Doctor to unwilling help them.

Of course when things really got bad and the power plant was on the verge of collapse, it was The Master of all people who had to help the Brigadier and company out of it (thankfully after Chinn’s reign of terror came to a blessed end). The Master throughout parts of this story was fantastic with his escape from the Axos ship and his acquisition of the TARDIS.

However the interesting part was The Doctor seemingly abandoning UNIT at the worst possible moment. He lulled The Master into a false sense of security in a bid to stop the Axos. It seems that even the Axos’ greed and lust for time travel was capable of making them stupid.

The Doctor seemingly couldn’t physically defeat them so having them stuck in a time loop was the only thing that he could do. As for The Master, while he was disappointed that he couldn’t get The Doctor, he did manage to escape from both Filer’s clutches and the fate of a time loop.

I absolutely adore the Doctor/Master dynamic and this serial is a reason why. Even with the opportunity of killing him, The Master seemed more into the idea of The Doctor leaving Earth with him. The Master even expressed the right amount of surprise when it did appear The Doctor was coming with him and seemed disappointed when his former friend chose to save the Earth instead.

While both Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton aren’t well served by this story – they barely get any proper dialogue; I liked how the ending capped on The Doctor’s attachment to both Jo and UNIT, even if he couldn’t actually bring himself to admit it. There’s a reason why this was one of the best eras from the series.

Also in “The Claws Of Axos”

Some of the original titles for this were interesting. “The Vampire From Space” would’ve been fitting and I’m actually glad this wasn’t a seven parter as originally planned.

The Doctor: “My dear Mr. Chinn, if I could leave I would. If only to get away from people like you-”
The Brigadier: “Doctor-”
The Doctor: “And your petty obsessions!”

At one point in this episode, The Doctor actually slapped Jo. Although I do like the character, she was quite annoying during that scene.

Chinn: “Perfect sitting target.”
The Doctor: “Hardly seems sporting, does it?”

The Master: “That won’t help you, Filer.”
Bill: “Go to hell.”

I can’t believe that Benton didn’t cop on at one point that he was being duped by The Master. I know there was that mask but, come on.

Winser: “It depends on who leads the investigation.”
The Doctor: “Why you do of course.”

Axons: “We have done well, Time Lord.”
The Master: “Of course. Humans are fools.”

There was a good mention to this race from both The Doctor and The Master at different points in “Last Of The Time Lords”, which I re-watched recently. I’m surprised the Axons never came back after this story.

The Master (re The Doctor/TARDIS): “Oh no. What was he thinking? What a botch up.”

Axons: “Data confirms space/time travel possible using additional power from complex. You see, Doctor, we can call upon the additional power of the complex whenever we need it.”
The Doctor: “How? You can't just walk in there and take it!”
Axons: “On the contrary, Doctor. We can.”

Why do the Axons need the Doctor to divulge the secret of time travel? Surely the Master is just as smart and working for them to boot? I’m betting that no-one would’ve felt sorry if The Master had been tortured for this piece of information.

The Doctor: “We can either escape together or we die together.”
The Master: “Oh, very generous. Why don’t you just escape yourself?”

The Master: “Very neat, Doctor. I must say, I never thought you’d go through with it.”
The Doctor: “If we’re going, let’s go.”

This serial was released on DVD in 2005 with a good commentary from Katy Manning, Richard Franklin and Barry Letts. The Behind The Scenes footage with the former is a good feature.

Like I said, this was certainly a very trippy serial but I really did enjoy “The Claws Of Axos”, mainly because it had four of my favourites used very well and the Axos themselves are in a series of underrated but excellent aliens this series has given us.

Rating: 9 out of 10.