Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos
(4 episodes, s08e11-e14, 1971)
It’s Doctor Who in color… again! The Claws of Axos is a short serial that is much more straightforward than The Mind of Evil, which hurts it a little in my opinion.
UNIT is undergoing an inspection from Horatio Chinn, a particularly detestable politician who is throwing a tantrum because he knows nothing about the Doctor, when they detect a spacecraft filled with spaghetti monsters. I’m kidding, of course, since the spacecraft is unique to the franchise and not a bad looking model. UNIT is also hosting Bill Filer, an American agent from an unknown agency, who is investigating the Master. Chinn, ever the diplomat, secures emergency powers and tries to shoot down the spacecraft, but it evades the effort. Strangely enough, Chinn could have been the hero of the tale had he succeeded.
The ship lands and spears a homeless drifter with a Jar Jar Binks-like tongue. UNIT arrives and, with the help of scientists from the nearby power facility, investigate the ship. Filer, after being ejected from the UNIT site by Chinn, arrives on his own, is captured, and discovers the Master is also in captivity.
The Doctor gets scanned by the living ship, and the aliens determine that he is a Time Lord. The Axons appear as humanoids in gold face paint and muted leopard-print leotards, and they claim that they ran out of fuel and need time to recharge and replenish. In exchange for temporary asylum on Earth, they offer a miracle substance called Axonite that can be anything you want it to be. Strangely, they never used it for fuel.
Jo explores the ship on her own after disobeying orders to stay put, and she hears Filer calling for help. She finds a spaghetti monster and screams, drawing the UNIT team to her, but the Axons dismiss her experiences as hallucinations due to the proximity to the power core. Filer and the Master take the opportunity to escape, but are recaptured, and Filer is sent to be cloned.
Chinn calls the Prime Minister for special powers to accept the Axonite, places the UNIT team under military arrest for interfering with his authori-TAH, and sets to distributing the Axonite around the globe. Unfortunately, as the Doctor discovers, the Axonite is the means that the Axons (or really, just Axos, a single consciousness with multiple avatars) plans to use to consume the planet’s energy.
The Master negotiates with Axos for release, and gets his laser gun but not his TARDIS. He steals the Doctor’s TARDIS, has it delivered to the power plant, and works on fixing it so he can escape. After discovering that Axos wants to time travel to expand its feeding base and that they can use the reactor’s power to do so, the Doctor works with the Master to repair the TARDIS under the premise that he’s abandoning Earth as a lost cause. Once operational, the Doctor materializes the TARDIS inside Axos, tricks them into linking their drives with his, and locks them in a permanent time loop. The Master escapes into his TARDIS when he discovers the plan, and all of Axos is materialized into the Doctor’s TARDIS. The Doctor boosts the TARDIS out of it, leaving Axos stranded in the loop, and the TARDIS returns to Earth with an annoyed Doctor on board. Even with the ability to dematerialize now restored, the Time Lords have ensured that it will always return to Earth.
I’m really starting to dislike the Time Lords. Sure, I get the justice for breaking their laws, including making sure that the Doctor doesn’t leave his exile by blocking his knowledge, changing the dematerialization codes, and disabling the circuitry in the TARDIS, but then they show up only long enough to warn the Doctor that the Master is coming and that he’s a bad dude. We know full well that they can stop renegade Time Lords with little effort, but they selectively choose not to interfere in this case.
The Master is definitely worse than the War Chief, yet the latter was brought to trial on Gallifrey for his meddling. In a similar vein, The Monk‘s activities have been outright ignored by the Time Lords.
In other short notes, Paul Grist does a decent job with an American accent, and there was a lot of fun with pyrotechnics in this serial. The Doctor seems to be stepping away from his previous reserve about his past by disclosing his knowledge of time travel to the power plant scientists.
This was an okay story with some great steps forward toward restoring the travel aspects of the show.
Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Colony in Space
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.