Doctor Who #293: The Claws of Axos Part 3

"Oh, I suppose you can take the normal precautions against nuclear blast, like, er, sticky tape on the windows and that sort of thing."TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Mar.27 1971.

The Doctor is trapped in a psychedelic nightmare, so it's up to the Master to save Earth from the Axons.

REVIEW: Part 3 sees director Michael Ferguson testing the limits of CSO technology (what we, today, call green screen) even farther than Terror of the Autons did, creating some great effects, like the blobby Axons turning into humanoid Axons, as well as more practical effects, like Axons blowing up UNIT soldiers with their tendrils. Ferguson also uses trick photography to create psychedelic foreground images, and this is where he probably goes too far. I enjoy the Axos interior's nightmarish quality, but it doesn't always work, and often looks a mess. I'm sure it made more than one viewer noxious over the years.

So the Brigadier calls HQ and gets the illegal arrest of himself and his men lifted, which seems pretty easy since they locked him up in an office with a working phone. Still, I do enjoy his smugness with Chinn and the Captain who made the mistake of following Chinn's orders. Chinn continues to confound with his ineptitude, caught sleeping on the job and taking a dressing-down with a sheep-like attitude. It's looking more and more like he might survive this story (sigh). Maybe the Axons SHOULD eat up the Earth, just so I can get some poetic justice here. But anyway, the Axons aren't content with being a threat to entire planets, they want to spread their wings and become a threat to all of space-time by learning the secret of time travel. Whether or not the Doctor could have given it to them in his present circumstances is as maybe. As the Master discovers by walking into the Doctor's TARDIS (we haven't seen this set in ages!), the console is in pretty bad disrepair.

Baker and Martin once again underuse the younger members of the UNIT family, with Jo a simple hostage undergoing special effects, and Yates and Benton standing around waiting for their one line. There's only room in the script for the Doctor, the Brig and the Master, the latter two striking a deal that involves the Master acting like the Doctor and saving the world with technobabble. He even gets some snarky Doctorish remarks, like his confirmation to Sir George that he's using a police box to do this, and his suggestion that standard procedures in case of nuclear attack may be a severe under-reaction (see today's top quote). Nice to see such moments, because the dialog is often too on-the-nose to be credible. Look at the comatose Filer, sleep-talking lines like "...must not distribute!" or Chinn ordering Axonite deliveries to a clerk who likely has no idea what he's talking about.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Some great effects keep the story alive, though the director perhaps pushes his experiments a bit too far at times.


Mitchell Craig said...

I'm also fond of the Master comparing the Doctor's TARDIS to "a second-hand gas stove."


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