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25 October 2016 @ 08:12 pm
The Randomiser: The Claws of Axos  
Claws of Axos is practicality the essence of UNIT era Doctor Who. It has the Master in league with alien invaders, an incompetent government official, plenty of soldiers running about the place and a Nuclear Power station (sorry a Power Complex housing a Particle Accelerator that just happens to look like Dungeness). I was surprised, therefore, that it felt unusual maybe because I've watched relatively little Jon Pertwee, in comparison to other Doctors. In particular I was struck by the dominating presence of the military in the first episode. It's possible this was intended as a deliberate contrast by the production team, since these are the regular military, as opposed to UNIT, but I suspect that there may actually be fewer Pertwee episodes than one might think which actually try to feature troop movements at any scale. There is also quite a lot of outdoor filming here, rendered more obvious by the switch between film and video when the action moves between outdoor locations and an indoor set. Somehow the story feels much larger in scope than it actually is.

Beyond that I found the tale fun but rather muddled. The opposition between UNIT and the UK forces seems, ultimately, unnecessary to the tale and both arises and is overcome far too easily to really justify its presence in the story. This is neither the first nor the last time Doctor Who decides to play with our tendency to assume beauty implies good intentions and, as is often the case, the moral is clumsy in its delivery - in particular the story comes close to implying that the true ugly form of the Axons is indicative of their genuine nature. The last episode feels rather surplus to requirements, the Axon nutrition cycle having been stopped in its first few minutes and the world alerted to the threat - everything after that point feels a bit like padding.

All that said, the combination of the Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier and the Master are very watchable. The story itself isn't bad, per se, its just a lot more of a runaround sequence of, if not capture-escape at least peril-escape moments than I was expecting. The psychedelia of the Axon ship is fun from a 1970s style perspective and the production and effects in general stand up pretty well.

I feel this is the sort of story that works well viewed as its separate episodes in a mind set of simply enjoying the ride. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but one feels that there is a lot of Doctor Who out there with more going for it.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/217205.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on October 25th, 2016 10:28 pm (UTC)
I would broadly agree with all this, and said much the same thing in my review. The Master gets a couple of good lines, but the story itself is fairly incoherent. It can be fun if viewed in a forgiving light, though, and my eight year old self loved the novelization, which always encourages me to look more favourably on a story.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 26th, 2016 10:17 am (UTC)
I suppose one can say it has competence going for it - there is nothing egregiously terrible in the story and its never dull. But it's difficult to say more about it than that. Stuff happens and time passes pleasantly.

I'm dreading when we get to The Web Planet. I loved that book as a child, but I've heard pretty desperate things about the actually story.
daniel_saundersdaniel_saunders on October 26th, 2016 01:04 pm (UTC)
there may actually be fewer Pertwee episodes than one might think which actually try to feature troop movements at any scale

I've been thinking about this overnight. I think the early Pertwee stories do put a lot of emphasis on this kind of thing - lots of troops running around. From the season nine onwards, though, it happens a lot less. We concentrate more on the regular UNIT troops (the Brig, Yates and Benton) and see less and less of the grunts and even those we do see are sidelined as UNIT becomes just a starting point for stories really set elsewhere e.g. The Time Warrior.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 27th, 2016 10:31 am (UTC)
I was thinking through the ones I've seen and I think there's a fair few soldiers in Day of the Daleks though it is a long time since I watched that, but episodes like The Daemons and The Three Doctors don't feature as many soldiers as one might think and, for whatever reason, I've not seen many season 7 and 8 stories where you might expect more of them. I've seen Spearhead lots but again, don't recall much by way of troop movement.

I have a feeling there are quite a lot of troops in some bits of Robot however.

At any rate, it definitely jumped out at me here which was interesting.
liadtbunny: DW Jo and Dr Cuteliadtbunny on October 26th, 2016 02:18 pm (UTC)
Aw, I like 'The Claws of Axos' although I can't say I'd put it in my top three. I watch DW serials in bits which, as you say, probably helps. I don't think I could do a whole six parter in one go.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 27th, 2016 10:32 am (UTC)
I think there is a lot of Doctor Who that is a lot less watchable. I don't think it is ever dull or toe-curlingly embarrassing, for instance, which a lot of Who manages at various points. However I don't think its particularly coherent either.