Originally released on DVD in 2003, the Restoration Team has
taken a second pass at a classic Jon Pertwee story, The
Claws of Axos, and the results are excellent. A
great story coupled with an improved image
and some good new extras makes this a wonderful addition to any Doctor Who collection.
When a spaceship lands in England near a nuclear
the government bureaucrat on site, Mr. Chin, wants to blow it up. Luckily UNIT and The Doctor are there to stay
his hand and talk some sense into the reactionary man who is trying to
name for himself. That's good, because
Chin soon changes his tune after he, along with The Doctor, Jo, and the
meet the Axons. They are gold-skinned
people with bodies that resemble statues of Greek gods, and they
announce that they are not here to invade.
The Axons are running low on fuel and in exchange for some
the Earth a quantity of Axonite, a substance that can duplicate
anything. It will
instantly solve the world's food problem and Chin leaps at the chance
the substance for Britain.
It is all a ruse, of course.
The Axon ship and the Axons themselves are all made of Axonite
don't want to trade with humanity, they want to suck the Earth dry of
its energy. The Axonite is the tool
that's used to drain the energy, and by shipping it all over the world,
actually helping the invaders.
To add another wrinkle into the plot, the Axons were led to
Earth by The Master, The Doctor's foe, who was captured by the aliens
the Earth's abundant life as a way to gain his freedom.
Only it looks like the Axons won't live up to
their end of the bargain so The Master escapes from their ship, leaving
Meanwhile The Doctor discovers just how dangerous Axonite is
by accidently triggering its growth phase.
The Axons on the ship sense this, and send a team to capture the
and Jo, and once they realize they have a Time Lord, they decide to
secrets of time travel out of him so they can feed across the whole of
cosmos, past, present and future. If he
doesn't cooperate, they promise to torture his companion.
This is an excellent story for a few reasons. First,
being only four episodes, it's nice
and tight. I've complained about some of
the six-story adventures in the past because they tend to drag and feel
but this one starts off running and never stops. They
also have a nice premise with the Axons. Instead
of aliens launching an all-out attack
the way the Daleks often do, the Axons are a bit more subtle and
devious. That's nice to see in a Doctor Who adventure.
Roger Delgado (The Master) and Jon Pertwee have a wonderful
amount of chemistry on screen and they really play off each other well
story. When they have to work together
are some of the best moments in this installment and some of the twists
double crosses, while not totally unexpected, are a lot of fun to watch.
Finally, the creatures look great. Doctor
Who is famous for its lousy monsters
but that isn't the case here. The Axons
in their 'human' form make sense... they'd want to look like we do though
slightly different, while their native state is wonderfully bizarre. Yes, they're obviously men in suits, but
their root-like limbs and crazy tentacles manage to look alien while
form fit the purpose. Even years later
the special effects department would have trouble matching these
looking at you Invasion of the Dinosaurs.)
This release is a two-disc affair. The five-episode story is
on disc one while the second one is reserved for the bulk of the
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits
the show just fine. The dynamic range is
nothing to write home about, but the dialog is generally crisp and
there is no background noise, tape hiss, distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
The full-frame color image looks very good, and is an
improvement over the original release which has some problems when
there was a
lot of motion in the picture. I've been
pleased with all of the classic releases that I've seen, and this one
different. The colors are solid and the
detail is good. There aren't any common
encoding errors either. A nice looking
All of the extras from the original release are included in
this set, which is very nice to see.
It's horrible when you have one extra you really like on an
release. In addition there are some
great new features too.
First off is a commentary track (from the original release) by
Barry Letts and actors Katy Manning and Richard Franklin.
I have to admit this wasn't my favorite Who
commentary track. The trio spend a bit of
time laughing at the
effects and on-screen action. I don't
think the story is as goofy or campy and they seem to think it is.
As for video items, Axon
Stations! is the making for featurette for this episode. They always do a top-notch job on these, and
this in no exception. Some of the
cast members are recorded as well as the director and one of the
writers. It was funny listening to Katy
about how the lead Axon walked funny because he had to hide his "dangly
in the skin-tight leotard he had for an outfit.
There are two related extras next. The Deleted
and Extended Scenes is something of a misnomer.
The original shooting footage for the first
episode still exists, so they incorporated the scenes that ended up on
editing room floor back into episode one.
If that's not enough for you, the second disc contains the
Directing Who is
an interview with the director Michael Ferguson that runs about 15
Now and Then is a look at the
The best bonus on this disc is Living with Levene,
where Toby Hadoke, who is no stranger to
viewers of the Doctor Who releases, spends the weekend with John Levene
played Sgt. Benton. Levene is an
interesting character in real life and I really enjoyed this extended
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It
does give some dry statistics, like how many people viewed each
there are also some interesting notes such as script changes that were
background information on the supporting characters.
The extras are rounded off with storyboard
comparison, a trailer for the story, a photo gallery, and the listing
Radio Times in .pdf format.
This is a classic adventure featuring the third Doctor and
is a lot of fun. If you've never seen a
Pertwee story, this would be a good place to start.
An excellent story, great extras, and a solid
presentation make this one a winner. Highly Recommended.