Sue gets her claws into another four-part Pertwee. In colour. Anything could happen.
Sue: This is definitely in colour?
Me: Oh yes, this is definitely in colour.
The story begins with a strange object hurtling through the cosmos.
Sue: It’s a bowling pin. In space. With a mushroom on top.
However, once the camera moves behind the spacecraft, Sue begins to warm to its unusual design.
Sue: Actually, it doesn’t look that bad from this angle. It’s very organic, like Kosh’s ship in Babylon 5.
But something extremely odd is travelling on this ship.
Sue: What’s with all the meatballs?
Meanwhile, back on Earth:
Sue: Is that Ronnie Barker?
Me: No, that’s Mr Chinn.
Sue: Mr Double-Chin, surely.
While the Tory MP blusters around UNIT HQ like a demented pit bull, Sue is drawn inexorably towards Jo’s outfit.
Sue: Jo looks very prim and proper this week. She may even be wearing a bra. Her skirt is very, very short but I do love her pink boots.
Me: If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see her knickers later.
Sue: Trust you to notice something like that.
And then Sue is introduced to the gift that keeps on giving, aka Pigbin Josh.
Sue: It’s Kenny Bottles!
Me: Who the hell is Kenny Bottles?
Sue: When I was a kid, probably when this first went out, Kenny Bottles would come down our street every Friday and he would collect everyone’s empty pop bottles so he could get the deposit money back from the local shop. He was the spitting double of this bloke. He had a bike as well. I would tease my younger brother, Kenny, by calling him Kenny Bottles. It used to make him cry.
Me: Ooh arrr!
As the Axon ship heads towards Earth, the military try to shoot it down. Sue isn’t happy about this at all.
Sue: I think I’m on the Doctor’s side this week. I’d be a pompous git as well if I was surrounded by these idiots.
As the story unfurls, Sue becomes quite pensive.
Sue: Has this story got a good reputation with the fans?
Me: Stop asking me that. Make up your own mind. I wouldn’t want anyone to accuse me of indoctrinating you.
Sue: I’d like to see you try.
Meanwhile, an American agent named Bill Filer continues his search for the Master (I just hope he’s not searching for the Gordon Tipple incarnation by mistake [joke copyright Tachyon TV's Claws of Axos podcast, still available from all good websites]).
Sue: Is he the American Gene Hunt?
Me: I like to think of him as the 1970s Jack Bauer.
Nicol: I certainly wouldn’t want to watch 24 hours of this!
Me: Oh hello, Nicol. Actually, you should probably stick around – this story has a particle accelerator in it.
Incredibly, Nicol is tempted by this promise and she settles down on the sofa, just in time to witness the Doctor patronising Jo.
Sue: When does feminism turn up in Doctor Who? Jo has saved the Doctor’s life several times now. He should be begging her to come with him instead of being such a sexist pig. And just when I was starting to warm to him again.
The Axon ship has buried itself deep within the Earth, and when its sphincter-like doors open, Sue raises a quizzical eyebrow.
Sue: So, the alien ship is basically a cross between a giant penis and a giant arsehole? Freud would have had a field day with this.
But if the exterior of the ship looks a bit weird, that’s nothing compared to what’s waiting for us inside.
Sue: Well, they are trying. I’ll give them that. It reminds me of the textile area in Ikea. It’s the curtains that do it, I think. Are we are supposed to be in the belly of an alien whale? It’s quite interesting, really.
And then Sue is reunited with an old friend.
Sue: Not the Master again! What are the chances of that? This is getting a bit old now.
Nicol: The gold people look like they should be standing around Covent Garden or Piccadilly Circus. They’d make a fortune.
Me: Don’t worry, a particle accelerator will be along shortly.
The Axons give humanity the gift of Axonite, a mineral that could potentially eradicate famine forever, and to demonstrate its awesome power, the Axons make a frog turn into the size of a cow.
Me: The French would love that.
Sue: That’s a bit racist.
When the Axons’ true appearance is finally revealed (if you can ignore the first few seconds of the episode that is), Sue isn’t overly impressed.
Sue: It’s an explosion in a spaghetti factory.top
Nicol: Where’s the particle accelerator?
Me: Please, just stick with it, Nicol.
The Master and Filer decide to join forces so they can escape from their cell on the Axons’ ship.
Sue: It’s like they’re trapped in the world’s strangest brothel.
Chinn orders the British Army to place UNIT under arrest so he can secure exclusive distribution rights for the Axonite.
Sue: You can’t arrest the Brig! What’s he playing at? And why is this location full of ticking clocks?
And then we discover that the Master had been working with the Axons before they inevitably double-crossed him.
Sue: The Master is starting to make a habit of this. He’s very naive, isn’t he? I almost feel sorry for the daft arse.
And then Nicol starts howling with laughter when she finally sees the cyclotron (“It’s a shower cubicle!”), but it’s the meter that measures the speed of light that sends her over the edge.
Nicol: To be fair, this is way ahead of its time. This sort of science is still cutting edge today. At least the writers seem to have done some homework.
Winser, the head of research at the power complex, demands to know when the Doctor was last published.
Me: Typical academic. I’ve been to conferences like that.
The Doctor decides to investigate the properties of Axonite himself, mainly to see if he can use it to fix his TARDIS.
Sue: This Doctor never does nowt for nowt. There always has to be something in it for him.
Meanwhile, Filer struggles to free himself from the cuddly claws of Axos.
Sue: Was that Filer letting out a big fart just then, or was Dudley Simpson resting on his keyboard again?
And then, just to make things even weirder, we meet the eye of Axos.
Sue: That looks nothing like a giant penis. Not at all. Nope.
The Master begs the Axons to let him have his laser gun back so he can do their dirty work for them.
Sue: The Master has a laser gun! He’ll be asking the Axons for his ball back next.
The Master sneaks away with all the finesse of a cat armed with a laser gun.
Sue: The Master is much more exciting to watch than the Doctor. He’s having his own little adventure this week and it’s much more engaging than watching the Doctor bickering with a bloody academic.
The Axons send a clone of Filer to the power complex but the real Filer comes to the rescue and he kills his duplicate by shoving him into the particle accelerator.
Nicol: I take it all back – they haven’t got a bloody clue.
Meanwhile, the Master is busy hypnotising a young UNIT solider.
Sue: Mind control: check. When will someone fling themselves from a high wall?
Back at the complex, the Doctor places some Axonite in the cyclotron. The speed of light meter begins to rise.
Nicol: The Doctor has just created a tachyon.
Me: That’s my favourite theoretical particle.
Sue: Oooh, a very wobbly set there. That was pretty bad. That’s shoddy workmanship. One mark off.
As the Axonite starts to overload the cyclotron, Winser hurls insults at the Doctor.
Sue: What did he just call him?
Me: A stupid quack.
Nicol: I thought he called him a stupid quark.
Sue: I thought he called him a stupid twat.
The episode concludes with our heroes surrounded by spaghetti-Axons.
Sue: You know, I really like the story but the production values are letting it down a bit. I bet this one would be really good if they remade it today. Only properly this time.top
The reprise from last week just gives Sue another opportunity to criticise the proto-Axon crawling across the floor.
Sue: You can tell it’s just some poor sod with a blanket over him.
Me: As opposed to employing a real alien, you mean?
A cushion sails harmlessly over my head.
Sue: The monsters look rubbish but their weapons are very effective. I’ll give them that.
As Chinn is bollocked by his superiors, Sue nods appreciatively.
Sue: I know that I’ve been banging on about the Doctor being a bit of a Tory but this story is very anti-establishment. The British government (who are clearly Tories) are the bad guys here. And incompetent bad guys at that. It’s swings and roundabouts, I guess, but I much prefer the Doctor in this story. Having said that, his hair is very bouffant this week. It looks like he’s just had a shampoo and set.
The Master infiltrates the Nunton Complex disguised as an army general.
Sue: Oh, that’s just rubbish. His mask looks just like him again so why even bother? I bet he isn’t called the Master because he’s a master of disguise. And Benton should be shot.
Back on the Axon ship, the Doctor refuses to cooperate with his captors. So they slowly age Jo to death in front of him.
Sue: The Doctor is terrified by the idea of having an old woman for a companion. He’s ageist as well as sexist.
And before you all write in, she’s joking.
When UNIT try to take on a spaghetti-Axon – and fail – Sue gives them their due.
Sue: The Axons look ridiculous but they don’t half kick arse.
The Brigadier catches the Master sneaking out of the Doctor’s TARDIS and they are forced into an uneasy alliance.
Sue: I’d much prefer to see the Master working with UNIT than the Doctor. They should swap roles. I’m always slightly disappointed when we cut back to Pertwee gurning in a rubber chair.
Me: Look! It’s Jo Grant’s purple knickers!
This time the cushion hits me square in the jaw.
The episode concludes with the Master attempting to blow up the Axon ship, even though the Doctor and Jo are still inside it.
Me: You didn’t have very much to say about that episode.
Sue: That’s because I like it.
Me: Well in that case we’ll be lucky if we get a couple of sentences out of you when we reach Tom Baker.
Sue: Don’t bet on it.top
Me: The Doctor just slapped Jo across the face. Don’t you want to say anything about that?
Sue: I missed that. All I can see is BAFTA trophies floating all over the screen. I bet this would look great if you were on some very strong drugs.
As the eye of Axos methodically spells out the plot, Sue notices a big difference between it and most of the monsters she has encountered up to this point.
Sue: The best thing about this story is the lead Axon’s voice. I can understand it, instead of it being some electronic nonsense that I can barely make out. This is much more scary. It’s so calm.
As the particle accelerator threatens to overload, the head of the power complex, Sir George Hardiman, bravely prepares to enter the chamber.
Sue: He’s going to need more than a pair of oven gloves to deal with this.
Me: It Ain’t Half Radioactive, Mum.
Sue: You know, I think the Brig has a soft spot for Yates. You can tell by the way he looks at him that’s he’s extremely fond of him.
Me: Don’t even go there!
And then Sue is thrown into confusion when the Doctor appears to make a deal with the Master.
Sue: The Doctor is just pulling the Master’s leg. He won’t just run away and leave everyone to die. Will he? Will he? Actually, I’m not sure. He has done it before.
Meanwhile, Yates and Benton are attacked by Axons on the open road.
Sue: The Axons are just a big fat mess, really. Just run them over! Good grief!
But the Axons are more tenacious than they look.
Sue: They should whip their tendrils across the road and use them like a police stingers.
With the Axons overwhelming them, Benton decides to sacrifice their Jeep by tossing a grenade into the back seat.
Sue: What a waste of a Jeep. I’d love a Jeep like that. In fact, what I’d really like is a Land Rover Defender.
Me: Put one on your Amazon wish list. You never know.
Sue: The music is really starting to drive me up the wall now. It’s like a small child has been let loose on a Bontempi organ. Dudley Simpson should put some music lessons on his Amazon wish list.
Sue becomes so involved in this story’s climax that she doesn’t say much at all. It’s only when she notices that the TARDIS seems to go where the Doctor tells it to that she decides to break her silence.
Sue: Has the Master fixed the Doctor’s TARDIS for him? That really does show the Doctor up a bit.
The Nunton Power Complex explodes (“Nice”) and then the TARDIS rematerialises, much to Jo and the Brigadier’s relief.
Sue: Does this mean the Doctor can fly his TARDIS properly now? He can go wherever he wants? It’s about time!
But no. Sadly, it seems that the Doctor is now some sort of galactic yo-yo.
The Final Score
Sue: I enjoyed that one. The plot was very interesting – it would definitely work again today – and the direction was pretty good as well. The special effects let it down a bit but at least they were trying something different. I didn’t mind that one at all and it didn’t outstay its welcome. I’ll give it -
The experiment continues…top
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