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Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos

"Overweight, underpowered museum piece."

Bob Baker and Dave Martin have arrived, people. Prepare yourselves to be underwhelmed.

Okay, I know, that might be a little harsh but I've always found Baker and Martin to be the most consistently average writers working on Doctor Who. None of their stories are ever unforgivably bad, nor are they resoundingly great, either. They all fit unwaveringly in the middle, their good and bad points all perfectly balanced with each other. 'The Claws of Axos' is no exception. It isn't bad, it isn't good, it's just ordinary.

With ‘The Claws of Axos’ you get Worzel's entire tenure in one neat little package. Essentially, this a rather uninspired greatest hits album. There are no surprises or hidden gems just all the classic hits you've heard a hundred times before. Everything you instinctively associate with this era is contained here; Jo Grant, the Brigadier and UNIT, Bessie, a meddlesome civil servant who thinks just because he has a public sector pension he can boss everyone around, excessive use of CSO, scientific technobable gibberish and, of course, the Master.

The Master is really the best thing here. I know I sound like a broken record but 'The Claws of Axos' is such an utterly humourless tale, one lacking any sense of fun and adventure, it needs the Master to bring some levity, otherwise it would been almost unbearable. Normally this would be the Doctor's role but he's too moody about his exile to make jokes.

With the exception of the Master, there are no other likeable or interesting characters, that includes the regulars. The guest characters, from the petulant Mr Chinn(s) to the annoying Winser, are particularly loathsome. Worst of the lot is Paul Grist as American agent Bill Filer, possibly the worst guest character in the near fifty year history of the show. Filer is a perfect storm of bad writing, terrible acting and one embarrassingly bad piece of 70s hairstyle. His horrendous 'mumbling random plot information while unconscious' acting has to be seen to believed.

Notes and Quotes

--I have often wondered if Javiar Bardem stole Filer’s hairdo for No Country For Old Men?

--Unit soldiers really are the Red Shirts of Doctor Who.

--Captain Harker is played by a very young Tim Piggot-Smith. He would later appear in 'The Masque of Mandragora' and get to do more than just repeat the same line of dialogue over and over again.

The Master: “You could take the usual precautions against nuclear blast, sticky tape on the windows, that sort of thing.”

The Master: (re: the TARDIS) “Might as well try to fly a second hand gas stove.”

The Brigadier: “Ah, Mr. Chinn, where have you been hiding? Canteen?”

The Doctor: “Obviously the Time Lords have programmed the Tardis always to return to Earth. It seems that I'm some sort of galactic yo-yo!”

The Brigadier: “Is there anything we can do to stop them?”
The Master: “Nothing. But there may be something I can do.”

Bill Filer: “Who are you? What do you want?”
The Master: “I am your fellow captive, Filer. I am the Master.”

Two embarrassingly bad 70s haircuts out of four.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.


  1. I actually didn't mind this one, despite the bad acting. I guess I was too excited to see the TARDIS (somewhat) working again!

  2. Oh, I love this one to death.
    - There's delicious irony in that Chinn's Britain-first philosophy would limit the chaos to Britain, and UNIT's plan to distribute globally is playing right into the Axons' hands.
    - The Episode 4 freakout when the Master overloads Axos is the most technically challenging psychedelic freakout the show had ever attempted, and they did it live in the studio instead of pre-filming or relying on post-production, and it worked like gangbusters!
    - The battle in the accelerator, similarly, was very ambitious and well-achieved.
    - At this point in Worzel's tenure as the Doctor he's still so bitter about his exile, and his relationship with the Brigadier is so strained, that his potential for amorality is at its peak. When he announces that he's abandoning Earth to its doom and offers to ally with the Master against the Time Lords, it's possible that he's serious.

    1. Agree, John. I think it needs to be accepted as a romp, but taken that way, it's one of the best,

  3. I'm with you here as usual, Mark. This was one I had heard of and saw the novels in the book store so the cover was intriguing, but finally seeing it recently, it was a let down. I've certainly seen worse, but this one is not one of Pertwee's finest.

  4. You have so missed the point of this Third Doctor story. Go watch it again! It's a psyhedelic romp. The whole question of personal integrity/morality vs selling out echos through the entire story: Chinn as the useless government servile bureacrat who demands that his country control everything, Filer as the American agent who tries to do the right thing based on his own ideals, the Doc himself as the alienated alien, who seems to decide to exchange his friends and humankind for a ticket out of here. The egotistical scientists who want their own fame and glory.

    It is a vintage 70's sci-fi, psychedelic, morality story. Like I said, go watch it again!


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