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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who's answer to Psychedelia!
I will have my critics, but I just can't get enough of this Doctor Who adventure!
Ok, so it is flawed, but that does not stop this story being enjoyable. I find the overall visual aspect of the adventure to one of the best on offer.
The alien spacecraft 'Axos' was not built, but grown! It is an organic entity, and the scenes inside the spacecraft are...
Published on 6 Mar 2003 by jamiesixteenmm

3.0 out of 5 stars Axing for Trouble
When the seemingly benign golden-skinned Axons arrive on Earth and offer the government an endless supply of the miraculous energy source 'Axonite', The Earth's authorities are taken-in. However, The Doctor, stranded on Earth and currently working as UNIT's scientific advisor, is suspicious, and his concerns are realised when his old enemy 'The Master' appears on the...
Published on 12 May 2009 by The Keeper of Fang Rock

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who's answer to Psychedelia!, 6 Mar 2003
I will have my critics, but I just can't get enough of this Doctor Who adventure!
Ok, so it is flawed, but that does not stop this story being enjoyable. I find the overall visual aspect of the adventure to one of the best on offer.
The alien spacecraft 'Axos' was not built, but grown! It is an organic entity, and the scenes inside the spacecraft are particularly well realised.
The use of the very 70's C.S.O. (Colour Separation Overlay) 'blue screen' effects work well to define the experience of being inside a living, thinking, alien. This combined with the voice of 'Axos' create an at times almost 'hypnotic' effect. The whole experience is probably like a bad psychedelic trip!
So my advice is to plug in your sound system! The sound has a real part to play when you 'feel' the inside of 'Axos'.
For these reasons I think that this story is unique. Most people forget that there are far worse stories from the John Pertwee 3rd Doctor era. There are in fact worse stories from the other Doctor Who eras than this!
OK so, some of the acting is not very good, played for the most part as if it were straight out of a comic-book. The script ain't up to much either, but there is much fun still to be had!
If you want sci-fi - you've got it! Organic aliens interfacing with computers!
I think that if you liked stories like the Tom Baker 4th Doctor adventure 'Warriors' Gate', then you will probably like this story for the same visual reasons.
If you enjoy the earlier Jon Pertwee 3rd Doctor adventures, then you should give this one a try.
The 'Claws' of Axos are certainly dug into me!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Axos Clause (Review of the 2012 Special Edition), 23 Oct 2014
Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
If golden aliens arrive bearing gifts and offer a deal that seems too good to refuse, read the small print carefully (what you might call `the Axos clause'!) ... their price is very high - your life, your species and your world ... 4* (Amazon have bundled together reviews of all versions of `The Claws of Axos'; this reviews the 2012 Special Edition and DVD Special Features.)

Axons appear in two forms - intelligent, golden humanoids and tentacle-waving monsters. `The Claws of Axos' is a bit like that too, with an excellent storyline and great filming but with parts that are sometimes slightly disappointing and occasionally funny enough to leave you helplessly waving your tentacles!

If you're new to this era of `Doctor Who', it might be better to start with one of the true classics from this season like `The Dæmons' or `The Mind of Evil'. But if you enjoy the Jon Pertwee / UNIT years as I do, then reach out a tentacle for this Special Edition with new extras (which I've reviewed at the end) and improved picture quality. The middle two episodes benefit from new colour processing and look very good indeed. Episodes 1 and 4 look great, remastered from the original colour materials, and the soundtrack is also excellent with Dudley Simpson's futuristic score.

`Axos' lands on the bleak shingle landscape of the south coast, right next to the `Nuton Power Complex'. But what is it? A ship, a living thing or (judging by the amazing interior) a groovy alien commune left over from the 1960s? UNIT go to investigate, but by the time they arrive something very unpleasant has already happened to the eccentric local tramp `Pigbin Josh', a great name and a fun performance by Derek Ware. Exactly how unpleasant was partly cut from the story, but the special features include the cut material which is an impressive special effect in a story that's full of them.

The alien presence brings with it some hastily-scripted "Freak weather conditions" to explain the random weather that covered four days of location filming - fog, ice, snow, rain and sunshine! On the special features, the cast and crew explain at comical length just how difficult filming was because of this, but the results are excellent. Director Michael Ferguson makes the same fine use of landscape as on `The Ambassadors of Death'; the weather, wild coast, lonely roads and the nuclear power station at Dungeness provide a splendid backdrop for the action. The studio sets for the interior of Axos are very inventive and so is the camera work that makes the 60s' weirdness of Axos come alive.

The Axons (very well lead by Bernard Holley in the best guest performance, he's also the voice of Axos) offer a deal - some energy and a chance to rest in exchange for miraculous energy-transmuting Axonite. Human greed does the rest; the gift is too good to refuse but the Doctor has his suspicions and starts to analyse the Axonite in the light accelerator lab at the power complex. It's not giving much away to say that before long Axons and Axonite start to run amok with UNIT (and the always excellent HAVOC stuntmen) fighting to save the world, again. Only the Doctor can really save us, using the science of the Time Lords - but he can't do it alone.

While the Axons want to take energy from the planet, the story is given terrific energy by Roger Delgado, popping up again as the Master did in every show this season. It's a superb performance right at the centre of events, well written and essential to the plot. The Master may be (as usual) at least partly to blame for the situation, but he also offers the way out - the Doctor has a brilliant plan but can't make it work because of his exile; the TARDIS is grounded and the Time Lords have blocked some of his knowledge. But if the two of them work together ...

The ending is clever and we even get to see Jon Pertwee's Doctor fly the TARDIS (just about) for the first time. There's part of a very good sub-plot here, about the Doctor wanting to use the powers of Axonite and the nuclear power complex for his own ends, to get the TARDIS working again - just how far is he prepared to go to regain his freedom? The novelisation has this in detail but in the final screen version much of it was cut, which is unfortunate because it was a great idea. As it is, some of the ideas surrounding the ending come too suddenly to make their full impact.

The characterisation and subtle relationships between the Doctor, Jo and the UNIT regulars aren't really brought out, especially in comparison with the immediately preceding story, `The Mind of Evil'. The Brigadier, Captain Yates and Sgt. Benton have their action moments and all the regular actors give their usual reliable performances, but Katy Manning in particular hasn't got much to do as Jo Grant except get frightened, captured and rescued - all nicely done but a contrast with Jo's more active role in her previous story.

I felt one problem was the inclusion of UNIT agent Bill Filer from Washington. Paul Grist plays him well as an intelligent action man - but wasn't that the point of Richard Franklin as Captain Yates, introduced just two stories earlier? Filer's role could have been replaced with Yates throughout, giving more prominence to the regulars; one of his subplots especially would have had far more impact if the character had been a familiar face. `Mr. Chinn from the Ministry' is yet one more pompous bureaucrat at a time the show seemed full of them. I suppose that was a satirical comment on 1970s Britain, but I thought the character was annoying (which is partly deliberate) and slowed the story down.

Then there are the Axons ... in close-up they are impressive, a mass of nerve tendrils and muscle and as the camera draws back they're still good as lumbering monsters with a great line in explosive tentacles. But when an Axon starts to run ... or comes hopping down a flight of stairs ...!

However, they are good fun and part of a very original idea for an alien menace, so please don't be put off from encountering `The Claws of Axos', because there's much to enjoy in the story and the Special Features.

This Special Edition gets four golden blobs of Axonite, but do keep them dormant ... 4*

DVD Special Features (some new features for the Special Edition are on Disk 2):
On Disk 1:
The commentary is entertaining, with Katy Manning, Richard Franklin and producer Barry Letts, but not always very illuminating on the details. For example, nobody remembered they had (impressively) filmed in the actual nuclear power station. They were probably too cold on location to remember anything else!
`Deleted and Extended Scenes' (27 minutes) - the edited first studio recording with the UNIT HQ scenes and some location film inserts, very interesting with optional production subtitles, a couple of short, extra scenes and cut special effects and to see some of the actors' craft. The highlight is at the end in a short sequence of Roger Delgado at work, transforming himself into the Master in literally the blink of an eye.
An Easter Egg, found from the `Special Features' submenu. (10 minutes) This is interesting, describing the origins of the Reverse Standards Conversion process used to return the story from NTSC to PAL for the original release.
On Disk 2:
`Axon Stations' (27 minutes) - the new, excellent and often very funny `making of' feature, with Michael Ferguson, Paul Grist, Bernard Holley, Derek Ware, co-author Bob Baker and script editor Terrance Dicks. Best of all are Katy Manning's hilarious comments and memories of a happy (if sometimes freezing) story.
`Living with Levene' (35 minutes) - Toby Hadoke spends a weekend in Salisbury chatting with John Levene, his mum and an old friend, plays some golf and enjoys breakfast cooked by `Sgt. Benton'. He has fond memories of his years in `Doctor Who', as you'd expect; the UNIT stories are well-loved classics.
`Now and Then' (7 minutes) - narrated by Katy Manning, comparing the locations from 1971 to 2005, even the wonderfully named `Dengemarsh Sewer' where Pigbin Josh dives in on his bike! Watch to the finish for some good pictures of the original location filming.
`Directing Who' (15 minutes) - memories of directing `The Claws of Axos' from Michael Ferguson.
`Studio Recording' (73 minutes) - the complete, unedited recording of the first studio session.
`Photo Gallery' (11 minutes) - a large photo gallery including very good pictures of the cast and crew taken on location (they do look cold!), also some pictures from the commentary recording.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Axos calling Earth! Axos calling Earth!", 10 Oct 2014
This has got to be the bonkers `Doctor Who' story I've ever seen! But it was fun to watch!

I enjoyed watching `The Claws of Axos' when I bought the original DVD in early 2008. It's an inventive; imaginative and original story from the Jon Pertwee years and is something of a classic in `Doctor Who' terms. More recently, `The Claws of Axos' has been a brand new Special Edition DVD that was released two years ago in 2012.

I've recently managed to have the original DVD cover signed by five people who were involved in the making of this story at a convention in Bristol last month. I've had it signed by lovely Katy Manning (Jo Grant); Richard Franklin (Mike Yates, though he signed it for me in Tunbridge Wells last year in March 2013); John Levene (Sergeant Benton); Bernard Holley (Axon Man) and Bob Baker (the co-writer of this story with Dave Martin).

This is a U.N.I.T. story with the Doctor, Jo, Brigadier, Yates, Benton and the Master. In the story, a strange alien `space ship' lands on the planet Earth. These are the Axons from Axos. The Axons call Earth for help and claim they need to re-fuel before they can take off again. They offer a `gift' to the humans called Axonite that is a thinking molecule and improve the human race with food and power supplies. Easily seduced by the Axonite, the humans take it. But it's all part of a dastardly plan by the Axons as they intend to suck the planet Earth dry of energy. Can the Doctor stops the Axons with their hunger for energy? Can he trust the Master to help him in order to stop the Axons?

This is the first `Doctor Who' story by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, who would be regular contributors to the show during the 1970s. I've had the pleasure of meeting Bob Baker in his home town of Bristol since both Bob and Dave come from there and are known as `the Bristol boys'. Sadly Dave's no longer with us, but Bob has gone on to do many things including working with Nick Park on the `Wallace and Gromit' films which I love and told Bob that `The Wrong Trousers' is my favourite film which he was pleased about. Here they deliver an imaginative story, the first of many, that's full of crazy and bonkers ideas that must have driven script editor Terrance Dicks insane when he got them to write for the show. This story was originally called `The Vampire From Space' which eventually became `The Claws of Axos' which is interesting.

Jon Pertwee is excellent as the Doctor in this story. Jon is definitely at his best dashing and heroic playing the Doctor now exiled to Earth by the Time Lords and working with U.N.I.T.. I like the scene where Jon's Doctor is agitated by Mr Chin's persistent querying about who he is and implying he's not welcome for not being a British citizen. "My dear Mr Chin. If I could leave I would! If only to get away from people like you!" The Brigadier says something which erupts the Doctor into thunderous anger with Chin which I found a defining moment for his Doctor. The Doctor quickly suspects the Axons and their claims to be low on power, as he analyses and discovers what the Axonite really is as the Axons, Axonite and Axos ship are all the same thing.

I really love Katy Manning as Jo Grant in this story. Katy is a really lovely person, full of delightful personality and energy and I'm amazed I've met her at conventions. I enjoyed how he plays Jo in this adventure. She doesn't get much of a character development in this story as such, but her scenes with Jon Pertwee are pure bliss. I like it when Jo gets curious and goes into the Axos ship and gets a shock when she hears Filer and a scare when an Axon in real-form appears out of nowhere from the wall. There's a horrible moment when Jo is aged to death before the Doctor's eyes and it's pretty impressive effects work for what they did in those days. Jo gets to share a friendship with Filer and also gets to recite the three times-table when she and the Doctor are escaping Axos.

I enjoyed watching Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier in this story. The Brig gets to lead his men into action with the Axons and easily gets frustrated and annoyed when Chin tries to intervene taking over the U.N.I.T. operation. The Brigadier doesn't like it when Chin brings in the regular army and he and his men are arrested. I like it when the Brig, Mike Yates and Benton manage to catch the Master in the power reactor room before reluctantly getting the Master to help them stop Axos. I like it when the Brigadier protests to the Master's plan of destroying Axos with the Doctor and Jo inside. The Brigadier manages to spot an Axon just in time when he's changing and turning into a spaghetti monster and trying to stop him.

The Master appears in this story, played by Roger Delgado. This is the first time I'd seen Roger as the Master properly. Before then, I'd only seen Anthony Ainley and John Simm as the Master. Watching Roger as the Master was a treat and I really like how he plays the character with such evil with an element of charm added into the mix. The Master happens to be working with the Axons this time and has made a bargain with them, but cannot gain access to his TARDIS. The Master manages to hijack a lorry and hypnotise its driver and even hypnotises the communications officer at U.N.I.T. HQ to do his bidding and even has the TARDIS brought down to the nuclear power plant. I like the Master's scenes with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, as the two actors spark off each other and seem to work really well together.

I enjoyed watching Richard Franklin as Mike Yates and John Levene as Sergeant Benton in this story. They don't get much of a character piece in this story as they're mostly in the action and doing the standard soldier thing with their characters. Benton somehow doesn't realises it's the Master in a military uniform and wearing a mask, even though he does question the `general' beforehand. Mike gets a MET office report from Corporal Bell and even informs the Doctor of a `UFO coming in fast'. I enjoyed the scene in Episode 4 with Yates and Benton in a jeep being attacked by a horde of spaghetti Axons out on location. I can safely say I've managed to meet all the surviving members of the U.N.I.T. family including Katy; Richard and John. Wish I could meet Nick Courtney, Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado.

The rest of the cast in this story include Paul Grist as Bill Filer, the American agent sent down to hunt the Master; Peter Bathurst as Chin, the annoying British politician with `petty obsessions' and Tim Pigott-Smith as Captain Harker (who I've seen in many things including the BBC classic `North and South'; the film `Johnny English' and in another `Doctor Who' story `The Masque of Mandragora'). There's also Fernanda Marlowe playing Corporal Bell, who appeared in the previous story 'The Mind of Evil'. There's also stuntman Derek Ware playing Pigbin Josh the tramp on his bicycle who amusingly ends up in the river and gets caught by a Axos tentacle.

The Axons are an interesting monster in this `Doctor Who' story. They are led by Bernard Holley who plays the Axon Man. I've met Bernard in Bristol and found out he appeared in a Christmas episode of `Keeping Up Appearances' filmed on the QE2 with Patricia Routledge and Clive Swift. He's also previously appeared in the `Doctor Who' story `The Tomb of the Cybermen'. The Axons at first appear to be beautiful and golden when the humans meet them. But the gold appearance is a disguise as their true form is ugly and grotesque. It reminds me of an episode from `Lost In Space' for some strange reason. The Axons in true form look pretty appalling especially when they're attacking Yates and Benton in the jeep as they look like spaghetti monsters which I couldn't take seriously. It's the attack of the spaghetti monsters! I like the concept of the Axons and the Axonite and Axos spaceship being all the same thing, and how inside the ship there's this huge eye that overlooks everything and we get some impressive psychedelic effects that are pretty mind-boggling for their time.

On the original 2005 DVD release for `The Claws of Axos', the special features are as follows. There's a commentary for the story with producer Barry Letts; Katy Manning and Richard Franklin. There are `deleted and extended scenes' plus studio recording material showing the production of this story was made with optional info-text subtitles to go along with it. There's a `Now and Then' feature looking at the Dungeness locations used in the story, narrated by Katy Manning. I felt sorry for Katy who was freezing to death during those location scenes for `The Claws of Axos'. There's `Reverse Standard Conversion - The Axon Legacy', which is a 10-minute documentary looking into the restoration of this story for the DVD. And there's `Directing Who - Michael Ferguson' which is an interview with the director on how he made `The Claws of Axos'. There's also a photo gallery and an info-text commentary option to watch during the story.

For the Special Edition DVD, it contains the special features from the original 2005 DVD release plus some additional bonus features. On Disc 1, there's the commentary, the deleted and extended scenes plus studio recording feature and an updated info-text commentary to watch during the story. There's an Easter Egg on the first disc if you know where to look. On Disc 2, there's a brand new making-of documentary on `The Claws of Axos' called `Axon Stations'. This features interviews with Katy Manning; Bernard Holley; Bob Baker; Terrance Dicks; director Michael Ferguson and Paul Grist (who played Bill Filer) talking about the making of the story. There's also the complete `Studio Recording' session of the first episode of `The Claws of Axos' that is over 70 minutes compared to the `deleted and extended scenes' feature which is interesting.

There's also an interesting special documentary called `Living with Levene' which has comedian Toby Hadoke spending a weekend getting to know the actor John Levene who played Sergeant Benton in the series. Personally I would like to spend a weekend with Sarah Sutton (Nyssa in `Doctor Who') and getting to know her as a person as well as an actress and talking about her work in `Doctor Who' and other things. I had a nice encounter with John Levene when I met him recently in Bristol. He's an interesting person and I enjoyed watching him do his panel and chatting to him during the signing session when he signed `The Claws of Axos' for me and talking about some of the scenes he did as Benton in certain stories including `The Time Monster' with Roger Delgado and `Invasion of the Dinosaurs' with Jon Pertwee.

There's also a PDF document of the Radio Times Listing for `The Claws of Axos' that can be accessed on a computer; as well as a `coming soon' trailer for the next `Doctor Who' DVD release which is The Legacy DVD box set (including the 1979 version of `Shada' and the 1993 anniversary documentary `More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS').

So `The Claws of Axos' is very imaginative and inventive `Doctor Who' story that's impressive for its time in terms of effects and boldness. I'm glad to have my original DVD cover for the story signed by five people involved in the making of the story. The story has a fun atmosphere about it and is pretty engrossing and engaging to watch with some fine performances from Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado; containing the U.N.I.T. family with Jo, the Birgadier; Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton and the attack of the spaghetti monster Axons. Hugga-wugga!

The next story for the Doctor, Jo and U.N.I.T. is 'The Mega'.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!, 6 Jun 2009
Basil (Middlewich, Cheshire) - See all my reviews
Simply one of the best examples of early UK colour TV.
I love 'Axos'. One of the highlights of the Pertwee era.
If you are a fan of experimental electronic effects and wonky electronic music this is a must for you. Yes, to the contemporary viewer the effects may look a bit ropey but think how old this programme is - its 38 years old! How exciting it must have been to have all the new technology of the era and to really let loose and be creative.

One of the best ways to watch this type of story is to sit back and think "how would I feel if something like this really happened?" In that frame of mind, the Axon spaceship coming into land is quite terrifying!

Oh, and The Master is in this one - and that makes it even better!
"You will obey me!"
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable story from the Pertwee years., 21 Aug 2006
This is a very good 4 part adventure from Jon Pertwee's second season as Doctor Who. In it, a group of seemingly peaceful, gold skinned, and humanlike aliens come with a substance in order to benefit earth. However, beneath the surface lies something much more sinister. Furthermore, at the centre of it all is the Doctor's arch-enemy the Master.

This is another of the adventures set during the third Doctor's exile to earth. It contains all the usual elements of this era - UNIT, Jo Grant, aliens invading, and the Excellent Roger Delgado as the Master.

In addition the DVD contains some interesting extras, including some behind the scenes footage and a look back at the location filming. It may be queried as to why this story was released before others. Personally, I think that Terror of the Autons, the Sea Devils and Frontier in Space are better Master stories. However, there's no denying that if your a fan of the old series of Doctor Who, this is very enjoyable viewing.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisited for a reason, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
I quite often see complaints about these 'Special Editions', people saying the BBC are just ripping everyone off etc.
'The Claws of Axos - Special Edition' puts these complaints to shame. It's a wonderful collection of things - the episodes themselves look really quite amazing, and I doubt any improvement could be made on the picture quality as it is now. In addition to this, the new special features included are really rather excellent - thorough, thought through and brilliantly produced. My highlight was 'Living with Levene' - another Toby Hadoke one. These really are very good ('Looking For Peter' on The Sensorites DVD was one of the best DVD features I've ever seen on ANY dvd).
As well as that, Claws is a very fun, very entertaining story, with everything any big Pertwee fan could ask for.
I physically cannot fault this DVD. Bravo.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Axing for Trouble, 12 May 2009
When the seemingly benign golden-skinned Axons arrive on Earth and offer the government an endless supply of the miraculous energy source 'Axonite', The Earth's authorities are taken-in. However, The Doctor, stranded on Earth and currently working as UNIT's scientific advisor, is suspicious, and his concerns are realised when his old enemy 'The Master' appears on the scene. Is The Master a free-agent or is he really being held prisoner by The Axons as he claims, and are the benevolent aliens really as genuine as they seem? The blobby monsters and organic Axon spaceship are definitely of their time, and the serial is a pretty generic early 70s Jon Pertwee effort.
This VHS version (story is now available on DVD) drops down to 3 stars because the picture quality is not quite up to scratch - I believe it has been rectified for the DVD version.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The usual Pertwee romp with the odd surprise, 30 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This story marks a peak, in part, in the Pertwee era. It has the landmark of becoming 'typical Pertwee'. You have all the usual protagonists, The Doctor, Jo Grant, Unit and the Master and of course you have the interfering government. This story is by no means the greatest, but it manages to hold its own amongst its closest peers. The acting is quite good, especially UNIT, which by this point have reached their element. The characterisations of Jon Pertwee and Jo grant have settled fully into their parts and the story shows them visibly relaxed in their roles. If the story has a downside, it is the underdevelopment of the Axions and Axonite, both conceptually and visually, but even this is reasonable with regard to the age of the story and the effects. All in all a quite enjoyable romp and recommended viewing
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3.0 out of 5 stars Doctor who: Attack of the spaghetti creatures, 31 Aug 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
Long ago in the 1970's a giant mysterious chicken drum stick landed on Earth. The Doctor and UNIT decide to enter it only to find some strange golden humanoids who were secretly giant spaghetti people in disguise. The aliens offered a weird substance to them which makes things grow. But really it was part of a terrible plan to drain the Earth of power. To make things worse an evil man with a goatee called the Master was helping them. Conveniently though, the weird substance didn't leave Britain so it couldn't drain any power from the other parts of the world until later episodes. However their terrible plan is thwarted by the Doctor at the last minute ensuring the survival of the Earth and the continuation of the series, just like every other episode in this T.V show.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In two minds about Doctor Who "Special Editions"., 7 July 2013
Adie Barrett (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
"The Claws Of Axos" is an outrageously fun story from the pens of Bob Baker and Dave Martin, whom Terrance Dicks remembers as wildcards in the writing pack. This story has gone through various generations of restoration, each noteworthy in themselves. The BBC retained the original episodes one and four but the other two were wiped, and only returned from Canada as inferior NTSC tape copies.

Each release of this story has focussed chiefly on what can be done with the problematic middle episodes. Having been transferred from 625-line, 50 fields-per-second PAL into 525-line, 60 fields-per-second NTSC in the 1970's using the best analogue technology available at the BBC, the tapes were not in the best of health on their return. A few technology advances in the intervening years aside, reversing the standards conversion a second time, from NTSC back to PAL, was never going to result in a return to the quality of the original PAL tape. With special circuits maxed-out to reduce the effects as far as possible, another loss of quality was inevitable and in the case of "Axos" episodes two and three all sorts of artefacts especially in moving objects was plainly visible.

First up we had the VHS video release, which was great to get our hands on, and as dedicated fans of the programme we forgave these technical imperfections, indeed at one time it seemed we would never get the chance to see them at all. Nevertheless, it was a slightly distracting experience compared to the clean episodes at either end. Ironically, a clean studio quadruplex recording of as-recorded scenes and film inserts from episodes one and two still existed but would never be made available to the Team at the time with a view to improving episode two. The risk of damaging the tape would have been considered as outweighing any potential benefits to sales at the time. Even if they were used, those pristine segments would jar badly against the rest of episode two. Use of this tape would wait until another series of technological advances had taken place.

When the first - and probably at that time the only - DVD release was planned, much had changed. The Restoration Team's track record with quality control and the time, care and attention each member involved invested into each project meant they were eventually allowed access to the best-quality base elements available to realise maximum success, something we viewers could easily appreciate with each advancing step in developing their techniques. Using computers increasingly upped the ante: James Insell (I believe it was) worked out a way of reverse engineering the original standard converted NTSC tapes in a way that would identify the frame and fields information contained within the 60 fields in one second of the Canadian tape. This would then be used to recover and re-build the correct picture structure, as it was in the original PAL configuration. Reverse Standards Conversion as it became known was born.

Done digitally also meant they would maintain as much picture quality as possible, removing the nasty motion artefacts (as present on the original analogue double-standards conversions) and, with judicious digital clean-up and boosting processes (which included using digital noise reduction circuits to the max) they provided the best result possible. The episodes looked pretty impressive, so much so that scenes from the previously-mentioned clean studio recording now available to the Team were re-inserted where possible. Despite some differences in sharpness, these did not look too much out-of-place up against the newly-restored scenes, a superb testament to the Team generally and their Reverse Standards Conversion Process. Viewing was a revelation back in 2005.

Seven years on and this "Special Edition" has improved "Axos's" middle episodes' picture quality again, mainly by tackling that sharpness issue. This was achieved by revisiting the earliest technique whereby the sharp monochrome film recording picture was combined with an NTSC colour tape, as on "The Daemons" VHS in 1993. A far cry now from those pioneering experimental days. Nowadays, the monochrome telerecordings film are scanned in high definition for maintain maximum picture quality before processing, and will later be down-scaled to standard-definition and cleaned-up for DVD. For "Axos" the colour sub-carrier (the chroma dot patters used in the Colour Recovery process, such as on "The Mind Of Evil") was removed to leave a cleaner luminance picture. This was then warped to match the correct dimensions of the reverse-standard-converted colour tapes, and VidFired to restore the original video-motion look. Both the scanned film and digitised Reverse Standard Converted NTSC tapes were combined to provide full colour episodes which were much sharper than before, needing less noise reduction. Dropping into episode two the studio-recorded scenes still in existence maintained maximum quality. Knowing the processes behind it, I can say the resultant images on episodes two and three are pretty stunning.

The geek in me applauds all this to provide what is currently the best possible viewing of this story. Despite this, and hard as I try to be forgiving to how the marketing of a favourite series of mine must be done, I surprisingly find myself in a slightly cynical position - while I applaud each and every advance in remastering and restoration techniques, there is a limit we fans of classic Who can be milked to fund the next stages of releases. With the obvious limitations of standard-definition, will this mean specially advanced processing for re-re-mastered Blu-Rays one wonders? The thought of replacing all these beloved DVD's with another potential round of upgrading is actually starting to bother me. Until I see the results, who knows. If this was the only DVD release of this story, 5 stars would be automatic. Because of what I feel, I can only afford this release four.

Am I stingy? I don't think so in this particular case. As it is a mere twenty years since that first VHS release of the re-colourised Pertwee Story "The Daemons", I wonder what technological advances in restoration techniques will bring us in twenty years' time...
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Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD]
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