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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

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Look back in affection.
If you're familair with the Pertwee era Dr Who, you'll know what to expect.
An Earthbound adventure, with Jon Pertwee shouting how much he hates it here, but moved to fight humanities corner against some unexplained threat? Check.
Katy Manning in a short skirt as the Doctors, ahem, 'companion,' screaming, falling over, generally getting in the way? Check...
Published on 5 Mar 2003 by Adam

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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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15 of 17 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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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic 70's Doctor Who, 29 Aug 2007
David (SPECTRE Island) - See all my reviews
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Forget the negative comments about this story - it's great. The special effects (for its time) are excellent especially the tenticled Axon costume and the Axon ship. The Axons are one of my faverite Doctor Who monsters and I wish that they would return in the new series.

This story also features The Master superbly played by the late great Roger Delgardo. To date this is the only dvd with Delgardo's Master released which is a shame. Come on 2Entertain how about releasing The Sea Devils, Terror Of The Autons or The Daemons. There havnt been any Jon Pertwee dvds released for a while now (I am looking forward to The Time Warrior dvd next week).

This dvd also benefits from excellent special features including a "now and then" location doccumentary and an entertaining commentary track. So if you enjoy 70's tv nostalgia or classic Doctor Who at its best then this dvd is for you.
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9 of 11 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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!, 1 Jun 2006
This was one of the first dvd releases that really made me want to go out and buy. The actual adventure is very good with only a few visual problems, but the best part is the dvd itself. Their is a good selection of extras from documentaries to photo galleries. Too little would have been dissapointing but so would too many. The commentary is very interesting, as is the Now and Then. The front cover to the dvd is very attractive as well, which will hook fans into a fantastic release.
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14 of 18 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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7 of 9 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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware of Axons bearing gifts..., 3 May 2005
This is a fairly typical, but none the less always enjoyable, Doctor Who story from the early part of Jon Pertwee's reign as the time lord. All the staple elements from the era are in place... earth bound story, alien invasion, the master, the brigadier and the rest of the UNIT gang including Jo Grant flashing her knickers as ever!
Perhaps the most striking aspect is the design of the Axons and their ship which is amazingly pyschedelic and gaudy but actually works rather well even if it ends up being rather migraine inducing. The story itself, Axons crash on earth, need help in reparing their ship, offer advanced technology in return, but naturally all is not as it seems... is well paced and always interesting. Whether you're an old fan of the series or a new convert due to the current Christopher Eccleston incarnation, this is definitely worth checking out.
The Restoration Team do their usual outstanding job with the picture and sound quality and the DVD is stuffed full of Who extras that are always fun watch.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good year for Pertwee fans!, 22 Oct 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
2012 has been a good year for Pertwee fans in terms of Doctor Who DVD releases.

4 of the 5 stories unreleased on DVD at the start of the year now available in that format. A story with an episode unseen in colour by anyone anywhere since 1974 (Invasion of the Dinosaurs, just in case anyone didn't know (?). A story mostly only seen in black and white, or very poor colour, for decades, now painstakingly restored to DVD using the best technology available (Ambassadors). A re-restored Daemons, and a Death to the Daleks which is a massive improvement on the pretty poor VHS copy we had all got used to. A revamped Three Doctors with much more VAM than the somewhat sparse original.

And now here is the Claws of Axos, which also could have been better in terms of VAM on its original 2005 release, and also with image quality issues affecting episodes 2 and 3, of which the PAL tapes were wiped decades ago and the NTSC converted episodes had to be re-converted to PAL.

The new copy is not quite perfect - I doubt if those two middle episodes will ever match the other two in picture quality. I noticed in episode two at one point that Jon Pertwee's and Donald Hewlett's grey hair seemed to take on a blueish tinge, but we should not quibble. It's probably as good now as it will get and definitely better than the 2005 release.

The Axons are a somewhat unusual creation, having no humanoid features in their pure form, but appearing like golden humans initially. Apparently benevolent, but out to suck Earth dry. Terrance Dicks has rightly observed that most monsters seem to be coloured green - these are orange.

Characterisation is mostly good. Pertwee gets into his usual rage at another bureaucrat, in this case Mr Chinn from the MOD. However the latter is not quite as stupid as some similar characters in other stories and is a step ahead of Unit on a couple of occasions. Katy Manning's Jo Grant is a little wet and under-used in this story - although she too has a good go at Chinn at one point. She was to be much better used in future stories. The UNIT soldiers do their stuff very well as usual. The Master is in an unusual role here - a prisoner of the Axons simply trying to get out in one piece most of the time. Chinn I have already covered. Paul Grist's Filer doesn't really work for me - his transatlantic accent is so obviously fake and his role could have been taken by others in the plot. Donald Hewlett does fine as Hardiman, the boss of the complex. Fans of 70's comedy may remember he appeared as CO in the sitcom It Ain't 'Alf Hot Mum alongside Windsor Davies from Evil of the Daleks. Bernard Holley had been in Tomb of the Cybermen but his character met an early demise and here he voices the Axons very well.

There is now a Making Of documentary, which is thoroughly enjoyable to watch - one of the best of the entire range. Katy Manning recalls with some hilarity the suggestive appearance of the open Axon spaceship, and the sight of Bernard Holley in what looked like a leotard. Paul Grist and Bernard Holley are also on hand to recall their respective appearances on the show and are engaging and entertaining raconteurs. Terrance Dicks and Paul Baker recall the latter's recruitment - along with Dave Martin - to the Who writing team and the difficulty of reconciling their fertile imaginations with the need to keep budgets tight. Director Michael Ferguson gets his second production on DVD in a month and has some interesting tales to tell as well.

I am not sure about Living with Levene, in which Toby Hadoke spends a day with John Levene, who played Sgt Benton in this and many other Who adventures in the 70's. He seems a nice, genuine guy, looking after his mother, cooking for her and Hadoke and taking the latter to play golf, but I don't think I would play this feature all that often.

The 2005 release had about half an hour of material from the raw recording tapes, featuring some extra material from the beginning, in which we see Filer introducing himself to Jo and more of Chinn's objections to Unit employing the Doctor. All this is present here, but there is much more - at least twice as much.

Remaining features were on the 2005 release. So we get - more interesting recollections from Ferguson about the directing challenges of this story, a
Now And Then featurette narrated by Katy Manning (who makes this segment less "impersonal" than usual), and a technical explanation of the challenges of optimising the picture quality from the NTSC conversion. This latter piece is an Easter Egg.

Not the best Pertwee story, but the VAM material makes up for it. 4 stars.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LIVING WITH LEVENE documentary; smart, intelligent and witty, 10 Oct 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos - Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
Opening with an impressive CGI segment ("the axon spacecraft unfurls its main portal and from within a gravity-defying organic tentacle wheels through the mist-laden air of the beach, eventually identifying its pray it careers towards it with barbed incisors flaring...), in AXON STATIONS - THE MAKING OF THE CLAWS OF AXOS the cast and crew recall a plethora of incidents, challenges and anecdotes that will both inform and entertain in equal measure with a tightly edited format that leaves you either (1) feeling short-changed and wanting more or (2) sated.

Alongside the `elder statesman of DOCTOR WHO', Terrance Dicks, we are treated to the recollections of the garrulous & wide-eyed (and mouthed) Katy Manning, guest actors, Bernard Holley (Axon creature) and Paul Grist (Filer), Derek Ware (the iconic free-wheeling tramp, Pigbin Josh), and the story's director, Michael Ferguson.

In the mind of Terrance Dicks' commissioning two novice television writer (Bob Baker and Dave Martin) to germinate and structure a DOCTOR WHO story was a risk that he would not undertake if he had the time over again, and this was due to the pair's inability to comprehend the basis upon which the series was founded upon at the time. Outlandish and unrealistic plotting devices and scenarios were delivered to (Script Editor) Dicks, only to be effectively `red-lined' (read: deleted) and returned for re-evaluation.

On Bob Baker & Dave Martin contribution in the early days of the script, Terrance Dicks: These lads still have got potential but I think they'll need a lot of work. Why did I help (Baker & Martin) I don't know; I must have been mad.

As Director, Michael Ferguson, discusses the creative process in bring THE CLAWS OF AXOS to an unsuspecting 1971 audience, utilising the available new technology in crafting a `psychedelic' tone to the power of the Axon race whilst having to wrestle with a weather-hostile location filming session in the middle of winter.

On the variable weather conditions, Michael Ferguson: We couldn't have had it worse.

Interesting, he expressed credit to stunt actor, Derek Ware, in his portrayal of the hapless tramp (or, maybe more accurately, `rag and bone man'?), Pigbin Josh. Comparing Ware's performance with that of legendary silent American comedian, Buster Keaton, Ferguson surmised that the character could have had his own spin-off TV series.

The ever-enthused, Katy Manning recalls that the extreme atmospheric conditions caused both concern ("Most of my lines had to be cut as my teeth were chattering due to the cold") and hilarity during the shooting in and around Dungeness (Kent, UK), and expressed concerns that the design of the embedded Axon spacecraft entrance was slightly dubious ("It looked like a part of the female anatomy"). However, it is her comments relating to Lycra-suited, gold-painted Bernard Holley that may have you choking on fish fingers & custard supper if you are not forewarned. Manning hints that she suspects that in order for the Axon `male' not to be too masculine that the actor may have had to "...tuck his bits & pieces - his dangly bits - between his legs..." like "...a drag queen..." Incorrigible Manning but that's why she's adored within the WHO fan family.

Katy Manning: I was crying with laughter.

And as for her account of being ensnared by the Axon spacecraft's tentacles;

Katy Manning: They managed to grab my boobs so many times. Very exciting in a strange way.

And on seeing the design of the fully-tentacle Axon monsters invading the Nuton Nuclear Reactor;

Katy Manning: " something that the dog could have 'gobbed-up'.

Oh, Katy, never change.

Overall, the impression from the documentary is that even through the extremes of filming in the dead of winter, the technical challenges of realising the tone of the script and a potentially a `mincing' leotard-clad monster the production of THE CLAWS OF AXOS was a professional affair that drew from the production team the best of their abilities and cemented their resilience as a whole.

Now, LIVING WITH LEVENE. I don't know how much I should say about this feature as it represents the equivalent of a Christmas Day gift for DOCTOR WHO fans. Think about it? The genially approachable Toby Hadoke in the company of a much-maligned and misunderstood DOCTOR Who favourite, John Levene (RSM Benton) for two days, exploring the actor's roots, life outside the drama series and a breakfasting in the company of his dearest Mother.

You will be surprised that it is not an out-and-out comedy-fest, with Levene trolling out endless on-liners with Hadoke replying with cod-laughter. No, it much more than that, and, yes, the pair (I nearly called them a `couple') engage in witty banter there is no attempt on either party to `out gag' each other, and here lies the strength & depth of the documentary; With a measured proportion of silence, Hadoke give Levene time to expound on his life at his own pace. There's no competition in this interview; it merely meanders, and meanders to a conclusion that truly forces you to re-think everything you may have read (or heard at Conventions) about John Levene.

Smart, intelligent, (yes) witty but not humorous, and thought provoking, LIVING WITH LEVENE is that shiny coin found in the toe of your Christmas Stocking after pulling out the predictable fare of Satsuma, chocolate and a lump of coal.

Next in the series could be MAUNDERING WITH MANNING?

Sadly, the remainder of the DVD EXTRAS are, as far as I can ascertain, identical to the 2005 `standard' release. Therefore, it could be argued that a single-disc `special edition' should have been considered (replacing the `old' Extras with AXON STATIONS and LIVING WITH LEVENE) in order not to garner the financial frustration of fans in these (2012) challenging economic times.

Certainly, the clean-up (read: restoration) presentation of the four-parter is gloriously regal, eclipsing that of its predecessor but to re-issue it as a two-disc format with limited new content, I am sure, will be less than gratefully welcomed by fans. There is only so much goodwill that fans will muster especially if they think that they are being economically compromised (read: `being ripped-off').
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