Reviews Jon Pertwee stars in The Claws of Axos: Special Edition now out on DVD

Published on December 30th, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

Reviewed: The Claws of Axos Special Edition

Released in October, this new version of The Claws of Axos presents visual and audio improvements over the previous DVD from 2005, along with several new extras.

Starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor with Katy Manning as Jo Grant, Roger Delgado as the Master and Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, this is the first Doctor Who serial by “The Bristol Boys”, Dave Martin and Bob Baker, who together would go on to script some of the show’s most memorable stories and of course create K9.

Back in 1971, however, they were given their first chance by script editor Terrance Dicks, and the result is a wildly visual and psychedelic experience, some of which wouldn’t be out of place in an early Pink Floyd promo film.

Jon Pertwee stars in The Claws of Axos: Special Edition now out on DVD

The Claws of Axos

One of the early titles for this story is The Vampire from Space, and this should give you a clue as to the intentions of the evil Axons. When a spacecraft approaches Earth – avoiding attempts to attack it – it buries itself on a beach in the south west of England, where it causes wild weather conditions and kills a local bumpkin, Pigbin Josh. With UNIT forces, the Doctor, scientists, a CIA agent on the trail of the Master and a meddling politician called Chinn all arriving to investigate and make contact, the Axons kickstart their plan.

Using a simple bait and switch manoeuvre, perpetual motion is offered in exchange for residency. In actual fact, of course, the offered Axonite won’t help to feed the starving of Earth – instead it will be positioned around the globe in order for Axos (a single spacefaring entity) to siphon life and energy into itself. This huge space vampire has been led to Earth by none other than the Master, and it is only with his help that the Doctor can defeat Axos and the Brigadier overcome the career-based meddling of Mr Chinn.

What’s New in the Special Edition

If you already own a copy of The Claws of Axos on DVD, you might be thinking “why do I need another?” (although of course being a Doctor Who fan, this thought probably hasn’t crossed your mind.) The point of this release is that previously some of the episodes (two and three) were of lower quality, having existed only in NTSC format. With this release, the picture quality has been improved throughout (on a quality TV you will notice that it is almost as good as standard definition gets) and this is due to the Restoration Team combining colour from the Reverse Standards Conversion with information from remastered black and white film recordings. With the addition of VidFIRE restoration to smooth things out and re-present the footage with a video “look”, the end result is something that you’re really going to have to see for yourself!

Special Features

Commentary – entertaining as always is Katy Manning (Jo Grant) with Richard Franklin (Captain Yates) and producer Barry Letts. This is the commentary from the original release.

Axon Stations! The cast and crew look back at the making of the story. Heavily features Bernard Holley who played the main, male Axon in the serial.

Now & Then – narrated by Katy Manning, this is a slow-paced, interesting look at the locations used in The Claws of Axos, contrasting how they appeared in 1971 with how they are now.

Directing Who – Director Michael Ferguson recalls his work on The Claws of Axos. Anyone interested in visual effects and how they were achieved in the 1970s should spend some time with this featurette; Ferguson speaks with authority and conviction about the psychedelic effects in this serial.

Jon Pertwee stars in The Claws of Axos: Special Edition now out on DVD

Studio Recording – a new feature to this special edition, this is the earliest surviving Doctor Who studio recording (complete with studio chatter, recording breaks and VT run-ups) presented here in its entirety!

Living with Levene – in spending a weekend with actor John Levene, Toby Hadoke hopes to find out more about the Sgt Benton actor. Levene is a fascinating character, recently returned to the UK after years in the United States to look after his elderly mum. What occurs here is certainly memorable, revealing John to be a warm and naturally eccentric character.

Easter Egg – hidden away on Disc One is an extra from the 2005 release, Reverse Standards Conversion: The Axon Legacy. Explaining the origins of the process (a requirement by the BBC to show NTSC footage of the 1968 Olympic Games from Mexico) this is a nice bonus that remains fascinating despite not being in the published list of extras. To find it, click left from Audio Options with your remote control.

In addition the discs include Deleted and Extended Scenes, Radio Times Listings (viewable on a computer equipped with a DVD-ROM), Programme Subtitles, Production Information Subtitles, the all-important Photo Gallery, a Coming Soon Trailer for The Legacy Collection and of course digitally remastered picture and sound quality, as described above.

We’ve had so many great Doctor Who DVDs in 2012. Until now my favourite had been the new version of Day of the Daleks, but with this special edition of The Claws of Axos I’m now conflicted… All I can really do is say to the guys in the Restoration Team: keep up the outstanding work!

If you haven’t already got your copy of The Claws of Axos Special Edition it can be ordered new for £13.36 on Amazon.

email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author

avatar

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




5 Responses to Reviewed: The Claws of Axos Special Edition

  1. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Ironically I’m watching this edition of Axos as I type this. I’m one of those fans that hasn’t thought twice about replacing old copies with the new Special Editions. Its nice to have extra features that were previously missing on the original release.

  2. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Just bought this, Planet Of Giants, Death To The Daleks and Vengeance On Varos special edition for £15. Less than a fiver each! post-Christmas bargain for me!!! Long live Pigbin Josh!

  3. avatar Gavin Noble says:

    I don’t mind the special editions too much but the thing that bugs me a little is that they didn’t wait until the whole series had been released before then releasing the special editions. Had they not bothered with the special editions then we could have had everything out on DVD by now. As it stands it looks like the 50th anniversary is going to pass without being able to buy the complete series of available episodes on DVD. That’s pretty stupid given it’s taken around 13 years to get the DVD’s out. That’s just too slow.

  4. avatar Philip Bates says:

    Been tempted by this release – certainly when I found it for £11 – but I recently watched the older release of it, so instead spent that money on Nightmare of Eden and Vengeance on Varos (Spesh Ed), two which I haven’t seen.

    I’ll definately pick up this eventually though!

  5. avatar CastellanSpandrel says:

    FrancoPabloDiablo, any chance you could tell us where you picked up this bargain?

    The Pertwee era seems to have been discredited in recent years by various critics, due to the 3rd Dr’s grumpiness and patriarchal demeanour. I think they’re missing the point (and his suave charm) spectacularly, and I’d rather have that sort of Dr any day than a matey Starbucks barista spouting inane gibberish (but I like Matt Smith, before anyone chibs me!).

Please be aware that all comments are subject to adherence to our comments policy.
Back to Top ↑