...with a quick look at The Claws of Axos, a four part Pertwee-era DOCTOR WHO originally transmitted March-April 1971.
More on Claws shortly, but first....
SCRIPTER STEPHEN THOMPSON TALKS ABOUT JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE TARDIS!!
I’ll totally confess to dropping the ball on this one.
I heard about Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS a few weeks ago - and somehow got the impression it was fan wankery...and not an actual, honest-to-God episode...and pretty much dismissed it on the spot. I was, clearly, highly erroneous in my characterization. Evidenced by THIS piece over at DoctorWhoTV (via DOCTOR WHO Magazine).
In the piece, writer Stephen Thompson discusses meeting with WHO overlord Steven Moffat to pitch some script notions...
Before I even open my mouth and pitch to the room, Steven goes ‘I want you to do x.’ And his idea is so wonderful, and so much more clever and interesting than anything mere mortals like myself could come up with, you end up saying ‘Yes’ and the meeting’s over in record time.
he needed me to write something light. This year got to indulge my inner fan. (And I got to ask my kids what rooms in the TARDIS they’ve always wanted to find.)
“This episode will be different in many ways, not least because the star won’t necessarily be the usual person. You might not even see the star, it might be the guy at the drawing board. It just might be the designer…”
So...yeah. I think further exploration of the TARDIS will be tremendously entertaining, although I deeply hope the show never reveals the shape of the vessel as a whole. There’s something delightfully non-specific and whimsical about not having a working sense of the device’s native configuration...presuming there is one “true” form...beyond the Police Box shape it’s inadvertently stuck on.
Journey to the Center of the TARDIS will transmit later in Season/Series 7 (i.e. Springish 2013).
Thanks to Man_of_Vertue for the heads up about this...
The Claws of Axos
"I suppose you can take the normal precautions against nuclear blasts.
Sticky tape on the windows...that sort of thing". - The Master, Claws of Axos Episode 3...
On 20th Century Earth, strange allegiances and wobbly motives abound when a mysterious space vessel comes to Earth, supposedly seeking aid.
But if that ship is as well-intentioned as it appears to be, why is the Doctor’s nemesis...the Master...on-board?
Scripted by Bob Baker and Dave Martin (The Three Doctors - Pertwee, Story #65), what’s most interesting about The Claws of Axos isn't the story it's telling as much as how it tells it. There's certainly a discernible plot line here, and a reasonably interesting one at that. But, at the end of the day, this story primarily thrives on compelling situational dynamics - both inherent and Machiavellian. Claws is powered by the motivations and schemings of many of its characters, leading to a complex web of 'Whys' and 'What ifs...' that is often more intriguing than the tale’s primary aliens-eating-Earth storyline.
A "depersonalized" Axon - complete with bullwhip-like tentacles which are very bad news. The symbolism of this horrible, violent spaghetti monster lurking beneath a surreal gold exterior can not be overlooked.
In fact, this story so hinges on the manipulations and machinations by all involved that Claws ends on a slightly nihilistic beat. Altruism is in scare supply in this one, lending a decidedly different tone to proceedings across the board. Here, there’s the most fleeting, strategically underplayed sense of ‘Are any of these characters worth saving?’ - a daringly reflective and wholly unexpected point to advance in any show, and a heady moral touchstone.
Despite occasionally uneven make-up, the expressionless golden “personalized” Axons are strangely eerie.
While direction by Michael Ferguson (The Ambassadors of Death - Pertwee, Story #53) often leans towards workmanlike, a few nicely charged flourishes are peppered throughout, serving as nice pick-me-ups when the episode’s pace coasts along on neutral. One such moment finds the Master (Roger Delgado) riding on top of a truck through a tunnel (in a shot which very clearly shows the actor and not a stunt dude), while a later gag features some energized and well-conceived editing as companion Jo is forcibly aged by scummy Axons attempting to pressure the Doctor.
Although a bit on the slow side, Claws ultimately emerges as a relatively consistent story. It’s driven by nuanced subtexts of greed, manipulation, and selfishness which are more challenging (thus more consequential) than many show makers would either allow or attempt even today. And while there are certainly shortcomings to be argued here (Dudley Simpson’s score, for example), the ballsiness of these thematics quickly render Claws worthy of exploration and further consideration. It may never achieve total artistic greatness, but the grandness of its ideas alone shape a story that feels surprisingly relevant and worthy, sometimes despite itself.
Axon Stations (26 minutes)
-- the making of this story...
Directing WHO (14 minutes)
Claws director Michael Ferguson...
Studio Recording (73 minutes)
A tad ponderous (which shooting a show often is), but a fascinating look into the filming of this story via raw, on-set video...the earliest known to exist for the show.
Living with Levine (35 mins)
Toby hadoke spends a weekend with John Levine, who played UNIT Sgt. Benton...
Deleted/Extended Scenes (27 minutes)
-- Radio Times Listings
-- Shada (unfinished Douglas Adams story). Pre-order HERE in the US!!
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"The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" (Story #151)
"Doctor Who: The Movie" (aka TVM) - McGann)
Merrick's Personal Journey With The Doctor (How Merrick Got Hooked On DOCTOR WHO)
"The Crash of the Elysium" (Manchester version - interactive DOCTOR WHO adventure)
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