THE CLAWS OF AXOS

"It's like trying to fly a secondhand gas stove!"

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The Master's back! Again. And again and again and again, until the end of (tea) time. Whoever thought this was a brilliant plan needed an imagination transplant.

First of all, we just don't care about the Master's dull little plan for crushing the Earth for no good reason. Second, we can't take him seriously - he's bloody useless, for a start, and he's so polite and friendly we're sure he doesn't really mean any harm. Third, whatever other villain is in the picture has their firepower reduced to a damp squib by having to share the evil limelight.

And that's just the problem with The Claws of Axos. On their own, the Axons'd make pretty chilling villains. That organic technology's way cool and anticipated the Vorlons by a considerable number of years. Those guys with the Goldfinger paint jobs and the scary eyes are fun too, and we love their delightfully sneaky plan to trip up us Earthlings via our own greed and then slurp up our yummy goodness. (We admit that the tentacley monsters err a bit on the adorably cuddly side, but you can't have everything.) But because our attention's divided between them and the Master, the evilness of it all just never gets off the ground.

The Doctor's not much of a help either, as he spends far too much time offscreen. And the presence of the same old bunch (more usually and more charitably known as the UNIT family) is beginning to make the stories in this season difficult to distinguish from each other.

There are some interesting moments in The Claws Of Axos, though. We particularly like the scene where the Brigadier protests when the Master is about to take action that will kill the Doctor and Jo, but stops protesting when he realises it will save the world - it really underlines the difference between him and the Doctor. We also like the way that UNIT are supposed to be the goodies but go back on their word to free the Master. We note that the Doctor cheerfully shoots Filer with what is for all intents and purposes a gun (so much for the idea that he never touches them). And finally, we love the way the Doctor's heartfelt let-me-off-this-crummy-planet leaving speech shoots to hell the cosy "family" myth.

All in all, a fairly run-of-the-mill story that would have been greatly improved by the surgical extraction of the Master.

MORAL: Beware of freak weather conditions.

OUTTAKES

BRRR

Pity the poor bastard who had to go in the lake.

SHE MIGHT FALL OFF HER PLATFORMS

Now we know Jo's not exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but do they have to be quite so stupidly protective? First the Doctor tells her "not this time", then the Brigadier instructs someone to "keep an eye on Miss Grant". What terrible danger is she in, exactly, that requires a full-time bodyguard?

LINGUAPHONE?

We know why the Doctor can understand the Axons, but how come all the others can?

YOU DONíT SAY

"Then they're not human at all?" Give that Brigadier a medal.

WHATíS MY MOTIVATION?

That guy grovelling around on the floor in the painted cloth is a bit tragic.

CHANGING TARDISES

It seems that while the Doctor's been stranded on Earth, he's been filling in the time by popping down to B&Q. He seems to have added an entrance lobby to the TARDIS, and for a fun zany touch has set the scanner screen inside a roundel, not to mention nailing a few saucers to the wall.

SPONSORED BY SLOGGI

Jo's not wearing a very practical outfit for being absorbed by an alien intelligence. It's knickers-a-go-go when she's trying to struggle free of the claws.

PUKKA

We're not experts on what kind of shielding is needed to work with a particle accelerator. But surely you'd need more than oven gloves and a balaclava?

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