Starring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning
Originally Broadcast March 13, 1971
In the third story of the Third Doctor’s second season, we have a classic alien invasion story. Pertwee’s Third Doctor has been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, he still has his TARDIS, but the secrets to piloting her have been blocked and locked away in his mind. So what’s a stranded Time Lord to do? Get a job saving the world, of course! He accomplishes this by joining up with UNIT. In the classic series, UNIT had been originally titled United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. In the modern series, they have since changed it to the UNified Intelligence Taskforce. (This was done at the request of the real life United Nations who thought it portrayed them as too violent.) UNIT hires the Doctor on as their scientific adviser and is placed under the command of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. While the Brigadier is technically the Doctor’s boss and they each have a deep, mutual respect for one another along with a life-long friendship that eventually developed, he had as much success as controlling the Doctor as… well, anyone would.
Much can be said of the Doctor’s companions in this era of the show. In The Claws of Axos, the Doctor is accompanied by Jo Grant, a new UNIT agent and more than just a scream machine waiting to get captured. She had her own special set of skills such as lock-picking and metallurgy and has just completed her UNIT training.
At the start of the episode, UNIT discovers what it thinks to be a new comet. It is, in fact, an alien spacecraft coming land on Earth. Inside the spacecraft are aliens covered in tentacles.
At UNIT HQ, the Brigadier is being harassed by Mr. Chinn, a stubborn government official who has been sent to make an inspection and wants more information about the Doctor. The Doctor is on their books now, he’s on payroll. The Doctor comes in to politely tell Mr. Chinn to get stuffed. Pertwee’s Doctor was considered the James Bond Doctor. He was a man of action ready to run in, karate chop the bad guy and blow the whole place to smithereens. The Third Doctor was a man who took absolutely no shit from anyone, especially annoying, and otherwise useless government officials.
Jo Grant interrupts the meeting and she has with her a man named Bill Filer, an agent from UNIT’s HQ in Washington DC. He’s here to make sure the Master is no longer a threat. In the previous story, the original Master, played by Roger Delgado, was getting up to no good, so the Doctor had to set him straight and he is certain is no longer on Earth. When Mr. Chinn starts putting his nose in again, Filer tells him he has no clearance to access any information he has.
It doesn’t take UNIT long to figure out what was really falling from the sky, and they sound all the alarms. The UFO is falling, but as to what it is, even the Doctor isn’t sure.
Mr. Chinn does have the authority to call in an attack on the UFO. Blow it up just to be safe. The Doctor obviously hates the idea of that but is powerless to stop it. Chinn orders a rocket to be launched. They go up, but the ship disappears, UNIT confirms total contact loss until it crashes a mile away from a national power complex. Chinn has been granted authority over the entire operation along with UNIT and informs Filer that this does not concern him. Filer takes leave, but we all know he’s gonna be back.
The spaceship has crashed and a local old man decides to run up to it and investigate. He doesn’t last long as a tentacle drags him inside. Bill Filer shows up and an also gets dragged inside just as UNIT arrives on the scene to point guns at the ship.
UNIT and the Doctor hole up at the power station when the spaceship starts sending a message. It’s a distress signal and the ship is named Axos. The Doctor demands to investigate the crashed ship before Chinn starts attacking it. The rear hatch of the ship opens up and they all walk in, except for Jo who has been left at the power station. But she starts snooping around when no one is looking and ends up entering the ship.
Inside the ship, Bill Filer is still alive. He is being held in the same room as the Master. (The original Master played by Roger Delgado.) The Doctor and the UNIT party meet the Axons, a humanoid people with bulbous heads and gold colored skin. The Axons show them a new element called Axonite, which can convert matter into different forms. Jo gets lost looking for Bill.
The Axons want to demonstrate how Axonite works. They use it to grow a frog, demonstrating how it could be used to solve the world’s food problem. Jo Grant is down another corridor somewhere when she is attacked by a tentacle monster. Then the credits roll.
Originally Broadcast March 20, 1971
The Doctor is off to save Jo Grant from the tentacle alien. The Axons have to go along and investigate as well which leaves Mr. Chinn on his own to do some scheming and plotting. The Doctor and The Brigadier find Jo. She tells them of the alien that suddenly appeared and attacked her. The Axon’s explanation can be boiled down to telling her she just got high off of exhaust fumes.
In another part of the ship, the Master helps Bill Filer to escape. Mr. Chinn weasels his way back to the power station where he gets a call from his boss. Chinn tells him about the problems he is having with UNIT. The Minister tells him to deal with it or he’s fired. It seems even Mr. Chinn’s superiors think he’s a buffoon.
The Master gets recaptured by the Axons, and they take Bill Filer away. Chinn gets back on board the ship, cuts a deal with the axons and they give him a hunk of Axonite. When the Brigadier finds him, he informs Chinn that he has no authority and takes the Axonite. When they get back to the power station, the regular army is there. Chinn informs the Brigadier that he, in fact, does have the authority and has everyone from UNIT arrested and takes the Axonite back. The Doctor is helping the scientists at the station to work on the Axonite while everyone else is taken away.
The Master, still being held captive by the Axons. In order for the Axons to successfully spread themselves around the world in order to take it over, they need to get the Axonite all over the globe within the next seventy-two hours. The Master offers to help if they will set him free.
Bill Filer has been processed and cloned by the Axons, and they send the clone to get the Doctor. The Doctor is being shown around the power complex. Turns out one of the scientists, Winser, has set up his own pet project where he is experimenting with time using a particle accelerator. The Doctor is impressed and tells him about the TARDIS. If he could get a piece of Axonite, he could possibly get the TARDIS going again. All he has to do is put the Axonite rock into the station’s particle accelerator. Winser reacts negatively and doesn’t believe the Doctor.
The real Bill Filer escapes and the Master is set free by the Axons if he helps them. The Master leaves the Axon ship and immediately starts killing the guards posted outside. Bill Filer makes his escape and runs off on his own.
Bill’s clone finds the Doctor and tries to abduct him. The Doctor is knocked down just as the real Bill runs in. Clone Bill and real Bill fight it out. With the help of the Doctor, Clone Bill is pushed into the particle accelerator and is liquidated.
Meanwhile, the Master has hypnotized a UNIT soldier and they are going to steal the Doctor’s TARDIS.
Bill and the Doctor find the Brigadier and tell him about the clone. The Axons are scavengers without a planet to call home. The army soldiers burst in and interrupt the meeting, taking the tape recorder they had hidden away.
The Doctor is brought back to the laboratory in the power station, but Winser is not there. The Doctor starts up the particle accelerator. When it reaches the speed of light, the Axonite reacts sending a distress signal and setting off all the alarms in the building. The Axons run out of the ship in search for the Axonite. The Brigadier, Jo, and Bill escape the soldiers and make it to the laboratory just in time for Winser to return and freak out over his equipment being tampered with, but accidentally electrocutes himself by grabbing the wrong part of the machine. The Doctor realizes the Axonite, the Axons, and even the ship are one in the same being. One single living creature. More tentacle monsters break into the room setting up the next cliffhanger.
Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion!