Mind of Evil written by Don Houghton
Claws of axos written by Bob Baker & Dave Martin
Mind of evil directed by Timothy Combe
Claws of Axos directed by Michael Ferguson
Okay, so, first things first. I’m really fucking excited by the newly discovered episodes. Last year I almost wet myself with excitement when two episodes were found, but now NINE. Fucking 9. Almost two full stories. And an early appearance from the Brig. Nice. But anyway, on with the matter at hand.
Surprising as it may be there do exist people who do not find the subject of prison reform interesting. These people are, of course, lame. The conundrum of how to deal with people who have proven themselves dangerous to the public while keeping everyone safe, treating prisoners with basic humanity and shutting up the hate-peddling middle England daily mail reading fuckwits all at once it obviously a vastly interesting one. Almost as interesting as the fundamentals of human thought, the structure of the brain and nature of good and evil.
Which is why, in my view, Mind of Evil is the most disappointing Who thus far. All the elements are in place to have a really interesting story, but what we ended up with was a bland trudge through all the previously mentioned U.N.I.T. era tropes. Doctor and Brig bickering? Check. Jo in a short skirt? Check. Benton looking confused? Check. Master cavorting about? Check check check.
Claws of Axos doesn’t, on the surface, have a lot more to offer. The show was very much still stuck in its rut. But the quality of the writing here is a bit better. The writing team of Barker and Martin weren’t ever spectacular, but their stories were constantly good, and Axos is no exception. There is even a hint of that very British sense of humour that would go on to define his writing when he helped create Wallace and Gromit.
One of the great strengths of Axos is that the Master is by no means the villain. In fact, he spends almost as much time working with the Doctor as against him. Axos isn’t even the main villain either. That dubious honour would go to the bureaucratic, petty and greedy British establishment, whose constant striving to pass the buck almost leads to the destruction of earth.
sadly, the fact remains though that this does not have a whole lot to differentiate it from the two or three stories preceding it. What who really needed was a story that wasn’t set on contemporary earth. Thankfully, the production staff had managed to wrangle exactly that happening. Finally, the Doctor might actually get off world in Colony on space.