Doctor Who: Appreciating the Missing (And the Not-Missing) Stories

The Pertwee Complete Season Two Blu-Ray just came out recently, and if you’re a Doctor Who fan, this is GLORIOUS. Apart from having all the great stories from this season in all their crisp and remastered (no pun intended!) majesty, there’s so many good features in this set. I particularly liked watching Sacha Dhawan savoring Roger Delgado’s performances in the “Behind the Sofa” segments, and the “Katy Manning In Conversation” segment, like most of Matthew Sweet’s interviews with the performers of the time, is wonderful. I’m admittedly not the biggest Third Doctor fan, but I’ve been enjoying this set over the past few evenings, savoring it like a fine wine.

However … what was my first sip of that wine?

The Claws of Axos. Went to it without the slightest hesitation.

“Axos” is one of my favorite Pertwee stories – and much like one of my other favorites, “Death to the Daleks”, I know objectively that probably shouldn’t be the case. I wrote about my fondness for “Axos” a few years ago – on this very site, no less! – but I never really figured out then why I’ve continued to still enjoy it so damn much. It’s something I’ve always chalked up to nostalgia … but, after listening to the most excellent podcast Five Years Rapid!, I think I’ve come closer to the heart of it.

Which is, essentially, I’m old.

I first watched stories from the Third Doctor’s era back in the Eighties, on PBS, as one did as a geeky teenager in the United States at the time. And here’s what I realized, looking back at it now – there weren’t all that many then. “Terror of the Autons”, believe it or not, was considered missing. “Mind of Evil?” Same. “Colony in Space?” Ditto. Oh, they weren’t really ‘missing’, so to speak, but they either only existed as black-and-white copies at the time, or they were in the wrong format … whatever the reasons, the PBS stations I watched in New Jersey and New York sure weren’t airing them. In looking back at what I was probably watching at the time, I’ve realized that maybe half – half! – of the Pertwee stories were actually being shown. None of these are considered “missing” now – but boy, back then they weren’t very many to see!

So for the longest time, my “Season 8” was “The Claws of Axos”. And “The Daemons”. And … that’s it.

“Axos” – which I think I did recognize in my earlier review – distills down a lot of what makes the Pertwee/Master/UNIT era great. The Doctor being dashing, the Master scheming and conniving with great panache, UNIT blowing monsters up good. It’s not the best example of the era – now. But at the time I watched “Axos”, it gave a great taste of the greatness surrounding it, even if I didn’t quite know it was there. Yet.

It makes me appreciate all the restored stories that came back – like “Mind of Evil” – even more. As a Doctor Who fan, I’m glad we have them.

And I still appreciate “Claws of Axos”.

(Just maybe not Bill Filer’s accent. Or hair.)

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