Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Claw

The first thing that I have to say about The Claw (apart from pointing out that it has nothing to do with the Macra) is that that is supposed to be Captain Mike Yates and Jo Grant in the back of the car (with Corporal Tibbins driving). The Doctor is in the car but obviously neither of them are him, and Mike Yates is said to be "the only other passenger" apart from the Doctor and Jo.

So I have to conclude that they have been forced to recast Jo (again) and Mike for this story, because they don't look at all like Katy Manning or Richard Franklin.

Katy Manning and Richard Franklin

The question now has to be: who is playing Jo and Mike? I don't know. Anyway, the story properly begins when they see sea mist from their car.

"Jo watched idly as the mist swirled towards the car. Then she stiffened. She stared with dis-belief. For the mist was taking shape - the shape of a huge claw, like that of a lobster or a crab."

The claw attacks their car. Tibbins tries to get the car out of the way but it hits them on the roof and the car stops.

"Dazed and shaken, they all scrambled from the car."

The bit where they jump away from the car in slow motion shouting "It's gonna blow!" is skipped over, which is probably for the best. But we all know that's what they did because that's how car crashes work.

"Dr Who was openly bewildered. "What - what is going on?" he asked. "Did we meet a cow on the road?"
"Not a cow - a claw!" gasped Jo."

The Doctor makes it sound as if he has often crashed his car after meeting a cow, as if this is the most likely reason for the crash. There is no sign of the claw now, but just when Mike Yates is beginning to think it was "a sort of illusion" the driver points out the damage to the roof of the car.

Oh, it looks as if their car is really a van. Tibbins is baffled.

"Tibbins took off his side-cap and scratched his head. "Nothing else could have made those marks, sir. Not trees around," he pointed out."

Mike Yates immediately turns to the Doctor to solve the mystery, because even though he was having sleeps at the time he is the Doctor after all.

""Well, since I did not actually see this - er - claw..."
"You would have, if you hadn't been snoozing in the corner," chided Jo.
He gave her a patronising glance. "My dear Jo, although I had my eyes closed, I was far from asleep," he said. "I was thinking out a rather complex wiring device for the Tardis.""

The writer of this story here demonstrates a good grasp of the Doctor and Jo's characters and their relationship. Tibbins gets the van working again and they drive off. It turns out the Doctor is here to investigate the disappearance of two UNIT mannys from Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart's "special security force" and Mike asks the Doctor if he thinks the claw is connected to the disappearances.

""Ah yes." The Doctor fingered his long chin thoughtfully. "Mist that formed itself into a claw. A claw that nips."

Another example of the writer's good characterisation of the Doctor, though I think he only strokes his chin once, rather than the six-or-seven times you might expect. The "special security force" is on an island so they go to get a boat there and meet another manny.

"At that moment, a voice blared at them with the force of a fog-horn. "Ahoy, there! Is it to the island you would be going now?""

No, it isn't Yoda from Star Wars. Much to the disappointment of Starcat this revelation was.

""Ah! Now that must be a native of these parts," said Dr Who, with sudden interest. "A genuine Scot, eh, Captain?""

So either they are in Scotland (which has certainly not been mentioned up until now) or else this manny's name is Scot.

The Doctor's face looks very similar in both the second and third pictures. Here they are side-by-side:

"The stranger was a weather-beaten old man dressed in tartan trews, a stained tweed jacket and tam o'shanter. He sported a grey beard which gave him a fierce expression that matched his raucous voice."

I think he must be Scottish since he could only be more stereotyped if he was wearing a kilt, and playing the bagpipes while drinking whisky-and-Irn Bru and eating a deep-fried haggis pie. And saying "jings, crivvens and help ma boab."
And sadly it turns out that a "tam o'shanter" has nothing to do with William Shatner.

Mike Yates asks the manny who he is. He says his name is "MacFee" and he wants to come with them, but Mike says no. He also wants to know how MacFee got past the UNIT guards.

""Och! Ye mean yon laddie with the shotgun? Aye, I noticed him as I came past... I came to get my punt and row out to check my lobster pots."

Definitely Scottish. Mike Yates and Tibbins make MacFee go away (maybe he will be allowed to come back when he is less stereotypical). The Doctor is amused.

They take a boat to the island and the Brigadier is there. Another UNIT manny has disappeared, and there was mist about when it happened. This is a clue.

There is a secret project on the island as well as a "special security force" and Mike Yates takes the Doctor to the place they power the project from.

It is a "bubble-shaped building on a height above the sea" and it turns the Doctor and Jo's hair pink! They don't appear to notice their hair changing colour or maybe there just isn't time for them to point it out because there is only 3 pages of the story left and they have not done much investigating yet.

The circle-building (which reminds me of Sergeant Major Zero from Terrahawks) is called the Power House. A technician runs out of the Power House and speaks to Mike Yates.

""Well... the output began to drop, and when I checked the power packs-"
"One was missing?"
The other shook his head. "No. But it - somehow it had been drained. Just like that. In a couple of minutes. While my back was turned.""

Glass. Bottle. Bottle. Glass. Just like that. The Doctor decides not to investigate this mystery at all.

""Coming, Doctor?" To Jo's surprise, the scientist said mildly: "No, thank you. I believe I'd like to stroll by the sea for a while."
Yates gave him a quick glance, and ran into the building."

Naturally the Doctor's odd behaviour immediately leads to him solving the mystery. The Doctor and Jo go and "stroll by the sea."

"A small boat was bobbing on the water as the man inside it leaned over to haul on a rope. "It's MacFee!" she exclaimed in a whisper."

Jo's hair is back to normal now, but the Doctor's hair is now blue! I wonder what could be causing their hair colour to change like that if it is not the "bubble-shaped building"?

Interesting theory, let's see if this manny is right. Meanwhile MacFee is fishing for nomable fish a lobster pot.

"Dr Who touched his companion on the arm. "Come. I think it's time we had a word with this mystery man," he said."

They see MacFee is putting "some crystals" into his lobster pot and the Doctor confronts MacFee.

"MacFee spun round. The pleasant lilt of his Highland accent became sharp-edged with anger. "Ah, so it is yourself, is it? Well, you interfere with me at your own peril.""

I don't think he's really Scottish. I'm a Scottish cat and I don't sound anything like that. But then I'm not a baddy in a story either. MacFee summons up the mist.

"Just as before, the mist had formed itself into a giant lobster's claw. It swooped towards the Doctor, who grappled with it."

The Doctor goes inside the mist and then he is in a spaceship.

""You like my ship, eh, Dr Who?" said a thin, hissing voice behind him.
He turned quickly. At the far end of the ship, sprawled on the gleaming metal floor and waving its claws and antennae at him, was a lobster."

MacFee is really a lobster! And a lobster with a spaceship! I didn't expect this twist. I predict the Doctor will defeat this baddy by nomming him; that's what I would do if confronted by a lobster. The spaceship is disguised as the lobster pot, so it is like the Tardis if it can fit the Doctor inside it.

""I was on a flight from my own planet, when I lost power and had to land. Fortunately, I found a power source quite handy on the island, so I have been building up reserves.""

A lot of the story is now explained. MacFee is not just a lobster, but an alien lobster! That is even more incredible (and it means that it looks as though the "aliens" manny was right). The Doctor asks MacFee about the "missing men" from UNIT and MacFee admits that he "liquidated them." MacFee gives away that he has heard of the Doctor.

"Dr Who permitted himself a brief smile. "You know about me, then?"
"As a Time Traveller, your story is contained in the recorded annals of our galaxy," said the creature. "It was from the Tardis - your own ship that looks like a police-box - that I got the idea of making my ship look like a lobster pot..."

MacFee gives a rather random and unnecessary bit of exposition about the Tardis there. He tries to make his ship take off, with the Doctor still on board so the Doctor would be MacFee's Companion in travelling around in the lobster pot having adventures.

"As Dr Who watched, the creature suddenly changed form. MacFee stood before him now, and the old Scot turned towards the instrument panel with a chuckle. "For we'll take the high road," he said."




Mewmewmewmewmewmew! What a terrible joke!

"It was then that the Doctor exploded into action."

As opposed to exploding into rage at the awfulness of MacFee's joke. The Doctor takes "a piece of bent wire" from his pocket and uses it to "thrust across the terminals" of the spaceship. This, of course, makes the spaceship "explode into showers of sparks." The Doctor jumps out of the spaceship as it explodes, presumably not looking at it as he does so.

Jo finds the Doctor "lying face-down on the beach" and she asks him "What happened?"

"The Doctor gave her a smile. "I'll try and explain later," he promised. "But do you think you can spare me another of your hair-pins? I find it very handy to have one in my pocket. They can be used for all sorts of things - even escaping from a lobster pot!""

This non-joke is the end of the story, although given how bad the last joke was it is probably for the best. There is just time for this last page to tell us that:
"The network of communications needed to track orbiting satellites is of vital importance in space programmes. America has a world-wide network of ground stations, which includes both fixed ground stations and ships. The nerve centre of the network is the Goddard Space Flight Centre, near Washington."

While interesting (and useful for any Russian spies reading this book), I don't understand what this has to do with the rest of the story.


  1. "Ah, so it is yourself, is it? Well, you
    interfere with me at your own peril."

    Surely this is a reference to the motto of the Scottish kings, Nemo me impune lacessit*, which MacFee has thrown in for added Scots authenticity. (* = Wha daur meddle wi' me)

  2. "Away with him, away with him! he speaks Latin."
    -- Jack Cade, Shakespeare's Henry the Sixth Part Two, Act 4 Scene 7