‘THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI’
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The Best of the Doctor with Sharaz Jek
This is rated as one of the best ‘Doctor Who’ stories by the fans!
‘The Caves of Androzani’ is the final adventure with Peter Davison as the Doctor. It’s a gripping; tale about the Doctor in a situation to save his friend’s life. It ends the Fifth Doctor era on a heroic high.
This is a four-part story by Robert Holmes, who returns triumphantly to ‘Doctor Who’ after five years. Robert Holmes is one of ‘Doctor Who’ greatest writers as he has penned many classic stories.
The story is also directed by Graeme Harper, who would go on to direct many ‘Doctor Who’ episodes with David Tennant. This is Graeme’s first ‘Doctor Who’ story and he directs it with such enthusiasm.
This story was originally released on DVD in 2001. Now it has been re-released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in the ‘Revisitations’ DVD box set (as well as ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ and ‘The TV Movie’). This is a 2-disc DVD set and has the story on Disc 1 and special features on Discs 2.
I’ve had the original DVD cover of ‘The Caves of Androzani’ signed by seven people at conventions. These include Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor at ‘H-Con’ in Eastleigh, Hampshire, July 2015 and director Graeme Harper; Martin Cochrane as Chellak; Roy Holder as Krepler; Steve Wickham as a soldier; Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and composer Roger Limb at ‘Pandorica 2015’ in Bristol, September 2015.
By this point, the Doctor is travelling with Peri in the TARDIS. Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant had two adventures on TV, but they also had adventures on audio taking place before this with Erimen.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ is a story that’s pretty bleak. It’s set on the planet Androzani Minor where the Doctor and Peri visit. They’re on their way to the deaths the moment they set foot on the planet.
In many ‘Doctor Who’ stories, the Doctor tries to save people. Here the Doctor and Peri are un-wanted, as the story is about human greed for a very special substance called Spectrox in a petty war.
Spectrox is like a drug that is the fountain of youth. It is produced on Androzani Minor to sell to the growing population of its twin planet, Androzani Major. It’s no surprise many are willing to kill for it.
But with a drug, there is always a downside. For if someone touches raw Spectrox, they get infected with a deadly disease called Spectrox Toxemia. That is what happens to the Doctor and Peri in this.
There is a cure though and the Doctor must a find a way to get this cure in order to save his and Peri’s life. But with gun-runners and army soldiers in his way and becoming obstacles, it isn’t so easy.
Peter Davison excels in his last story as the Doctor in this one. This happens to be Peter’s favourite ‘Doctor Who’ story. This is ironic as his last story happens to be his favourite before he regenerates.
I like the way Robert Holmes writes for Peter’s Doctor, making him more confident and giving him one-liners. The Doctor truly shows his heroism, including holding off his regeneration to save Peri.
Nicola Bryant is also equally good as Peri. I wish Nicola and Peri had more TV stories together in ‘Doctor Who’ as they seem to work well in the audios. I’ve met Nicola and she’s so nice and friendly.
Peri has a rough time, as she gets infected with Spectrox Toxemia. I like that scene with Peri and the Doctor in the cell, before they’re executed. She gets fancied by Sharaz Jek who she finds repulsive.
Christopher Gable guest stars as Sharaz Jek, a wanted man who builds androids and makes Spectrox. He wears a Zulu-like mask to cover his disfigured face. He’s pretty mad and he seems to fancy Peri.
John Normington guest stars as Morgus. He’s a rich man, who is powerful; ruthless; selfish. He wants the Spectrox from Sharaz Jek; has no compassion for anyone and is responsible for Jek’s condition.
Maurice Roëves guest stars as Stotz, the leader of some gun-runners. Stotz works for Morgus and tries Spectrox off from Sharaz Jek. Stotzy is ruthless; cruel and violent and even mistreats his gang.
Martin Cochrane guest stars as General Chellak, who leads the human forces to fight against Sharaz Jek and his androids. He’s focused on his mission and he shows no leniency to the Doctor and Peri.
Robert Glenister guest stars as Salateen, who worked with Peter Davison in ‘Sink or Swim’. There are two versions of Salateen. One is an android spy for Sharaz Jek and the other is the real human Salateen.
The story’s music is composed by Roger Limb, whose music for ‘The Caves of Androzai’ is superb. It’s creepy; atmospheric and haunting. I’ve chatted to Graeme Harper about Roger’s music for this.
By the end, the Doctor finds the bats’ milk to save Peri as he carries her back to the TARDIS. He gives her the antidote, but it’s only enough for her. The Doctor lies on the floor dying, as he says goodbye.
As the Doctor dies, he sees visions of his companions telling him not to die. It was great to see Janet Fielding; Mark Strickson; Sarah Sutton; Matthew Waterhouse and ‘Kamelion!’ make an appearance.
But Anthony Ainley as the Master then shows up and he cruelly laughs at the Doctor, telling him that he must die. This was pretty frightening and horrible and it seems like it’s the final end of the Doctor.
But the Doctor soon sits up and transforms into…Colin Baker. Peri is speechless as she can’t understand what’s happened. But it’s all “change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon…”
The original DVD special features are as follows. There is a ‘Behind the Scenes: The Regeneration’ featurette with a commentary option; an ‘Original Opening Scene’ and an ‘Extended Scene’ with a commentary option. There is also a ‘Creating Sharaz Jek’ audio interview with Christopher Gable.
There is a BBC1 Trailer; a commentary with Peter Davison; Nicola Bryant and Graeme Harper; isolated music option; three news items; an ‘info text’ commentary option to enjoy and a photo gallery of the story.
On the 2-disc special edition DVD, the original special features are on Disc 1. Also on Disc 1, there are also two new extended scenes; an updated ‘info-text’ commentary option; a Radio Times Listing PDF of ‘The Caves of Androzani’ and a trailer for ‘The Seeds of Doom’ DVD. There is also an ‘Easter Egg’.
On Disc 2, there’s the ‘Chain Reaction’ making-of documentary with cast and crew interviews; the ‘Directing Who: Then and Now’ interview with director Graeme Harper and ‘The Russell Harty Show’ interview with Peter Davison and Colin Baker. There is also an updated photo gallery on this disc.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ is a classic story that is the finale to Peter Davison’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. It’s well-written by Robert Holmes and brilliantly directed by Graeme Harper. Peter Davison excels as the Doctor, ending his era on a high and it is a little surprise that it’s a highly-rated story by the fans.
Find out what happened to the Fifth Doctor during his regeneration in ‘Circular Time: Winter’.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ rating – 10/10
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