‘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 Erimem.
‘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 Androzani’ 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 as Tegan; Mark Strickson as Turlough; Sarah Sutton as Nyssa; Matthew Waterhouse as Adric and…Kamelion(?!), voiced by Gerald Flood, make cameos in this.
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 to enjoy; a ‘Radio Times Listing’ PDF of the story and a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘The Seeds of Doom’ with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. 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
‘TOMORROW’S TIMES – THE FIFTH DOCTOR’
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‘Tomorrow’s Times – The Fifth Doctor’ is currently available on the ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ Special Edition DVD.
‘Tomorrow’s Times – The Fifth Doctor’ is presented by Frazer Hines, who played Jamie McCrimmon in ‘Doctor Who’ with Patrick Troughton. It was great to see Frazer Hines as the presenter for this edition of ‘Tomorrow’s Times’. He’s clearly enjoying being the presenter as his enthusiasm shines throughout.
Sadly, I found the ‘Tomorrow’s Times’ edition for the Fifth Doctor era underwhelming. As a fan of the Fifth Doctor era, I felt emphasis was placed on things that weren’t significant as they were reviewed by the press of the time. To start off, there was debate about ‘Doctor Who’ being shown on weekdays instead of Saturdays.
There was a focus on Adric’s demise from the TV series in ‘Earthshock’, but there wasn’t much talked about regarding Tegan, Nyssa and even Turlough as companions. The only thing to stand out for the female companions is how they began to wear revealing outfits which I felt was quite demeaning here.
Colin Baker’s appointment as the new Doctor gets glossed over pretty early during the 20th anniversary celebrations of the show as well as Nicola Bryant as the new companion Peri. Peter Davison also gets interviewed about leaving ‘Doctor Who’ in saying that three years is enough for him.
I did like the tribute given to John Scott Martin who played a Zarbi in ‘The Web Planet’ before playing the Dalek in ‘The Five Doctors’. I was disappointed with how the feature ended with not focusing on Peter Davison’s departure in ‘The Caves of Androzani’. It sort of stops with ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’.
‘DOCTOR WHO – THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI’
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Sharaz Jek Comes To The Light
It’s a Terrance Dicks novelization and Peter Davison as the audiobook’s narrator!
I enjoyed reading and listening to the Target novelization/audiobook of ‘The Caves of Androzani’ by Terrance Dicks, based on the final TV story of ‘Doctor Who’ from the Peter Davison era. I found this to be a very faithful novelization of the original TV scripts by Robert Holmes. This I should have expected.
Terrance Dicks of course has delivered plenty of ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations over the years. This is not just on his own stories. He also novelized many ‘Doctor Who’ stories based on scripts that were not originally by him, including ‘The Claws of Axos’, ‘The Horns of Nimon’, ‘The Keeper of Traken’, etc.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ novelization is quite a unique case as it’s based on a ‘Doctor Who’ story by a writer Terrance knew pretty well. Terrance of course hired Robert Holmes to write for ‘Doctor Who’ when he submitted his TV scripts for ‘The Krotons’ with Patrick Troughton. A lot has happened since then.
Robert Holmes of course became a prolific writer and the script editor on the TV show, delivering stories like ‘Spearhead From Space’, ‘Terror of the Autons’, ‘Carnival of Monsters’, ‘The Ark In Space’, ‘The Talons of Weng-Chaing’, etc. It’s Robert Holmes’ work in ‘Doctor Who’ that gets high praise by the fans.
Yet for some reason, Robert Holmes never novelized his ‘Doctor Who’ stories for the Target novelization range. At least, not until he novelized ‘The Two Doctors’ in 1985. Holmes did try to novelize ‘The Time Warrior’ for the Target novelization range but he ended just penning the prologue.
It was Terrance Dicks who novelized the rest of ‘The Time Warrior’ novelization as well as lot of Robert Holmes’ work in ‘Doctor Who’ for the Target range. The aforementioned stories ‘Spearhead From Space’, ‘Terror of the Autons’; ‘Carnival of Monsters’ and ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ were in the list.
Terrance also novelized ‘The Sun Makers’ and ‘The Mysterious Planet’ from ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’. Other Robert Holmes ‘Doctor Who’ stories like ‘The Ark In Space’ and ‘The Ribos Operation’ were novelized by Ian Marter who played Harry Sullivan in the TV series. But Terrance Dicks is a special case.
Terrance knew how Robert Holmes’ mindset as a writer worked from the inside-out, having worked with him closely as a colleague and as a friend both as script-editor and fellow writer. So, when it came to novelizing ‘The Caves of Androzani’ for the Target range, Terrance knew what to do in tackling this.
Terrance understood what Robert Holmes wanted to say in his story. He knew how the supporting characters behaved and talked from Holmes’ point of view. Thus, when it came to describing the characters’ corrupt motivations, Terrance knew exactly how to write it down in a prose form for book.
There’s not really much to say in terms of many changes in the transfer from the TV version to the novelization for ‘The Caves of Androzani’. Simply because, Terrance novelized it exactly as it was on TV in providing minor alterations to dialogue and clarifying the Doctor’s journey getting the bats’ milk.
So I won’t be sharing too much in what I found similar and different from the TV version to the novelization form of the story. I’ll be sharing what I enjoyed from reading/listening to the Target novelization/audiobook, especially in how Terrance Dick novelized this and how Peter Davison read it.
The book was published in March 1985. This was about a year after the TV story was transmitted in March 1984. At the time of publication, Colin Baker’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’ was currently underway on TV. It is fascinating to think fans were reading this book whilst Colin’s Doctor was on TV.
The story was divided into 12 chapters as most Terrance Dicks novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ tend to be. The first three chapters comprise the first episode of the story; the second three comprise the second episode; the third three comprise the third and the fourth three comprise the fourth and final.
I purchased the audiobook for ‘The Caves of Androzani’ novelization as a download from Audible. This is different compared to previous experiences of ‘Doctor Who’ Target audiobooks read by Peter Davison as I have those as 4-disc CDs. ‘The Caves of Androzani’ audiobook was released as a 3-disc CD.
I say that because the audiobook is about 3 hours in length, which is similar to the audiobook length of the ‘Four To Doomsday’ novelization. The previous occasions where I’ve read and listened to ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelization/audiobooks read by Peter Davison were in-depth and pretty chunky.
The novelization for ‘The Caves of Androzani’ is slimmer. This is because Terrance tends to be straight to the point and not as verbose as other writers who novelize ‘Doctor Who’ stories for the Target range. But that’s not a major issue as Terrance’s novelization for this story remains really faithful here.
And yes! Peter Davison, who plays the Fifth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ is reading the Target novelization of ‘The Caves of Androzani’. And rightly so! I’m pleased Peter Davison read this story, especially as it’s the final one he did in ‘Doctor Who’; is one of his favourites and is considered one of the best in the TV series.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ is a highly-rated ‘Doctor Who’ story, especially as it won the award for best story ever in the poll rated by the fans for ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ once in 2009. Whilst ‘Black Orchid’ will always be my favourite Fifth Doctor story, I do see why fans rate ‘The Caves of Androzani’ so highly.
It’s also ironic that this is Peter Davison’s favourite ‘Doctor Who’ story as it happens to be his last one. Peter has stated that this was where he felt confident in playing the Doctor and where he found the writing by Robert Holmes to be at its best, especially as he found previous story-writing pretty lacking.
As I said, I’ve heard other ‘Doctor Who’ novelization/audiobooks read by Peter Davison in the past. These include the audiobooks for the ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Earthshock’ novelizations. I’ve enjoyed Peter’s audiobook readings of those novelizations. I’ve had the CD covers of the audiobooks signed by him. 🙂
Peter is clearly into reading the audiobook for the Target novelization of ‘The Caves of Androzani’, in being his favourite story. He does well voicing for the characters featured in the story as well as reading the descriptions for those scene set-ups, written remarkably well by Terrance Dicks in the novelization.
The voices Peter provides for the characters are interesting. Whilst his voice for the Doctor is fine as well as for characters like Morgus and Stotz, I did find his voice for Peri rather hard to discern. I wonder if Peter struggled to do an American accent for Peri when saying her dialogue during the novelization.
I did like the voice Peter gives for Sharaz Jek in the audiobook, as it sounds scratchy and hissy at times. It’s not a match on Christopher Gable’s interpretation of the character, but it sounded convincing in terms of an almost villainous interpretation. It helps in understanding Sharaz Jek’s motivations in this.
The voice for Morgus by Peter sounds convincingly monotone as John Normington did it in the TV version. You can feel that Morgus isn’t a character that depends on a lot of emotion, as he’s cold-mannered and calculating. He’s not an over-the-top villain as you’d expect in other ‘Doctor Who’ tales.
As you read the novelization/hear the audiobook, you do take an immediate dislike to the supporting characters who are corrupt; greedy and have no sense of moral value. This is especially in the case for General Chellak’s campaign to defeat Sharaz Jek as well as Morgus’ obsession for power and authority.
When the Doctor and Peri are with the real Salateen, you’d think that he would trust and believe the two when they claim innocence and aren’t working for Sharaz Jek. But Salateen takes Peri and abandons the Doctor, as he and Chellak are determined to bring Jek down and gain Sharaz Jek’s spectrox supply.
It does make you wonder why the people of Androzani Major and Minor behave this way in being corrupt and greedy. It doesn’t get handled to get a greater in-depth extent by Terrance, but at least he does well in clarifying the motivations and the thinking behind some of the characters in this story.
This is especially when Morgus gets surprised by the Doctor being alive when he was assumed executed. He becomes convinced it’s part of a conspiracy by the President. This could’ve easily been done in an over-the-top manner in the novelization, but it matches well to the TV version of the scene.
I found the scene where Salateen laughs and reveals to the Doctor and Peri that they’re dying from spectrox toxaemia written differently in novelization form by Terrance Dicks as well as read differently in audiobook form by Peter Davison. It is mainly minor alterations in the presentation of the dialogue.
When the Doctor demands Salateen to tell him what a spectrox nest is, Salateen laughs before the Doctor shakes him to attention in the TV version. Salateen also gives the Doctor a look. This wasn’t featured in the novelization when I read it as well as hearing from Peter as he read it in the audiobook.
Terrance has Salateen getting right into explaining what a spectrox nest is without laughing or giving a look to the Doctor. He also doesn’t have Salateen eating either the Doctor or Peri’s bowl of…gruel, which Terrance has described as very unpleasant in the novelization. I’m sure it was unpleasant to eat.
It’s made clear that Krepler knows who Morgus is after watching him on the telecasts. So it was interesting how Krepler states he doesn’t recognise who Morgus is when on Stotz’s ship. I liked how Terrance clarifies that in the novelization since it was hinted at but not confirmed in the tale’s TV version.
I also like how Peter’s Doctor gets determined to save Peri’s life whilst everyone else is obsessed with getting spectrox for themselves and killing Sharaz Jek. It’s amazing how the supporting characters don’t seem to have any moral values and are pretty greedy for power as well as lasting life from the spectrox.
Like I said, I noticed how different Peter’s journey in getting the bats’ milk for Peri was handled in the novelization compared to the TV version. Terrance details how Peter gains the milk when trying not to wake the queen bat deep inside the caves, which was not very clear when seeing it in the TV version.
The atmosphere for the caves as described in the novelization feels grimy and airless as it should be. I also like how Sharaz Jek does his best to keep the temperature down for Peri to save her life. The tension increases when cooling Peri down with cool air fans and cold wet cloths doesn’t seem to work.
There’s more tension when Sharaz Jek’s attention to Peri gets easily distracted once Morgus enters the room. It seems that Jek’s devotion and infatuation with Peri isn’t enough for him to forget what Morgus did to him as he bitterly has his revenge on him. Just as well as Jek didn’t have Peri in the end.
The regeneration scene at the story’s conclusion is pretty well-handled in the novelization. We get to see through the Doctor’s mind when he’s in limbo, seeing his various companions. He also becomes concerned when he sees Adric’s face who he had assumed was dead and he wonders if he is dead too.
According to the novelization, it seems that it was the Master who prompted the Fifth Doctor to not die and regenerate into the Sixth Doctor. I’m certain there’s more to how the Doctor got prompted to never die, especially when he gained contact with Nyssa via a dream he had in ‘Circular Time: Winter’.
The voice that Peter gives to Colin Baker’s Doctor in the closing moments was interesting. According to the novelization, the new Doctor’s voice sounds clipped. From working and knowing him, Peter provides an interesting take on how Colin sounds when saying the Sixth Doctor’s closing line about ‘change’.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ novelization/audiobook is very good in being well-written by Terrance Dicks and well-read by Peter Davison. There’s not much to say in terms of differences between TV story and novelization, since this is once again a pretty faithful novelization by Terrance on Robert Holmes’ story.
Terrance only enhances the storytelling in the novelization by writing well for the characters faithfully to their TV counterparts as well as writing descriptions for set-ups pretty well. Peter Davison’s reading in the audiobook also provides the very good flavour to make the novelization/audiobook worthwhile.
At the time of this review, I saw Peter Davison recently at the ‘Science of the Time Lords’ event in Leicester, January 2019 before reading and hearing the novelization/audiobook in February 2019. I look forward to when I chat to Peter about doing ‘The Caves of Androzani’ audiobook next time I meet him.
‘Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani’ rating – 9/10
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