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Doctor Who - The Caves of Androzani

episode 136

UK 1984
produced by
John Nathan-Turner for BBC
directed by Graeme Harper
starring Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Christopher Gable, Maurice Roeves, John Normington, Robert Glenister, Martin Cochrane, Roy Holder, Barbara Kinghorn, David Neal
written by Robert Holmes, script editor: Eric Saward, music by Roger Limb

tv-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Peter Davison), Doctor Who (classic series), Doctor Who (Colin Baker)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When Doctor Who (Peter Davison) wants to investigate some caves on the planet Androzani Minor, he and his companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) poison themselves, which as such would be bad enough, but in addition to this they get into a fight between the army, gunrunners, and a masked and disfigured cavedweller called Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable), all of whom are fighting over Spectrox, a drug that can prolong life almost indefinitely. Of course, the Doctor and Peri fall into the hands of both the army and Sharaz Jek subsequently, with the latter developing quite an affection for Peri, who spends most of the story suffering and dieing.

Eventually, things get heated up when Morgus (John Normington), the head of the mining corporation on Androzani Minor who is in league with the army, the gunrunners and Sharaz Jek decides to play one side against the other and even assassinates the president (David Neal) to that end - but ultimately he is overthrown by his own second in command (Barbara Kinghorn) and the whole thing ends with him, Sharaz Jek and his chief gunrunner stots (Maurice Roeves) being at each others throats and killing each other.

The Doctor meanwhile finds an antidote to the poison that has affected him and Peri deep deep down in th ecaves of Androzani, but unfortunately he brings only enough to save Peri, and as a result he regenerates (into Colin Baker).

 

This episode is not without its merits: The political implications that drive the plot are really well thought-through and rather interesting, the Phantom of the Opera-like character of Sharaz Jek adds a nice dimension to the story and the fact that the episode shifts the head villain role between characters several times keeps it entertaining and involving until the end. On the negative side though, the direction is quite a bit too slick, looking like right from the production line, the series' main characters the Doctor and Peri are hardly at all integrated into the basic storyline, and the final, dramatic regeneration scene is simply cheesy. Still, considering it's science fiction TV from the 1980's, The Caves of Androzani is perfectly watchable.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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