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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
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
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.