Doctor Who C21.6: The Caves of Androzani review


The Caves of AndrozaniThe Caves of Androzani review

Sharaz Jek: We shall become the best of companions!
The Doctor: What do you say, Peri? We can go on nature walks, have picnics and jolly evenings round the campfire!

Story Code: C21.6.
Production Code: 6R.
Story Number: 135.
Countdown week: 7…

Satisfyingly “gritty” and “realistic” Science Fiction that Seasons 21 and 22 tried to do but didn’t always succeed – but why is it so great?

One big reason is the dynamic camerawork from director Graeme Harper who also included many wonderful stylish moments like the Morgus soliloquy to camera. John Normington’s Morgus is another big reason; in a story full of great performances (Maurice Roëves, Robert Glenister, Davison) this is perhaps the greatest. The Holmes script full of witty lines and fascinating details of this Sci-Fi world another big reason among many. A complex script with many of his regular concerns from Holmes: a Phantom of the Opera figure; schemes unravelling (Morgus and Stotz); well-characterised duos Krelper and Stotz, Salateen and Chellak.

Similar to the later (Saward-scripted though again Harper-directed) Season 22 Revelation of the Daleks, the Doctor doesn’t affect the events of the plot that unfold – apart from as a catalyst (Morgus believes he is a government agent) and the Doctor’s focus is on trying to save Peri once their Spectrox-fates begin in Episode 1. Davison plays the Doctor here with a single purpose of mind – the cliffhanger to Ep 3 where the Doc is so determined to save his companion he will crash a spaceship into the planet is one of the greatest cliffhangers ever, the raw passion of the Fifth Doctor in this scene rare for this incarnation of the Doctor onscreen but all the more startling.

The Caves of Androzani  reviewThe idea that a “proper” regeneration story includes a noble sacrifice from the Doctor (e.g. Nu-Who thinks this considering The Parting of the Ways and The End of Time) begins here and the idea that a truly epic DW story is where “everybody dies” (The Waters of Mars) is reinforced.

All the elements of the production are just about as good as any other DW story, so, #1 on the 2009 DWM survey of the 200 stories seems only sensible.

Rating: 5/5

The BBC have recently put the whole story on YouTube, click through for Episode 1…

2 Responses to “Doctor Who C21.6: The Caves of Androzani review”

  1. dailypop Says:

    Great article for what is a time capsule for many Doctor Who fans. I recall viewing this episode for the first time. I had only recently gotten invested in the series (I was a late bloomer as most of my friends had already outgrown it) and was shocked by how great Caves of Androzani was. The corker for me was that it concluded with the first regeneration I had seen.

    Imagine my disappointment the following week when the Twin Dilemma aired… but never mind.

    I agree that the new series picked a lot of ideas about what makes a finale/regeneration story work from this episode, it’s just a shame that in my opinion that they failed to translate from 1984 to 2005-2010.

  2. John Nor Says:

    Thanks dailypop.

    The Twin Dilemma – reviewed next on this blog, to complete the Season 21 reviews.

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