However anyone thinking they can dismiss the cricket jumper clad incarnation should pick up this tale of obsession and betrayal.
Deep within the titular caves the disfigured, masked antihero Sharez Jek and his regiment of androids are locked in conflict with an army unit and a group of smugglers. At stake is control of the life-extending Spectrox, with plenty of subplots involving espionage, betrayal and revenge as well as big-business corruption, political assassination and silly looking reptilian monsters. When the Doctor and Peri enter this labyrinth they immediately become victims of deadly Spectrox poisoning.
This is the first story that I have picked, that doesn’t have that quirky and comedic under current to it that is so familiar to Who stories throughout the years. instead we descend into the bowels of Androzani Minor and find ourselves in the midst of a drama that involves gun running and a higher body count than usual, all in the name of power.
This makes for a far more grittier version of Who than usual with a higher mortality rate than others I’ve reviewed but that is the beauty of Who, you just don’t know what you’re going to get with each new story. Although I guarantee that you’ll quickly realise that you wouldn’t want to trust any of these guys if they were on your side.
With celery in lapel and a blatant but very well done reference to the Phantom of the opera, this was always going to be my choice for Doctor number five and this is yet another allegory that brings through social themes such as power, greed, corruption in big business, insanity and treachery. Not to mention the inevitable corruption, double crosses, a skewed sense of honour and chicanery of the most devious sort…
There are lots of clever, unexpected and sometimes claustrophobic camera angles which give a more intimate and disorienting feeling which is certainly more pronounced than usual. Couple this with many twists and turns of the narrative and the story goes along at a rapid pace, flitting between the groups vying for control, whilst highlighting the struggling economy of Androzani Major which grimly languishes in the background.
The audio has an ominous and deliberately gloomy soundtrack, which complements this tale of war perfectly. The mainly all male cast adds to the testosterone and all round machoness, with toll of bodies mounting up to an epic and satisfying conclusion.
The only thing to slightly pull you out of this well realised adventure is the Magma Monster which is a poor costume but then again, after considering it perhaps to carefully, I like to think it harks back to a time of cheesier special effects. Therefore it becomes a homage to that magnificent edifice of the question ‘why did we find that scary at the time?’. All in all this is my favourite Davison adventure and a true classic of the genre.