Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani

13 Nov

androzaniPeter Davison always came over to me, as a more relaxed and pacifistic Doctor than his past regenerations and following Tom Baker, he often gets less Who love than he deserves.

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.


Posted by on 13/11/2013 in Doctor Who


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13 responses to “Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani

  1. Al

    13/11/2013 at 11:16

    Is that Michael Ironside there? I can’t remember this one although I am glad you didn’t choose Earthshock.

    I don’t know if you remember the Children in Need Dr Who (of which there should be one this week as it is Children in Need again) just after Martha leaves the TARDIS and head-butts the Titanic, there is a crossover where Davison appears at the console complete with celery in lapel. He has to wear his hat in that minisode as his receding hairline would be too obvious.

    The Doctor also married his own daughter. In the episode The Doctor’s Daughter, where a clone is made of Tennant’s Doctor into a female, that female is played by Davison’s daughter, and Tennant married her. So in effect he married his own daughter.


    • Ste J

      13/11/2013 at 11:25

      I’d not noticed the resemblance until you mentioned it hehe, sadly it isn’t, although that would have been awesome as he is always intense, especially in Total Recall, the original and better one.

      I recently introduced C. to that very same minisode, it always makes me laugh ‘so that’s what the back of my head looks like!’. I’m sure they could have done some timey-wimey reason for his receding hairline if they thought about it though.

      That is a marriage paradox that the show would have been proud to invent, although possibly a bit taboo lol. I liked that show, Donna really came into her own working things out. Ah you always bring back fond memories of episodes past.

      yesterday we noticed that when Tennant meets River she is in an astronauts suit and then when he meets her at his ‘death’ she is dressed like that again. That had never occurred to either of us before.


      • Al

        13/11/2013 at 11:46

        Oh … I never knew that. Wow. I have only got part way through the Martha ones who, in my opinion, was the worst sidekick the Doctor had. She was “in love” with him as Rose was, but hers was more infatuation than love. Plus, the Doctor loved Rose as well. Martha was an annoyance. Catherine Tate was just awesome. Her no nonsense attitude was totally fantastic. I loved it.

        I can always make my daughter freak. All I need to say is “Hey, who turned out the lights?” Or if we are out I will say something like “Wait … how many shadows do you have?” of course the favourite is when I point to the gargoyles on the church and tell her not to Blink.

        I have heard some stuff about this Day of the Doctor, which I will not say either on here or on my blog, suffice to say – it looks good.

        As for Total Recall … Kate Beckinsale is in the second one. Case closed. lol


        • Ste J

          13/11/2013 at 11:55

          Yeah Martha didn’t seem to have much to endear her to the audience, I can understand any companion not flilling the gap of Rose straight away, like Davison to Tom Baker, it is always going to be tough but they just didn’t make her unique enough I don’t think. Donna was great, no nonsense, just fantastic (as Eccleston would say).

          Haha, I bet your daughter gets well miffed lol, although it good to keep these things in mind, just in case. I can’t wait for the Day of the Doctor…although I have to squeeze in another ten Who posts before I get to that lol. Kate Beckinsale wouldn’t get my vote in anything I don’t think, lol.


          • Al

            13/11/2013 at 12:02

            I could comment on the Beckinsale part, but this is a family show lol. I loved the Doctor’s own phrases / words / idiums Fan-tass-stick, alonsei, Geronimo – although Geronimo maybe not so much hehe.


  2. Alastair Savage

    13/11/2013 at 12:05

    A great story and one that has two of the best cliffhangers in the whole of the classic series run. It kind of sums up the classic series in that this, one of the best stories, was followed by the very worst of all, the execrable Twin Dilemma. It was the very next week because they decided to give Colin Baker the last story in this season. It’s inexplicable how one story can be so good, and the other so very, very bad.
    My favourite Davison story is a real guilty pleasure: the Five Doctors. What a classic!


    • Alastair Savage

      13/11/2013 at 12:05

      Oh and you’re right – the magma monster is appalling!


      • Ste J

        13/11/2013 at 12:13

        I recently watched the Five Doctors in my quest to introduce Christina to a story from each Doctor plus the Three and Five Doctors…the Two Doctors will get an airing if I can find it as well. The Raston Warrior Robot was great. It was unashamed celebration, pity Baker wasn’t in it more.

        So far I have avoided Twin Dilemma but I will have to at some point if I am to be a completist. Those cliff hangers in Coa were great and nice to see that after many years they can still come up with genuinely gripping cliff hangers.

        I love the magma monster, it was great, it really brought it all back to the roots of sci-fi!


  3. Seyi sandra

    14/11/2013 at 08:58

    For some reason, I couldn’t like the post though I wanted to, liked it. You’re obviously a huge Dr Who fan… 🙂


    • Ste J

      14/11/2013 at 12:27

      I know you liked it in spirit my friend and that is enough for me! I do love my Who and that feeling has got a new lease of life recently. If only I had a TARDIS mug to drink from…


  4. LuAnn

    16/11/2013 at 08:04

    My head is swimming with Dr. Who “stuff”. Next thing you know, I will be dreaming about him, which would probably be far better than dreaming about running around the Amazon maze. 🙂


    • Ste J

      16/11/2013 at 09:21

      There is still nine more Who posts to come, although I may have to double up on them if I want to squeeze them in before next Saturday. Then you can have less crazy dreams…maybe!



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