The Caves Of Androzani: Doctor Who: Season 21
The Caves Of Androzani SYNOPSIS:
The Tardis lands on Androzani Major. As the Doctor and Peri explore she falls into a sticky nest which the Doctor brushes with his hands. Soon after they are arrested by the local militia and sentenced to execution by General Chellack as gun runners when captured near crates of weapons
On Androzani Major the president and first citizen Morgus deliberate on the best means to end the war with Sharez Jek in the Caves of Androzani minor so they can get access to the Spectrox source for the general public that Jek currently controls. Unbeknown to the President, Morgus supplies Sharaz Jek with his arms so he can get a small supply of Spectrox, an elixir that extends life, for himself.
The Doctor and Peri are captured from the army by the masked Sharaz Jek and his androids. There they find out from fellow prisoner Salateen that the symptoms they both feel are the onset of terminal poisoning called spectrox toxemia. Jek gives the Doctor to Stotz and his fellow gun runners to have Peri to himself. Although he even more strongly desires revenge on Morgus the man who scarred him for life.
The Doctor is suspected of being a government spy by Morgus and he assassinates the president before his treachery is made public, planning to head to Androzani Minor to take the Spectrox from Jek with Stotz help. However the Doctor's concern is not the war but only get to Peri with a cure before the spectrox sickness kills them both.
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The caves Of Androzani DETAILS:
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The Caves Of Androzani CAST & CREW
Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor)
Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown)
Christopher Gable — Sharaz Jek
John Normington — Morgus
Barbara Kinghorn — Timmin
David Neal — The President
Maurice Roëves — Stotz
Roy Holder — Krelper
Martin Cochrane — Chellak
Robert Glenister — Salateen
Ian Staples — Soldier
Anthony Ainley — The Master
Matthew Waterhouse — Adric
Sarah Sutton — Nyssa
Janet Fielding — Tegan Jovanka
Mark Strickson — Turlough
Gerald Flood — Voice of Kamelion
Production Staff for Serial 6R:
Writer - Robert Holmes
Director - Graeme Harper
Script editor - Eric Saward
Producer - John Nathan-Turner
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The caves Of Androzani REVIEWS
The Caves Of Androzani takes us from the volcanic ash, sand & rock of Sarn to the sandy, cavey wastes of Androzani Minor (south england quarry)
Another classic rears it's head with Caves Of Androzani and it's at the very end of the Peter Davison era, plus there's the return of Robert Holmes to the writing team after 5 years and the debut of director Graeme Harper on Who. It's a perfect combination. Also of note Caves Of Androzani is the only story to feature the 5th Doctor & Peri, the only time he has just one companion from start to finish! The high quality of the script probably helps but the combo of Peri and the 5th Doctor is near perfect. They seem to have become very good friends off screen which hints at more adventures we never see. But the chemistry between them is just right. He's the brave but eccentric English hero and she contrasts as the young, beautiful and brash American. Both Davison & Bryant's performances are top notch. Unfortunately in one story they really do make a more convincing team than the 6th Dr and Peri almost manage during their extended time together.
As for the other performances, no one drops the ball in caves Of Androzani. In fact they all grab the ball and score a touchdown. Christopher Gable's Sharez Jek is up there with the best all time villains; Scarred but masked and menacing, scheming and totally psychotic. A guy driven totally by hatred and revenge, which suddenly changes when he meets Peri for the first time and remembers beauty and leers after it. Given that he does it all entirely in a mask and makes his performance sinister but sympathetic is a testament to the actor. His interactions with the Doctor are also good as he is jibed at. The line "My mind is nearly the equal to his? What incredible conceit".
John Normington is great as Morgus, you wouldn't turn your back on this bloke for two seconds and he'd be grabbing your wallet and having you arrested. Never has someone with absolutely no morals been portrayed so convincingly, his asides to camera never detract from the action. You really can't wait for this slimy backstabbing little billionaire to get his comeuppance and he gets it so brilliantly in the final confrontation with Sharez Jek.
Maurice Reeves is awesome as the sadistic Stotz, his scene threatening his number 2, (soldier that is Grob) Krelper, trying to make him kill himself is actually unnerving and the way he casually shoots down his own men at the end makes you really yell for a horrible death for him too. The final scene's when he's allied with Morgus show that each is waiting for the ideal time to eliminate the other but still needing each other's help - great stuff!
Let's look at the rest of the Caves Of Androzani players: Krau Timmin, Chellack and the President are all well played and so utterly self serving you wonder if there are any people on Androzani Major who aren't actually out to rip each other off. Even Krau the faithful secretary stabs Morgus in the back. Funny though that all of the male characters die, even the 5th Doctor and he was the only one willing to sacrifice himself for another.
Salateen is probably the only good guy but even he's cynical doesn't want to trust or help the Tardis crew when the shit hits the fan. Robert Glenister plays both versions well, from the capable, loyal soldier to the efficient and cool android double who also leers when he thinks he's being tricked by his general.
Where did they find Graeme Harper? If only they'd found him a couple of years earlier to make more classic Who's! But he makes his mark here with his camera work and the pace, Caves Of Androzani is probably the fastest moving story with no padding and everything in the script is explained without dropping anything. Ok the first Tardis scene was dropped where the Dr talks of his Glass bottle collection (revealing more of his character) which is the whole reason they go to the planet in the first place. But that was due to industrial action, which also affected the outcome of the look for the Magma beast.
The hand held camera work is very effective creeping up on characters from behind while they interact, plus the inter cutting of different angle shots and the whip pans during the chase scene between the Dr and Stotz' troops in part 4, it all keeps the viewer hooked! In fact there's more interesting camera angles here than the whole of season 20! It gives Caves Of Androzani a real gloss and cinematic feel. Plus the caves sets are perfectly dark and gloomy as they should be and the costumes are functional and don't intrude.
And of course we get the fifth regeneration of the most heroic Doctor of them all! He doesn't go down guns blazing trying to save the world or stop the war, nup - from the onset all he was concerned about was trying to get a cure for an ailment he and his companion got purely by accident. So he dies by accident, from Spectrox Toxemia, even though during the course of the story he's beaten, tortured, shot, burned by laser and nearly dies of asphyxiation and exhaustion. But he dies giving his life to save his friend, a poignant and fitting way for him to go, he was always the one to sacrifice himself, help out his friends and his wanting to not be involved in the "pathetic little local war" points to him wanting to get away from violence something hinted at in Resurrection.
I was genuinely sad to see him go - he was the Doctor of my youth and the regeneration was handled really well especially with the flashbacks if only spoilt by too many special effects but after all it was happening in his own mind.
Must agree with Grob though as the 5th incarnation of the Doctor, was the last era of strong consistency to the show, this really should have been the final story of season 21, a fitting climax. Give him a whole final season rather than bundling him off one show early so J-NT can 'show off' HIS idea of a very eccentric Dr. It is especially bad giving that the new Dr is only seen for 10 seconds that he gets top billing in the closing credits AND having Colin Bakers face in the closing titles rather than Davison's was a bit rude.It's like saying 'piss off cricket doctor!" Makes you wonder if he really wanted Davison cast in the first place and woulda dragged in Baker a season early if he got the chance. But we'll speak tomorrow of JN-T's first big mistake (not CB), Caves Of Androzani is a 10/10 from me.
The Caves Of Androzani, awesome story this. Right from the word go the Doctor is stuffed. And on the run. Peter Davison once said back when he was still in the role that when he goes, he would like his Doctor to go quietly. And in some ways its his wish fulfilled. He isn't saving the universe like Tom did, nor have some giant spider frying you with radiation like Jon. Or....whatever happened to Patrick (I was probably asleep by that bit). Caves Of Androzani is just so fast paced that you don't have many times to draw breath and it doesn't stop until the Doctor is dead on the Tardis floor at the end.
Thanks to Graeme Harper's deft direction there is heaps of pace, particularly with the action sequences as Stotz's troopers chase the Doctor across the sand dunes. Action sequences such as the gunfight in the caves of Androzani and the final confrontation in Jek's laboratory are equally well done. Another excellent Harper trait is the use of the hand held camera techniques he uses, again to great effect in the caves. One other camera shot always amazed me was towards the end of part one where the camera is on Salateen who is preparing the troopers to execute the Doctor and Peri, it then pulls back, through the small window in the prison door and then into the prison itself. Then when Salateen enters the prison to collect the Doctor and Peri it follows them back out - all in one movement with no breaks.
The character of the Doctor goes up several notches here which is ironic cos its the one and only time that Robert Holmes actually wrote for the fifth Doctor and he catches him exactly, yet manages to add more depth than many of the previous scriptwriters. Peter Davison, as always with the strong scripts, runs with it. Paradoxically, it is one of those stories that would have panned out EXACTLY the same if the Doctor wasn't involved. After falling in the spectrox nest, the outcome for him, and the inhabitants of Androzani Minor would still be the same whether they met or not. The Doctor still would have died and Sharez Jek still would have fried.
Its also nice to see a bit of violence in the Caves of Androzani as well, particularly when its directed at the Doctor himself. He manages to get punched in the face, have his arms nearly ripped out, goes caving and then goes on a sprint across the planet's surface. Interestingly, Robert Holmes orginally had the Doctor regenerating due to physical exhaustion. The Doctor is also pushed to the limit in terms of desperation as he has to dodge bullets, break out of handcuffs and land spaceships.
As mentioned above, Davison wanted his Doctor to go quietly. As perhaps the most heroic of all the Doctors back then its only fitting that he dies saving the life of his companion - as he said at the start; he got her into this. So it was up to him to get her out of it. Laying down your life is a pretty good way to go.
Peri is very good in Caves Of Androzani and probably at her best here than at any other time during her time on the series. She is very practically minded when facing death in the prison seen as well as showing a lot of courage too. Her scenes with Sharez Jek are beautifully done too; its a very delicate love triangle where she has to fend off Jek's attentions and stay loyal to the Doctor but not hurt either of them. She seems very good in a crisis.
Sharez Jek is a very interesting character and Christopher Gable excels as the twisted fugitive. He uses all his grace as a dancer to move through his scenes with finesse and elegance. Also of note is that he overcomes the obstacle of acting behind the mask to make Jek not only believable, but also menacing and sympathetic at the same time. And, he does a good "Moooooooooooorrrrrrrr-GUS!!!!"
Morgus is also very good. At times you really want to jump through the TV screen and wring his scrawny little neck. His Shakespearian asides to the camera is a nice touch (as is the eye twitching!) and a very innovative touch on behalf of the director. Stotz is good although he is a very stock standard villain, it is Maurice Roeves acting that makes him absolutely rivetting.
And now; the end. The regeneration scene itself is very well directed and acted, although I think the flashing lights when the transformation is taking place go on a bit longer than necessary. Likewise I would like to have actually SEEN the fifth Doctor regenerate into the sixth as we had seen in previous regenerations. It is a bit sudden when Davison isn't there, then suddenly Baker is.
Which brings me to my one bone of contention with caves Of Androzani. Peter Davison played the role - and very successfully too - for three years. Its insulting to him (not to mention the viewers that enjoyed him as the Doctor) that he doesn't get a full season and that he regenerates in the second to last story of the season. But worse than that is Colin Baker not only gets his name first on the titles playing the Doctor, but there is also his face in the closing title sequence. Its like they wanted to get Peter out as soon as possible. Very insulting and mean spirited - particularly to your leading actor.
But ignoring the Colin Baker element that marrs the end of the story, it is by far one of the best Who stories we have seen for ages, simply because it is so good on so many levels. It is one of those times that the writing, acting, directing and production really come together and make Caves Of Androzani a perfect story.
I remember the Caves Of Androzani really taking me by surprise when I saw it first. Not because I didn't understand it (it's a pretty complex plot for a 10 or 11 year old - was it 84 or 85 that we got this?), and not because the end of caves of Androzani didn't make sense thanks to the ABC cutting out 30 seconds of violence (which I think got through on the UKTV screening... but definitely is on the DVD and is bloody good)... no, what took me by complete surprise was the regeneration. I knew that Davison was regenerating (I had the magazine - actually that magazine was in 1984, the year of my TARDIS birthday cake - so I guess we got this series in 84?), but I just assumed that it would be at the end of the series. The Green Guide listed the next episode as something called "The Twin Dilemma"... it wasn't listed as a repeat, and it wasn't a name of an episode that I remembered - so there must have been one more to go... so why was he regenerating now?
I like it when surprising things happen though... pity we don't get that these days cos it's just too damn tempting to read what's happening on the net!It's pretty hard to fault Caves of Androzani. It's a complex, fast moving plot that holds up extremely well today... unfortunately when I watched it last night, I was watching for faults and reasons to not give Caves Of androzani10/10... not the best way to be watching an episode. But it was difficult to find faults - especially in the second half. But, if you want to be picky, there are a couple of things.
The Doctor is very sarcastic and dark in the first 2 parts. There could be three explanations for this 1) the destruction of the daleks and his (own) nemesis, as well as losing his 2 travelling partners, could have left him very dry and bitter... or 2) it's the spectrox toxemia talking... or 3) Holmes was still writing for Tom Baker. The way the Doctor treats Chellak in part one and Jek in part 2 is very Tom Baker like, and not the open, caring and inquisitive 5th Doctor we've come to know... he's more of a smart arse!
The other things that you could maybe pick on are; the stylised performance of Morgus - what's with his monotone? And what's with his bizarre asides to nobody when he speaks to Stotz? What's the point of Aggedor 2 (aka the magna monster)? Maybe it's there just to show that there's life under the caves? Also, it's pretty convenient that Stotz has left a big laser cutter next to the Doctor for him to saw through the handcuffs. And finally, how is the brilliant Jek really running the war on an Atari?
OK, so that's being picky... overall Caves Of Androzani is one of the best written and realised episodes ever. I guess the reason you can pick on some things in the first two parts is that they're laden with plot exposition... you have to be really tuned in to get what's happening. But it's worth it, as the action of the last 2 parts is brilliant. The gun running, political double crossing story is a corker - and the way it's interwoven with the personal hatred story between Jek and Morgus is perfect. Neither are likeable characters... in fact the only likeable character here is really Chellak... and maybe Krelper - the scene where he confronts Stoltz and Stoltz turns on him is frighteningly real.
As is the cliff-hanger in part 1 - I don't think there's been a bigger "how the hell can they get out of that one" cliff-hanger in the show's past or future... and the red cloaks are scary... which leads to the "phantom of the opera" story line. This is chilling, and once again, very real. Both Jek and Peri suit the roles well, and the tender side of Jek at the end adds layers to a standard who villain that we've never seen before.
But the plot that really sets this apart from other stories is the Spectrox toximia one. OK, so maybe it's a bit soap opera - but the defining moment of Davison's doctor comes at the end of part 3 - probably my favourite cliff-hanger of all time. He knows he's dying, he knows he's threatening everyone else on the ship, and he knows he's turning his back on an ugly political war... but all that matters is that he has to save his friend. That is the 5th Doctor, and that's why he's my Doctor.
Performance and direction wise Caves Of Androzani is great. It's hard to believe that this is Graeme Harper's first directing gig. The cross fading, the shaky POV shots, the lighting contrasts between minor and major and the sound are perfect. And yeah, while it takes a while to get used to Morgus, he's the only one I have any problem with... Jek is perfect - and I'd have to say I'm glad they didn't get David Bowie or Mick Jagger to play the part. Originally Christopher Gable was going to play Salateen - I'm glad he didn't, cos I couldn't imagine another Jek, and nor could I imagine another Salateen... the subtle differences between android Salateen and real Salateen are superb! Actually, all the androids are great in this... very simple but very effective.
So yes, everything works in Caves Of Androzani... brilliant script (once again, some excellent names - Androzani, Spectrox toximia, Sharez Jek, Salateen, Chellak, Stotz and Morgus are classic names!), brilliant performances, brilliant everything... right down to the explanation of the celery! In a way, if the Doctor had have drunk his half before making his way back to get Peri, it probably wouldn't have been perfect... the regeneration makes it perfect... he's given up everything to save the person he got into trouble...
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