Number : Season 21, serial 6 of 7.

Which One : Fifth’s final.

Cast : The Doctor : Peter Davison / Colin Baker
Peri : Nicola Bryant
Sharaz Jek : Christopher Gable
Morgus : John Normington
Timmin : Barbara Kinghorn
The President : David Neal
Stotz : Maurice Roëves
Krepler : Roy Holder
Chellak : Martin Cochrane
Salateen Robert Glenister
The Master : Anthony Ainley
Adric : Matthew Waterhouse
Nyssa : Sarah Sutton
Tegan : Janet Fielding
Turlough : Mark Strickson
Kamelion : Gerald Flood

Written By : Robert Holmes

Produced By : JNT

First UK Broadcast : 8 – 16 March 1984.

Length : 4 x 25 minute episodes.

Plot : The Fifth Doctor and Peri, land on the moon-world of Androzani Minor. Here they both – accidentally, contract lethal Spectrox poisoning and require the help of the local underground warlord; called Sharaz Jek, to find a cure.

Whats good : Well written/acted dark adventure, for Davison to bow out with. Davison gets a good run here. A new twist on regeneration. Sharaz Jek.

Whats bad : The fact that Davison didn’t get more stories like this. Jek’s gimpsuit look. Davison’s last word before regeneration was; “Adric!”.

Review With Spoilers : Caves Of Androzani was probably the best material, that Peter Davison ever got. Penned by regular contributor and ex-head script honcho; Robert Holmes.

It was a shame, that a stories of this calibre; came right at the end of Davison’s run (as opposed to during!). Or – we might have thought, very different of Davison’s overall tenure.

Davison was quoted, as saying that – if more scripts as good as Caves Of Androzani had been presented to him; he would have stayed on – for another season.

Shadowing precedings in this, is the masked underground warlord; Sharaz Jek. Jek had designs on Peri – in a ‘Phantom Of The Opera‘ way. Which leaves the Doctor, in the other corner; attempting to protect his companion and find a cure – to their shared spectrox poisoning.

Some of the best scenes, in Caves Of Androzani. Involve, the intellectual sparring of the Doctor and Jek. Jek was – a much deeper villain, in terms of motivations and characterization; than usually featured. Due to complex motivations that weren’t necessarily evil and hindering and helping – the Doctor and Peri.

This also brings out, a more serious and focused side – to the Fifth Doctor. Who seems, to finally nail some real character nuances on this; Dacison’s – final episode.

“Change my dear! ……And not a moment too soon!” Sixth Doctor.

Despite coming across, in much of Caves Of Androzani; as the main aggressor. Jek – also unpredictably acts – as saviour to the Doctor and Peri’s lives,; by helping cure their spectrox poisoning.

Coupled with the fact, that Jek is a bit of a tragic character; due to his hidden injuries. Jek is a much more interesting and greyer villain; than other – previous Who despots.

Following up Jek, is the secondary villain – Morgus (John Normington) who does a fine job as the bent politician; orchestrating chaos on Androzani Minor. His cold-hearted murdering, of the President; by pushing him down a lift-shaft is gruesome and helps to further illustrate
– his dastardly aims.

Caves Of Androzani also had a belter of a cliffhanger, at the end of episode one; which involves the captured Doctor and Peri – being put in a hooded red-robe and gunned down – by execution squad. How do they escape? Jek intervenes and saves the pair, by replacing them; with life-like androids – of course!

The other edge to this, is; the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration -into the Sixth Doctor – at the end. Brought about, due to the Doctor only having enough Spectrox antidote – to save Peri.

This was another new twist on the regeneration saga; that of the Doctor almost dying of poisioning (due to holding the regeneration – too long) and hallucinating about all of the previous companions and enemies. It gave Davison’s regeneration – an added edge.

Finally, they gave an explanation – as to why the Fifth Doctor carried a wedge of celery – in the lapel of that jacket, too. It was, as explained – because it would turn purple, when in the presence of “certain gases in the ‘Praxis’ range”. Of which, the Fifth Doctor confirmed being allergic to. When asked, what happene next, the Doctor cleverly replied “I eat it!”.

In summary, Caves Of Androzani was – an excellent dark and morbid send-off, for Davison. And in truth, was probably the best story of his whole run.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)

Old Doctor Who

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