Number : Season 21, episode 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 parts.
Plot : The Fifth Doctor and Peri land on the moonworld of Androzani Minor and accidentally contract lethal Spectrox poisoning and they require the help of the local underground warlord; called Sharaz Jek, to find a cure but with his eye firmly on Peri. Can the Doctor afford to trust him?
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 episode 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 story 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 so-so 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 for another season.
Shadowing precedings in this, is the masked underground warlord – Sharaz Jek; who 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 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 hindering (and helping) the duo.
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 – his 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 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 to 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 effectively gruesome and only helps to further illustrate his dastardly aims.
Caves Of Androzani also had a belter of a cliffhanger at the end of part 1, which involves the captured Doctor and Peri being put in a hooded red robe and gunned down by execution squad. How do they escape that one? 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 – near the end. Brought about, due to the Doctor only having enough Spectrox antidote to save Peri – and not himself.
This was another new twist on the regeneration saga; that of the Doctor almost dying of poisioning (due to holding his regeneration back too long) and hallucinating about all of his 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 his lapel, too. It was, as he explained because it would turn purple, when in the presence of “certain gases in the ‘Praxis’ range”. Of which, the Fifth Doctor confirmed he was allergic to. When asked what he did next, he 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 his best episode.
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