Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
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Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani - Special Edition
On the cave-riddled world of Androzani Minor, the Doctor and Peri inadvertently find themselves enmeshed in a war fought between the ruthless General Chellak and the sinister Sharaz Jek and his army of androids. The duplicitous politician Morgus wants Chellak to execute the time travelers as spies, while the disfigured Jek seeks to keep Peri forever hostage within his stronghold. But the Doctor soon realizes an even more gruesome fate awaits them – they have been infected with fatal spectrox toxemia, and there is no cure. Hunted by both factions and with death just hours away, how far must the Doctor go in order to save his friend's life?]]>
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So what do we have here. One of the few stories where the Doctor finds no allies among the guest characters. Everyone is out to kill him. It's ironic that he can evade a firing squad and machine gun fire from the gun-peddlers but eventually succumbs to an incurable disease. A story where all the important guest cast is killed off, with the exception of one minor character. Ressurection Of The Daleks is criticized for its undue violence. It boggles the mind that Androzani gets a pardon in this respect. It contains the same violence. To top it off, even the Doctor "dies" in this one.
Bottom line: Caves of Androzani is a good story that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, but so does Earthshock. Earthshock is not considered a classic, and neither should this one. That said, it's still a far better story than anything McCoy could put out.
Based on the numbers coming in on whether or not my review was helpful, I see that The Crappiness Patrol-McCoy apologists have finally made their way to this review.
IN THE TOP 5 FOR DOCTOR WHO! (Other great stories with different Doctors include: 'Genesis of the Daleks', 'Tomb of the Cybermen', 'the Curse of Fenric', and 'the Daemons'. You may also like to try 'The Dalek Invasion of Earth', and 'Vengence on Varos'. Of course, for most fans 'the Five Doctors' is always fun, albeit a little disappointing since it is really 'the FOUR Doctors', and therefore not much greater than 'the Three Doctors' from a decade back...lol).
The best "Doctor Who" stories are remembered for being inventive science-fiction stories with unique characters and villainous schemes. But it's rare that a story gets remembered on an emotional level. After all, what can we make of a time traveler who gets into trouble, and doesn't seem to notice how dangerous his meddling can be? As it turns out with "The Caves of Androzani", there is some drama buried beneath the adventures through time and space. Peter Davison's turn as The Doctor was underrated for various reasons. Some fans were still getting over their understandable attachment to Tom Baker's 7-year run, while haters couldn't be blamed because many of Davison's stories (IMO) had mediocre writing. But like almost every "Doctor Who" fan will tell you, they couldn't have picked a better story to close Davison's tenure in the lead role. It easily Davison's best --- and the actor's personal favorite --- and one of the best "Doctor Who" stories in general.
So, why does "The Caves of Androzani" work better than most stories? After all, we've seen companions in trouble, villains with evil plots, alien worlds, and even The Doctor dying before. Why is this one special? There are many reasons (of which I'll share a few), but the key reason for me is that every single twist and turn in the plot makes sense 100% of the time. The action sequences (even that rubber-suit dragon creature) all have a purpose, and the characters have motivations that never ring false. People aren't evil just for the sake of being evil, and every character with an ounce of heroism has ulterior motives that may prove to be their undoing. The corporate magnate Morgus and the violent smuggler Stotz aren't just bad guys (though they're pretty sinister); their efforts to control the Spectrox trade and arms dealings all boil down to a greed that we've seen throughout human history. General Chellak indeed has a code of honor when performing his duties to maintain the deadly planet's environmental hazards & illegal trading ring...if only he could control his desire to be remembered as a legendary soldier rather than a corporate lackey. And as twisted as Sharaz Jek's mysteries are, even he earns some sympathy by the very end.
Of course The Doctor and his companion Peri deserve to be recognized as well. I always thought Peri was underrated companion, because people always focused on her American accent and good-looking body. But if you really watch "The Caves of Androzani", she plays a much more pivotal role in the story than companions usually do. Even though she begins as The Doctor's tagalong, she's really the only true voice of reason and conscience in the whole story. Even The Doctor can't resist being a little sarcastic with his various captors; as he says early in the story, "Curiosity has always been my downfall." What a sad and powerful way to look at the series! The Doctor and Peri's fates are, in a roundabout way, his fault. Plus, who knows if the people on the two Androzani planets might've been better off without The Doctor's recent arrival? When all the characters' fates are met, think on that for a moment.
Although I'm a huge fan of this entire TV franchise, I have to admit that few stories are perfect. Some are 1 or 2 parts too many, some suffer from the show's insanely low budget, etc. "The Caves of Androzani", however, is just about perfect with the length, production quality, acting, and storytelling. Case in point (to quote another "Doctor Who" fan), just watch the Part 3 cliffhanger and NOT want to watch Part 4. Or, do you wonder how a story involving running around in caves somehow manages to maintain its intensity and intriguing mystery. It's amazing this Fifth Doctor's farewell managed to be this good.
So, diehard fans already know that this is a must-have part of the collection. But if you're new to "Doctor Who", and want some good stories to start you off, this one is highly recommended. Don't worry if you haven't seen other Peter Davison stories. Although there are some good ones ("Earthshock" and "The Five Doctors" are a couple personal favorites), most of his stories have mixed reviews at best. But in the final hour, everyone realized how good Peter Davison really was, leaving his successors with larger shoes to fill than some realized. "The Caves of Androzani" is a TV classic!