The Caves of Androzani (1984)

This story was voted the best story of all time by Doctor Who Magazine back in 2009. It was chosen to be part of the Revisitation’s Boxset in October 2010. Not quite sure whether I agree with the No.1 position but I do agree that it is a very impressive story. This is the final to feature Peter Davison as the Doctor and it also a Robert Holmes story which means that your going to get a great story. The director of this story is Graeme Harper who is known to newer fans for directing several episodes of new who.

The story is set on Androzani Minor which is a baron planet where there is a battle going on for something called Spetrox which gives people extended life. It’s valued by the people on Androzani Major. The main person on Major is Morgus who on a few occasions turns to the camera to finish off his speech. This wasn’t intended according to Harper on the DVD extras. But this break from the norm is one of the things that stands out as to why this story is so good. As the story progresses, the Doctor and Peri are banded about from one side of the caves to the other. One gang is led by Chellak (played by Martin Cochrane) who is waging a war against Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable). Meanwhile there are a group of ‘soldiers’ led by Stotz (Maurice Roeves). All these elements are fighting each other with the Doctor and Peri caught in the crossfire.

One thing that Holmes is good at is character development and that shows in this story. Sharaz Jek is a wonderful character that is played to perfection by Christopher Gable. In the extras, Graeme Harper says he wanted a dancer to play the role. On reflection it was a wise move. Gable plays the role in a strong way but does quite well in playing an unbalanced guy because of the fact he hides behind a mask and his obsession with Peri. Another great character was Morgus. John Normington plays the role as the guy who likes the finer things in life and is in a powerful position and will do anything to protect that. Even if that means dealing with people he would consider beneath him like Stotz.

This is Peter Davison final story and it’s the strongest story of his time on the show. When you see stories like Four to Doomsday and Warriors of the Deep, you wonder why they couldn’t be like this story. As you know that this is the last Davison story there is a sadness that is felt throughout. Davison puts in a strong performance and Nicola Bryant also gives a solid performance. Together they have great chemistry and it’s a shame that they only got two stories on TV together.

The regeneration sequence is still impressive some 26 years later. It’s like someone on an acid trip but is the most creative regeneration sequence in the classic era. Colin Baker’s brief appearance was sharp and would have had me wanting the next episode to hurry up. The Caves of Androzani is a superb story, its one of Robert Holmes’ best stories and it solidifies his reputation in the history of the series. Graeme Harper is a superb director and shows why in this story. It’s claustrophobic and tense and that is something that with the best will in the world, the new series stories just don’t have. It shows that you don’t require big budget and special effects to tell a good solid story. The Caves of Androzani is superb story. End of.

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