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Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani (Story 136)
Doctor Who The Caves of Androzani
Story 136
Actors: Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Anthony Ainley, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse
Director: Graham Harper
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
NR     2002     1hr 39min

"Curiosity's always been my downfall." Captured for arms-running on the mining planet of Androzani Minor, the Doctor and Perry are under sentence of death. Then a mysterious masked intruder comes to their aid. But is Shara...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Anthony Ainley, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse
Director: Graham Harper
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Drama, Science Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Studio: BBC Video / Warner Bros.
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 04/02/2002
Original Release Date: 09/29/1975
Theatrical Release Date: 09/29/1975
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A distinguished farewell story for the Fifth Doctor
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 02/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Fifth Doctor and Peri's trip to the sandy Androzani Minor turns out to be a fateful and intensely eventful one in this Dune meets The Phantom of the Opera story. They explore a cave mouth and encounter a cache of arms enough to equip a small army. There, they are caught on the scene by the soldiers of General Chellak and condemned to death as gunrunners.Here's the situation: Spectrox is a drug that can increase twice the ordinary lifespan. Demand for the drug shoots up when Sharaz Jek, a robotics expert who is lusting for revenge against Morgus, the man who'd betrayed him, seized the spectrox mines with an army of androids. The military under Chellak and his subordinate Salateen have been fighting a losing battle against androids, gunrunners led by Stotz, and a carnivorous monster that looks like something out of a Godzilla movie. Public demand has put pressure on the Androzani president to possibly capitulate to Jek's demands and negotiate an armistice. Jek's terms? "I want the head of Morgus at my feet. I want the head of that perfidious treacherous degenerate congealed in its own evil blood."Well-picked words by Jek, because Morgus is exactly that. A cold-hearted businessman on Androzani Major whose conglomerate controls the spectrox mines as well as other holdings offworld, and speaks in a cold, low, level, emotionless tone. His profitmaking goes as far as sabotaging his own mines when an increase in production leads to lower prices and even closing down plants, leaving many unemployed workers being shipped off to labour camps in the East. As the president tells him, "the irony is while you've been busy closing planets here in the West, you've been buiilding them in the East, so if the unemployed were sent to the Eastern labour camps, a great many of them will be working for you again, only this time, without payment." When Morgus responds with a deadpan "I hadn't thought of that" the president, clearly disgusted, replies bitterly, "Of course you haven't."But there's also Stotz, played wonderfully by Maurice Roeves, the nasty and violent leader of machine gun-touting gunrunners supplying Jek with arms in exchange for spectrox. So who's Stotz's boss on Andro. Major?The main objective of the Doctor is not to sort out the situation but to save both his life and Peri's. They are dying of spectrox toxaemia, which they got from accidentally touching raw spectrox, and the antivenin can be found in the oxygenless depths. Unfortunately, he gets caught up in this violent morass between Jek, the military, and Stotz, while his life and Peri's are slowly ebbing away.The high casualty rate and violence in this story makes Resurrection Of The Daleks like a summer breeze, but with great dialogue, convincing characters, and great acting, this is one of the best Doctor Who stories. And this was Peter Davison's personal favourite of his oeuvre. Christopher Gable as the masked and insanely vengeance-minded Sharaz Jek opposite Nicola Bryant's Peri work as a Phantom and Christine minus the music and opera, especially Peri's shuddering revulsion at being touched by Jek. His infatuation with Peri turns to genuine concern when she's close to death, making him more than just one-dimensional and not exactly a clearcut villain. John Normington as Jek's nemesis Morgus, retains perfect vocal control playing a man whose voice rarely rises above a certain level even when he's mad.Despite his mere three seasons as the Doctor, Peter Davison is at least noted for having one of the best farewell stories of the Doctors. But his nobility, his urgent and selfless devotion in trying to save Peri, even at the cost of his own life, makes his Doctor the vulnerable Sir Galahad type. Indeed, his own culpable admission that "curiosity always has been my downfall" shows his guilt at dragging Peri into this mess, yet serves as a testament to his moral courage to put things right."
You were expecting something else?
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 04/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm pleased to announce that the uniformly high quality of the first three States-side "Doctor Who" DVD releases was not a fluke. The newly-offered "The Caves of Androzani" is another highly-regarded story given a glossy new, features-packed look.It's the final story for Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor, and is notably gloomy and dark. Roger Limb's militaristic score, replete with a rattlesnake motif, and Graeme Harper's inspired direction -- full of cross-fades, matched dissolves, and Shakespearean soliloquies to the camera -- is light-years beyond the dull visual look for which so much "Who" is unfortunately remembered. The script is Robert Holmes at his darkest: a planet run by a mega-corporation is involved in a bitter war against a deformed mad scientist and his android army over supply of a life-preserving drug. Into this picture stumble the Doctor and Peri, who both contract fatal poisoning within minutes. The acting is superb, from John Normington's evil-CEO Morgus, who delivers chilling asides to the camera, to former dancer Christopher Gable as the mad Sharaz Jek, stalking the camera (and Peri) in skin-tight leather and a memorable black-and-white mask.The features are a slight decline from those in the first set of DVD releases. The raw studio footage of Peter Davison's regeneration scene is tolerable only with Davison and Harper's voiceover commentary -- but the DVD doesn't inform that this track exists over the featurettes as well as over the story. Similarly, the extended scene (featuring just 20 seonds of new material) works best with this commentary. The photo gallery and TV trailer strike of tokenism.Better is a featurette narrated by (the late) Gable, describing the creation of Sharaz Jek: possibly the best original featurette on a DW disc thus far. Also grand is a 1983 TV interview in which a female reporter tries to bully Davison into admitting that his casting as the Doctor was a mistake!Harper and Davison's full-length commentary is an absolute riot -- celebrating the story, while poking vicious fun at its (few) plot-holes and visual goofs. Davison's description of the Part Two cliffhanger is roll-on-the-floor funny. Nicola Bryant says little, but her regret at Peri's performance in this story is a revelation (considering what awful roles Peri would be assigned when Colin Baker became the Doctor). Also fine are the pop-up production notes, which describe Holmes's original script in tantalizing detail. You might not choose to sit through 90 minutes of the music-only sound option, but I enjoyed watching key scenes (including the regeneration) in this fashion.Overall, one of "Doctor Who"'s finest TV stories, with a couple of nifty DVD-only additions that make this 20 year-old story a 21st-century triumph."
Ian D. Smith | Bangor, ME United States | 04/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"By far the best Peter Davison, and the best Doctor Who story of the 1980s. Everything about it, from the acting to the plot agrees with the viewer very soundly. Every character, from Morgus to the President to Sharez Jek especially is very well characterized and acted. Nicola Bryant is excellent as Peri, there's hardly a hint of the unlikable character she would later become in Colin Baker's era. Peter Davison - what can I say? He ranged from engaging to bland to totally unmemorable throughout his tenure as the Doctor, but he is simply superb in "The Caves of Androzani". Here he gives his best performance ever as the Doctor. The final part is perfectly shot, and the Doctor's 5th regeneration is by far the best realised and most emotionally effective and memorable one ever portrayed on Doctor Who. Kudos to Robert Holmes the writer and Graeme Harper the director as well for a marvellous tale, one which should have been typical of the Davison era, not an exception."
The End of an Era
Matthew L. Roffman | Smyrna, GA USA | 03/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD is one of the best! There's production subtitles which give you some insight into the making of the story. There's a commentary track with Peter Daviosn, Nicola Bryant, and Director Gramm Harper which is one of the best commentary tracks they've done for a Who DVD. Davison's eye for detail and directorial abilities show through in his comments. He also MST3Ks it a tiny little bit 'How does Peri know they're bombs'. Harper has some useful information and spends a lot of time laughing at Davison's jokes. All three provide a lot of background information as to the actors involved like Robert Glenister who worked with Davison on a show called "Sink or Swim", Maurice Roëves who went on to play several roles on American TV, and the late Christopher Gable who played Jek. A bonus feature of the DVD serves as a tribute to Gable. It includes audio footage of him describing his role with video footage of his makeup tests. They also fixed a shacky alignment problem with the backround mat in the opening scene when the TARDIS lands. You can see the original shot as an extra feature. This is a really cool DVD.About the Episode: Perhaps the greatest regeneration story in all of Doctor Who, Caves of Androzani is Doctor Who at it's darkest and most mature. As with most regeneration stories the Doctor spends most of it with the dark specter of death over his head, this is very intense and absorbing. The villain, Sharez Jek, is a brilliant scientist whose flaw for beauty and mental instability are visible despite his great genius. With his robots he is waging a war againts the corporation who seek to mine Spectrox from Androzani minor and the Doctor and Peri are caught in the middle of the military/political struggle. Jek is a spectacular foe, plus his mask is really scary. As the story progresses you realize that, in a way, Jek isn't the real villain. This was that sort of subtlety that marked the Davison era. And the regeneration scene is the best you're going to get in Doctor Who. All the companions surround the Doctor...About this era of Dr Who: At this point, the show really was trying to be a serious piece of science fiction, like the various Star Trek series. Plots like Earthshock, Frontios, Revelation of the Daleks, Planet of Fire, and this one combined the dark edge of serious plot and story with Peter Davison's dry wit and his very British personality. Davison was the greatest Doctor; young and energetic but with a charisma and intelligence that far surpassed his outward appearance. He was patient, thoughtful, and not afraid to at least try to make the hard decision... Through most of his era, he had multiple companions providing the show with a cast of characters as opposed to a simple Doctor/Companion ensemble. ...If you found any part of this review helpful please vote so."