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Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani

Doctor Who 5th Doctor

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 03 May 2020 - 11:47 AM

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I have a feeling that if more stories had been like this one Peter Davison might have stuck around in the role longer. Everything worked here. This was an amazing story and it featured the 5th Doctor at his best.

Honestly, the only thing that doesn’t work is the cave monster. There is no real reason for its inclusion here. It isn’t germane to the story whatsoever. It is just a rubber suited monster that shows up twice and doesn’t really do anything.

At first I was worried because it seemed like the story was introducing a lot of disparate elements and I was afraid it would overwhelm the story and turn it into a mess like in Resurrection of the Daleks. Instead it all came together brilliantly. All of the threads had a point and fed into the main narrative.

The villains here were really top notch. Sharaz Jek was a complicated villain with very good reasons to want revenge against Morgus and to be angry at the universe. The performance was amazing and turned what could have been a campy, over the top role into one that was more grounded and frightening.

Morgus was also fully realized as a ruthless businessman who was willing to do anything to stay on top. He kept the war running longer to make Spectrox cost more. He closed down plants to make his workers homeless and then created work camps to send them to so they could work for free. He destroyed one of his own mines to drive up the price of copper. He was a terrible person and one you wanted to see get his comeuppance.

I liked the dynamic between the Doctor and Peri, though I felt the Doctor came off a bit condescending when he was talking to Peri at times. This Doctor has traveled with highly intelligent people like Adric Nyssa, and Turlough who didn’t need everything explained to them but I still felt he could have gone a bit easier on Peri.

The directing for these episodes was top notch. The pacing was great with no dull moments. The actors gave great performances. The effects were also quite good. The mud slides and explosions were realized nicely. The action scenes had a bit of oomph to them. There was some real tension throughout all four episodes.

Making the Doctor and Peri contract a basically incurable disease at the start of the story added a nice ticking clock component that worked really well. They can’t just sit back and wait for things to unfold. They have to force things if they have any chance of acquiring the ingredient they need to cure themselves. This is never more apparent than when the Doctor hijacks the ship and sets it on a collision course for the planet.

That was a great moment and when you think about everything the Doctor has been through this season there’s a lot of weight behind it. The Doctor has failed a lot this season and seen a lot of death that he should have been able to stop. He has also just had two companions leave him in short order. His almost suicidal actions here to save Peri no matter the cost come across as the actions of a desperate man who wants to do one final good deed before he dies.

I loved the final moments before the Doctor regenerates. It almost seems like he has given up and doesn’t want to even try to regenerate. Then he sees his companions urging him to live and keep up the good fight. It was a touching scene, since all of his companions were there, even Adric. The fact that his last word was Adric speaks volumes.

Then Colin Baker arrives as the Doctor. It is actually a great moment as he immediately seems different from Davison. In just a few short lines he comes across as more arrogant and less innocent than his previous incarnation. Follow that up with Baker’s visage instead of Davison’s during the credits and it is like a slap to the face. Not in a bad way, mind you, just in the fact that it gets you to pay attention.

It’s sad that Davison’s era is over with already. I liked him a lot in the role but I felt that he was let down with some bad scripts and decisions. He had some great stories, mind, but also some really terrible ones. Davison deserves nothing but praise because he had a thankless task. He was the successor to the longest running and most popular actor to play the Doctor. He did a great job of making his Doctor different from the 4th Doctor and did his best with what he was handed. I’m not sure I could have kept a straight face when confronted with the Myrka.

He at least gets to go out in top form with an amazing story where everything works. This was a great way to end this era of Doctor Who and start another one.
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#2 Christopher

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Posted 03 May 2020 - 12:08 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 03 May 2020 - 11:47 AM, said:

I have a feeling that if more stories had been like this one Peter Davison might have stuck around in the role longer. Everything worked here. This was an amazing story and it featured the 5th Doctor at his best.


Yes, it's regarded as one of the best Doctor Who serials ever. It topped a poll of reader favorites in Doctor Who Magazine #400. Ironically, the very next serial, "The Twin Dilemma," came in dead last out of a field of 200.



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Morgus was also fully realized as a ruthless businessman who was willing to do anything to stay on top. He kept the war running longer to make Spectrox cost more. He closed down plants to make his workers homeless and then created work camps to send them to so they could work for free. He destroyed one of his own mines to drive up the price of copper. He was a terrible person and one you wanted to see get his comeuppance.

Yes, a very memorable villain. Interesting tidbit from the TARDIS Wiki:

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Another unique aspect of the production was its use of Shakespearian soliloquy. Morgus, the principal villain of the piece, sometimes turned away from the characters and spoke his thoughts aloud, often appearing to break the fourth wall in the process by gazing into the camera. Though apparently the result of a mistaken impression about the script by actor John Normington, Harper kept the asides in, feeling they effectively ramped up the dramatic tension. (DCOM: The Caves of Androzani)
https://tardis.fando...ozani_(TV_story)



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I liked the dynamic between the Doctor and Peri, though I felt the Doctor came off a bit condescending when he was talking to Peri at times. This Doctor has traveled with highly intelligent people like Adric Nyssa, and Turlough who didn’t need everything explained to them but I still felt he could have gone a bit easier on Peri.

Well, she was a first-timer.


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Making the Doctor and Peri contract a basically incurable disease at the start of the story added a nice ticking clock component that worked really well. They can’t just sit back and wait for things to unfold. They have to force things if they have any chance of acquiring the ingredient they need to cure themselves. This is never more apparent than when the Doctor hijacks the ship and sets it on a collision course for the planet.

What's interesting is that the Doctor doesn't really accomplish anything in this one aside from saving Peri. Arguably he even made things worse by being involved. And yet it's still so, so good.



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Then Colin Baker arrives as the Doctor. It is actually a great moment as he immediately seems different from Davison. In just a few short lines he comes across as more arrogant and less innocent than his previous incarnation. Follow that up with Baker’s visage instead of Davison’s during the credits and it is like a slap to the face. Not in a bad way, mind you, just in the fact that it gets you to pay attention.

It was the first time the incoming Doctor got dialogue at the end of the previous Doctor's final episode -- and the only time in the original series. The new series, by contrast, has done it every time.
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#3 RJDiogenes

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Posted 03 May 2020 - 05:26 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 03 May 2020 - 11:47 AM, said:

I have a feeling that if more stories had been like this one Peter Davison might have stuck around in the role longer. Everything worked here. This was an amazing story and it featured the 5th Doctor at his best.

Was he unsatisfied with the writing?

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I liked the dynamic between the Doctor and Peri, though I felt the Doctor came off a bit condescending when he was talking to Peri at times.  

She ain't seen nothing yet.  :lol:

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I loved the final moments before the Doctor regenerates. It almost seems like he has given up and doesn’t want to even try to regenerate. Then he sees his companions urging him to live and keep up the good fight. It was a touching scene, since all of his companions were there, even Adric. The fact that his last word was Adric speaks volumes.  

Oh, yeah, very nice and very touching (no Valeyard, though  :lol: ).  Okay, I just ordered this DVD.  Now I'll have Davison's first and last adventures.

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Then Colin Baker arrives as the Doctor. It is actually a great moment as he immediately seems different from Davison.  

Yes, they certainly were not afraid to make each Doctor very different from the last, which is a creatively courageous thing to do.

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It’s sad that Davison’s era is over with already.  

I didn't even realize it was so short.

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Davison deserves nothing but praise because he had a thankless task. He was the successor to the longest running and most popular actor to play the Doctor.
He was the one who finally got me interested in Doctor Who.
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#4 Christopher

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Posted 03 May 2020 - 06:16 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 03 May 2020 - 05:26 PM, said:

View PostVirgil Vox, on 03 May 2020 - 11:47 AM, said:

I have a feeling that if more stories had been like this one Peter Davison might have stuck around in the role longer. Everything worked here. This was an amazing story and it featured the 5th Doctor at his best.

Was he unsatisfied with the writing?


Reportedly, he left because he was concerned with being typecast, and because Patrick Troughton advised him to leave after 3 years (which has been the norm for most Doctors, aside from Pertwee and Tom Baker -- though Colin Baker had his "three years" forced on him and they included a year-long hiatus in the middle, which really shouldn't have counted).
"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right." -- xkcd

"The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." -- "H. G. Wells," Time After Time


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#5 Virgil Vox

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Posted 04 May 2020 - 03:42 PM

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Yes, it's regarded as one of the best Doctor Who serials ever. It topped a poll of reader favorites in Doctor Who Magazine #400. Ironically, the very next serial, "The Twin Dilemma," came in dead last out of a field of 200.

That's quite a drop in quality. Well, I have a bit before I tackle The Twin Dilemma so at least I won't be going from the most favorite Doctor Who serial to the least favorite Doctor Who serial.

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Was he unsatisfied with the writing?

Basically what Christopher said. Also, on his commentary for Warriors of the Deep Davison talks about going to film a special on another show in between DW seasons and realizing just how rough DW is treated. He talks about the low budgets, no support from the BBC, rushed filming schedules, etc. and said he was tired of it.

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I didn't even realize it was so short.

Three seasons for Davison as compared to 5 for Pertwee and 7 for Baker. Of course three seasons is more the norm now than the longer stints of those two actors but it still stings. Davison was a great Doctor and I would have liked to see him continue in the role for a bit longer.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#6 RJDiogenes

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Posted 04 May 2020 - 05:18 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 04 May 2020 - 03:42 PM, said:

Also, on his commentary for Warriors of the Deep Davison talks about going to film a special on another show in between DW seasons and realizing just how rough DW is treated. He talks about the low budgets, no support from the BBC, rushed filming schedules, etc. and said he was tired of it.  
My, how times have changed. Now they have mega budgets and do ten episodes every two years or something.

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Three seasons for Davison as compared to 5 for Pertwee and 7 for Baker. Of course three seasons is more the norm now than the longer stints of those two actors but it still stings. Davison was a great Doctor and I would have liked to see him continue in the role for a bit longer.  
Yeah, I knew Tom Baker was on for a long time. I probably would have guessed longer than seven.  But it feels like I spent at least half the 80s watching Peter Davison.  Time is definitely wibbly wobbly in memory.
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#7 Virgil Vox

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 11:44 AM

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My, how times have changed. Now they have mega budgets and do ten episodes every two years or something.

It makes me miss the Davies era because we got four seasons in a row more or less of 13 episodes plus a Christmas special.

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Yeah, I knew Tom Baker was on for a long time. I probably would have guessed longer than seven.  But it feels like I spent at least half the 80s watching Peter Davison.  Time is definitely wibbly wobbly in memory.

Yeah, time is definitely wibbly wobbly when it comes to memory. Still, Davison made over 70 episodes and 20 stories. That's a pretty good run, especially considering the 6th and 7th Doctors have very short tenures.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#8 RJDiogenes

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 06:40 PM

That made me wonder if he had more episodes than any modern-era Doctor, and he has-- although that would probably change if you corrected for episode length.
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#9 Christopher

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Posted 12 May 2020 - 07:16 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 12 May 2020 - 06:40 PM, said:

That made me wonder if he had more episodes than any modern-era Doctor, and he has-- although that would probably change if you corrected for episode length.

Classic DW was a serial with each storyline being made up of multiple 25-minute episodes, with most serials tending to be around 4 episodes -- although "Resurrection of the Daleks" and all of the 22nd season's serials consisted of two 45-minute episodes (except "The Two Doctors," which was three 45-minute episodes). The modern series is mostly single 45-minute episodes with occasional 2-parters. So basically you'd have to cut the classic Doctors' episode counts in half to compare them to the new series.
"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right." -- xkcd

"The first man to raise a fist is the man who's run out of ideas." -- "H. G. Wells," Time After Time


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