Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani – DVD Review

The episode that is considered one of the best of Doctor Who gets special edition treatment.  It would be the last outing of Davison’s Doctor, who said if his last season had other episodes this good he might have delayed his departure. 

The Doctor (Peter Davison) and Peri (Nicole Bryant) arrive on Androzani Minor.  After venturing into the caves of the planet and stepping into something nasty, they are captured by soldiers and taken before General Chellak (Martin Cochrane) and his aide Salateen (Robert Glenister). 

The military is there because the planet produces an anti-aging drug called Spetrox and a rebel named Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable) needs to be eliminated so that the valuable substance can be mined again and shuttled to Androzani Major.

The businessman Morgus (John Normington) is making the most of the drug’s rarity, but his supplies are running low.  Morgus, who Jek blames from his troubles, is duplicitous since his is pushing the army to take out Jek, but has also hired gunrunner Stotz (Maurice Roeves) to trade with Jek to keep his supply of Spetrox stocked. 

The Doctor and Peri find themselves in the middle of this conflict but also victims of Spetrox toxcemia since they stepped in the raw substance and will die in a few days unless they get the milk of a giant bat queen.   

Peter Davison’s final outing as the time traveling cricketer turns out to be one of his best.  We have the welcome return of scribe Robert Holmes, cracking good acting and characters, and a bit of heart as the Doctor breaths his last.  It even ends with a great setup for the next Doctor, but alas things wouldn’t turn out too well for him (Sorry Colin). 

Many things had not gone too well for Davison in his last season but the stars aligned nicely for his finale.  Thanks to the director of Graeme Harper, who to date is the only director from the old show that has done episodes of the newly revived show.  The show was also delightfully cast with supporting character, who all infectiously loved working with Harper.  

It’s finely done in its four episodes and ends on a heartbreaking note as our young Doctor meets his end with his former companions visions swirling around him to encourage his regeneration, as well as a dark force that tells him to die.  Grand stuff. 

The Caves of Androzani is presented in fullscreen.  Special features include a commentary with Davison, Bryant, and director Graeme Harper, pop-up trivia notes, an isolated score, 8 minutes of behind the scenes footage of the regeneration with optional commentary, 5 minutes of behind the scenes on creating Jek, 4 minutes of extended scenes with optional commentary, a 5 minute news report on Davison’s departure, and the Radio Times and production notes on DVD-ROM. 

Disc two has the 36 minute “Chain Reaction” making of, the 12 minute “Directing Who: Then and Now” with Harper who (so far) is the only director to direct the classic show and the new one, the 8 minute clip of Russell Harty’s show with Davison and his replacement Colin Baker, and a photo gallery. 

The Caves of Androzani rises to the occasion as a top spot on the show as well as Davison’s Doctor.  It’s given some more features in this special edition and fans will surely want to mine it into their collections. 

Visit the DVD database for more information.

Further Reading on M&C