In the classic Doctor Who serial “The Caves of Androzani,” the Fifth Doctor and Peri get stuck in the caves on Androzani Minor and become caught up in a drug war that ends terribly for one of them. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
It’s great visiting these older episodes of Doctor Who because each of the Doctors have such noticeable and distinct character differences from each other. (Plus, even though it’s short, I get a great chance to see the sixth Doctor as well.) Peter Davison has a wonderful streak of humor and sarcasm to his VERY VERY VERY SERIOUS FACE. And the sprig of celery! I never knew why he had that so THANK YOU EPISODE FOR ANSWERING THAT.
I liked this episode a great deal, possibly more than the other two classic Who I’d seen. But let me start off with saying this: holy god, this serial was SO COMPLICATED. It’s not that it wasn’t pulled off well (it really was), but for at least the first two parts of the serial, all I could think was WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE and WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. There must have been 15 characters aside from the Doctor and Peri and many of them had very similar outfits and then someone else was introduced and my brain hurt but man, that beast thing was awesome, wasn’t it?
The main focus of “The Caves of Androzani” is the drug spectrox, found in the caves on Androzani Minor and created by the bats that lived there. (Did they poop it out? Or was it from the milk? That didn’t seem clear to me.) What I really liked about the dynamic of this particular serial was that the Doctor and Peri literally walked into a war of sorts. There was still a lot of the Doctor trying to figure out what was going on, but they stepped into a story halfway through it.
Peri’s role in this serial is probably not the best episode for me to get a handle on who she was as a companion, as she gets hit pretty hard with the spectrox toxemia fairly early into the story, so I felt that she was kind of out of it most of the time. From what I did see at the beginning of part one, Peri seemed to be one of the more playful companions we’ve seen yet; at this point, I don’t know how long her and the Doctor have been traveling together for. But they seem so comfortable with each other when I see them at the end of season 21. (21ST SEASON. HOLY FUCKING GOD THAT IS SO MANY SEASONS.)
I can see a lot of reasons why this particular serial was voted so highly by Doctor Who fans. First of all, all three of the cliffhangers that existed in the original format are goddamn fantastic. Actually executed? Crashing into Androzani Minor at a high speed? I think I would have peed myself if I watched these back when they originally aired. Wait…I probably was peeing myself, since I wasn’t even six months old at the time. Is that TMI? Whatever, I was a baby. Who cares.
It’s list time because I have a lot of thoughts and no way to organize them right now.
- I think a lot of this section is going to be me asking questions because I did see this episode out of context and without a lot of the history of the show so YOU ARE TOTALLY WELCOME TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. So was this episode filmed on a soundstage? The only reason I want to know is that the opening scenes (and some of the others) on the surface of Androzani seemed so expansive. But there was a painted background. What. Please tell me more.
- Another masked villain! Well…wait. He’s not really a villain…or is he? I appreciated the depth of Jek and the way that writer Robert Holmes kept me guessing about the man’s intentions. The thing is, he is never painted to either extreme. He does terrible things, but some are out of self-defense or revenge. And he helps the Doctor. Though he was kind of creepy to Peri, right?
- One of the gunrunners looked like Che Guevara. He did. I’m sorry.
- CREEPY ANDROIDS WITH NO FACES. There were so many bad people in this episode. MUD MONSTERS TOO!
- I was taken completely by surprise when Morgus killed the President. Even better? Morgus’s secretary turning on him. YOU GO, GIRL.
- Holy crap, so many people died in this episode. It’s kind of funny this came after “Voyage of the Damned” for me because that’s two episodes/serials with very, very high body counts.
- Peter Davison is SO DAPPER.
- I know that the Doctor can regenerate and of course he knew that, but I found it very noble that he still gave the bat milk to Peri first. His regeneration scene was kind of creepy, too. I assume those were past companions, but who was that last guy who kept telling the Doctor die?
- “What do you say, Peri? We can go on nature walks, have picnics and jolly evenings ’round the campfire!”
- “How is it you were able to walk past my androids?” “I don’t know. Maybe they just liked my face.”
- COLIN BAKER!