Robert Holmes (who wrote the more satirical Doctor Who story "The Sun Makers") here concentrates on delivering a breathlessly paced action thriller, with relentless death and destruction unfolding like in a Sam Peckinpah film, making Davison's heroic pacifism all the more effective. --Gary S. Dalkin
The scripting, pacing, and performances in this episode are simply brilliant. Peter Davison turns out the best performance of his time, skillfully balancing the Doctor's struggle for his own life with his unwavering impulse to protect the innocent. Superior production values and direction create gritty, edge-of- your seat drama throughout.
With the obligatory extras and the excellent remastering courtesy of The Doctor Who Restoration Team, Caves of Androzani is a five star disc all around. If you can only buy one episode from Peter Davison's era as the Doctor, this should be it.
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.Read more ›
I am not and have never been a big sci-fi fan, but I have always been an almost ridiculously devoted fan of Peter Davison (ever since first seeing him in All Creatures Great & Small when I was six years old). As a result, I have no idea what was actually going on in this story, I just know that I loved watching him in it. I enjoyed watching Nicola Bryant (Peri) as well, though she didn't have a very good hold on her American accent!
To sum up: this would be an excellent buy for any sci-fi or Dr. Who fan - or those of you who are like me, and would gladly watch a DVD of Peter Davison staring at a blank wall. (With audio commentary, perhaps?) :-)
Is there any point going into the plot? If you're on this page, you probably know everything about the story anyway so i won't bother. What I will discuss are the extras; these are what make DVDs what they are and unlike many TV shows the BBC knows exactly how to treat their Doctor Who fans. Steve Roberts and the chaps of the restoration team have yet again done a fabulous job in remastering the video, putting together a superb commentary track and a host of interviews and featurettes. These are what makes Who DVDs worth plonking down your [price] for.
Some people have complained about the slow release schedule of these DVDs, but let me ask you, would you prefer vanilla DVDs every month or 6 jam-packed with features event DVDs a year. I know which I prefer.
So raise a pint to Steve and the boys; visit their fabulous website at restoration-team.co.uk and if you work for the people who put out X-Files, Buffy and Star Trek DVDs show them what can be done with a DVD of a nearly 20 year old tv show.
A must have for every Doctor Who fan.