[This is the same review I wrote for the previous DVD version of "The Caves of Androzani". I don't really have anything I'd like to add, but I hope this review compels you to purchase this fan-favorite, and hopefully nobody will be bothered by my copy/paste review.]
The best "Doctor Who" stories are remembered for being inventive science-fiction stories with unique characters and villainous schemes. But it's rare that a story gets remembered on an emotional level. After all, what can we make of a time traveler who gets into trouble, and doesn't seem to notice how dangerous his meddling can be? As it turns out with "The Caves of Androzani", there is some drama buried beneath the adventures through time and space. Peter Davison's turn as The Doctor was underrated for various reasons. Some fans were still getting over their understandable attachment to Tom Baker's 7-year run, while haters couldn't be blamed because many of Davison's stories (IMO) had mediocre writing. But like almost every "Doctor Who" fan will tell you, they couldn't have picked a better story to close Davison's tenure in the lead role. It easily Davison's best --- and the actor's personal favorite --- and one of the best "Doctor Who" stories in general.
So, why does "The Caves of Androzani" work better than most stories? After all, we've seen companions in trouble, villains with evil plots, alien worlds, and even The Doctor dying before. Why is this one special? There are many reasons (of which I'll share a few), but the key reason for me is that every single twist and turn in the plot makes sense 100% of the time. The action sequences (even that rubber-suit dragon creature) all have a purpose, and the characters have motivations that never ring false. People aren't evil just for the sake of being evil, and every character with an ounce of heroism has ulterior motives that may prove to be their undoing. The corporate magnate Morgus and the violent smuggler Stotz aren't just bad guys (though they're pretty sinister); their efforts to control the Spectrox trade and arms dealings all boil down to a greed that we've seen throughout human history. General Chellak indeed has a code of honor when performing his duties to maintain the deadly planet's environmental hazards & illegal trading ring...if only he could control his desire to be remembered as a legendary soldier rather than a corporate lackey. And as twisted as Sharaz Jek's mysteries are, even he earns some sympathy by the very end.
Of course The Doctor and his companion Peri deserve to be recognized as well. I always thought Peri was underrated companion, because people always focused on her American accent and good-looking body. But if you really watch "The Caves of Androzani", she plays a much more pivotal role in the story than companions usually do. Even though she begins as The Doctor's tagalong, she's really the only true voice of reason and conscience in the whole story. Even The Doctor can't resist being a little sarcastic with his various captors; as he says early in the story, "Curiosity has always been my downfall." What a sad and powerful way to look at the series! The Doctor and Peri's fates are, in a roundabout way, his fault. Plus, who knows if the people on the two Androzani planets might've been better off without The Doctor's recent arrival? When all the characters' fates are met, think on that for a moment.
Although I'm a huge fan of this entire TV franchise, I have to admit that few stories are perfect. Some are 1 or 2 parts too many, some suffer from the show's insanely low budget, etc. "The Caves of Androzani", however, is just about perfect with the length, production quality, acting, and storytelling. Case in point (to quote another "Doctor Who" fan), just watch the Part 3 cliffhanger and NOT want to watch Part 4. Or, do you wonder how a story involving running around in caves somehow manages to maintain its intensity and intriguing mystery. It's amazing this Fifth Doctor's farewell managed to be this good.
So, diehard fans already know that this is a must-have part of the collection. But if you're new to "Doctor Who", and want some good stories to start you off, this one is highly recommended. Don't worry if you haven't seen other Peter Davison stories. Although there are some good ones ("Earthshock" and "The Five Doctors" are a couple personal favorites), most of his stories have mixed reviews at best. But in the final hour, everyone realized how good Peter Davison really was, leaving his successors with larger shoes to fill than some realized. "The Caves of Androzani" is a TV classic!