Friday, 4 October 2013

The Caves of Androzani

John Normington as Trau Morgus.
‘The Caves of Androzani’ is Peter Davison’s last tale -  a story rated the best in a survey of all Doctor Who stories. It is a story full of action, brilliantly directed by Graeme Harper from a script by Robert Holmes, his first contribution to the series for five years. All pieces fell in to place to make one of the most exciting and probably the best action-style Doctor Who stories of all time.
Is it perfect? There is no such thing as perfection, let’s be honest. It features a pretty average monster, and perhaps it is somewhat lacking in a little bit of humour (but that is
The Doctor and Sharez Jek.
merely the style of the story) but all in all it’s very hard to fault. The only thing is, does making it hard to fault make it perfect? I had a lot of issues with ‘The Seeds of Doom’, but I still gave it 10/10. When I put the two stories alongside each other, I definitely prefer ‘The Seeds of Doom’ despite its polystyrene snow and dodgy monster.
In essence, this is a very different Doctor Who story, seeing the Doctor and Peri caught up in events and basically just trying to survive the four episodes and little more. And that’s not a bad thing, but an approach rarely taken in Doctor Who. It starts with their arrival on Androzani
Sharez Jek is taken with Peri
Minor, a planet with frequent mudbursts and almost nothing to recommend it. The Doctor appears to have chose this planet, so my main question is why? That is never explained. Neither is Peri’s accent in the first few scenes which briefly becomes British at times (note her pronunciation of ‘glass’).
But I am sorry, because this really is a brilliant and gripping story. The characters are interesting, you care about those you are supposed to, especially the wonderfully portrayed (Christopher Gable) Sharez Jek, perhaps some of the best ‘behind the
Jek and Morgus fight.
mask’ acting television has ever seen. And then we have John Normington as Trau Morgus, even with his asides directly to camera he is one of the coldest and therefore most chilling villains in the shows’ 21 years to this point. Perfect casting.
It’s a brutal story, perhaps the most violent since ‘The Deadly Assassin’ back in Tom Baker’s third season. I wonder about its suitability for children. As part of an adjustment to aim the show more at adults though it’s great. Possibly Peter Davison’s best performance too, the Doctor’s determination to save Peri (Nicola Bryant) really adds another dimension to the character. Also, I thought the music was excellent too.
Problem is when a story is near perfect, it’s very hard to find something to write about!
The Doctor saves Peri in his final moments in the guise of Peter Davison.


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