Me: You’ve seen this before, 19 and a half years ago. It was the first story we watched together when I moved in with you in ’93. Can you remember anything about it?
Sue: No. I remember Genesis of the Daleks, though.
Me: We watched Genesis after this.
Sue: Well, it must have been good if I let you show me another one. But I can’t remember a thing about it.
Me: You didn’t say much at the time.
Sue: I was probably thinking about you. We were still in our honeymoon period.
Me: And Peter Davison was too old for you back then.
I swat the cushion away and press Play.
Sue: Robert Holmes. He’s the man. This is going to be good.
Last week’s location has convinced Sue that anything’s possible now.
Sue: Are they shooting in Death Valley?
Peri and the Doctor explore the surface of Androzani Minor.
Sue: This wide shot is unusual. I don’t think we’ve ever had a scene quite like this before.
Deep within the Blowholes of Androzani, a Magma Beast is stirring.
Sue: Oh dear. At least it moves quickly and the camera didn’t dwell on it. They almost got away with it.
Peri falls into a Spectrox nest.
Sue: That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?
Me: Maybe Spectrox is really bouncy. It’s possible.
The Doctor tells Peri why he walks around with a stick of celery on his coat.
Sue: Right, so his celery turns purple later. And then he dies. They wouldn’t bring that up if it wasn’t important.
It doesn’t take Sue long to appreciate The Caves of Androzani’s unique style.
Sue: Who directed this?
Me: Graeme Harper.
Sue: He’s very good.
Me: He’s the only director from the classic series to work on the new series as well.
Sue: You can see why they brought him back. He’s in a different league to some of the other directors we’ve seen.
Meanwhile, on Androzani Major, Morgus is told that two gun runners have been caught.
Morgus: The spineless cretins.
Sue: Was he supposed to look straight down the lens like that?
Me: No, that was an accident.
Sue: That’s a shame. It doesn’t work. It turns the whole thing into a pantomime. I like his nervous twitch, though.
The Doctor and Peri meet Salateen.
Me: Do you recognise him?
Me: Did you ever watch the sitcom Sink or Swim? He played Peter Davison’s brother.
Me: His brother is very famous.
Sue: Peter Davison.
Me: No. In real life.
Sue: Rodney from Only Fools and Horses?
Me: Gene Hunt.
Sue: There’s no need to swear.
She’s not going deaf – I’ve ramped up the volume on the TV tonight. It’s The Caves of Androzani! I pause the DVD and try again.
Sue: Oh, yes. I can see it, now. He’s got the same smirk.
General Chellak puts in a call to Morgus.
Sue: He reminds me of David Seaman in a shell suit.
Morgus isn’t happy with the progress being made in the war against Sharaz Jek.
Sue: He’s got a Francis Rossi ponytail. I must say, the sets are nicely lit. Nice use of gobos.
When we first meet Sharaz Jek, it’s via a huge close-up.
Sue: It’s Scorpius from Farscape.
The Doctor pleads his innocence to Chellak and Salateen.
Sue: Are Peter Davison’s flies open?
Me: No, it’s just the cut of his trousers. Why are you staring at Peter Davison’s crotch? Stupid question. Forget I asked.
Morgus shares a lift with his assistant, Krau Timmin.
Sue: That’s a very cramped lift. It could be borderline sexual harassment. Either that or he’s having an affair with his PA.
The Doctor and Peri consider their fate.
Peri: We seem to be the fall guys.
The Doctor: Do try and speak English, Peri, hmm?
Sue: Yes, speak with an English accent, please. That would be a brilliant idea. It’s a shame – she’s a really good actress but the accent makes her sound a bit whiny. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, though.
Jek’s hairy hands caress Peri’s features on a monitor screen.
Sue: Is it Richard Keys?
That’s my favourite moment in the experiment so far.
Sue: This is shot very differently to anything we’ve ever seen before. You don’t get that many dissolves in your average Doctor Who. This cell is beautifully lit, too. It’s oozing atmosphere. The music is excellent as well.
Me: Do you remember any of this yet?
Sue: Not a thing.
The Doctor and Peri are taken out to be shot.
Chellak: Have you a last declaration?
Sue: (As the Doctor) Yes, I really don’t suit the colour red.
Chellak: Do you have any last declaration?
Sue: (As Peri) Yes, I’m an American. Honestly.
The execution squad fire their weapons.
Sue: What the…?
Me: That’s it. The Doctor regenerates in the next episode.
Sue: What about Peri?
Me: She’s dead too.
Sue: She is not! I know she’s in Doctor Who for quite a while. John Paul named his cat after her, and he wouldn’t have done that if she was only in it for 5 episodes. He’s not that stupid.
The credits roll.
Sue: Great start. Very stylish. Now I understand why you showed this to me 19 years ago.
Sue: Oh, I get it. They weren’t real machine guns after all. They’re firing little lights at them instead.
Morgus is using slave labour to run his factories.
Sue: Boooo! What a bastard.
Chellak sends the only witness to his botched execution on a deep penetration mission.
Sue: Sounds painful.
Two gun runners, Stotz and Krelper, are bickering.
Sue: I love these two. George Best isn’t very happy with the other one.
When Sue watches the Making Of documentary later, she will beg me to stick The Nightmare Man on. That isn’t something I hear every day.
Sharaz Jek definitely has the hots for Peri.
Sue: There must be a very good reason for this character to wear a mask. Is he the new Master?
Me: You said you wouldn’t ask me that again.
Sue: I don’t believe anything you tell me. Is he the new Master?
Sue: Be honest – is the Master in this story?
Me: Just… just shut up.
Sue: I knew it.
Me: It’s not the ****ing Master! Okay?
Sue: Whoever it is, he’s definitely into S&M. Or he’s a really big fan of Kiss.
The Doctor and Jek size each other up.
Sue: Snog him! You know you want to.
Me: You’re not taking this seriously.
Sue: That doesn’t usually bother you. No, it was a great scene. The direction is superb. It’s very tense.
Jek tells the Doctor that Spectrox is the key to eternal youth.
Sue: So what does he want it for? Surely it would be wasted on him. He doesn’t even shave his hands.
Having said that, she’s really taken with Christopher Gable.
Sue: He has an amazing voice. It’s a very powerful performance.
But all good things must come to an end, and the episode concludes with the return of the Magma beast.
Sue: What a shame. It was going really well and now it’s… well, it’s a bit shit.
Sadly, the Magma Beast doesn’t improve overnight.
Sue: No, that’s definitely not good. That’s the complete opposite of good. Oh dear.
Thankfully, it doesn’t last very long and Sue settles down again. She’s engrossed in the plot and she’s much quieter than usual. Which suits me just fine.
Jek slaps the Doctor across the neck.
Sue: Hey! Steady on! You can’t do that!
But Jek only has eyes for Peri.
Sue: What is he going to do with Peri now that he’s got her? Is he just going to stare at her all day?
Sometimes, my wife can be very naive.
Sue: It’s very intense, isn’t it? I haven’t got any fingernails left.
Peri’s condition is getting worse.
Sue: She looks like you, right now.
It’s true, I’m suffering from the second stage of man flu. It’s the stage where you look like shit and can’t help feeling sorry for yourself.
Sue: Nicola’s really good in these scenes. I really feel her pain.
The Doctor is taken to Stotz’s ship.
Sue: Look at that lovely pink lighting. Any other director and this place would be brilliant white and over lit. This is very cozy.
Morgus and Stotz are in cahoots.
Sue: How bleak is this? Are there any good guys in this?
Morgus breaks the 4th wall again.
Sue: It’s annoying me, now. It’s treating the audience like they’re idiots. It doesn’t need it.
The President of Androzani meets with Morgus.
Sue: The president is a fool. He’s falling straight into the bad guy’s trap.
Me: You can say that again.
Morgus pushes the president down a lift shaft.
Sue: Health and Safety legislation on this planet is a complete joke.
Morgus: Have the lift maintenance engineer shot.
Sue: That’s not a great message to send to the kids. It will put them off being lift engineers for life.
Sue continues to praise Graeme Harper.
Sue: This is on a different level. It’s proper telly, this.
The Doctor is dying.
Sue: I can’t believe he has to regenerate because he stung himself on some stupid nettles.
The episode concludes with the Doctor on a collision course with destiny.
The Doctor: I’m not going to let you stop me now!
Me: Is that it?
Sue: What can I possibly say? It doesn’t get much better than that.
Sue: Do you think Peter Davison wishes he hadn’t left the programme at this point? Everything seems to be coming together for him at the end. He should have stayed a bit longer.
The Doctor escapes from the gun runner’s spaceship. Machine gun fire ripples the ground as he makes his escape.
Sue: Wow. Look at that!
Krelper is determined to shoot the Doctor down.
Sue: He wiggles his arse when he shoots his gun. It’s endearing. It might also explain why he can’t shoot straight. This lot can run guns but they can’t aim them.
The Doctor almost gives up.
Sue: This is getting desperate.
But he soldiers on.
The Doctor: I must find Peri.
The Doctor enters the caves again.
Sue: Where’s the monster?
Me: Forget about the monster.
Sue: I can’t just forget about it. Where’s the monster?
Morgus will sell anyone out for a quick buck.
Sue: What a ****.
Chellak enters Jek’s hidden base. He even manages to pull Jek’s mask off.
Sue: When we see his face, it had better be worth that reaction. He shat himself!
General Chellak is killed by a mud bath.
Sue: Oh no, I really liked him. He was the only one I liked.
Morgus is deposed by Krau Timmin.
Sue: Monneypenny has taken over. Excellent. But he hasn’t got anything to lose now. This could get nasty.
Stotz kills his colleagues in cold blood.
Sue: What a bastard. He even laughed at the end. Who am I supposed to be rooting for again?
Jek directs the Doctor to the antidote.
Sue: He’s quite nice. For a sex pest.
Doctor heads deeper into the caves.
Sue: I finally remember this episode!
Sue: Yes, I remember this terrible special effect of the Doctor in the caves. I definitely remember that. Isn’t that funny?
Me: Do you have a problem with it now?
Sue: No. It doesn’t really bother me now.
The Doctor milks a bat.
Sue: Drink it then. What are you waiting for? Is he cured now?
Morgus reaches Jek’s base. Jek tears off his mask.
Me: He’s no Nev Fountain.
Sue: He’s no Jeremy Kyle, either. Look at me! Look at me!
Sue gasps as the death toll mounts: Morgus, Jek, Stotz.
Sue: It’s like Reservoir Dogs. In space.
Sharaz Jek is fatally wounded. He falls into an android’s arms.
Sharaz Jek: Salateen, hold me.
Sue: Aww, he only wanted a cuddle. I feel sorry for him.
The Doctor carries Peri back to the TARDIS.
Me: Let’s agree not to say anything until this episode ends. We can watch it twice.
And that’s what we do.
When it’s over, I turn to Sue, which takes courage because my bottom lip is still quivering.
Sue: That was really sad. The music was excellent.
Me: Shall we watch it again?
I rewind the DVD.
Sue: It was very heroic of the Doctor to give up his life for someone he hardly knew. Pointless, though. He had plenty of time to drink some of that milk before he dropped it. I bet he’ll kick himself later.
Peri cradles the Doctor in her arms.
Sue: So does anybody ever look at Peter Davison during this scene instead of Peri’s tits?
The Doctor: I might regenerate. I don’t know. Feels different this time.
Sue: Is it different because of the poison?
What a geeky thing to say.
The Doctor is haunted by visions of his old companions. Sue can’t understand why Peri has backed out of shot. And that’s not the only thing she doesn’t understand.
Sue: Kamelion shouldn’t be there. He wasn’t a real companion. You may as well have the sonic screwdriver floating over his head. And Kamelion looks like David Bowie’s Laughing Gnome, which isn’t good.
The Doctor’s last words are:
The Doctor: Adric?
Sue: He still feels bad about it, doesn’t he? If I had to sum it this regeneration in one word it would be ‘tragic’. But in a good way.
The Doctor regenerates.
The Sixth Doctor: You were expecting someone else?
Sue: Well I certainly wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel.
Me: First impression of Colin?
Sue: (As the Doctor) Change, my dear?
Me: No, I mean, what do you think of him so far?
Sue: He’s okay. Bring him on. Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if one of his adventures took place in a jungle.
Sue: Well, it’s either a 9 or a 10.
The tension is killing me.
She’s doing this on purpose.
Sue: Okay, I’ve got two problems with it. One: the stupid monster. And not just because it looked rubbish. It was pointless as well. If they hadn’t bothered with that monster they would have had more time to fix the other thing I didn’t like: that bloke looking down the camera lens. It spoilt it. It took me out of the drama.
Oh, for ****’s sake.
Sue: Everything else – the direction, the acting, the script, the music, the lighting, the costumes – fabulous. But it wasn’t perfect.
I tell her that Caves was voted the best Doctor Who story of all time in a Doctor Who Magazine poll in 2009. Blink came second.
Sue: Are they having a laugh? Fans think that was better than Blink? Ha! That’s funny. Bloody fans.