Part One

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.

The Caves of AndrozaniSue: 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.

The Caves of AndrozaniMe: Do you recognise him?
Sue: No.
Me: Did you ever watch the sitcom Sink or Swim? He played Peter Davison’s brother.
Sue: No.
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.

The Caves of AndrozaniWhen 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.

The Caves of AndrozaniJek’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.

The Caves of AndrozaniChellak: 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.


Part Two

The Caves of AndrozaniSue: 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.

The Caves of AndrozaniSue: 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?
Me: No!
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.

The Caves of AndrozaniSue: 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.


Part Three

The Caves of AndrozaniSadly, 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.

The Caves of AndrozaniPeri’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?

The Caves of AndrozaniMorgus 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 Caves of AndrozaniThe 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!
Sue: Excellent.
Me: Is that it?
Sue: What can I possibly say? It doesn’t get much better than that.


Part Four

The Caves of AndrozaniSue: 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.
Sue: Awwwwwww.

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?

The Caves of AndrozaniMorgus 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?

The Caves of AndrozaniJek 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!
Me: Really?
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?

The Caves of AndrozaniMorgus 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 Caves of AndrozaniThe Doctor carries Peri back to the TARDIS.

Me: Let’s agree not to say anything until this episode ends. We can watch it twice.
Sue: But…
Me: Shush!

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.

The Caves of AndrozaniPeri 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 Caves of AndrozaniThe Doctor regenerates.

Peri: Doctor?
The Sixth Doctor: You were expecting someone else?
Sue: Well I certainly wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel.

Cue credits.

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.


The Score

Sue: Well, it’s either a 9 or a 10.

The tension is killing me.

Sue: Hmmmmmm.

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.




  1. Neil  November 9, 2012

    9! That’s a relief. I can’t have been the only one nervous about Sue’s reaction to this particular story… I laughed out loud twice at this — at the ‘naive’ line and at Sue’s first impression of Colin. My other half wondered what was so funny, but it just takes so long to explain to a Not-We!

    • DPC  November 10, 2012

      “Art Garfunkel”? 🙂


      “Sue: He’s OK. Bring him on. Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if one of his adventures took place in a jungle…”

      Depending on your definition, he does end up in a jungle or two… or three, but that’s another story or three…

      • Paul Mc Elvaney  November 10, 2012

        The ‘Art Garfunkel’ line has to go down as one of my all-time favourite Sue quotes, pure genius! My absolute favourite story has to be Caves, but a 9 is good enough for me. Bring on the psychotic one!! But preferably without THAT coat 🙂

  2. jsd  November 9, 2012

    9/10 for Androzani, huh. Well, I understand her reasoning. The monster is indeed shit. Still… I can’t give it less than 10. Part of it was the circumstance: I had no idea when I saw it the first time that it was a regeneration episode. What a great surprise.

    • Nick Mays  November 9, 2012

      I always felt the Magma Beast was shoehorned into the plot (probably on JN-T’s insistence) just “because it’s Dr Who and it’s got to have a monster”.

      That said, the poor old thing is an indiginous lifeform, probably minding its own business and only killing to eat and there’s all these psychotic humans and androids charging around its tunnels killing for the hell of it. So I feel a bit sorry for it that it gets wasted by a mud burst. So does the Doctor, as it happens.

      • Cracked Polystyrene Man  November 11, 2012

        The Magma Monster obviously wasn’t working. Instead of “some creature” down there it could simply have been quickly changed to some “damaged android of Jek’s that’s gone beserk and attacks everything it sees”.

        Easily fixed. No new costume needed. Change just a couple of words in the script.

        • Dave Sanders  November 11, 2012

          Rewatching Androzani again right now, you know what the crappiest part of the Magma Beast actually is? They gave it a sodding CLOAK. No wonder Graeme Harper restricts the complete view of the thing to one long shot at the end of episode two.

  3. Wholahoop  November 9, 2012

    “Is it Richard Keys?” Genuine tears of laughter 🙂

  4. Thomas Bush  November 9, 2012

    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.

    My thoughts, exactly! But not on the score. Caves gets a big tenner from me.

    • DPC  November 10, 2012


      “having the sonic screwdriver floating…” speaks volumes to be sure…

    • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

      Last word (from me anyway) on Kamelion… When the Production team realised that they couldn’t get the prop to work prop-erly (ahem) after its operator died, they should’ve either written Kamelion out – a throwaway line in ‘Warriors’ or “Awakening’ that the Doc had dropped it off somewhere – or they could have had it assume the form of another person or object (maybe Nyssa? A Hatstand?) until they could write it out properly. Or maybe even just not mention or use it at all, and let the audience/fans assume the Doc dropped it off somewhere after ‘King’s Demons’. (Rather like the Master [storywriter] at the end of ‘The Mind Robber’). Simply ‘forgetting’ it and not referring to it for five stories is just sloppy and treats the audience like idiots.

      Mind you, Sue’s no idiot and she didn’t notice it was missing until it turned up in ‘Planet of Fire’.

      I agree though – it hardly qualifies as a ‘companion’.

      • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

        I have to agree that it was ridiculous not to mention that what was missing between
        King’s Demons and Planet of Fire

  5. Nick Mays  November 9, 2012

    Brilliant story, brilliant comments and the cliffhanger to Part 3 is just well… brilliant!

    • Perry Armstrong  November 12, 2012

      An impressive moment, even if Peter Davison appears to be paraphrasing Professor Zaroff!

  6. Jason  November 9, 2012

    I hate to be that guy, but I just watched this for the first time recently (after watching all of Peter Davison’s other episodes), and I thought Androzani was just… average. Honestly, I can’t get why this episode is so beloved.

    • Lewis Christian  November 9, 2012


      • Jason  November 9, 2012

        Phew, good, I thought it was just me. Really not trying to troll, it’s just there are so many classic episodes AND new ones that are better than this one.

        • Lewis Christian  November 9, 2012

          I think the next story helps this one because people notice a huge decline in quality (or, rather, budget). I also think, in comparison to the rest of the Davison era, it definitely is a step-up. But yeah. I can see why so many adore it, but I do think it’s over-hyped. I love ‘Genesis’ and I really like ‘Blink’ too, but I also think they’re slightly over-hyped.

          That said, I adore the McCoy era, Season 24 and all. Make of that what you will.

      • John S. Hall  November 9, 2012

        It’s very well done and all, but I’ve never understood the adoration for “Caves” either…

        • Nick Mays  November 9, 2012

          Well, speaking from the point of view of a long-term Dr Who ‘fan’ , watching this when it was broadcast, I felt it was ‘grown up’ material, such as hadn’t been seen in the series for many years, and a real use of Peter Davison’s talents, not to mention those of a great writer and director.

          I can well remember feeling very sorry to see Davison go after what was really such a short time (up til then, natch) and thinking “There should have been another way” or probably “It should always be like this.”

          I do agree though that the story that immediately follows it may actually give ‘Caves’ a boost for the complete change of tone and production values. Many things go wrong there, not least being the Tewwance Twins… Shh! Spoilers, Sweetie!

          • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

            F**k not getting Caves – I was the one reviewer in 2007 who thought Blink had its head shoved right up its arse.

  7. Antti Björklund  November 9, 2012

    Is it just me or does Sue start to sound like a ming-mong in some places?

  8. Lewis Christian  November 9, 2012

    Okay, so I’ll purposely keep my comment short and simple.

    I disagree with Sue, and most of fandom here. I give ‘Caves’ about 4/10. 5 if I’m having a really good day. As for the one after this? Gets a 7 from me.

    {ducks and leaves, qucikly}

    • Lewis Christian  November 9, 2012

      One particular element I adore about this story, however, is the fact Peri and the Doctor get back to the TARDIS absolutely filthy. It’s very rare. Somehow, the Doctor’s hair tends to be perfect during every adventure (even more noticable during the new series when the characters never seem to get a speck of mud or dust on them at all!) or the costumes end up extremely clean after the adventure has supposedly just seen them go through hell and back. It’s very rare, and the only other case I can think of really is the end of the very first story, where the TARDIS crew run back to the TARDIS, physically knackered, broken, filthy, dirty, muddied up. There’s a hell of a lot of ‘realism’ thrown into this one and whilst I don’t get the hype for it, I do admit it’s a damn good end for Davison and it’s a step-up from the past three seasons.

      • DPC  November 10, 2012

        Just like “An Unearthly Child” (dirt galore!), and “The War Games” (torn pants), and “Planet of the Spiders” (torn outfit).

        Both Classic and New were often clean-conscious, but the dirty aspect can really pack a punch. It’s amazing it’s never been overused…

        Davison’s last season did feel the most focused for his character to be sure…

        • Lewis Christian  November 10, 2012

          I’d love to see more ‘wear and tear’ on the characters, costumes and props. It just adds that extra edge of believability.

          • Jonathan  November 10, 2012

            After the special editions, expect the beeb to squeeze more cash out of us with CG torn clothes editions…

      • Frankymole  November 10, 2012

        There’s “The War Games” where Troughton’s jacket and trousers are ripped to feckery.

    • Jason  November 9, 2012

      I’m with you on Caves, but I thought the next one was pretty awful. I’m finishing up CB’s first season now, and I’ve gotta say he’s the most unlikable Doctor. I am probably in the minority of people who likes Mark of the Rani, though.

      • Lewis Christian  November 9, 2012

        I feel it was a shame Colin never got a third series. In that respect, Season 22 would be viewed better if you ask me. But that’s a comment thread for a few stories’ time 🙂

      • DPC  November 10, 2012

        Doc6, to me, was refreshingly different and lively. And has the widest range of reactions and, indeed, is arguably the most moral of them all.

        But I don’t want to provide too much in details as I would rather have Sue spend the time to watch the episodes and independently decide. Doc6 has a lot of likeable moments as well… Which might be why I too adore “The Mark of the Rani”, but I am something of a fan of Sixie’s era…

        • Thomas  November 10, 2012

          Sixth would’ve fared much better if his first story hadn’t been what it was. As it is we’re constantly framing his later actions in respect to *that* moment in the first episode, and it does the character no favors.

          My first Colin Baker story was “The Mysterious Planet”, which is probably the best jumping-off point if you’re not hellbent about watching it chronologically.

          • encyclops  November 10, 2012

            This is so true. Without that, I find him at least as likable as Hartnell.

        • Paul Mc Elvaney  November 10, 2012

          I agree, the thing that bothers me about fan’s opinions on the Baker era is that they often say ‘it would have been better if they hadn’t hired Colin’. That’s rubbish, his job was to play an arrogant sod and he did it brilliantly!!

          • Neowhovian  November 12, 2012

            I absolutely agree with that. I think Colin Baker did a brilliant job with what he was given. I just think that too often the writers let him down.

    • DPC  November 10, 2012

      It’s a simple plot, half of it regurgitated (“The Power of Kroll”), made up by fantastic direction and character interaction.

      But Graeme Harper, who will return for another tale (in Sixie’s era), really puts out a top-notch job. I wish he kept the style for the new series, where his direction is pretty much the same in feel as others who directed. Today’s technology allows for much more to happen, and yet his New Series stories aren’t as watchable… 🙁

      • django  November 10, 2012

        I think Sue was being generous giving this a 9.

        Good direction only goes so far in making up for a lack lustre simplistic plot. Sharaz Jeks is the kind of B-Movie villain you would normally expect from a childs story after they had scared themselves watching The Phantom of the Opera. Perfectly acceptable for an 11 year old, but Robert Holmes can do so much better.

        • Thomas  November 11, 2012

          See, I disagree there. I think while the basic plot is rather simple, the characters and their interactions with one another is what makes it so complex. Jek in particular, while conceptually a simple character, is delightfully nuanced throughout the story (in part from the writing, with the wonderful “I AM mad” scene, and also from Gable’s performance).

          I don’t think it’s really Holmes at his *absolute* best (writing-wise I hold Sun Makers and Deadly Assassin to a higher degree), but it certainly holds its ground with the better of them.

    • John Miller  November 10, 2012

      I’ve never rated Androzani. I am overjoyed that Sue made comments like:

      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


      Sue: It’s annoying me, now. It’s treating the audience like they’re idiots. It doesn’t need it.

      I have always thought that was crap. Androzani however does prove that once fandom gets an idea lodged in their heads, it’s there for good. The obvious example is that “Tomb” was hailed as an all-time classic. And then the prints were found in Hong Kong. Many many people still won’t hear a bad word about Tomb. Caves of Androzani is decent enough, but it’s far from the Greatest Story Ever.

      (Oh, and the “it feels different” never being properly explained is thanks to a certain fellow with the initials MG)

      • Noodles  November 10, 2012

        I watched “Tomb Of The Cybermen” before I had a clue how it was viewed by fandom in general. I absolutely adored it. Still do.

        Sometimes people like things because they actually like them.

        • Nick Mays  November 11, 2012

          Too right!

          I’m sure ‘Timelash’ has its fans and, as we know, there are some non-fanboys and girls who actually quite liked Adric.

          It’s all subjective…

    • Costrallo Ih  November 10, 2012

      I must admit, I’ve never hugely rated Caves either – it’s slickly made an’ all, but somehow I’ve never really been able to get into it like I have the down-and-dirty nonsense like Resurrection. It’s perhaps because there are no likeable characters, I don’t really care about any of them, and therefore there doesn’t seem to be anything invested in the situation (other than staving off spectrox poisoning).

      There’s a lot of killing but, unlike Resurrection, everyone involved is a bad guy – you can never fully get behind them. Resurrection is claustrophobic, you can feel for these ordinary people in a desperate situation, with their world closing in and no way out. In Androzani, they pretty much get what they deserve. You can feel a bit sorry for Sharaz Jek, but he’s lining himself up to be a rapist anyway which does limit the identification factor somewhat.

      • Thomas  November 11, 2012

        I think that’s what makes the story so fascinating for me- the fact that at the end of the day it’s a story about a terrible system with terrible people and how it all inevitably falls apart.

        The whole story seems to be about collapse and decay- placing the Doctor at the heart of it. The tension of the story comes out of (I think) the Doctor trying desperately to hold on to life and try to escape as the whole of the society crumbles to pieces around him. There’s a lot going on here thematically that makes it enormously fascinating for me.

  9. Frankymole  November 9, 2012

    “When Sue watches the Making Of documentary later, she will beg me to stick The Nightmare Man on.”

    Some days are better than others..!.

  10. Frankymole  November 9, 2012

    “It’s annoying me, now. It’s treating the audience like they’re idiots. It doesn’t need it.”

    Yeah, that hack Shakespeare! He really talks down to his audience!

  11. Stuart Ian Burns  November 9, 2012

    “It was very heroic of the Doctor to give up his life for someone he hardly knew.”

    Poor old Big Finish.

  12. Frankymole  November 9, 2012

    Blink wasn’t even the best story in its half of its own season! Human Nature whizzed all over it! FFS…

    • Broton  November 10, 2012

      PoiThe stupid ending spoiled Human Nature

      • Broton  November 10, 2012

        And my mobile’s stupid text entering system spoiled my post! Ignore the random letters at the start

  13. Colleen Hawkins  November 9, 2012

    Did you mean to refer to Peri as “the Peri” in the comments about episode one, Neil? Otherwise all our fears seemed to be groundless. Sue “got” exactly what is so terrific about “Caves”, but also rightly pointed out that – for all its undoubted brilliance – it’s not perfect. It’s my favourite Classic Who, but even I wouldn’t have given it more than a 9. It IS better than “Blink” though.

    • Neil Perryman  November 9, 2012

      Yeah, that was a typo.

      • Thomas  November 10, 2012

        “You don’t even know what a “Peri” is, do you?”

  14. encyclops  November 9, 2012

    When I was a kid and my sister and I played Doctor Who, I remember taking the role of Jek because I had a pimple that day. I’d forgotten that his face is just a TEENSY bit more ravaged than that.

    Also, I love the phrase “sex pest.”

    I think of the Magma Beast as this script’s Shrivenzale. It’s a bit better-looking than that, but it’s still here to monster up a perfectly good Holmes script about humanoids screwing each other over. As a Doctor Who fan, though, I can easily ignore it. What makes this story less than perfect for me is just that it’s so bleak. In this respect it fits perfectly into the Saward era; many of the best stories also tend to be really depressing, and that makes them hard for me personally to love. It’s that whole gun/frock thing, and I’m on the frock side.

    Given that, though, you’d think I’d adore “Blink,” but I think it’s just a bit of clever fun. I’m with Frankymole in preferring “Human Nature,” and frankly I still think the Angels are a silly monster, even sillier than the Magma Beast. They only make sense in the “Doctor Who is a fairy tale” world of Moffat. But if you’re not invested in traditional Doctor Who, or in its very loose sci-fi trappings, and you just enjoy really entertaining and tightly written television, then of course you’d love it as much as Sue does. It’s only we nerds who make such nerdy demands on this show.

    I don’t think the “poison” theory is all that geeky. Geeky is extrapolating from “The Brain of Morbius” that what we think is the fifth incarnation is in fact the thirteenth, that the Watcher is the Valeyard, and that the reason it feels different this time is that he’s not supposed to be able to regenerate again….

    • DPC  November 10, 2012

      The bleakness is pretty much good, though I’m not as much a neat fit into either gun or frock tropes. Maybe it a frock was shoved into the gun’s hole… the double-crossing, double dealing, treason, getting caught in the middle — the “getting caught in the middle” is a very Hartnell-era trait, where they get caught up in things and are lucky to escape with their lives… only this time, only Peri had. Granted, as a Hartnell fan, the revisiting of that trope – and done right – made it so much the better.

      Loved the Angels, though… they are silly – but, as with all memorable monsters, silly or otherwise, they made a proper impression. The Daleks, critters with egg whisks and toilet plungers – can still scare to this day despite those silly elements. So they’re really not silly after all.

      • encyclops  November 10, 2012

        Don’t get me wrong: the bleakness is great and very appropriate. It’s just that I’m not always in the mood for it the way I can pretty much always go for a little “City of Death.” Plus I’d venture to say that some of the story’s best elements — i.e. Davison’s performance and THAT cliffhanger — are not quite as impressive if you don’t realize this isn’t status quo. The modern Doctors have quite a chore trying to sell every single one of their dashing heroic moments in the scripts that fawn all over them; back when Davison was being sold short all the time, to get a script like this finally is just magic.

        I can kinda sorta buy the Daleks as an actual lifeform that might exist. I can’t really buy the Angels. Quantum mechanics, yeah, yeah, but the rules by which they behave are the rules of kiddie monsters, not too far from “if I hide under the covers and don’t touch the floor they can’t get me.” The Silents are pretty much the same. But I guess after so many years of perfect warriors who want to conquer the galaxy, it’s a refreshing change to just have monsters who basically just want to scare you and then eat you.

    • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

      Which would ignore the comment from Five Doctors about him being the 4th regeneration. My remembering that probably counts me as geeky I guess

      • encyclops  November 10, 2012

        Oh yes, there are plenty of explicit contradictions to that theory even before you get to the fact that it’s plainly daffy. 🙂 It’s not one I invented or even believe, but it’s fun to think about.

        • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

          I am not going to mention that theory which shall not be mentioned

      • encyclops  November 10, 2012

        …on the other hand, the Doctor does seem to lie about his age a bit…

      • Thomas  November 11, 2012

        I think the difficulty with the “which regeneration is the Fifth Doctor” question is that no matter what answer you pick, it always requires retconning at least one piece of evidence- whether it be the Morbius scene, the lines in Mawdryn, Five Doctors, whatever. There’s no answer that can reconcile all of those (just as there isn’t an underlying answer for most bits of Doctor Who continuity), so your preference for the theory is entirely down to which scenes you prefer to retcon others.

        For myself I love the implications of the Morbius scene to bits, so I much prefer a theory that includes that instead of JN-T/Levine continuity. But it’s a very YMMV kind of situation.

    • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

      The Magma Beast and Shrivenzale are perfect examples of why Robert Holmes doesn’t normally ‘do’ monsters and tries to make them characters instead by giving them personality, so that any deficiencies in their execution can be glossed over; he hated the Kroll brief, but there they got away with it by getting the sense of scale and weight more or less right. It’s noteworthy to me that when he has to do ‘monsters’, he purposely makes them unintelligent animals acting on instinct instead. That’s what really lets the Magma Beast down – it’s too humanoid and looks like a bloke in a costume instead of a proper beast.

    • Thomas  November 10, 2012

      I think the difference between the Shrivenzale and the Magma beast is that the Shrivenzale is in a story where it can afford to look crap (comedy can withstand some pretty bad production values), whereas the Magma beast is in a story where it cannot.

      • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

        I would disagree and as was stated after seeing the Myrka in Warriors, that if that story had been any good they coud have got away with the Myrka. For me the story is so good that I can tolerate a crap monster effect

        • Thomas  November 10, 2012

          Oh, I don’t think the Magma beast is a serious detriment at all. I was just meaning it sticks out more on an aesthetic level because the rest of it is so serious and rather gritty, whereas the Shrivenzale is in a story that doesn’t take itself that seriously, and so can afford to look a bit crap.

          It’s all relative, really.

          • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

            Can’t argue with that

    • Noodles  November 11, 2012

      I always thought that the regeneration was supposed to be different because the Doctor had been repressing it for so long. IIRC it’s in the commentary that Graeme Harper says that you see the same effect as you would when Davison is regenerating at the end of part 3 because he wanted to imply that the Doctor actually [i]had[/i] started regenerating at that point but held the regeneration back by sheer force of will throughout the next episode – until Peri was safe.

      I’ve always thought that this was responsible for it feeling different, as well as the instability of the 6th Doctor.

  15. DPC  November 9, 2012

    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.

    Shrewd, I thought!

    Another awesome review, as always!!

    I have to save a number of comments for later, given they might lead to unintentional spoilers.

    It’s cool how Sue liked the end of Davison’s era. Season 21 is rather good all around (save for “Warriors”, despite some good ideas it had), but Davison’s final 4 stories are really great stuff – even “Resurrection”, despite its plot holes, has a certain zest and feel…

    • encyclops  November 10, 2012

      Oh man. I just realized part of my comment might be spoilery. Hopefully, though, in the event that Sue does read it, it will have slipped her mind by the time it becomes relevant (or else its significance won’t be as clear as it seems in hindsight). Neil, if you need to delete it, I’ll repost an expurgated version (without the gannet).

      DPC: is one of your spoilers about how Peri’s voice NEVER becomes less whiny and irritating?

  16. John G  November 10, 2012

    “Well I certainly wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel.”

    Brilliant Sue, brilliant, and a 9 is more than good enough for me. Caves is a great story, certainly Peter’s best (and Nicola’s too, for that matter), but there are at least 5 or 6 other classic series stories I would rank above it. In any case, it is a stunning comeback for Bob Holmes (sadly not sustained over the next couple of seasons), and Harper’s direction creates the most dynamic regeneration scene ever. Just a shame that Colin’s first lines, while acting as a clear indicator of the new Doctor’s personality, do spoil the mood rather at the end.

    It is a bizarre coincidence that you should be embarking on Colin’s era just as he goes into the jungle. I’m not sure if Sue or Colin will have the tougher task over the coming weeks…

    • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

      “It is a bizarre coincidence that you should be embarking on Colin’s era just as he goes into the jungle. I’m not sure if Sue or Colin will have the tougher task over the coming weeks…”

      This sort of thing seems to happen a lot with this blog. Coincidence? Or are there more sinister, temporal forces at work? ;o)

      • Frankymole  November 10, 2012

        I hope so. I bet Valentine Dyall will pop up soon ~(or his successor as The Man In Black – Mark Gatiss!)…

        • solar penguin  November 10, 2012

          Don’t forget, Marc Cory came between them. So the Black Guardian engineered the events of The Daleks’ Masterplan.

        • Steve White  November 10, 2012

          Actually, heres a good point…

          Neil, are you going to include Slipback?

          • Andrew Bowman  November 11, 2012

            Unlikely, as it wasn’t televised.

          • Dave Sanders  November 11, 2012

            But it was broadcast on Radio 4, it’s by the script editor and it is considered canon. Which doesn’t say much, since JN-T considered Dimensions In Time to be quasi-canon, so that all the Doctors could have legitimately ‘met’ the Brigadier. And they say we fans have no sense of proportion…

            Anyway, if you start going down that road, where do you stop? A lot of the Big Finishes have been broadcast as an ‘official’ season on Radio 4, but since that’s mainly been the Paul McGann stories, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad way to go as a continuation….

            Oh, who am I kidding? 🙂

          • Nick Mays  November 11, 2012

            ‘Slipback’ – sub-Douglas Adams claptrap, audio and book IMHO.

          • Andrew Bowman  November 11, 2012

            We’re in serious danger here of falling into the trap of Shada here! 🙂 Slipback; Ghosts of N-Space; Blood of the Daleks: it’s doubtful any of these will be ‘watched’. In any case, hearing a radio drama needs full attention, as talking while it’s on means you miss more than if you watched it. Dimensions, on the other hand, is an anniversary story, so it will probably be watched because of that. Sadly, the 1985 mini-scene featuring Sontarans won’t be watched, and it’s as yet unknown whether Search Out Space will get a look in either. Safe to say, however, that everything that is considered canon on the telly will be watched (DiT notwithstanding). That’s how I see it anyway 🙂

          • Thomas  November 12, 2012

            Psst…Doctor Who doesn’t have a canon… >.>

  17. Jazza1971  November 10, 2012

    “Sue: I bet this scene isn’t in Nev’s wank bank.”


  18. Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

    I would have knocked off a point for Krau Timmin using a tv remote control for her tablet. You can even see the volume control on it. Other than that and the walking Welsh dragon I would happily admit to being part of the vocal majority who appear to believe this to be the bestest Who story ever

    • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

      If you had a boss like Morgus, you’d want a volume control on your vid-screen remote, wouldn’t you?

  19. Jay  November 10, 2012

    “Everything seems to be coming together for him at the end.”

    That’s the insane beauty of it, isn’t it? It all kicked in. What can ya do?

    • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

      Always leave them wanting more?

  20. Thomas  November 10, 2012

    One of my favorite things to think about with Caves is the idea (mentioned above) that The Brain of Morbius is entirely accurate and the Fifth Doctor is actually the Thirteenth, explaining why it “feels different this time” (and making “is this death?” a really powerful line).

    Of course, if want to be completely mad and gloriously bonkers, we can go with the idea (as I read it on Sandifer’s blog) that the Brain of Morbius accurately shows Robert Holmes and Graham Harper to be previous regenerations of the Doctor, thus meaning that the Doctor broke out of his own narrative and wrote and directed his own regeneration story, writing himself out of the regeneration limit.

    • solar penguin  November 10, 2012

      The trouble with that theory is that it doesn’t explain the biggest mystery about the mind-wrestling contest: why did Solon just happen to have a fully functional mind-wrestling machine in his lab in the first place? Even if you assume he rescued it from Morbius’s ship, that still doesn’t explain why he did it. Explain that, and everything else will fall into place.

      He must’ve been planning to use it for some reason. Clearly there was more to Solon’s agenda than meets the eye. Perhaps he was going to set Morbius up as a puppet ruler, and himself as the power behind the throne. And he would use mind-wrestling contests to keep Morbius under control.

      But not being a Time Lord, Solon didn’t have any previous generations and would lose the contest pretty quickly. The only way he could win would be to rig the machine, programming in fake previous incarnations for himself.

      And those must be the fake incarnations that appeared when the Doctor mind-wrestled Morbius.

      • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

        Time Lords are telepathic. They don’t need a ‘machine’ to do mind-bending contests any more than you need a machine rather than a club to play golf. Any old metal lash-up will probably do as a conduit to amplify the thoughts between them.

        Boy, it’s a good thing Neil’s at Dimensions this weekend, eh?

        • Wholahoop  November 11, 2012

          “Did you spill my pint?”……….

          • Wholahoop  November 11, 2012

            …..asked new Viz character Biffa Benton

    • Frankymole  November 11, 2012

      A regeneration limit that Bob Holmes created in the first place (Deadly Assassin) as well as creating a total of 12 Doctors up to Tom (Brain of Morbius, completely rewritten by Bob Holmes) and then had to face in a further regeneration story (Holmes again – having to face the situation he’d created himself, there’s poetic justice for you!).

  21. Broton  November 10, 2012

    Well it is better than Blink and I like Morgus talking to the camera – otherwise he would just be talking to himself looking in a random direction. Second best Doctor Who story ever for me.

  22. Gavin Noble  November 10, 2012

    I don’t agree with the consensus in fandom that Androzani is the best classic story or indeed the best Who story ever – but I think it’s an exceptionally good one. Unlike some stories it doesn’t date as badly as others and the calibre of acting is amongst the highest in the series entire history.

    The Magma Best is shit whatever way you look at it, but the rest of the production is a class apart from much of 80’s Who. The first episode cliffhanger is the one of the best in the series and as a ten year old I really had no idea how it was going to be resolved. I knew it was Peter’s last story but didn’t think he was going to regenerate so soon in it and what of Peri? Genuinely baffled by it. Glad it was only a 24 hour wait back then to see part 2.

    Overall I maintain Davison was an exceptionally good Doctor who was as successful at following such a legend as Tom Baker as Patrick Troughton was in following Hartnell. It is hard to take over from someone ingrained in public consciousness and Davison did it perfectly.

    Enjoyable review but, but where’s the next time trailer from Glen?

    • Neil Perryman  November 10, 2012

      Glen will be back for the next update. The next update isn’t actually an episode.

      • Gavin Noble  November 10, 2012


    • John G  November 10, 2012

      “Overall I maintain Davison was an exceptionally good Doctor who was as successful at following such a legend as Tom Baker as Patrick Troughton was in following Hartnell. It is hard to take over from someone ingrained in public consciousness and Davison did it perfectly.”

      Yes, I very much agree with that. Peter wasn’t always best served by the scripts, but I still think he did a great job with the character. For all the emoting of the recent incarnations, I still find the fifth Doctor to be the most humane and sympathetic of them all, and his actions in this story really emphasise that. Someone has complained above that none of the support characters in Caves are sympathetic, but that merely focuses our sympathy more on the Doctor as he desperately seeks to extricate himself and Peri from what they have unwittingly stumbled into, and it makes his heroism and self-sacrifice all the more affecting.

  23. Richard Lyth  November 10, 2012

    I’d put City Of Death as my favourite classic Who story, but this has got to be second or third. It’s certainly the best directed (straight-to-camera soliloquys and all). The monster is a bit superfluous though – I would have taken it out of this story and put it in Planet Of Fire, it would have worked much better there. Still, good to see Sue enjoyed it, a very fair assessment I think. God knows what she’ll make of the next story though…

  24. Neil Sullivan  November 10, 2012

    Sue: So does anybody ever look at Peter Davison during this scene instead of Peri’s tits?

    Peter Davison was in that scene??

    • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

      Wait, we were watching Doctor Who?

      • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

        Now that’s a Twin Dilemma if ever I saw it… them.. um…

  25. Julian Chislett  November 10, 2012

    For me this is without doubt one of the very best across all eras of the show. It seems to me the fan appreciation of Caves has very little to do with what immediately followed it, but everything to do with what we’d been served up during the rest of the Davison Era, without exception.

    I think Sue’s score for this one is pretty much spot on, especially so if you can’t ignore the Magma Beast and you have a “thing” about the fourth wall being broken. Personally, I love that bit.

    Have loved this experiment since day one and always look forward to being amused by the comments that follow it.

  26. tom_harries  November 10, 2012

    I like it, it’s a good story (though not that original; as another poster said, half of it is ripped from Power of Kroll) and it is brilliantly made. Partly that’s the director, and partly it’s because everyone always put a bit more effort in for an ‘event’ story.

    But as has been said many times before, it’s Doctor Who does Blake’s Seven. Swap the Doctor and Peri with Blake and Jenna/Cally and how much, apart from the ending, would you actually have to change? Three scenes?

    • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

      And it wouldn’t be written by Terry ****ing Nation! ;o)

      • Wholahoop  November 10, 2012

        Don’t worry, Robert Holmes also did Blakes 7, hooray

        • DPC  November 10, 2012

          Of his four stories, ‘Orbit” is easily the best. Just think, if the Doctor and Peri arrived on the shuttlecraft before the trap was revealed… 😮 😀

          “Killer” was a fantastic piece of sci-fi, with the B7 characters being fitted into it…

          “Gambit” was too campy for its own good, which is a shame as there’s otherwise a lot going for it…

          “Traitor” felt like the pilot episode to a spinoff, featuring the most bland and boring bunch of boneheads ever to be put on screen…

          • Frankymole  November 10, 2012

            I think that latter spinoff was actually made, and was called “Star Cops”…

          • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

            And oh look – Chris Boucher was in charge of it.

    • Dave Sanders  November 10, 2012

      Wait, has it? When? The only ways this is superficially like B7 is both are so bloody miserable, everyone’s as bad as each other and nobody wins (which I suppose is a bit season 4). But Blake is an inspirational pro-active figurehead, which Davison is not, and Blake never cocks up a closed-loop status quo just by arriving there. And unless Ben Steed’s writing (we’d hear about a lot more than Peri’s tits if he did), you wouldn’t get a shit superfluous monster either, and no they would NOT make the Magma Beast out of a Sea Devil painted yellow.

      • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

        Well, of course Blake is a Freedom Fighter/Terrorist (depending on your point of view) and is quite prepared to kill to further him own aims, unlike the Doctor, so I’m not quite sure how you can maker that comparison…?

        • Frankymole  November 10, 2012

          The Doctor not prepared to kill to overthrow tyranny? Not sure about that. He would’ve killed Davros in the last story if he hadn’t got shut out of the room, he berates himself immediately for that mistake.

          • Frankymole  November 10, 2012

            ^^ last story bar one.

          • Nick Mays  November 10, 2012

            Point taken of course Franky, but there’s always this stuff about the Doctor’s “darker side” (especially during the Time War), but GENERALLY speaking he doesn’t turn up, gun-toting and prepared to kill people to further his political aims.

      • Dave Sanders  November 11, 2012

        The one time Blake almost does is Killer, also written by Robert Holmes, but he fails… and the results are catastrophic.

    • DPC  November 10, 2012

      I’m an avid B7 fan, but can’t really see the connection – apart from the grim nature with all the lovely dying and everything…

      Perhaps if it were the Doctor and Peri arriving in the middle of a B7 episode… preferably during series 4… it’s a shame I can rarely stomach crossover episodes… 🙁

  27. Simon Harries  November 10, 2012

    Yep happy with a 9 for this one. The Richard Keys/Sex Pest comments were superb!!

  28. BWT  November 11, 2012

    “This lot can run guns but they can’t aim them.”

    Maybe they’re selling them to UNIT?

    Yeah – I find this one a bit of a mixed bag too. There are some brilliant performances (Sharaz Jek is very good) but I guess one has to be able to appreciate theatrical performances. The writing is, of course, of the highest order (if a little derivative) and the dialogue is, for the most part, excellent.

    But then, there is that Magma Beast. Ahem…

    Oh, and I’m glad I’m not the only one to find Morgus’s melodramatic asides at little off-putting…

  29. Frankymole  November 11, 2012

    What’s Richard Keys famous/infamous for?

    • Gavin Noble  November 11, 2012

      Having hairy hands.

      • DPC  November 11, 2012

        On both sides? 😮 😀

        • wholahoop  November 12, 2012

          Only as a result of a combover

  30. John T  November 11, 2012

    A real classic here, one of my all time favs. I didn’t mind the camera stare as much as Sue did, but the monster really stood out as crap. They could have easily avoided how terrible it was by using quick cuts to hide the “man in suit” aspect. 7 out of 10 for me.

  31. Noodles  November 11, 2012

    Oh, and in answer to Sue’s question – no, nobody looks at Davison’s face. I’d imagine that even Nicola Bryant would have difficulty looking anywhere else while watching that scene.

  32. Dave Sanders  November 11, 2012

    Nobody looks at anyone’s face when watching the next story either, we’re all directing a crash-zoom at the palms of our hands.

    • Noodles  November 11, 2012

      I think the next story is fantastic.

      As long as you ignore how crap the monster is and fast forwards whenever Colin isn’t on screen.

      • Thomas  November 12, 2012

        That’s ignoring an awful lot. 😉

        • Noodles  November 12, 2012

          I think of it as interactive fiction.

  33. James Van  November 11, 2012

    From now on I’m describing this story to everyone as “Reservoir Dogs in space”