Me: You’ve seen this story before, Sue, 19 years ago. It was the first one we watched together when I moved in with you in 1993. Can you remember anything about it?
Sue: No. I do remember Genesis of the Daleks, though.
Me: We watched Genesis afterwards.
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 very much at the time.
Sue: I was probably too busy thinking about you. We were still in our honeymoon period.
Me: And Peter Davison was much 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 anything’s possible.
Sue: Are they shooting this 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 too much. 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, I suppose.
The Doctor tells Peri why he walks around with a stick of celery pinned to 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 very 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 others.
Meanwhile, on Androzani Major, Morgus is informed that two gunrunners have been caught, the spineless cretins.
Sue: Was he supposed to look straight down the camera lens like that? Because 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.
General Chellak gives Morgus a call.
Sue: He reminds me of David Seaman in a shell suit.
Morgus isn’t happy with the progress in the war against the terrorist Sharaz Jek.
Sue: He’s got a Francis Rossi ponytail.
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? Oh. Stupid question. Forget I asked.
Morgus shares a lift with his assistant, Krau Timmin.
Sue: That’s a very cramped lift. This could be borderline sexual harassment. Either that or he’s having an affair with his PA.
Peri realises they are the falls guys. The Doctor tells her to speak proper English.
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 has to be my favourite moment in this 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 and shot.
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 isn’t! I know she’s in Doctor Who for a while. Our friend John Paul named his cat after her, and he wouldn’t have done that if she was only in it for five episodes. He isn’t 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. They were firing little lights at them instead.
Chellak sends the only witness to his botched execution attempt on a deep penetration mission.
Sue: Sounds painful.
And Sharaz Jek definitely has the hots for Peri.
Sue: There must be a 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… 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 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 impressed 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, its appearance doesn’t last very long and Sue settles down again. In fact, she’s clearly engrossed in the plot, and is much quieter than usual as a result. 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.
Unfortunately, Peri’s condition is getting worse.
Sue: She looks like you, right now.
It’s true, I’m currently 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 cosy.
Morgus and Stotz are in cahoots.
Sue: How bleak is this? Are there any good guys?
Morgus breaks the fourth wall again.
Sue: It’s annoying me, now. It’s treating the audience like idiots. It doesn’t need it.
The President of Androzani meets with Morgus.
Sue: The president is a fool. He’s falling 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.
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.
Sue: Excellent. 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.
As the Doctor escapes from the gunrunner’s spaceship, bullets pepper the ground.
Sue: Wow. Look at that!
Krelper is determined to shoot the Doctor dead.
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. He 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 finally 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. In fact, he was the only one I liked.
Morgus is deposed by Krau Timmin.
Sue: Moneypenny has taken over. Excellent. But he hasn’t got anything to lose now. This could get very 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.
The Doctor milks a bat.
Sue: Drink it, then! What are you waiting for? Is he cured now?
Morgus reaches Jek’s base and 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 just like Reservoir Dogs. In space.
Sharaz Jek is fatally wounded. He falls into an android’s arms.
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, if you like.
And that’s what we do. And when it’s over, I turn to Sue (which takes a lot of 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 barely knew. A bit 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: Does anybody actually look at Peter Davison during this scene instead of Peri’s tits?
The Doctor must regenerate. However, it feels different this time.
Sue: Is it different because of the poison?
As the Doctor is haunted by visions of his 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, either.
The Doctor’s last words are “Adric?”
Sue: He still feels bad about it, doesn’t he? If I had to sum up this regeneration in one word it would be tragic. But in a good way.
The Doctor regenerates and Peri is rendered speechless when the new Doctor asks her if she was expecting someone else.
Sue: Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting Art Garfunkel!
Me: First impression of Colin?
Sue: (As Colin) Change, my dear?
Me: No, I mean, what do you think of him so far?
Sue: He’s okay. Bring him on.
Sue: It’s either a nine or a 10…
The tension is killing me.
She’s definitely 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 things I didn’t like, like that bloke who constantly looked 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 The Caves of Androzani was voted the best Doctor Who story of all time in a poll in 2009.
Me: Blink came second.
Sue: Are they having a laugh? Fans really think that was better than Blink? Ha! That’s funny. Bloody fans.