The Caves of Androzani part 4

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    Craig @craig

    And lo, it did come to pass that the reign of the Fifth Doctor ended, and he was replaced by the Sixth Doctor. And oh, how the fans of the show called Doctor Who did weep.

    Back on Androzani Minor, the Doctor tries to keep from regenerating and attempts to get his hands on the anti-toxin from deep in the caves while Chellak plans an assault on Jek’s base.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Ah Timmin. In the world of business, it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. For all the bluster by Morgus at her “betrayal”, he was a dog-eat-dog kind of guy at heart. I’m sure he would have grown to approve of her actions, had he lived a bit longer.

    Yes, it’s “virtually everybody dies” territory for this one, as the mixture of oafs (Chellak), greedy (Stotz and gang, Morgus) and revenge driven madman (Jek) get what they deserve. Holmes could be really good in introducing sympathetic elements to his villains (see comments on Chang in Talons) and Jeks care of Peri here, and his pitiful sobbing beneath the table as she reacts to his face certainly is another example.

    I loved the introduction of a synthetic bell tolling in the incidental music as the Doctor goes off to milk a queen bat (no sniggering at the back there).

    After the Universe threatening ends to the Third and Fourth Doctor, this seems small scale in comparison, but does work effectively, as the Doctor heroically saves his companion. It would be nice to think that those visions at the end didn’t distract him too much from Peri’s cleavage. I’m sure that, of all the ways to go, a vision of cleavage must be a more attractive alternative than the Master.

    I started this story saying I had mixed feelings whenever I put this one into the DVD player, and the biggest one comes at the end. So long Five and, unfortunately, hello Six, and a period that tested my loyalty to breaking point.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    And oh, how the fans of the show called Doctor Who did weep.

    Indeed. By the end of Twin Dilemma, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, thereof.

    Just another note – the BFI showed Caves as the celebratory Fifth Doctor story, and the video for the Q&A after it can be found on the Faces strand here. Director Graeme Harper is on hand, but the companions featured all pre-date this story and talk in general terms about the Fifth Doctor period.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    mmm- new doctor unpleasant from the start- I have heard bad things about him, of course, and suspect this is why my parents stopped watching. (Interestingly, though, David McCallum, in something like his character from Sapphire and Steel (any chance of putting a story from S&S on the site?) could have spoken the same lines and still remained quite watchable. (He could have made an interesting doctor, I think.)) It’s probably partly direction and partly a question of charisma. Matt Smith could (has) play this kind of unpleasant watchably.

    Other than that, feels like they actually toned River down at one point ‘… find something (firm) to hold on to.’

    And ‘brave heart’!

    It’s made me think, though. Moffat’s first companion witnessed regeneration is (surely) approaching. Amelia never met ten. He’s done the companion switchover quite well I think- as a kind of triple rebound (I think TNOTD supports my theory that his cloud-sulk in The Snowmen was a lot to do with River’s death. (I don’t see Clara as a romantic involvement, but he was sick of losing people he loved).  But Moffat got a clean break with the introduction of 11, and I think this episode reminds us how much is riding on this regeneration…

    chickenelly @chickenelly

    I’ll start of by commenting on the end, you know the appearance of he who shall not be named – noooooo!  It was just as bad as I remembered, I stopped watching Who at this point as well.

    This episode was a strange one.  The previous three zipped along nicely, but all the story lines seemed to be rather hastily crammed into this one – which curiously gave the effect of nothing much happening as the resolution of each was so fleeting.  For instance the rubbery magma monster was a bit of a waste of time in the end.  Forgot about it again, until the Doctor came across the empty costume, sorry, corpse.


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    It’s funny how used you get to the modern effects – I was looking for the AG ‘golden glow’ of regeneration, and had to remind myself that this is a BG story. They didn’t do it like that back then. Presumably, in-story, the newly explosive and highly destructive regenerations are some side effect of either the loss of the Time Lords or the Time War. River certainly uses her regeneration as a weapon.

    Was there anything about the Colin Baker era that wasn’t crass? This was Peter Davison’s episode and they put Colin Baker first on the closing cast list? Neither of the AG regenerations did that – both had the outgoing Doctor heading the closing cast list and the incoming Doctor credited at the end of the cast list as ‘and introducing … as.’

    In fact, that’s exactly what John Hurt got as well, except in much bigger letters and before the main closing cast list.

    I know bats are mammals, but how do you milk them? I mean, it’s a bit tricky milking a cow when you haven’t been taught; where exactly did the Doctor learn to milk a bat? And do we really want to find out?

    So, from the sacrificial high drama of the Doctor’s regeneration to … The Twin Dilemma. I mean, seriously, what were they thinking? A brand new Doctor and they introduce him with the biggest pile of – well, if Caves of Androzani was about bat’s milk, The Twin Dilemma was a pile of bat droppings.

    @miapatrick – I have mentioned before – in the context of a sadly defunct bonkers theory (:shakes fist: Moffat!) – that Clara has been carefully led on a series of adventures that showed her what the Doctor should be like. It fitted her Impossible Girl mission – she needed to know what the Doctor should be like to be able to rejig the continuity correctly – but it also fulfilled the purpose of reminding the audience what the Doctor should be like, just before his regeneration.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip– I agree. In fact, I think the last half series, in CW, Hide, and a bit in TCH gave us a few doctorish characters to remind the audience that the doctor can take different forms but- I’m taking it as a promise- not, under his watch, a complete arsehole.

    As for Clara, must have done her good. She went into the Doctors ‘scar’ with a couple more role models than just 11. And she will possibly be the first companion who, in some sense, has dealt with the transition as many times as the doctor.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    And she will possibly be the first companion who, in some sense, has dealt with the transition as many times as the doctor.

    Yeah, I think she is. Interesting. Possibly Steven Moffat’s feeling is that the audience is now thoroughly up to date on the concept of regeneration. We no longer need the Companion to take the audience through ‘who are you and are you really the Doctor?’ We’ve been reminded, constantly, through the Moffat/Smith era that the Doctor changes bodies periodically.

    We especially don’t need it when the regeneration is coming on the heels of a ‘several Doctors’ storyline which may be about ‘is every regeneration automatically The Doctor?’

    So Clara’s just as up to date as the audience.

    Now with Peri and the Sixth Doctor, Peri barely knew the Fifth before he was replaced by this complete git. In hindsight, this was one of the many, many things wrong with the Sixth Doctor’s era. Colin Baker insists that the Sixth Doctor was supposed to have a development arc; it would have been a lot better if there’d been a Companion who could have flatly told the Doctor (and therefore the audience) that something had gone badly wrong with the regeneration. Janet Fielding’s Tegan might have been ideal – she’d already gone through one regeneration.

    Instead they start the new Doctor with an almost-new Companion. And if there was a development arc planned, we – the audience – didn’t know. We might have been slightly more patient if we had known; might have been a bit more prepared to hang around and see if the twazzock who’d replaced Davison’s Doctor was going to mellow.

    Or maybe not. The scripts were about to get incredibly bad. 🙁

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @bluesqueakpip– that’s interesting, because Davison’s doctor did say something along the lines of ‘I think I’ll regenerate… it feels different’. I wasn’t sure if this was just creating uncertainty, or pointing out that the Doctor isn’t always sure if he’ll come back- or maybe it was an indication that he was about to come back ‘wrong’.

    Maybe part of the problem is (on the very little information I have) Davison’s seems like he was one of the ‘nicest’ Doctors. And the Colin Baker personality… well, just wasn’t cricket.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    (Interestingly, though, David McCallum, in something like his character from Sapphire and Steel (any chance of putting a story from S&S on the site?)

    Perhaps a superficial similarity from this short clip, but no, not much similarity as things progressed. Interesting idea for the S&S showing though. I embedded one on the blog about Sapphire and Steel, but if we have a long gap between Christmas and Series 8, perhaps a wider “Sci-fi/Fantasy” watch club? A hint of S&S, a dash of Quatermass, and a comforting sprinkle of Blakes 7? A lot of shows from the 50s to the 80s have a lot of Who related talking points in writers and production teams, etc. For example there was a short series by Robert Holmes for the BBC called The Nightmare Man. It features a youthful looking Celia Imrie and Maurice Roeves (who played Stotz in Caves above). Might be an idea to keep in the background if things go quiet.

    Anonymous @

    It’s an interesting episode this one and certainly one that I most remember from BG Who*. It’s such an incongruously ‘action-based’ episode with Davison’s Doctor being much more of the action man here even Pertwee. I don’t think it would ever be so ‘Die Hard’ ever again. I did find it a fitting end to Davison’s era, just for the sheer amount of effort and self-sacrifice his Doctor put in to save Peri. I don’t think there was ever a Doctor who ‘earned’ his regeneration quite as much as Davison.

    The ‘feels different this time’ line was interesting, I always thought. I thought it was clever because by this time regeneration was becoming something of a routine and I could understand the need to inject a bit of uncertainty and danger back into it.

    But I’m telling you, it wasn’t a regeneration. Davison’s Doc was whisked into the Matrix and Maxil was teleported in to impersonate the Doctor, with a view to extreme character assassination, culminating in a show trial.

    Of course, it’s quite likely that those memories were as much to do with Nicola Bryant as much as anything else in the programme.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I was looking for the AG ‘golden glow’ of regeneration, and had to remind myself that this is a BG story.

    It’s funny, but I read that comment as I was watching Big Bang, and I referenced it in my comment there. Having the established and consistent look for Regeneration in the new series facilitates that ending, because you immediately know what’s going on. In the old series, it was whatever effect the Production team had at the time and you’d have needed someone to actually say “Good Lord – that child appears to be Regenerating!”

    This was Peter Davison’s episode and they put Colin Baker first on the closing cast list?

    Yeah, the one thing I can believe about JNT was that his childish petulance overrode all common sense. As soon as Davison announced his intention to leave, he was “Yesterdays man”.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    But I’m telling you, it wasn’t a regeneration. Davison’s Doc was whisked into the Matrix and Maxil was teleported in to impersonate the Doctor, with a view to extreme character assassination, culminating in a show trial.

    While I like it a lot, I’ll stick with my own rationalisation in that Spectrox toxaemia was some pretty heavy shit that even Regeneration struggled with, and some after effects in the brain were apparent. Yes people – the only way I can rationalise the Sixth Doctor is to consider him the brain damaged one.

    Anonymous @

    btw. I’m loving that screengrab of Jek and Chellak. Looks suspiciously like Jek has got him by the, erm, well, you know…

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    As I think we were talking about Terror of the Autons next, if anyone wants to buy it beforehand, it’s in the Mannequin Mania boxset, together with the first Jon Pertwee story Spearhead from Space (the first time we see the Doctor nicking clothes from a hospital, before he became a repeat offender). These are actually the only two stories that feature the Autons before Rose started the AG years. BBC shop £13.99 and Amazon for £11.25.

    Anonymous @

    btw. @bluesqueakpip — your milking bats stuff had me snorting into me Nesquick last night…. very good….

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @phaseshift– ah, I didn’t mean the characters seemed similar as such. Just that Steel could manage that kind of dialogue without driving me, shuddering, away from my laptop. (Similar thing with Blake’s Seven for an example of an obnoxious character (Avon) not being obnoxious to watch.  (In fact I liked him. ‘I was aiming for his head’) This is why I don’t think Colin Baker can lay all the blame on scripts and unfinished character arch’s.)

    The watch club sounds like a splendid idea. I like, of a weekend, having something to watch, and it’s nice to have people to share it with.

    Anonymous @

    Well, I’m late to the party due to being on holiday this past week (Cumbrian coast, lovely and [/but] damp), and finally got to watch this last part.  What I find most interesting about this part are as follows:

    – The Doctor’s rolling fall down that hillside (at 5:00 in the first clip) was a lot like Westley and Buttercup’s fall down the hillside into the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride, including the skidding / sliding stop on his back (like Buttercup does).  Of course, The Pricess Bride has a bit more comedy grunting, but still … I wonder if Rob Reiner is a Doctor Who fan?

    – Spectrox:  The same thing that can bring one eternal life can also kill (via spectrox toxcemia) in a slow, painful way.  This seems almost a religious motif.  Has this been addressed by commenters on previous parts?  I don’t recall.

    – Jek’s tender ministrations of Peri follow the Robert Holmes template of ‘humanising’ a ‘monster’.  Sure, he’s only doing it from some perverted attempt to keep a stranglehold on beauty (as we learnt in previous parts) but the way his scenes are shot in this part with Peri, if you didn’t know the backstory, you’d get a real Beauty and the Beast vibe of true love.

    – All the circling visions of former companions exhorting him to live, yet the Doctor’s last vision is of the Master commanding him gleefully to die … is this, then, the reason why Doctor 6 was so abhorrent?  Did they actually foreshadow the monstrosity that was to be the C Baker Doctor by allowing his vision of the Master to be the last thing the fifth Doctor remembers prior to regeneration?

    johnnybear @johnnybear

    A very overrated story with too much zoom music and a plot taken from many old Robert Holmes stories! Earthshock was Davison’s best story by a mile!


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