Friday, January 25, 2013

Sixth Doctor Part I - The Caves of Androzani

Here is the first in the review/analyses of the Sixth Doctor's tenure on T.V.

"The Caves of Androzani" has been considered the greatest "Doctor Who" serial of all time. Released over the course of two Thursday and Friday nights in 1984, Peter Davison made his last appearance as the Fifth Doctor. The episodes prove to weave a powerful story, and it obvious to a viewer why this particular adventure is a favourite of fans.

The TARDIS lands on the planet of Androzani Minor. The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) and his new companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) soon find themselves in a midst of a perplexing situation. The government of Androzani Minor are waging war on Sharaz Jek, a Phantom-of-the-Opera-like menace who has created an army of androids who gives in the titular caves. In addition there's a corrupt government dealing with dangerous gun-runners. Soon the Doctor and Peri discover that they're dying and they must race against the clock to survive against a harsh backdrop of the Androzani war.

"The Caves of Androzani" is a very moving, beautifully constructed story. The Fifth Doctor proves to a very humane characterization and you really weep for him as a series of terrible circumstances stand in his way. It is completely by happenstance that the Doctor and Peri arrive on Androzani and find themselves in the midst of a terrible war. At first, I was rather apprehensive to accept this adventure as one of the best serials (having always considered "The Talons of Weng-Chinag" to be the very best), but I found "Caves" to be a wonderful story.

The acting was grand. This was my first experience watching the Fifth Doctor and when he regenerates in the end, it was still a saddening event. This is certainly a testament to Peter Davison's performance. He made the Doctor seem like such a nice guy. His entire goal throughout the story is to overcome the hurdles which are being thrown up before him and save a young lady that he hardly knows. In my mind, Davison deserves more credit for his masterful turn as the Doctor and really deserves the recognition of the others.

The newly regenerated Doctor
"Caves of Androzani" is notable for being the first and only time that the name of the newly regenerated Doctor was listed above the previous actor. Colin Baker makes his first appearance at the very end of the last episode after the Doctor has regenerated. Sitting up, the viewer can tell at once that the newest Doctor is very different than his previous incarnation. The obviously confused Peri stutters and the Doctor puts her in her place. "That's three 'I's' in one sentence," he says, "That makes you sound a very egotistical young lady." "But what happened?" she asks. "Change my dear," the Doctor rebukes, "And it seems not a moment too soon."

In all, "The Caves of Androzani" is a wonderful serial. Peter Davison delivers a fantastic performance and it successfully ushers in Colin Baker who will have some rather large shows to fill as the next Doctor.

Coming Next Time: The Sixth Doctor, dressed in his outrageous mis-matched coat, makes his first real appearance in "The Twin Dilemma."

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