6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A dark but entralling swansong for the Fifth Doctor,
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Caves Of Androzani  [DVD]  (DVD)
Story: 5/5 - Extras: 3/5
Watching this story with a critical eye makes you realise just how well-crafted veteran Who writer Robert Holmes' The Caves of Androzani really is. Peter Davison's final appearance as the Doctor, accompanied by Nicola Bryant as Peri, carries an air of desperation almost from the very beginning, aided by strong direction from Graeme Harper.
Almost from the very moment the Doctor and Peri arrive on Androzani Minor, they are taken prisoner by military forces who believe they are the gun runners aiding Sharaz Jek. On the way they encounter a raw Spectrox nest, and contract the lethal condition known as Spectrox Toxaemia. For the rest of the story, as they move from one dire situation to the next, the question becomes whether either or both of them will survive. Peter Davison's Doctor runs the gamut of emotions from compassion and defiance through hope, desperation and eventually to despair. His last moments in episode four carry a positively funereal atmosphere, aided by the sound of a bell tolling in the background of Roger Limb's excellent score.
An exceptionally strong supporting cast completes the picture. Christopher Gable perfectly conveys the insane Sharaz Jek's affection for Peri and eventually becomes one of the series' most sympathetic villains. John Normington oozes insincerity with every line as the corrupt Morgus, complete with shakesperian asides, and the mad-eyed Robert Glenister as Salateen effectively dupes Martin Cochrane's Commander Chellak. The gun runners led by Maurice RoŽves' Stotz add a further unpleasant variable to the mix.
The only disappointment is the absolutely awful Magma Creature (a.k.a. man in a rubber suit who can't see where he's going), but that minor plot device is easily forgiven in the face of such an excellent whole.
The special features are somewhat average. There's a behind the scenes feature on the regeneration scene that really could have done with an optional commentary; a photo gallery; a few trailers; a couple of interesting 1980s news features on Davison's decision to leave the show; and an option to listen to the musical score as an isolated soundtrack. However, as ever with the Doctor Who DVD releases, there are excellent on-screen production subtitles and a full commentary. This time, the commentary is by Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper, which proves to be a particularly lively and entertaining mix (Davison's commentary on the regeneration scene is hilarious). Overall, better features than in the previous DVD releases.