My dissection of this smart box set continues with what has become one of the most respected of all of Peter Davisonâ€™s adventures, The Caves of Androzani and here itâ€™s given the treatment it deserves.
The adventure takes place on the barren world of Androzani, where the Doctor and Peri find themselves embroiled in a long running underground war. Military troops mount an armed blockade whilst gunrunners bring in weapons for the sinister, masked renegade, Sharaz Jek.
Meanwhile, lethal androids guard the caves, where a deadly creature lurks in the shadows, killing all in its path. At the heart of the conflict is a substance called Spectrox â€“ the most valuable item in the universeâ€¦and the deadliest. Will the Doctor make the ultimate sacrifice to save his young friends life?
Dark, subtle and only spoilt by the effects of its time, The Caves Of Androzani is Doctor Who at its very best. Everything is just so right here. The acting is way above standard, the storyline compelling and deep and possesses a heroic ending befitting a fine tenure. Graeme Harper directs with heart and feeling, wringing every last emotion out of the Doctor and even Peri does more than just ask questions and whine. The supporting cast are superb, especially Christopher Gable as Sharaz Jek, who has become one of the showâ€™s most beautifully played bad guys. Even after all this time the story, written by the legendary Robert Holmes, remains effective and exciting.
Extras Disc 1
Commentary â€“ Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and director Graeme Harper all chip in for this gag-track which didnâ€™t work on my test disc for some reason!
Behind The Scenes: The Regeneration â€“ With the added option of listening to Davison, Bryant and Harper discussing this sequence, this eight minute piece is look at how the now famous transformation was shot. It shows the slight anxiety in the studio and how pressed for time the whole cast and crew were and also what Harper wanted to achieve. A unique and special look at the production of a classic sequence.
Behind The Scenes: Creating Sharaz Jek â€“ Thanks to an old audio recording we are able to hear the thoughts of the late Christopher Gable and how he helped to create one of the most memorable and fully realised characters from Davisonâ€™s run. At only five minutes in duration it also uses production footage and some photographs to illustrate the idea of how deep this leather faced foe came to being.
Extended Scenes â€“ Again with the advantage of optional commentary from Davison and Harper (for first scene), here we have three sequences that werenâ€™t originally used in the broadcast cut.
Trailer â€“ Ah, retro heaven as we witness the BBC1 trail for the first episode. Very stiff in tone and basic looking this is a great reminder of what TV was like in 1984.
News â€“ This is a compilation of reports and interviews that were recorded concerning Peter Davison and his leaving the show. Again this shows how TV has moved on and is as innocent as it is engaging. Some of the footage is from regional programming so a lot of this will be fresh to some.
Isolated Music â€“ Exactly what it says on the tin, this extra allows you to watch the story with just the music track playing. A nice idea but I fear few will watch and listen all the way through.
Coming Soon â€“ A trailer for the wonderful and rather eerie Seeds Of Doom DVD. Scorby! SCORBY!
PDF Materials – Pop the disc into your PC or Mac and enjoy scans of the original Radio Times listings.
Subtitle Production Notes â€“ Always fun, this textual delight will enlighten, entertain and educate.
Extras Disc 2
Chain Reaction â€“ The main cast and crew reflect of the making this classic adventure. Lasting well over half an hour this a joyful celebration of the serial, one which would, as I have said before, become a favourite with fans is a solid piece. Presented by Matthew Sweet itâ€™s a fun look at the story and should be your first value-added feature to view. Also Periâ€™s cleavage upstaging the regeneration is fun to hear about, obviously in a non-sexist way.
Directing Who: Then & Now â€“ Director Graeme Harper, the only director to have worked on the classic run and the new series, talks about how times have changed and the new production techniques he uses when shooting today. Interesting from a fans point of view as well as casual folks interested in production techniques.
Russell Harty â€“ Peter Davison and Colin Baker join the much loved talk show host for a quick chat. Originally broadcast in the week between Davisonâ€™s final appearance and Bakerâ€™s first as the Doctor, itâ€™s warm and polite with a charm long lost in this day of talk shows that are more about the presenter rather than the guests. Oh, turned into Michael Parkinson there!
Photo Gallery â€“ A compendium of shots from the production of the story accompanied by some of the score.
So then, not as many extras as the previous story in this set but a good selection none the less. Right, Iâ€™m off to San Francisco circa 1999.