Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Doctor Who-The Caves of Androzani
                       Following the 1983 special 'The Five Doctors',Peter Davison announced that he would be stepping down from his role as the renowned time lord for Gallifrey. Reasons were muriad,from the hectic work schedule to the advice of former doctor Patrick Troughton to remain with the program for only a few years. The fifth doctor represented an interesting departure for the science fiction serial. Still on it's shoe string budget the writers began adding more foreboding and series elements to the show. Part of that was producer John Nathan Turner's attempt to promote the show to more of an adult audience. All sorts of sociopolitical topics had always been at the core of Doctor Who's success. And since Peter Davison's fifth doctor always had a sense of vulnerability to him that wet well with the intense nature of some of his stories,this was explored in his final serial of the series.

                The TARDIS find the doctor and new companion Peri (Nicola Bryant) on the surface of a dead planet called Androzani minor. It isn't long into their scouting that they are captured and accused of being agents in a war between that world and Androzani major by General Chellak. An unknowing accident has caused the doctor and Perry to be infected by a fetal poisoning from the raw room of a revitalizing drug causing this war. It's called Spectrox toxemia. On Androzani Major, a man named Morgus is using this drug to extend his people's lifespan. The opposition is led by the vengence crazed Sharaz Jek,a brilliant cyberneticist who is forced to live like a monster after his former cohort Morgus betrayed and injured him. 

               While Sharaz first holds the doctor and Perry hostage,the doctor engineers an escape upon learning of a treatment for the poisoning killing him and Perry. During this time Chellak discovers that his subordinate Sebeteen has been one of the androids they've been fighting,while of course the Androids are part of a labor force designed to mine the deadly raw Spectrox. Once the doctor engineers the escape Sharaz Jek becomes aware that his seeming victory was another of Morgus's tricks and decides to help the doctor to redeem himself from his passion for vengence from his friend turned foe. In the end Morgus is caught,tries to escape with gunrunner Stotz and ends up dead along with Sharaz Jek. Sadly the doctor only managed to retrieve enough treatment for Perry and was forced to regenerate into his sixth incarnation.

            This story is one of the best Doctor Who ever did from the perspective of writing and even the shows occasional achilles heal in the FX department. The camera angles,lighting and color used reflect the tension in the plot wonderfully. It's a very thoughtful and serious tale about the political corruption that can result from one society benefiting from the suffering of another. This is a main cause,yet often unrealized,  of many wars. Morgus is every bit the crooked politician in this episode,never caring for anyone beyond his own needs and is willing to kill for it too. Sharaz Jek is one of the doctors most multi dimensional adversaries. At once ruthless,thoughtful and insane his motivations start out of revenge but end up in understanding. So he dies a hero as opposed to a villain. After this complex tale the doctor regenerates in his sixth incarnation,played by Colin Baker. This is the first time a new doctors image and name appear at the end of the credits since the first doctors regeneration. As the sixth doctor stated upon Peri asking him what had happened,"Change my dear. And it couldn't have happened a moment too soon".
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