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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Additional footage - News reports
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant and Graeme Harper
  • Isolated music score
  • Production notes - On screen Production notes text
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Behind the scenes footage - Regeneration Scene, Creating Sharaz Jek

Doctor Who - The Caves of Androzani

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The Caves of Androzani marks the swansong of one of the less popular Doctors - that is, Peter Davison. This is a four episode 'quatrain' as it were, each roughly 24 minutes long.

The Tardis lands on a mining planet; the desolate Androzani Minor. This satellite planet mines a rare life preserving drug for use on the mother planet, Androzani Prime, a largely militarist capitalist society. The army is used on the mining planet to control miners and put down rebellions. To make matters worse, there are the twin threats of the local fauna who do not like their caves being infested by humans (queue the preposterous latex monsters) and there is a disfigured madman waging a limited conflict with the military with an equally preposterous name. Of course he is a genius with a speciality in cybernetics. He also has a few grudges with the higher ups on Androzani Prime.

The authorities are a totalitarian race with a jackbooted fascist army, corrupt politicians and very dirty company directors. There is the clash of army and mercenaries as expected. It's all a bit cliched, but just the sort of adventure which mires the Doctor and his companion. Here she is in the form of an impossibly cute and chirpy Nicola Bryant as Peri. Although the Doctor ignores her, she gets the fancy of certain nasty characters - this is a mining colony after all...

  Video
Contract

The overall transfer is quite amazing given the reputation of restorative work on BBC archives. Interior and close in shots are great; people, equipment, sets and props are very well illustrated often highlighting the low budget nature of the production. Colours are perhaps a bit pastel and lack the saturation of a modern production, but this is clearly better than anything one can see on television.

Much of the production occurs in caves as the title suggests and the blacks aren't perhaps true black, but they don't come off as offensively 'grey'.

Natural use of colour is excellent with the only poor representations being the overdone special effects which aren't all that 'special'. I am reminded of the "POW!" and "BOOM!" associated with classic Batman episodes. There's the use of flashes of odd colours to signify explosions or gunfire.

Exterior scenes are a mixed bag. The matte paint sections are excellent; so too are the sections that have an artificial fog or mist. There is excellent use of translucency that reminds one of modern productions.

What I did find distasteful is the abundance of grain on fast action sequences. Perhaps they used a different film stock? This is made worse by the fact that the geological formations that set the backdrop has a pattern that tends to make the grain even more noticeable. Thankfully this is towards the end and it is a minor point in the four episodes. Overall this is a great transfer.

  Audio
Contract

Dolby 2.0 at 192k/s and it's pretty pedestrian. The English track has excellent intelligibilty and conveys the original recording quite well. The track is rather 'raw' with little processing and perhaps some lack of absolute clarity in 'stress' situations like action scenes. The vocals can also 'walk away' if the character turns away from the camera or walks off screen. Music is acceptable, sound effects are laughable but faithful to the original intention.

The others I'll leave to the extras.

  Extras
Contract

The extras are great and really make this disc.

I found the commentary hilarious and perhaps a bit revealing of the 'cheapness' of the production if one has not seen the series. The director and two leads seem to be having a great time pointing out all the flaws and lapses of concentration. This is not a serious commentary, however a completely dry breakdown of the series would perhaps be a bit mundane.

There is also an innovative use of subtitles. Here they are used to point out production notes, some less serious than others but this is a great excuse to watch it again.

There's a TV trailer and a few BBC News excerpts on why Davison decided to leave. This is more an 'ET News' type thing.

There are two features that run just over five minutes that details the elaborate costume and make up of the lead protaganist and one which details the final regeneration scene.

Finally, there is a stills archive which is not annotated.

  Overall  
Contract

If you're a fan this is a must have. Although 'only' four episodes, the intelligent way the extras are put together will delight fans. The excellent transfer and decent sound is icing.

The presentation of the DVD is first rate which belies the rather plain and boring cover art which is sort of expected given the BBC logos in the corner.


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      And I quote...
    "Quite a high quality production that respectfully preserves a great science fiction series..."
    - Tony Lai
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    • DVD Rom:
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    • MPEG Card:
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    • Decoder:
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    • Speakers:
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    • Centre Speaker:
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    • Audio Cables:
          rca coaxial SPDIF
    • Video Cables:
          VGA connector
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