Friday, March 12, 2010

6R3 - The Caves of Androzani 3



In a story crammed with "best ever"s, Episode Three of The Caves of Androzani might be blessed with the greatest cliffhanger of them all, as well, as it appears that The Doctor is intent on crash landing the ship he's piloting, no matter what the consequences. The scene is remarkable, and the buildup to the climax is almost unbearably intense. There's no music throughout the entire scene. It relies purely on the increasingly loud sounds of the ship's engines and the performances of Maurice Roeves and Peter Davison to give the scene what it needs to achieve greatness.

The performances of Roeves and Davison are far too often overlooked thanks to the equally sterling work by Christopher Gable and John Normington overshadowing them in the eyes of many reviews I've read over the years. Roeves is stunning as Stotz, especially in scenes like his confrontation with Krelper in Episode Two. But it is Peter Davison who not only gives possibly the best performance in this story (no mean feat), but his best performance as The Doctor, and, in my opinion, the best performance of any Doctor actor in the classic series. Davison is quite simply astonishing. I've said before how it seems like Davison relies on his directors for inspiration; the better the director, the better Davison acts. Davison has said many times that Androzani is his favourite story, and Graeme Harper his favourite director. It's easy to see why, and the results of Harper's collaboration with his leading actor are quite evident.

The cliffhanger scene in this episode is like a two-minute resume tape for Davison. He's giddy at first (thanks to him apparently fighting off his regeneration, which is spellbinding to think about), and has a marvelously jovial conversation with Stotz as the latter threatens him to stop the ship. Once Stotz gets through the door, The Doctor becomes intensely serious, not only refusing to stop the ship, but refusing to be interrupted in exclaiming his reasons for doing so. Has there ever been a more tragically heroic, punch-the-air, moment than when Davison shouts out "So ya see, I'm not going to let you stop me now!"?

There's so many other smaller, subtler moments to appreciate in this episode, too. The (genuine) whirl around slap that Sharez Jek lays on The Doctor. The wonderful Dutch angle Harper uses in the shot where the androids are tearing The Doctor's arms off. The one line that sums up how disgustingly self centred and untrustworthy Morgus really is (in response to his assistant's question of how the death of the President could be any worse: "It could have been me."). Jek's super delicate explanation to Peri that the belt clips being handed out will be useless against the androids. And so on and so on....

3 comments:

Erik said...

Wow...I knew you were going to gush over this story, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. Best performance by an any actor ever to have played the Doctor? Only if you decide that Davison was the best Doctor--which is not exactly the majority opinion. Still, it'll be over soon enough--and then you'll have to move on to "The Twin Dilemma." That should cool your jets...

Carnivac said...

Actually I agree with the best performance by any classic Doctor. It really is a great scene and a superb cliffhanger and is one reason why Davison is actually my joint favorite Doctor (with Pertwee for different reasons). Ok the majority might not consider Davison the best but the story polls always rank this story very highly and usually first place so that's got to mean something.

Robert Konigsberg said...

I'm loving watching Morgus turn away from the action to share his private thoughts with the audience like in a Shakespearean play. It's economical and maintains the tension.

You haven't mentioned whomever plays Chellak, but I love watching him, especially when he realizes there's been an android plant all along.

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