We continue the 12 Days of Doctors, in our lead up to 12th’s first adventure “Deep Breath,” with the introduction of the 5th Doctor played by Peter Davison and his first adventure “Castrovalva.”
“Castrovalva” was directed by Fiona Cumming and written by Christopher Bidmead. It also had the Master as the primary antagonist, who in this incarnation is played by Anthony Ainley. This episode also is when the Doctor had the most companions during a season since Adric, Nyssa and Tegan would become series regulars with the 5th Doctor after this episode.
“Castrovalva,” picks up where the last one left off with the 4th Doctor’s death and soon regeneration. Nyssa, Adric and Tegan find themselves captured but manage to escape and begin working on helping the Doctor find stability since the regeneration he went through was difficult for him. This leads them to Castrovalva after Adric is captured and the Master attempts to destroy them by having Adric program the TARDIS to run into the beginning of the Big Bang in order to destroy it. From here the story unfolds.
How does the episode hold up? How does the Master do? How is Peter Davison’s first time as the Doctor? All of that in the assessment.
Here is the assessment of the episode:
Pros: The Fifth Doctor / The 5th Doctor – Peter Davison is great as the Doctor. He is by far the most empathetic out of all the ones up to this point, and arguably the most human. In Davison we get a Doctor who openly cares about his companions, to the point that even when he knows one is missing he is thrown into a funk. This is the Doctor who wins by winning hearts…since it is by turning the Master’s own creations in “Castrovalva” against him that they are victorious and can save Adric. He doesn’t have much of a relationship with the Master though…he is just the hero to the Master’s villain. That is really the only issue I can think of and that has more to do with writing than anything else.
The Master – The Master is fantastic in this. He captures Adric (not that hard) but uses the power of the Wonder Boy (Adric is super smart and can fly the TARDIS…these characters are usually not done well (see Wesley Crusher) and Adric is no exception)…and nearly destroys the Doctor twice. He also manages to survive proving himself once again as one of the Doctor’s greatest and smartest of enemies.
Castrovalva – Is a medieval city crafted by “The Web” in order to trap the Doctor. The Master plays the elder who makes friends with the Doctor and companions and at first you think his assistant is the bad guy until his reveal. In the end his assistant gives his life to stop the Master and save the Doctor and his companions. I loved my time in this city and it’s a shame it won’t be around anymore as an answer to just because someone is evil doesn’t mean they can’t create good.
Okay/Good: The Companions – Nyssa and Tegan are fantastic. You have the everyday person in Tegan who is a flight attendant, and the scientist in Nyssa. Both help the Doctor a lot and actually are active in the story. Adric is only active because of his super brain…which is never explained and is the Robin of the episode needing saving by Batman at the end. God he’s annoying. I wish he’d left during the 4th Doctor’s run. Nyssa and Tegan are awesome companions though.
So how does the episode hold up? Pretty well. It is a little slow in places and Adric is a minus point in most instances (this episode is no exception). But this is an episode I’d recommend and I’d call it a favorite if only for Nyssa, Tegan, The 5th Doctor and the Master (and Castrovalva again is a great place).
Final Score is 8.5 / 10