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Doctor Who - Robot

episode 75

UK 1974/75
produced by
Barry Letts for BBC
directed by Christopher Barry
starring Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Nicholas Courtney, John Levene, Alec Linstead, Patricia Maynard, Edward Burnham, Michael Kilgarriff
written by Terrance Dicks, script editor: Robert Holmes, music by Dudley Simpson

tv-series
Doctor Who, Doctor Who (Tom Baker), Doctor Who (classic series), Sarah Jane Smith, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Who has only just regenerated into his new form (and is now played by Tom Baker) when there is a new crisis at UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Task Force), when someone (it turns out to be a robot before too long) is stealing vital parts for a disintegrator gun. The Doctor, his companion Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and their new friend, physician Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) investigate, and soon one trail leads to the Think Tank and its fashist director Winters (Patricia Maynard) while another leads to Professor Kettlewell (Edward Burnham), who happens to have invented a robot capable of having comitted the thefts but claims he had it destroyed ...

Soon enough it turns out that director Winters really plans to take over the world and is blackmailing earth's gouvernments into doing her bidding, and Kettlewell is even helping her - to a degree and mainly because he feels to be the robot's father -, but Winters and her men and the professor are easily overcome. What's much more threatening though is the robot (played by Michael Kilgarriff), whose prime directive (not to kill humans, according to Isaac Asimov, you know) has been overridden a few times too often and who was eventually forced to kill his own creator - and now he slowly goes bonkers, steals teh disintegrator gun himself and threatens everything in sight (mainly army though). What's even worse though is that he also grows to the size of a house and soon causes massive destruction - until the Doctor goes through Kettlewell's things and finds a liquid that can disintegrate the metal the robot is made of, completely disintegrate.

The world is saved, only Sarah Jane, who has taken a liking to the robot, a King Kong-like tragic figure - and he has taken a liking to her as well -, is left heartbroken.

 

Even though this episode is the very first featuring Tom Baker as Doctor Who, it has pretty much the look and feel of an earthbound Jon Pertwee/UNIT-story - mainly because it was produced by Barry Letts, who produced almost the entire run of Jon Pertwee as the Doctor (from 1970 to 1974) and written by Terrance Dicks, who was a script editor during that time.Tom Baker, who gets a rather underwhelming introduction into the series, makes the role immediately his own though.

Taken by its own merits, Robot is a so-so episode, it announces its surprise moments - most notably the robot itself, see the title - way too soon and by and large lacks real excitement/suspense. The robot itself is a rather nice creation (if you're at all into 1970's futurism), but when he's grown to giant size, the special effects (simple blue screen effects, by the way) botch up much of the action.

Actually the whole thing is a rather weak introduction for Tom Baker, who would put his stamp onto the role and the series as a whole before long ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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