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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