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Doctor Who: Robot (Story 75)
Doctor Who Robot
Story 75
Actors: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Nicholas Courtney, John Levene
Director: Christopher Barry
Genres: Television, Cult Movies
NR     2007     1hr 38min

Mortally wounded by the Spider Queen on Metebilis 3, the Doctor is forced to regenerate. His recuperation is cut short as UNIT investigates a spate of robberies involving components for a top-secret disintegrator gun. The ...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Nicholas Courtney, John Levene
Director: Christopher Barry
Genres: Television, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Science Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Studio: BBC Video / Warner Bros.
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/14/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 38min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 23
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

THERE ARE NO SCARFS IN HAMLET
Thomas E. O'Sullivan | Knoxville, Maryland United States | 08/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There are many firsts in ROBOT - it's the first turn of Tom Baker as the Doctor, it's the first Harry Sullivan story, it's the first time we see the scarf, it's the fourth Doctor's first (and second) trip inside the TARDIS (we know the second trip takes us into THE ARK IN SPACE, but, where did the first land the Doctor?), and it may be the first time the Doctor has killed in cold blood... maybe.

ROBOT is everything the Pertwee years were and more. Picking up and dragging the chain that was UNIT, the series doesn't meddle with the formula too much just yet, but just enough to show us that things have really changed. The pace of this story is fast. Opening like an AVENGERS episode and running like Z CARS, this is a "thief in the night" plot spliced with some COLUMBO detective work which tells you from the title on that a ROBOT is the puppet and then wastes no time in telling us who is pulling its strings. This story zips, and had their been another actor other than Tom Baker in the role, then it may have tripped and fallen on its face as well. As it is, Baker is just as fast as the material and, even from the get go, wasn't scared to pull at his scarf and have fun with the story and us. Watching him and the story, you can't help but just get a sense of how effortless he made it all seem. ROBOT fires on every level here. The cast is top notch, old hat, yet still fresh, which is something of a surprise as the entire set up had been inherited from the Pertwee years. But you can't deny that the Baker/Sladen/Marter trio clicked right from the start.

The story itself borrows heavily from so many sources that when yout tie all the threads together it creates quite the blanket, but there is one thing different in ROBOT than most all other DOCTOR WHO stories - and its in the fact that the Doctor kills the "monster" here without a second thought. Granted, the robot was just that, and when you look back at the story, every time the Doctor encounters the robot, it's hostile, but I find it difficult to accept that the Doctor pays no heed to Sarah's observation and pleas of its "humanity" as the Doctor had often pleaded just the same case with the Brig time and again. Instead of reason, the Doctor rushed headlong into destruction and does so with glee. It's an unsettling moment at the end as what could have been the birth of a whole new form of life is reduced to rust, ash and then nothing.

As usual 2 ENTERAIN has gone out of their way to provide a host of extras. Commentary with Baker, Sladen, Dicks and Letts (uncredited on the extras listing) is casual, comfortable and often very funny. As always, Baker and Sladen demonstrate again why they made such a good team, while Dicks and Letts fill in as much production backstory as they can remember. The documentary follows the lead of all those that have come before it. It's a concise look at the shift change from Pertwee to Baker with some repeat from the commentary, but more face time with everyone involved. It's good, but won't knock your socks off. The review of the creation of the TUNNEL EFFECT is technical, but an interesting look at what would become DOCTOR WHO's most famous opening credit sequence and logo.

Text commentary is included and detailed and worth the time, but, have your remote handy and trigger finger on PAUSE as some of the passages are long, and flip by in under a two seconds or less.

It was smart marketing to release ROBOT shortly after the release of the NEW BEGINNINGS box set which featured Baker's last story LOGOPOLIS. While there are still many stories to go in the Baker years before it is complete, at least we have the bookends to make us feel safe. ROBOT may not go down as a classic, but it does go down easily and is a lot of fun, and for fans is a must buy."
"You may be a doctor but I'm *the* Doctor."
Scott Promish | 11/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"ROBOT is significant for being the first full appearance of Tom Baker in the title role. The story is pretty typical of old-school science fiction: a slightly mad but benevolent scientist has created a robot which has been appropriated by a fringe organization. This group of intellectual supremacists (sort of a fascist MENSA) is using the robot to steal plans and materials for a disintegrator gun and essentially take over the world.

So it's fairly hokey, and of course it has all the elements longtime fans of the show have come to look upon with affectionate humor, like really bad special effects and dodgy acting. Particularly egregious is the bit where what is clearly a toy tank tries to sneak up on the robot (and fails.) Then there's Sarah Jane's curiously subdued reaction to a man being disintegrated right in front of her; she registers a look of mild disgust, as if she had just found some moldy cheese in her refrigerator.

The story has some twists, not all of which make sense. This was also typical of the old show, I think due to its serial nature. (It was probably less important for the story to work as a whole than it was to get people back for next week's installment.) It also has some contrived aspects (the mad scientist has by chance developed two other scientific breakthroughs, one of which exacerbates the problem and one which solves it) which pretty much telegraph the major plot turns as well. If this story had appeared somewhere else in the series, it would probably be considered average at best.

What saves this particular show, and what probably made it such a breakthrough when it was first aired, is how much Baker absolutely owns the role right from the start. Tom Baker *is* the Doctor. He says that himself, not out of egotism, but because he does actually feel like the character--a man slightly out of place in the human world. No doubt this is why he seems so perfect in the role. It's easy to see why this incarnation of the Doctor has become the most iconic.

DVD bonus features include:

-A featurette on the man who created the title sequences for the show since its inception in 1963, including the "time tunnel" concept which was used throughout most of the seventies as well as in the new series. It was interesting to see how the various effects were accomplished before the age of computers and digital graphics.

-A featurette on the turnover of the role from Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker and what was involved in it, what it meant for the show, and so on.

-A Blue Peter segment that I couldn't sit through for more than a minute or so. This bit is for kids only, I'm afraid. I think the only reason it is here is that it was filmed on the Doctor Who set.

-Running audio commentary from Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) and writer Terrance Dicks. Even the worst stories have had entertaining commentaries, and this one is especially good because Baker participates. It's surprising how much these people remember from their work over thirty years ago.

All in all this is a good package for a key (if not great) story. Even if you think the story is kind of lame there is a lot to like."
The start of an era
Michael Hickerson | Smyrna, TN | 09/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Until the launch of the new series three years ago, the biggest name associated with "Doctor Who" was Tom Baker. The fourth Doctor was, to many fans, the definitive Doctor, encompassing everything that was great about the character.

"Robot" is his debut story and serves as the beginnning of a new era and the end of another.

Picking up right where "Planet of the Spiders" left off, "Robot" is a positive delight after the dreary send off to the third Doctor's era. For three and a third episodes, the story clips along, being little more than reworking on the Frankenstein story only instead of a monster created by humanity, it's a robot. The robot is being used to steal various components of a disintegrator gun, which is one part of an overall plan to send humanity back to a golden age--one ruled by a cult of scientist who think they know best.

UNIT is called in to investigate and the Brigadier brings along the newly re-generated Doctor to look into things and hopefully solve the mystery.

Like I said, the story works for about three and a third episodes until the robot involved suddenly grows for no apparently good reason and it becomes a bad version of King Kong. This being "Doctor Who" the special effects are kind of a letdown (coupled with the funniest bad effect in history with an obviously plastic tank at the end of episode three). This could be overlooked if the story simply hadn't run out of things to do and padded things out with a giant robot stomping all over the countryside.

But I'm probably not telling "Who" fans anything they didn't already know here.

That said, "Robot" is still a lot of fun, despite the short comings of its final episode. It's fun to watch Tom Baker inherit and instantly inhabit his role as the Doctor. The story spends little time with a post-regenerative Doctor on the sidelines and its stronger for it.

And, as usual, this DVD is packed with extras. Once again, the "Doctor Who" DVDs show why they are the gold-standard by which most other TV shows on DVD releases are judged and found wanting. A documentary on casting Baker and the transition from one production staff to the next is included as well as a fascinating feature on the creation of the iconic opening credits for this era of the show. And then there's the commentary, featuring Baker himself, companion Elisabeth Sladen, writer Terrance Dicks and producer Barry Letts. Fun, informative and a pleasure to listen to, the commentary is one of the highlights of an impressive set of extras for this story.

Is "Robot" the best Dr Who story ever? No, not really. But it's still a fun introduction to the Tom Baker era. And this DVD has so many great extras as well as restored picture and sound that it's a must for anyone who likes "Doctor Who.""
A slow start to a fantastic career!
G. Krueger | St. Paul, MN USA | 09/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Having watched Doctor Who since the 70's, Tom Baker is my all-time favorite Doctor (though Christopher Eccleston runs a close second)! That said, I found this episode a bit clumsy in that Tom had not the chance to build into it his own persona. We do begin to see a tiny bit of his style come into play toward the end of the third and in the fourth parts; however, he still uses the little yellow car for "earthly transportation," and this is ill-fitting of Tom Baker (it vanishes later in his tenure).

Overall, the episode itself is not terribly dynamic. Furthermore, while some of the Doctor Who episodes carry well through the years, this one does not. The clumsy robot shows it's technological age (this episode is from the 70's), and the tank scene is so cheesy because the tank is so very obviously a toy replica filmed "large" in the foreground. Granted, these are some of the features we love about Doctor Who, but it is not well done in this episode. It is for these reasons I gave this episode three stars. Never fear though, things improve with time and future episodes!"