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Doctor Who – The Robots of Death

08 Nov

robotsTom Baker’s seven year tenure had so many classic stories that it really was hard to choose from such a big pool, be it from the Gothic horror inspired stories to the plain mental such as The Pirate Planet, complete with robot parrot.

Selected lines from amazon.co.uk’s review go something like this:

An isolated mining ship on which a series of inexplicable deaths take place…The Doctor and Leela inevitably become embroiled in events, which soon turn into a sci-fi murder-mystery, the claustrophobic, not to say deadly setting of the mining ship is a fascinating foreshadowing of Alien. It is tightly plotted, intelligent Saturday teatime entertainment (something that was possible then but is now an unthinkable oxymoron).

As well as a foreshadowing to awesome sci-fi movie Alien – something The Tomb of the Cybermen did more atmospherically in the second Doctor era, there are numerous nods to such authors as Agatha Christie, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert.  With such a mixture of influences this is a shoe in for a great romp th..

Robots are great!  There’s no doubt about that, emotionless as they are, with their calm and cold voices, the robot faces give nothing away and is so sinister in in it’s impassive and detached way with the monotone voice.  Add in a bucketload and this becomes a murder mystery with a truly calculating angle.

Crazy hats, lots of tin foil, oodles of eye liner and a nice claustrophobic feel, keeps this one both light and tense at the same time, it’s this see-sawing between the two coupled with the pure nostalgia of it all that keep you hooked until the end.

Being that the mining ship is such a horrible place to live, it’s no wonder that all of the crew hate each other and with each one being so odious it has the makings of a classic whodunit atmosphere.  It’s also refreshing to be quite satisfied with the body count as in this luxury obsessed climate with vast sums of money being talked about, these vile people do make you cheer for the bad guy/gal (or guys/gals!).

Perhaps I don’t mention the companions as much as I should but in this one, Leela is great.  Being a tribal warrior of the cave (wo)man ilk means a nice mix between bewilderment and awe with the contrasts between understanding magic and science.  It’s this feeling that most companions and indeed us – were we in such a position would feel –  and why Leela steals the show which is some feat when acting in a serial with Tom Baker.

His big grin and wonderfully whimsical lines commingle with all other aspects and really make for a great story.  There are lots of dramatic exclamations and facial expressions, and with less of a reliance on jazzy special effects, the suspensful air of the tale becomes almost heady.  There is also the best knife throwing sound effect ever witnessed on television if all the other points weren’t enough for you.

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35 Comments

Posted by on 08/11/2013 in Doctor Who

 

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35 responses to “Doctor Who – The Robots of Death

  1. Al

    08/11/2013 at 12:08

    I was wondering which Baker one you would choose. He was my favourite Doctor. Leela, Romana, Romana again, K9, Sarah Jane, Adrid – well, he was better in the fifth doctor against the cybermen in Earthshock 😈

    Leela was one of my favourites, although I believe that was due a lot to teenage hormones as well. Only one thing left to say … “Jelly baby?

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    • Ste J

      08/11/2013 at 15:50

      Romana again, I like that…she was a good companion. I had more Baker stories than any other Doctor unsurprisingly so the competition was high and of great quality. Adric was my second most annoying companion, after Mel of course, but Earthshock was good.

      Leela did have an appealing dress sense for sure, but being the family friendly blogger I am I couldn’t possibly comment further lol.

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      • Al

        08/11/2013 at 16:05

        I don’t remember Mel. Yes, I understand about Leela.

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        • Ste J

          08/11/2013 at 16:08

          Mel straddled, as it were, the sixth and seventh doctors. it was Bonnie Langford playing an adult with the voice and manner of an irritating child…not the wisest move for a sci-fi show!

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          • Al

            08/11/2013 at 16:09

            Ahh .. I stopped watching whilst Colin Baker had the Mantle

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            • Ste J

              08/11/2013 at 16:11

              McCoy, being my Doctor, was a lot stronger when Ace was the companion, there are some really stropng stories from that era which seem sadly under watched.

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              • Al

                08/11/2013 at 16:18

                I liked Ace. I saw bits of episodes, and she struck me as one that Rose could have been based on – without the love for the doctor.

                As for Bonnie … grrrr … she is one of those people who is irritating in whatever she does. Whether she is saying “I’ll thqeam and thqueam and thqueam until I’m thick” or being slung around the ice on Dancing on Ice with people longing for her partner to let her go during the head-banger routine and see how far across the ice he can throw her.

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                • Ste J

                  08/11/2013 at 16:21

                  I only saw ‘our’ Bonnie in Who but that was enough for a life time…

                  Ace was given a history and things to deal with so essentially had her own story arc within the series which was a good thing, apparently the series after she was going to become a trainee Time Lord. Believe it or not Ace was going to come back in the Sarah-Jane Adventures but sadly Elizabeth Sladen died so it never happened.

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                  • Al

                    08/11/2013 at 16:26

                    I know she was in some audio adventures and a couple of cartoons. I think from what I have seen and heard, Ace was THE best sidekick. Would like to know what happened to her between Drs 7 & 8

                    Also, I ordered Dr Who today. 1963

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                    • Ste J

                      08/11/2013 at 16:33

                      Back to the beginning is always good, there are some well cheesy ones from back then but some cracking ones as well. I have yet to get into the audios although I am looking into maybe starting somewhere random and seeing what happens. So much to choose from. There are so many stories that are still to be written, who kniws when these questions will be answered.

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  2. gargoylebruce

    08/11/2013 at 14:13

    “Crazy hats, lots of tin foil, oodles of eye liner and a nice claustrophobic feel,…”
    Sounds like Saturday night round my shelf ;D

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    • Ste J

      08/11/2013 at 15:46

      Haha, I bet the Doctor Who costs less though, eh? Eh? and then assorted plural nudges and also some winks.

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      • gargoylebruce

        08/11/2013 at 16:38

        I see you’ve been to similar shindigs yourself *knowing smile*

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        • Ste J

          10/11/2013 at 10:55

          When you wake up with a traffic cone, a horse’s hoof and no memory of events of the last ten hours, you know you’ve been THERE!

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  3. LuAnn

    09/11/2013 at 22:32

    It appears I have a lot of catching up to do! 😉

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    • Ste J

      10/11/2013 at 10:54

      Yes you do, but it is a good thing to catch up on and I do feel proud to be encouraging (i.e bugging) you to join in the fun.

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  4. quirkybooks

    10/11/2013 at 18:18

    Have you seen Al’s latest Doctor Who post about a new episode when the 3 Doctor’s meet? It looks awesome. Plus Billie Piper is back – I thought she was the best sidekick for David Tenant.

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    • Ste J

      11/11/2013 at 12:07

      Penny and Christina have mentioned it but I am trying to avoid everything to do with it so I can have all the surprises…it has become something of an obsession for me lol.

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      • beatredundancyblues

        21/11/2013 at 14:31

        Are you going to see it at the cinema in 3D?

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        • Ste J

          23/11/2013 at 08:54

          Sadly not, there is a dearth of venues over here but at least on the sofa there is less chance of meeting annoying people!

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          • quirkybooks

            23/11/2013 at 13:35

            Day Of The Doctor was Doctastic. I loved every minute of it.

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            • Ste J

              23/11/2013 at 15:39

              I loved it too, once I have posted the rest of the posts I need to write I will write one on the 50th…I am so far behind it’s mad lol.

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  5. thejerseygal®™

    10/11/2013 at 20:10

    Not my cup of tea, but enjoy the quirkiness of your review, as always.

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    • Ste J

      11/11/2013 at 11:50

      You should treat yourself to a cheesy story, you never know you may become hooked…or devise fun drinking games on the flip side.

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      • thejerseygal®™

        11/11/2013 at 12:08

        Fun drinking games! If a book could cause me to drink, I best not read it. I have enough excuses to drink and trying to avoid too much of it as I am working out and have goals for my body and health. Aiming for 1x/week at the bar or less!

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        • Ste J

          11/11/2013 at 12:31

          It is always good to have a goal. I can’t remember the last time I had a beer, so I won’t see you at the bar anytime soon.

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  6. Alastair Savage

    11/11/2013 at 06:05

    I just love that moment in this story where the robot spy goes “I … have failed.” Ahhh … I like Leela too, especially in the Horror of Fang Rock.

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    • Ste J

      11/11/2013 at 11:49

      I almost did the post on Fang Rock…perhaps I will continue reviewing things in the future and try and review all the stories…which would be epic! The robots seemed more human than the bags of flesh and bone that spend their time arguing lol.

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  7. Cory

    12/11/2013 at 05:34

    A great review, Steven! This is a particular favourite of mine, with some great ideas running through it, and excellent dialogue. Chris Boucher, the writer, was given the challenge of creating the character of Leela, and his stories always handle her persona very well.

    Noticed some Fang Rock love in the comments too, another gem! Love the claustrophobic setting in that one!

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    • Ste J

      12/11/2013 at 09:18

      The claustrophobia of Fang Rock was one of the reasons I almost went for it. Very close call indeed, that one was.

      Chris Boucher and Brian Croucher seem a little synonymous with each other as Croucher acted in and Coucher wrote for Blake’s 7. Once again your encyclopaedic knowledge of Who makes me happy and teaches Ste stuff.

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