Tom 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.