The Robots Of Death: Doctor Who: Season 14
The Robots Of Death SYNOPSIS:
Robot servants become robots of death on a sand miner that is on a remote mining mission a desert planet. The Doctor and Leela land just after the untimely murder of a man by robot and the two travellers are automatically the number one murder suspects.
The Sand miner crew are not prepared to listen to the Doctor's theory that the robots might be the killers and as they consider who else it might be, the crew begin to get killed one by one. Only Poule is willing to listen to the Doctor and with Leela's help he exposes a class D84 robot as a robotic detective trying to find the real suspect Taren Capel.
Mad roboticist taren Capel is aboard but no one knows who he looks like and as the body count rises it becomes apparent the robots are the killers acting out the orders of their unseen master to kill of the human crew. Is it the s arrogant Commander Uvanov? The cool pilot Toos, The unflappable Dask, the mysterious Poule or angry Zilda? Few will escape death.
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The Robots Of Death SERIAL DETAILS:
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The Robots Of Death CAST & CREW
Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)
Louise Jameson (Leela)
Russell Hunter — Uvanov
Pamela Salem — Toos
David Bailie — Dask
David Collings — Poul
Brian Croucher — Borg
Tania Rogers — Zilda
Rob Edwards — Chub
Tariq Yunus — Cass
Gregory de Polnay — D.84
Miles Fothergill — S.V.7
Mark Blackwell Baker, John Bleasdale, Mark Cooper, Peter Langtry, Jeremy Ranchev, Richard Seager — Robots
Production Staff for Serial 4R:
Writer - Chris Boucher
Director - Michael E. Briant
Script editor - Robert Holmes
Producer - Philip Hinchcliffe
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The Robots Of Death REVIEWS
GoldbyThe power Dr Who has on kids is phenomenal. Still remember back in the early 80's when literally the whole class watched this one and for a whole week every lunchtime every one became Robots of Death and pity on you if you landed the role of the Doctor.
Yep Robots Of Death is classic in every sense of the word, it was the first DVD release here (hope it gets a special edition release) and one of the first video releases. Very memorable imagery with the whole cast trapped on a giant sandminer in the middle of an alien desert with no way out! Even the Doctor and Leela are separated from the Tardis when it's buried in one of the sand collectors. Again the 14th season throws us more Tardis titbits as at the start as the Doc gives Leela an explanation on how the ship is bigger on the inside than the outside, which don't think has been done before or since. It makes no sense but it sounds believable.
Tom & Louise have a good chemistry already and the fact that the same writer does their second story goes a long way to establishing their relationship. Yep Tom is brilliantly broody, dominant and wise cracking as he attempts to persuade the crew of the threat of robot killers. Louise is her sexy best showing herself off in that leather outfit and just how intelligent and adaptable a savage she is. She questions her surroundings but doesn't bat an eye just reacts and doesn't need the Dr. to hold her hand.
The supporting cast are all brilliant, Russell Hunter as the arrogant, sarcastic little man commander with skeletons in his cupboard, Pamela Salem as the cool, sexy and sophisticated pilot Toos, who slowly starts going to pieces as her world crumbles around her. The guys that play Poule & Dask are also brill - in fact never has such a supporting cast had a strong backstories so there's another red herring to throw at the audience so you don't really suspect who the culprit turning robots deadly could be. They are play their parts very real, except maybe Zilda who needed some more acting lessons.
The titular Robots of death are unnerving both in design and presence and it's almost not surprising that this particular society becomes subject to 'robophobia' . Having someone calmly and logically tell you they 'must kill you' is very effective and chilling. Plus D84, the good robot companion that never was, ends up becoming the most sympathetic character and sacrifices himself to help the humans. Man, why not take him on board the Tardis instead of K9 three stories later? Another excellent villain in Taren Capel with brilliant plot, great art deco design and creepy music. 10/10 (actually Mr. Long not knowing their names is being roboticist)
Robots Of Death it's Its Murder on the Orient Express.............in SPACE!!! Wow this is a brilliant story isn't it? And its so...........well, ADULT! Chris Boucher once again comes up with a great story hot on the heels of his previous one. Okay, its basically a knock-em-off-one-by-one murder story where no one (until epsiode three) is above suspicion.
There is also a very well written in subplot of how human beings are reacting to a life time spent around robots; and it ain't pretty. In fact, its pretty gory as the production team really go to town on this plot point as everyone here either a) don't believe the robots can kill humans, or b) do believe the robots can kill, or c) are programming the robots to kill. So in the end, everyone is in a high state of panic as their servant robots start going ape-shit and ripping people's arms off, strangling them or even worse.In fact, the production team go one step further and actually show BLOOD - onya Phillip for going the way Barry and Terry never did. There is also some knife throwing as well to get the kids at home interested in being active with mum in the kitchen.
Production wise, the sandminer itself looks amazing in its art-deco glory and different levels and corridors. Even more so, is the way you can (or think you can) see dozens of the robots walking around the ship. The robots look fantastic as well with their blank - yet art-deco - faces and calm soothing voices. They also look powerful too due to their costumes being made out of that padded parka material that Tim likes to wear when he goes clubbing on King Street. The voices bring the robots to another level as well cos even when they are flipped into "kill...kill....kill..." mode, they still sound so nice and calm. And very creepy.
SV7 exudes the most menace as he instructs the robots on which crew members to kill, while D84 has our sympathy as the robot investigating with Chief Mover Poule. He was more the robotic companion that Kamelion (or Adric) ever was. In fact there is an air of creepiness that permeates the whole story. Even more so, is the fact the cast are really giving this story a real go in the acting stakes so the paranoia and claustrophobia gets magnified. The Doctor seems to not want to be shown up by Leela with her primitive instincts and stunning good looks (did I mention her long slender legs and long thigh high boots?) and it makes for a very dark Doctor - which in itself is good cos it brings him up another level.
Actually, he will be like this for a little while, right up to Fang Rock when he is at his moodiest best. I notice at the end of the whole adventure he is pretty quick to piss the hell off without making sure that Toos, Uvanoff and Poule are okay. So in all, Robots Of Death is Who at its Hinchcliffe/Holmes/Baker/Jameson best. 10/10
Sometimes I wonder if Robots of Death is a little over-rated... I don't know why. Every time I go to watch it I think it's a bit over-rated, and then I watch it and think, hmmm, no it's not... it is really good! s part of the "homage" era (although I'm not sure what Face of Evil was a homage to... maybe "Planet of the Apes"?) - we now get Agatha Christie - and it's not surprising that this is something that the BBC can do very well! It's almost the perfect setting for the Doctor and Leela's first outing... it's a long way removed from Leela's jungle (ooo er!) and civilized robots are about the polar opposite to Leela!
I think the beauty of Robots Of Death (other than a water tight plot, right down to the helium - made easier for the fact that it's a classic "who dunnit story") is that we actually feel for the Robots. I can't quite remember their names (is that racist?), but you really feel for the one that sacrifices itself at the end. It's a slow progression of feeling from the way they're treated by the (mostly) unlikeable crew of the sandminer, but yeah, D84 (I copied the name from Grob's review) really gets you, and as a Dr Who alien, is very well written.
There is still however the nagging doubt I have about this one that I can't quite put my finger on... maybe it's the sand, and the memories of being forced to sit through Dune when I was a child! 9.4/10
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