Monday, August 28, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Arc Of Infinity"

Written by Johnny Byrne
Directed by Ron Jones

Nyssa (re High Council): “To kill you? Is that why they brought you back?”
The Doctor: “Possibly.”

It’s serials like this that show you why The Doctor is so resistant to stay on Gallifrey. With the kind of people running the High Council on The Doctor’s home world like this lot, I’d want to be as far away from the lot of them as possible. Maybe that’s also why Doctor Who works better without constantly visiting Gallifrey.

Given that Tegan has just departed, both The Doctor and Nyssa seem to be getting on with things ever so well in her absence. In fact while I might be craving for a scene where at least one of them wonders about her well being, both of them are distracted by repairing the TARDIS.

Granted the TARDIS needs the work but it’s somewhat annoying that Tegan isn’t touched upon as a subject. Still with someone nicking The Doctor’s bio data from the Matrix on Gallifrey at least the opening serial to Season Twenty is trying to be eventful.

The problem is that just like “Time-Flight” no amount of danger covers the fact that this is something of an underwhelming serial. Yes The Doctor’s in danger, an old enemy has returned and the High Council of Gallifrey are the most malignant bunch of twits you’ll ever encounter but still something’s a little off with this one.

With The Doctor and Nyssa both working effectively as a team, their TARDIS repairing gets back seated first by a creature attempting to take over The Doctor and then by the High Council summoning the TARDIS to Gallifrey.

Set to play The Doctor in another year and a half, Colin Baker is cast as the abrasive Commander Maxil. Although the character doesn’t seem to have any dimensions, it’s a credit that Baker makes him into such an interesting foil for The Doctor and Nyssa. He’s unsympathetic to both of them and follows his order to hand The Doctor over a little quietly.

Of course he’s not the only who fares negatively in this serial. With the exception of Hedin, the Council themselves are less concerned about The Doctor being used by the creature who took his bio-data and are more eager to execute him. Even Lord President Borusa fails to convince that killing The Doctor is a hard choice for them.

In fact we all know that The Doctor has rebelled against the council several times and maybe there’s a part of them that wants to use this execution as their own personal punishment for The Doctor’s past behaviour. Castellan certainly seems to exhibit the most amount of animosity for The Doctor above everyone else.

Without Tegan by her side, Nyssa is sort of forced to be the rebellious one. Both she and Damon make several attempts to prove that there’s a traitor in the council and Nyssa even tries to get a little trigger happy in a doomed attempt to stop The Doctor from being executed.

To be honest Nyssa needn’t have bothered. The Doctor’s execution seemed merely a ploy for the creature in question to get him and when Maxil and Castellan both do their own investigation and realise that The Doctor is alive, this creature attempts to use Tegan to keep The Doctor from interfering.

The second major development in the episode is Tegan’s return. Despite a decent change of clothing and a new haircut, Tegan’s pretty much the same girl. She’s quickly embroiled with Robin Stuart in a bid to rescue her cousin Colin Frazer in Amsterdam but soon enough the both of them get captured by the creature.

Tegan’s return is probably the biggest selling point of the episode and as a viewer who loves the dynamic she has with The Doctor and Nyssa, a part of me wanted them to get reunited sooner than they did. Tegan was used a few times to keep The Doctor on side but it took a while for The Doctor to actually believe she was really Tegan.

As for the creature itself, well it’s Omega who looks nothing like he did back in “The Three Doctors”. Ten years after his first altercation with The Doctor, both he and Hedin conspired with each other to acquire a new body. Using The Doctor had proved to be rather challenging but Omega did temporarily succeed in using the Arc Of Infinity to control the Matrix.

He also managed to get a decent transformation when ended up looking like The Doctor himself. If there’s one place where the serial succeeds it’s seeing Peter Davison flit back and forth as The Doctor and Omega. There’s even a moment where Davison delivers one of the creepiest smiles as the latter makes an attempt to integrate.

Unfortunately the face-off between The Doctor and Omega in Amsterdam isn’t quite as compelling as what we saw in “The Three Doctors”. With so much padding at the start of the serial, Omega’s defeat is a little too quick for my liking. It’s a shame to lose him yet again as he could’ve been an intriguing recurring villain like The Master.

Still the episode does have on bright point. With Nyssa admitting to the fact that she missed Tegan’s company, the fiery air stewardess practically invites herself back onto the TARDIS. Still it would’ve been nice if The Doctor sounded a little more excited at the prospect of spending more time with Tegan, right?

Also in “Arc Of Infinity”

Also we got see some nice images of the place, the only significance Amsterdam had was the fact it played some part with the Arc Of Infinity.

Robin: “Trust me, Colin. Have I ever led you astray?”
Colin: “There’s always a first time.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I can’t be the only one who thought that Colin and Robin were a couple. They were kinda flirty at the start of the serial.

Damon: “Why are you treating The Doctor like a criminal?”
Maxil: “I am simply following orders.”

Hedin (to Zarach): “We sent armed guards when a friendly face would’ve sufficed. Is it any surprise he resisted?”

Hedin was played Michael Gough who also played the Celestial Toymaker and Alfred in the Batman movies.

Castellan: “What are you suggesting Doctor?”
The Doctor: “I thought that would’ve been obvious.”

Borusa: “Have you nothing further to say?”
The Doctor: “I have a great deal to say.”

Both Leela and Romana were mentioned in passing during this serial. The Council aren’t pleased that Romana is in E-Space.

Maxil: “I have my orders.”
The Doctor: “You don’t have to relish them so much.”

Omega: “You knew this would happen?”
The Doctor: “I guess. I was hoping it would give me the chance to meet you.”

With the previous serial concerning The Master, Omega’s identity wasn’t revealed until Part 3. It worked a little better here to be fair.

Tegan: “Yes I’m a friend of The Doctor’s.”
Omega: “We are both fortunate.”

Nyssa (re Omega): “You’re dealing with a Time Lord, Doctor. You won’t find anything in there.”
The Doctor: “We’ll see.”

How exactly did Omega survive his death/defeat in “The Three Doctors”?

Tegan (to Nyssa): “What job? Didn’t I tell you I got the sack so you’re stuck with me after all?”
The Doctor: “So it seems.”

This was released in August 2007 with “Time-Flight” and Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton do a terrific commentary for the story.

Something of an underwhelming opening to the 20th season, “Arc Of Infinity” is a little disjointed in some places. Omega is a great villain but this serial isn’t quite as strong for him as his earlier one was.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Time Flight"

Written by Peter Grimwade
Directed by Ron Jones

Nyssa (re air travelling): “You miss it, don’t you?”
Tegan: “Oh I don’t know. It’s not exactly dull travelling with The Doctor.”

Following the cataclysmic events of the previous serial, “Earthshock”, Season Nineteen of the series ends on a note that can only draw negative connotations. I know this show isn’t perfect but as season finales go, this one really doesn’t do much to inspire.

There’s a long winded plot about concords at Heathrow Airport going missing, which takes up way too much time during the opening scene to actually. Apparently the use of concords was a major coup back in 1982. It’s just a shame that such a coup doesn’t result in a storyline.

One bright spark about this serial is that there’s some strong continuity. Both The Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa are upset that Adric sacrificed himself to stop the Cybermen but while Tegan and Nyssa are open to the possibility of reversing the event so that Adric doesn’t have to die, The Doctor points out that certain rules can’t be broken.

Fortunately Tegan is wise enough to drop the tricky subject but it doesn’t stop The Doctor from wanting to console her and Nyssa with a pleasant trip to 1851. However the TARDIS ends up getting sucked into the current situation at Heathrow where The Doctor’s TARDIS draws all sorts of attention.

When The Doctor is brought up to speed about the missing concord he wastes no time in figuring out what has actually. Also despite initial cynicism from Captain Stapley, he also manages to use another concord, along with Tegan, Nyssa and the TARDIS to travel back to 140 million years in the past.

Well with an episode called, “Time-Flight”, it’s relieving to get both prospects in a quick amount of time. Of course being stuck in the past evokes all sort of weird feeling as the concord staff are convinced that they are still in Heathrow. Illusions tend to play something of a role in this whole thing.

The big question is what exactly brought them here and that answers seems to lie in a pretty powerful sorcerer named Kalid. Silver and obese this bloke spends a good amount of time enslaving those from the first concord he snatched and then snatching both Roger and Andrew as well.

He also has fun in sending his Plasmatons in attacking both The Doctor and Nyssa at different points but despite using these creatures to initially deter resistance, it’s not long until The Doctor actually faces off with Kalid. As face offs tend to go, this one is pretty uninspired to say the least.

Kalid might be boastful about his ability to make people do what he wants but The Doctor’s disbelief of magic is a good giveaway that Kalid isn’t what he claims to be. Nope, if anything Kalid is more electronic/hypnotic rather than mystical and no amount of mock-annoyance from him convinces The Doctor otherwise.

In fact when Professor Hayter and the concord crew interrupt the face-off, it’s soon revealed that Kalid is actually The Master. Now I know The Master has had a penchant for disguises but if ever there was a serial where dressing up was utterly pointless, it would be this one.

As motives go, even The Master’s here aren’t as grand as you would hope they would be. Basically he’s stuck 140 millions years in the past and he wants to get out. The Doctor isn’t exactly in the best of moods to help him but The Master swipes his TARDIS and spends pretty much the rest of the serial working out his own escape plan. His TARDIS needs a power source and The Master is nothing if not a tryer.

When he’s not instructing people to break down a wall or sending both Captain Stapley and Andrew (both of whom try to best The Master) on a TARDIS trip of their own, it seems he’s also using a race called the Xeraphin to help with his insane plans to escape.

The Doctor’s pretty horrified to discover just how far The Master will use the Xeraphin to aid his escape but worse than that is despite The Doctor even fearing at one point that The Master could actually best him, this still doesn’t feel as tense as you’d want it too.

Towards the final part of the serial, both The Doctor and The Master forge an uneasy partnership of sorts to help each other escape from the Time Zone. Of course it’s also nice to see The Doctor be a little ruthless as well when it turns out that The Master may be stranded on the Xeraphin’s home planet.

However despite the general unevenness of this actual storyline, there are a few bright sparks. For instance the scenes with flight staff such as Stapley, Angela, Andrew and Roger add a perfectly human element to the story while it’s interesting to see Professor Hayter’s eyes open up before his demise.

The best parts however involve Tegan and Nyssa. Nyssa is used on a few occasions to distinguish illusions and to talk for both the Plasmatons and the Xeraphin. There’s also a scene between her and Tegan where they briefly get to see Adric, the Melkur and Terileptil.

Tegan’s also got some stuff of importance as her feelings of longing for her old life seem to sink. Both her and Nyssa seem to have such a good friendship that I liked Nyssa for asking whether or not she missed her old life. Then Tegan winds up being left behind which is the only real punch this entire serial actually serves.

Also in “Time-Flight”

For the first episode, Anthony Ainley is credited as Leon Ni Taiy to conceal his identity. Again I stress that Kalid was a pointless device.

The Doctor (re Adric): “I feel his loss as well.”
Tegan: “You could do more than grieve. You could go back.”

What was up with The Doctor name-dropping The Brigadier like that? I know the bloke hasn’t appeared in six seasons but it felt a little tacked on.

The Doctor: “Well I might be able to help.”
Tegan: “That’s what worries me.”

The Doctor (re Andrew/Roger): “I wonder if they know where the TARDIS is.”
Professor Hayter: “They can’t even remember their own names. They’re in a trance.”

Some original titles for this included “Xeraphin” and “Zanadin”. Neither sound all together that great.

The Doctor: “I don’t understand.”
The Master: “No, Doctor you never understand. You never do.”

Professor Hayter (re passengers): “Doctor they’ve stopped hallucinating.”
The Doctor: “That’s not necessarily a good thing.”

I know it was tradition in the old season, but it’s still amazing that both Tegan and Nyssa haven’t changed their clothes for most of the season.

Nyssa: “I think we’re winning.”
Tegan: “Winning what for God’s sake?”

Tegan: “What does that mean?”
The Doctor: “It means The Master has finally defeated me.”

This was released on DVD in August 2007 in a box set with “Arc Of Infinity”. The commentary is pretty scathing but funny and I liked the “Mouth On Legs” feature about Tegan.

Tegan: “Doctor, hurry up. The Master’s getting trigger happy out there.”
The Doctor: “Oh well, better not keep him waiting.”

Captain Stapley: “Oh hello. I thought you were going with The Doctor.”
Tegan: “So did I.”

Peter Grimwade, who wrote this serial, directed the previous one, “Earthshock”.

Before reviewing “Time-Flight”, I have to admit to watching this serial at least four times since the 10 month period that I have owned it. It’s not one of those serials that gets better after repeated viewing but it did have a few redeemable things about it. However as a season finale, it’s incredibly limp, dull in a good few places and often too confusing for it’s own good. As a villain, The Master is also wasted on this serial.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Earthshock"

Written by Eric Saward
Directed by Peter Grimwade

Cyber Lieutenant: “A Time Lord. But they're forbidden to interfere.”
Cyber Leader: “This one calls himself the Doctor - and does nothing else but interfere.”

Without a doubt this is one of the most critically acclaimed serials that the series has ever done and to be honest, I can see why. While I prefer about six other Doctors to the Fifth incarnation, this is certainly a serial that I think might not have an impact if there were any other Doctor but Peter Davison doing it.

For one thing, the use of three companions works fantastically and for the second, it’s been ages since we’ve had an altercation with the Cybermen and this is by far, the best one we’ve had. Plus I’m deliberately reviewing it days before their return in the Tenth/possible Eleventh Doctor story “The Next Doctor” airs on BBC1.

The episode starts on a domestic front with both The Doctor and Adric arguing and the latter even threatening to return to his own world via the use of E-Space because he often feels like an afterthought. Given that he’s sharing a TARDIS with Tegan, a woman who could still be heard in the middle of a storm, I guess I can see Adric’s point.

Of course while the two of them are arguing, far more interesting stuff takes place with another group of explorers find that all the life in a certain cave are pretty much all but dead. This shouldn’t be the most worrying of things but when the TARDIS crew arrive, they’re not met with the biggest of welcomes.

I think for once it would be nice for The Doctor and his companions to show up to a place where a group of scientists and/or soldiers don’t either want to arrest or kill them on sight. Then again, you do need that little moment of hostility and with this serial, The Doctor’s lucky enough not to be permanently on their bad side.

In fact, he and Scott soon form an alliance when a group of Android are the ones killing people in the cave and there’s a fair amount of quick thinking used to best them. The androids are simply fun and a good warm up act for the Cybermen.

Of course the androids also serve the purpose of making the Cybermen aware that The Doctor is present in the cave. Having them revealed early into the story is a good thing as we benefit from seeing them scheme for a while before they come into actual contact with The Doctor.

It also seems that they’ve bagged themselves a human ally in Ringway. The second plot of this includes a spaceship containing 1500 silos destined for Earth but the Cybermen have their own plans for the planet they know The Doctor has tremendous fun. Sure it would be easy to threaten Gallifrey but audiences are always going to care more about the Earth than The Doctor’s home planet.

The other thing about this episode is that we are then lead into a moment of team splitting. With Tegan and Nyssa stuck in the TARDIS with Scott and Kyle, The Doctor and Adric do more exploring around the spaceship to learn more about what’s going on.

Of course this lead to the two of them getting captured by Ringway, who showed the usual bout of hostility that military type love showing to The Doctor. It really does amuse me how much soldiers absolutely hate The Doctor and not only that but often go into great detail about how much pleasure they would get by killing him. It’s amusing of course because they inevitably fail. Ringway’s really no different to this cliché.

He’s also no different in the fact that by helping the Cybermen he’ll reap some kind of reward from it. Did it ever occur to him to have some kind of a backup plan? Surely he couldn’t have really thought that they were going to keep his word and spare him. Cybermen aren’t exactly known for their loyalty.

Still he signed his own death warrant when he revealed his treachery to both Briggs and the First Officer as well as The Doctor and Adric. As soon as the Cybermen manage to take complete control of the spaceship, they reward Briggs by killing him on the spot.

The biggest strength of this story is its use of continuity. At this point, The Doctor’s history with the Cybermen was vast and writer Eric Saward has fun using this to his script’s advantage. The Doctor has no problem in reminding the Cybermen that he’s been able to defeat him in the past.

More importantly, there’s an ongoing debate of emotions. Now we all know The Doctor’s a big supporter of them and the Cybermen exploit his emotion by threatening to kill Tegan. When The Doctor begs for Adric to come back with them on the TARDIS, the Cyberleader takes great delight in denying him this request.

The Cybermen’s need for destroying the Earth in this story also stems from the fact that a meeting of several other races could threaten their existence. Tegan’s frank distraught over the idea of losing her planet is nicely used but it only highlights the Cyberleader’s determination in getting one on The Doctor and saving his race from extinction.

However it isn’t The Doctor that proves to be the big threat to them in this story. First off all their little explosion is cheekily used the excuse that 65 millions ago, the freighter was the thing that wiped out the dinosaurs. More importantly, Adric also sacrifices his own life in order to muck up their plans again.

For a companion that is largely divided among viewers (I’m not even sure myself how I feel about him), this is a wonderful way to write out Adric and actor Matthew Waterhouse. Tegan and Nyssa’s distress at the end with The Doctor unable to say the right words certainly gives this serial a bittersweet denouncement.

Also in “Earthshock”

This is one of the few serials that actor Peter Davison hasn’t criticised via commentary. I can see why for obvious reasons.

Kyle: “Who are they?”
The Doctor: “Androids. That's why they didn't register on your scanners.”
Scott: “Androids. Are they yours?”
The Doctor: “No. And if you want proof you'll find they'll kill me as willingly as they'll kill you. See what I mean?”

Like in the last serial, “Revenge Of The Cybermen”, we had gold used to the Cybermen’s disadvantage, thanks to Adric’s badge.

Cyberleader: “Destroy them! Destroy them at once!”

Kyle: “Is there nothing positive we can do?”
Nyssa: “Try not to worry.”

It’s interesting that the Cybermen were able to recognise The Doctor so easily when we’ve had stories where the Daleks haven’t immediately.

Briggs: “These you’re friends?”
The Doctor: “Definitely not.”
Adric: “What are they?”
The Doctor: “Cybermen.”

Ringway (regarding the Cybermen): “You know them?”
The Doctor: “Oh yes. We go back a long way.”

I believe this was the episode where Tegan’s ‘mouth on legs’ nickname sprang. Heck, it was her who described herself as it.

The Doctor (re destroying the Earth): “You’ve tried before.”
Cybermen: “This time we will succeed and you will live long enough to witness it.”

Briggs (about the Cyberleader): “Are they all so dedicated?”
The Doctor: “Compared to some, this one's positively flippant!”

We got some images of the serials, “The Tenth Planet”, “The Tomb Of The Cybermen” and “Revenge Of The Cybermen”. I’ve only seen the last two mentioned.

The Doctor: “Emotions have their uses.”
Cyberleader: “They restrict and curtail the intellect, and the logic, the mind.”
The Doctor: “They also enhance life. When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower? Watching a sunset? Eating a well-prepared meal?”
Cyberleader: “These things are irrelevant.”
The Doctor: “For some people, small, beautiful events is what life is all about!”

Tegan made an offhand comment about The Doctor’s abhorrence of guns, even though later he was forced into shooting a Cybermen.

The Doctor: “You have already presented your point quite accurately.”
Cyberleader: “A final demonstration should benefit any doubters.”

Briggs: “Nice to see where we’re going.”
First Officer: “We know where we’re going.”
Briggs: “Nice to see when we arrive.”

This episode was quite audacious with the silence instead of music for the end credits. Reminds me of the Buffy episode “The Body” for that reason.

First Officer (re logic codes): “That could take forever.”
Adric: “Well I suggest we start at once.”

Cyberleader: “You follow.”
The Doctor: “Where?”
Cyberleader: “Follow them.”

Adric did appear in the book “The Boy That Time Forgot” and we did get to see him briefly in “Time Flight” and “The Caves Of Androzani”.

Cyberleader: “You lie, Doctor.”
The Doctor: “Not at all. You lost. The Earth’s safe.”

The Doctor: “You failed, leader.”
Cyberleader: “You shall not enjoy this victory. I shall kill you now, Doctor.”

This serial was released in 2003 with a commentary from Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse. I liked the “Did You See?” review feature.

As a lover of the Cybermen, “Earthshock” is simply a stunning piece of television. Their pure menace as well as personal history with The Doctor is beautifully explored, all the companions are used to good effect (even Nyssa, who had less to do than anyone else) while Adric’s death certainly is quite poignant. The only thing that completely stumps is why the hell this wasn’t the season finale for the nineteenth season After all, you end seasons on stories like this, not “Time Flight”.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Destiny Of The Daleks"

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by Ken Grieve

Davros: “Ha... How long do you think you can sustain your advantage, alone, and against such odds?”
The Doctor: “Wouldn't you like to know, eh? Wouldn't you like to know? Wouldn't I like to know?”

You can’t keep a good villain down but as a producer you can go out of your way to delay retuning him for as long as necessary. Part of the reason why some people might not have warmed to The Master was due to overexposure during his first three seasons. With Davros, the same complaint isn’t valid.

Spending all of the previous season with Romana, The Doctor seems to have gotten used to having another Time Lord in his presence. However the start of this serial not only see K9 struck down with laryngitis but Romana herself isn’t feeling quite the same too.

In the history of this series’ we’ve seen some traumatic regenerations but with Romana, it looks more like a walk in the park. She decides to look like Princess Astra from the previous serial and when The Doctor voices disapproval, she then has some fun coming up with even less impressive guises until settling on her first choice.

From the off, this Doctor and new Romana look like a well matched pair but the fun is cut short when they land on a planet with high amounts of radiation. That’s also the least of their problems as they deal with explosives and seeing slaved people burying each other.

The Doctor also admits to having the wackiest déjà vu. He knows he’s been on this planet before but he can’t think why or when. When he and Romana get separated, there are some more clues as where the two of them have landed. Eventually he’s told that he’s on Skaro again.

The Doctor finds himself rescued by a robotic race named the Movellans who are in battle with the Daleks. Given that nearly every serial that has featured this lot has had the word ‘Dalek’ in it, it’s not like their return is attempting to be remotely surprisingly or anything.

Still it piques The Doctor’s interest as he’s curious to find out why the Movellans and Daleks are both up but its Romana getting captured by the Daleks that paves the way for some clues. Romana undergoes an interrogation and then she soon has to do hard labour for them. The Daleks are drilling to get something pretty important. No prizes in guessing what that is.

Romana’s crafty enough to fake being dead long enough to get away from the Daleks and also to get back in with The Doctor and a former slave named Tyssan. The Movellans are also there to help with the Dalek investigating but it’s pretty clear that their motives aren’t as honourable as The Doctor’s might be.

The drilling also results in the return of Davros. Nearly five years after his debut in “Genesis Of The Daleks”, the character might be played by David Gooderson this time around but he’s still a raging psychotic, hell bent on continuing his advancement of the Daleks.

It makes no difference that it was the Daleks who nearly killed him either. The Doctor is a lot less gracious here with Davros than he was in “Genesis Of The Daleks”. In fact when The Doctor isn’t threatening to blow up Davros, he’s often taunting the Dalek creator as best he can.

Davros himself is as intriguing as he started off. Soon as he manages to get away from The Doctor’s grasp, he’s determined to know the source behind every victory and defeat his ghastly creations have been involved in. The fact that the Daleks are totally loyal to him in this serial is noteworthy.

There’s a part of me that would like to entertain the idea that the reason why the Daleks are devoted to Davros is because he’s their leader but the fact of the matter is, that their loyalty is out of necessity. Their ongoing battle with the Movellans is pretty going nowhere.

The one that both the Daleks and the Movellans have in common beyond being dangerous is their reliance on logic. Both The Doctor and Davros figure that out earlier on and neither of them wants to totally help either Daleks or Movellans out either.

With The Doctor it’s got to be because of his mistrust for the Movellans. Davros on the other hand wants to maintain control over the Daleks and even manages to get them to act all suicide bombers and sends them loaded with explosives to destroy the Movellan ship.

If there’s one thing about this serial that does slightly let things down, it’s probably the confrontation between The Doctor and Davros before the former succeeds. It lacks the punch of their last meeting but at least Davros gets an interesting comeuppance. Instead of being killed, he’s frozen and taken away by Tyssan and the freed slaves.

As for the Daleks and Movellans, well both of them are nicely defeated and there’s a delightful scene towards the end where Romana thinks that the reason The Doctor tends to win is because of his ability to make mistakes. It’s definitely one of the more colourful theories I have to admit.

Also in “Destiny Of The Daleks”

I’ve just noticed that there aren’t that many season openers in the old series where the Daleks. I think this is about the fourth out of seventeen.

The Doctor: “What are you doing here?”
Romana: “Regenerating. Do you like it?”
The Doctor: “Regenerating? But-- what are you talking about, regenerating? Only Time Lords regenerate!”

It’s a really nice move on the writer’s part to have Romana dressed up in similar attire to The Doctor. I think her scarf was even longer as well.

Romana: “Don't go away, will you?”
The Doctor: “I'd rather hoped you'd resist the temptation to say that.”

Dalek: “At my command you will move forward. Any attempt to escape will be punished. No further warning will be given. Is that understood? Is that understood? Speak! Speak!”
Romana: “Yes I understand.”

Mary Tamm who played Romana in Season Sixteen often wished that she had gotten a regeneration scene. I think I prefer what we got here to be honest.

Romana: “The Daleks would be better of with machines for this job.”
Female Slave: “They just enjoy subjugating humanoid races.”
Romana: “They used to be humanoid themselves.”

Davros: “You will release me. You will return me to the Daleks.”
The Doctor: “Shut up or I’ll switch you off.”

Davros is identified by the Movellans as mutant humanoid. What were they going to do with him and The Doctor?

Davros: “Until the Daleks' universal supremacy is accomplished, I can not allow myself the luxury of death.”
The Doctor: “Aw, poor Davros!”

The Doctor: “All I have to do is squeeze my sonic screwdriver and boom-boom Davros.”
Davros: “You need not elaborate.”

K9 got excluded from this serial due to the location being havoc for filming with a prop. Still I did like the little scene we got with him.

Davros: “We’ll meet again, Doctor. Never doubt it. We’ll meet again.”
The Doctor: “Don’t be so sure.”

Movellan: “That’s an order, not a request, now move.”
The Doctor: “I do seem to be in demand today.”

How did those slaves know to mark Romana’s tomb with her name? I don’t think she actually told any of them who she was.

Davros: “Supreme Dalek. That is a title I shall dispute most vigorously.”

Tyssan: “We’ve only got a handful of men.”
The Doctor: “One, two, three, four, five. I’ll go alone. Ask me why.”
Tyssan: “Why?”
The Doctor: “They’re unconscious. Also I’m a very dangerous person when I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Tom Baker has to be the only Doctor to have two encounters on screen with Davros, unless David Tennant holds out for a bit longer.

Davros: “It seems we are both in demand.”
The Doctor: “It’s nice to be wanted, isn’t it?”

Davros: “I have failed.”
The Doctor: “Yes what does it feel like?”

This was released on DVD in November 2007 both individually and as part of the Davros box-set. The commentary with Lalla Ward, David Gooderson and Ken Grieve is good.

Although this serial isn’t quite as loved as other Davros/Dalek related ones, I actually have a soft spot for “Destiny Of The Daleks”. In some ways it could’ve been better, especially with making the Movellans into a stronger threat but overall its enjoyable enough not to seriously offend people.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Planet Of Evil"

Written by Louis Marks
Directed by David Maloney

The Doctor (to Sorensen): “You and I are scientists, Professor. We buy our privilege to experiment at the cost of total responsibility.”

Fresh from the departure of Harry in the previous serial, “Terror Of The Zygons”, it’s time for The Doctor and Sarah Jane to have their first adventure by themselves and as far as adventures go, this is one is definitely not without its trouble.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane land on Zeta Minor, one of those planets that’s as far away from the universe as you can get and also one that’s rather ripe in its own trouble. Answering a distress call is what brought them there and there’s plenty to distress about on this planet.

With its jungle-esque atmosphere, there’s a nice sense of relief that for once we’re not looking at what’s clearly a quarry pretending to be a planet. Before all of the danger, there’s some light hearted dialogue between The Doctor and Sarah Jane. There’s a reason why Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen worked so well as a team and its little moments before they’re caught up in all of the action that highlights that.

Of course the action doesn’t stay in the background for long and soon enough we start seeing scientists getting murdered on this planet and as soon as Salamar claps eyes on the TARDIS, he’s quick to snare it, The Doctor and Sarah Jane without having to think about it too hard.

Once again we’ve got one of those military types who loathe The Doctor on sight. It’s not something that has significantly as The Doctor just by looking at him is able to offend the most hard nosed of types. Salamar is one sour faced so and so who spends way too much time in this serial being overtly aggressive towards The Doctor to the point of tedium.

Thankfully not everyone on board treats The Doctor and Sarah Jane with contempt. The much older and experienced Vishinsky is far more compassionate to the TARDIS and even willingly listens to The Doctor as he tries to figure out what’s going on.

It seems that anti-matter (the very problematic thing in “The Three Doctors”) is playing its part into the serial and it’s the very thing that is also preventing Salamar’s ship from leaving Zeta Minor as well. While everyone attempts to get rid of the anti-matter on board, it soon becomes apparent that’s there’s still a lot more to do before they are free.

Namely there’s a Professor Sorenson, who’s the source of the problems for this serial. He came onto Zeta Minor for his own scientific purposes such as his research for antiquark. Like Salamar, Sorenson is also as doggedly determined and pig headed and it’s this that also places a lot of people in jeopardy.

Well there’s that and then there’s the fact that being on Zeta Minor has affected Sorenson is a manner that even the DVD leaflet would compare to Jekyll and Hyde. Sorenson is becoming monstrous and throughout a good chunk of the episode, he goes about killing members of the crew, adding more strain between The Doctor and Salamar to boot.

It’s also noteworthy that half-way through this serial, The Doctor also goes down a creature pit. It’s one of the most gorgeously shot scenes during the Tom Baker era of the series, with some evocative music but it’s also relevant in the sense that The Doctor would later drag the Anti-Man Sorenson and throw him in it.

Effectively this saves the guy’s life but there’s still a raging lot of hostility to get through before then. Salamar’s vindictive side nearly has The Doctor and Sarah Jane ejected out of the ship and it’s also Salamar’s less than stellar decision to attack the Anti-Man with a neutron accelerator that multiplies the anti-matter.

Fortunately the dip in the pit is the very thing that ended up stopping the anti-matter from having total control. It’s also the very thing that saw Sorenson released too and after so much tension, the ending is slightly more positive than you would’ve expected it to be.

Sorenson’s thirst for scientific advancement is what lead to the dangerous events of this serial and it’s The Doctor’s attempts to sway away from his earlier discoveries that should hopefully not see such events happen a second time. Given how hazy Sorenson seemed to be at the end, The Doctor can only his plan truly works after him and Sarah Jane left that ship and Zeta Minor.

Also in “Planet Of Evil”

Seeing this serial, it’s clear to see how it influenced both “The Impossible Planet”/“The Satan Pit” and “42”. However I prefer those three episodes to this serial.

Sarah Jane: “Oh I see…what’s gone wrong this time?”
The Doctor: “Nothing, nothing at all. What makes you think something’s gone wrong?”
Sarah Jane: “Because you always get rude when you’re covering up a mistake.”

The Doctor joked about Shakespeare as well in this episode when he and Sarah Jane were going through the jungle.

The Doctor: “Someone’s in trouble.”
Sarah Jane: “Where?”
The Doctor: “Who knows? Stand by for emergency materialization!”

The Doctor: “I met him once, you know.”
Sarah Jane: “Who?”
The Doctor: “Shakespeare. Charming fellow. Dreadful actor.”
Sarah Jane: “Maybe that’s why he took up writing.”
The Doctor: “Perhaps it was.”

I was pleased to see Michael Wisher in the role of Morelli. Even though he’s much more effective as Davros, it was still nice to see him.

Salamar: “Have you checked the transmitters down there?”
Vishinsky: “Yes, but any signal would have been monitored by our receivers.”
The Doctor: “Perhaps my receivers are better than yours.”
Ponti: “Shut up!”
The Doctor: “My manners certainly are.”

Sarah Jane: “Do you ever get tired of being pushed around?”
The Doctor: “Frequently.”

This was the first serial that Philip Hinchcliffe had his influence over as both Terrence Dicks and Barry Letts had stepped down from the series.

Salamar: “There is no anti-matter on this ship.”
The Doctor: “And I am telling you there is.”

The Doctor: “The answer’s very simple. You’ve reached the end of your piece of elastic.”
Salamar: “What are you talking about?”
The Doctor: “It won’t stretch much further.”

Regarding The Doctor falling into the pit, it reminded me of The Doctor’s mental battle as well with Omega in “The Three Doctors”.

The Doctor: “Keep away.”
Sorenson: “I require an explanation.”

The Doctor: “If it hits Sorenson, it could be disastrous.”
Sarah Jane: “You mean things can get worse? I don’t believe it.”

Both Frederick Jaeger and Ewen Solon had worked together on a previous story - “The Savages” in 1966. This serial did recycle some past guest actors.

The Doctor: “Come on, Sarah. We’ve an appointment in London and we’re already 30,000 years late.”

This was released on DVD in October 2007. There’s a good commentary from Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Prentis Hancock and Philip Hinchcliffe as well as some good extra material.

“Planet Of Evil” is very much a serial that would work today as well as it did back in 1975. It’s something of a confusing serial in places but overall, it’s a solid adventure and quite sinister in some parts.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Genesis Of The Daleks"

Written by Terry Nation
Directed by David Maloney

The Doctor (to High Council): “Now undoubtedly, Davros has one of the finest scientific minds in existence. But he has a fanatical desire to perpetuate himself and his machines. He works without conscience, without soul, without pity and his machines are equally devoid of this quality.”

Now in the 26 seasons of the original series, there are many stories that are both legendary and important to the show and this one that is both. For the past 11 years The Doctor has had to face off the Daleks when he wasn’t battling other nasties but now in the series’ twelfth season, it was high time we got an answer as to where those intolerant creatures came from.

Getting transported to Skaro by a random Time Lord, The Doctor is given a challenge he’s only too willing to accept – he can either prevent the rise of the Daleks or rehabilitate them. Given that the Daleks are incapable of responding to any form of reason; it was fair to assume that wiping them out would be the best option.

Of course The Doctor also happened to land on Skaro in the middle of an ongoing war between the Kaleds and the Thals and with Sarah Jane, Harry and only a Time Ring as insurance, this was always going to be a hard challenge. Hell even in the first few minutes The Doctor had the fear of a landmine blowing him to kingdom come.

Usually with a lot of serials, especially the big ones you have to go through a good phase where The Doctor gets separated from his companions. Going into a bunker, The Doctor and Harry get captured by Kaled soldiers but Sarah Jane is left behind, which isn’t really that great for her either.

Instead she winds up being captured first by a set of Mutos and then by the Thals. The treatment she receives on the latter end is particularly unpleasant as she’s forced to risk her life loading a rocket with distronic explosion which also meant being affected with distronic toxaemia as well.

Luckily Sarah comes to her senses and decides that she’s got a better chance trying to escape than waiting to die under Thal supervision. Unfortunately both she and the Muto Sevren’s attempts to escape aren’t all that successful and there’s a sinister moment where a Thal tries to make an example of Sarah by dangling her.

I’m not too scared of heights but watching that scene is definitely enough to give anyone vertigo. As serials go this one is pretty good for Sarah Jane, even if she spends half of it away from The Doctor and Harry. However even when she does reunite with them, her life is still in danger.

Then there’s The Doctor and Harry themselves. Tom Baker and Ian Marter make for a good double act and the lads spend most of their time trying to figure out what’s going with the Kaled and Thals’ ongoing way. The interesting thing about this serial is that we see viciousness on both fronts.

We’ve already seen the Thals savage treatment of Sarah Jane, Sevren and other prisoners but with the Kaleds, you do have Ravon who only appears in two parts. In part one he’s a surly so and so that is quickly irritated by The Doctor’s insolence but in the third part, he’s siding with The Doctor. Even then he’s still a bit of a moron to be honest.

Of course imprisonment is bad on all fronts but here both The Doctor and Harry make a few attempts to escape. Their first attempt doesn’t succeed and soon enough, The Doctor finds his Time Ring taken away from but at least not all of the people in the bunker are evil personified. The Doctor soon learns that they are both people he can trust and those he seriously can’t.

With the people he can trust, there’s Ronson a scientist who feels that the work they have been doing with the Mark 3 Travel Machine has become corrupted. This Machine to us is a Dalek and in this episode we get to see it as embryos up to the very moment where it kills independently and ruthlessly.

Ronson’s initially sceptical of The Doctor’s inside knowledge of the destruction that the Daleks are capable of but soon enough he realises that The Doctor is right and tries to give him as much information as possible. He even helps both The Doctor and Harry escape successfully as well prior to them rescuing Sarah Jane.

The other person worthy of trust is Gharman. He falls into the military side of things but like Ronson, he originally believed that the Daleks were supposed to be a source of good and has become disgusted with the way that Davros has corrupted his own creations.

His attempts of rebelling at against Davros has him imprisoned but even when free both Davros and the Daleks manage to stop him from trying to change history with the attitudes of the homicidal creatures. Both Gharman and Ronson ended up dying at the hands of the very creatures they were trying to stop in this episode.

Now that we’ve discussed the good guys in this place, there’s also the very bad apples in both Davros and Nyder. The former is the very man we can hold responsible for the Daleks and the latter is his very devoted right hand man. In fact, they are both as ruthlessly evil as the other.

While Davros might be happy to slaughter millions of lives in order to allow his creatures to advance, Nyder is only perfectly happy to serve. There is never a moment in the six episodes where Nyder argues with Davros about morality. He makes no protests when Davros admits that he wants the Daleks to be devoid of any emotions.

The only time that Nyder comes to arguing with Davros is on strategy. There are times when Nyder thinks that Davros is surrendering, both to the High Council and to the resistance group that Gharman forms. On the latter occasion, it’s revealed that Davros just wanted to weed out the traitors from the devotees and have the Daleks kill anyone who challenged him.

As actors go, Michael Wisher is an excellent choice for the role of Davros. Given that we haven’t had The Master in about two seasons, The Doctor seriously needed a mirror threat. In some ways, the path Davros has taken is one that without positive influences in his life, The Doctor could’ve taken as well.

Even after he tortures Sarah Jane and Harry to get information from The Doctor on every defeat the Daleks have encountered, Davros is impressed by the Time Lord. Intellectually, Davros is the closest to an equal that The Doctor has had since The Master and he’s even more ruthless to boot.

In one of the most memorable and captivating scenes ever written on this show, The Doctor poses a very simple question. If you had a virus and you knew it could kill on contact, would you use it? Most of us would say no to that question but with Davros, he swings the opposite way.

It’s not just the fact that he would use this little virus that’s chilling but it’s his response that really struck a nerve. The pure and utter glee that he exhibited when responding to that question is absolutely shocking. I know this is his first serial but damn, that scene absolutely floored. This guy really is that evil to the core.

As scientists go, Davros’ evilness really hits the roof. To get back at the council for trying to delay his work, he gives the Thals a formula that could penetrate the dome protecting the Kaleds. However he also sends a few of his Daleks over to wipe out the Thals so to be fair, Davros really is cool with wiping out everyone.

The Doctor makes a few attempts to get Davros to stop what he’s doing but neither reasoning nor threatening to turn off his life support does that much good. The fact that Davros is a mutated person, with a third eye and a Dalek base is perfect for the man who created the killing race.

Another sensational moment in this entire serial is when The Doctor has the opportunity himself to kill the Daleks. He’s all primed and ready to do it but backs out when he thinks that killing them would make them as bad as they are. Here I actually sided with Sarah Jane. I don’t condone genocide but Sarah alluding to the Daleks as a deadly virus would’ve convinced me in wiping them out.

However The Doctor faltered and in the end he was unable what either Davros or the Daleks would do to him if they had half the chance. However raising this moral dilemma was a good aspect. This serial did feel like both options were being covered quite convincingly.

Besides Davros got to learn a very harsh lesson anyway. He might have been successful in killing a few oppressors and obtaining some information to advance his creations but none of that compared to the fact that as an inventor, he really should’ve came up with a Plan B.

If you’re going to create a genocidal race then the least you can do is ensure that this race is totally loyal to you. Davros made the mistake in giving them independent thought. By doing that, the Daleks had no qualms in killing the very scientists that could’ve helped as well as Nyder who the closest thing that Davros had to a friend.

As for Davros he also got his just desserts by being slaughtered by a few Daleks himself. However with a villain as effective as this, there’s no way that Davros could actually be dead. After all it doesn’t matter how many Daleks we’ve seen killed, we’re never really rid of them. Davros should be the same.

The Doctor might have failed in his mission but at least him, Sarah Jane and Harry get to leave the war torn Skaro behind them. Given that this is their fourth adventure as a team, it’s easily their best one yet.

Also in “Genesis Of The Daleks”

I have to admit that the darkness really set in early with the soldiers dying at the start of the serial.

General Ravon: “I enjoy interrogation.”
The Doctor: “Yes you look the type.”

This is David Tennant’s favourite serial from the old series. It’s also known now that he’ll be sharing scenes with Davros himself in the Season Four finale of the new series.

Nyder: “And Davros is never wrong about anything.”
The Doctor: “Then he must be exceptional: even I'm occasionally wrong about some things.”

Harry (re Kaleds): “That should keep them tied up for weeks.”
The Doctor: “Yes. I learned more from them than they did from me.”

This serial’s allusions to Nazism weren’t particularly subtle. Davros was a glorified Hitler in the making and The Doctor even alluded to Hitler when he couldn’t kill the Daleks.

Nyder: “What action shall I take against Ronson?”
Davros: “For the moment none. I shall deal with him in my own way.”

Nyder (re Thals): “You think they believed you?”
Davros: “It is unimportant. They are hungry for victory. No matter what they think my motives are, they will use this information and when they do. When they do.”

The Doctor at one point used a Dalek gun to destroy the recordings that Davros and Nyder took. Why didn’t he use the gun to open the door as well when him, Sarah Jane and Harry were locked in?

Harry: “You’re not scared are you?”
Sarah Jane: “Course not.”
Harry: “I am.”

The Doctor: “Davros if I tell you what you want to know I betray millions of people in the future. I can’t do that.”
Davros: “But you can. You will tell me. You will tell me.”

Some of Davros’ earlier experiments involved animals and even a clam like creature. The joke about Harry always putting his foot in it was a nice touch. Harry’s bumbling raises a smile.

The Doctor: “Davros, if you had created a virus in your laboratory. Something contagious and infectious that killed on contact. A virus that would destroy all other forms of life... would you allow its use?”
Davros: “It is an interesting conjecture.”
The Doctor: “Would you do it?”
Davros: “The only living thing... the microscopic organism... reigning supreme... A fascinating idea.”

The Doctor: “But would you do it?”
Davros: “Yes. Yes. To hold in my hand, a capsule that contained such power. To know that life and death on such a scale was my choice. To know that the tiny pressure on my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything. Yes. I would do it. That power would set me up above the gods. And through the Daleks I shall have that power!”

Michael Wisher who played Davros had an interesting technique involving a paper bag to help him get into the role as well as he did.

Nyder: “You know what you’re saying?”
Davros: “I know precisely what I’m saying. Now I will command and you will obey. You will obey.”

Davros (to Nyder, re Gharman’s group): “Achievement comes through absolute power and power through strength. They have lost.”

The Doctor mentioned the events of “The Dalek Invasion Of Earth” during his interrogation with Davros. Makes you wonder if Davros should get his own earth based story.

The Doctor: “I just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished. Have I that right?”
Sarah Jane: “To destroy the Daleks? You can’t doubt it.”

Nyder: “Davros has lost. I’m getting away as fast as I can.”
The Doctor: “Oh now that doesn’t ring true.”

This is one of the very few serials where we don’t actually see the TARDIS. We don’t even see The Doctor, Sarah Jane or Harry get into at the end.

Davros: “Those were scientists. They could’ve helped you. For God’s sake, have pity.”
Davros: “Daleks do not understand pity. Exterminate.”

Dalek: “We are entombed, but we live on. This is only the beginning… When the time is right we will emerge and take our rightful place as the supreme power of the Universe.”

This was released in June 2006 but also packaged with every other Davros story in November 2007 as a box set. There’s a brilliant commentary from Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Peter Miles and David Maloney but the behind the scenes extras are unmissable.

I think without a doubt this might be my favourite serial. “Genesis Of The Daleks” was brilliant in finally giving us an origin story on the dangerous pepper pots as aside from the Daleks, Cybermen and The Master, Davros is The Doctor’s biggest threat on the series so it’s no wonder that a new generation will get to meet him soon. This serial shows why he’s made such an impact.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Review of Doctor Who's: "Robot"

Written by Terrence Dicks
Directed by Christopher Barry

The Doctor: “A new body’s like a new house. As for the physiognomy… well, nothing’s perfect. Have to take the rough with the smooth. Mind you, I think the nose is a definite improvement!”

Is it me or is there an echo in the room? Back in “Spearhead From Space”, we had the Third Doctor waxing lyrical about his new visage and now his fourth incarnation is doing the same.

Don’t worry; this isn’t something I’m complaining about, I think it’s amusing and that one of the things this show gets right – the humour. The Tom Baker era definitely had its fair share of it and after Jon Pertwee, he’s my favourite Doctor and this is definitely a good debut episode for him.

Taking place where “Planet Of The Spiders” left off, we’ve got a new Doctor and already he’s feeling the effects of post-regeneration. At least he doesn’t have to worry about Auton workers snatching. Instead he gets to be taken care of by the lovely Harry Sullivan, another welcomed addition to the UNIT mix.

He’s the series first medical officer and by far one of the best male companions the series has had. He’s a bit sceptical about The Doctor at first and getting tied up in a cupboard probably isn’t the best way of convincing but mild cynicism aside, he comes into his own with this story.

In particular he makes for a good partner with Sarah Jane as the two adopt a spiky but overall friendly dynamic with each other. It helps that Ian Marter and Elisabeth Sladen also have the kind of chemistry that as a viewer you never really felt with either Jo or Mike and that’s not an attack on Katy Manning or Richard Franklin.

The main villains of the story are a group called Think Tank. Their villainy is established very early into the story when they snatch a disintegrator gun from the Ministry Of Defence and soon enough, Sarah Jane uses her journalist background to go and talk to Miss Winters.

Here’s another thing this show gets so right – female villains, who sometimes often come across better than some companions. Patricia Maynard is absolutely brilliant as the ruthless Think Tank leader and there’s an instant bout of hatred born between her and Sarah Jane that’s nicely drawn out throughout the four episodes of this story.

One of the earliest signs of hostility between the two of them is when Sarah Jane tries her hand at some more snooping around Think Tank behind Miss Winters’ back. Not that you’d blame Sarah for her efforts – I would’ve disappointed if she hadn’t but she did very nearly pay for her snooping when Miss Winters set that robot on her.

Which leads to another thing, this show has done plenty of robot stories past and present and the results are usually mixed. This for me is another success with a gigantic creature programmed to attack but oddly finding an instant affinity with Sarah Jane as well.

Miss Winters takes a lot of pleasure in using the robot to attack at different points. There’s a nice scene half way through the story where the robot and The Doctor kind of face each other off with such gusto. When you have a scarf longer than Rapunzel’s own hair, what better way to use it than as a means of tripping something over?

Still, what with the robot’s creator, Dr Kettlewell also disapproving of Winters and her trusted assistant Jellicoe maniacal schemes to take over the world with their creation, it’s the attendance of a meeting of the Scientific Reform Society that really raises the alarm bells for everyone.

First off all there’s the realisation that Kettlewell is actually involved with Winters’ mad plans and Harry’s undercover stint at Think Tank winds up with him being captured. Sarah Jane also fares badly at this rate too when Winters takes her as a hostage in order to keep The Doctor and UNIT in line.

If there’s a slightly disappointing aspect at all to this serial, then it’s probably that UNIT aren’t as effective in this serial as they have been. By the time we did go into the Tom Baker era of the series, UNIT were being lessened all the more and this is the only serial in the twelfth season where they did have some kind of a big role to play.

The last couple of minutes of this serial is appropriately tense, I will admit that. By making the robot creature more gigantic than it was, it did run the risk of pure silliness but surprisingly enough, it’s still effective and that’s taking away the fact that there’s a King Kong homage when it takes Sarah Jane with him.

In the end however the creature is defeated and Miss Winters’ plan to bring the world to its knees are stopped. The interesting part is seeing Sarah’s sadness of the robot’s demise and The Doctor admitting it possessed some very human quality, which I guess I would agree with.

Another highlight of course is Harry’s realisation that the TARDIS is an actual spaceship and not just a police box. The Doctor did seem to take some further delight in confounding the medic’s expectations but more importantly, it’s also the establishment with one of the best Doctor/Companion dynamics being set up.

However as well as Harry joining up with The Doctor, it’s the latter’s desire to actually take his TARDIS away from Earth that’s effective as well. As much as I love UNIT, I have to admit that The Doctor had been with them long enough and really did need to go and do his own thing without having to report to them all the time and it’s not like this was the last of them anyway.

Also in “Robot”

Part of this story was filmed with the last serial, “Planet Of The Spiders” so cast members were working with both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker at different moments.

The Doctor: “I tell you, Brigadier, there’s nothing to worry about. The brontosaurus is large and placid …”
Harry: “Is this the patient, sir?”
The Doctor: “…and stupid! If the square of a hypotenuse equals the sum of the square on the other two sides, why is a mouse when it spins. Never did know the answer to that one.”

We got some references to serials such as “The Time Warrior” and “Invasion Of The Dinosaurs”. Maybe they should’ve referenced a First/Second serial as well.

The Doctor: “You don’t want to stand here burbling about my ears – that’s neither ‘ere nor there!”
The Brigadier: “You may not have noticed, but I'm a bit old-fashioned myself.”
Sarah: “Oh, nonsense, Brigadier! You're a swinger!”

There’s a nice little moment between Sarah Jane and Benton. I actually wished that Benton had gotten more to do because he was arguably underused in the series.

Brigadier: “Did you believe them?”
The Doctor: “No, of course not. And they know I didn’t. But I know that they know I didn’t. And they know that I know that …”
Brigadier: “Yes, yes, all right, Doctor!”

The Doctor (taking a phone call ): “Yes? Of course I’ll talk to him – I’ll talk to anyone!”

I like what they did with the new credits because as well as adding Tom Baker’s face, we also got the TARDIS exterior as well.

Sarah (reading The Doctor’s note): "Sarah – Professor Kettlewell tells me that he has the robot hidden at his house. Gone to meet him. P.S. It is of course possible that this message is a trap. If it is I can deal with it. P.P.S. I’m leaving this note in case I can’t.”

The Doctor: “Aren’t you forgetting that in science as in morality, the ends never justify the means?”

There are some neat references to both the Titanic and James Bond in the series. Then again the former does mentioned quite a bit.

The Brigadier: “You know, just once I’d like to meet an alien menace that isn’t immune to bullets.”

The Doctor (re TARDIS): “Is it? You wouldn't like to step inside a moment, just to demonstrate it's all an illusion.”
Harry: “Well, if you think it'll do any good.”
The Doctor: “Oh yes, it'll make me feel a lot better.”
Sarah Jane: “Doctor ...”

Benton got promoted to Warrant Officer but this wasn’t reflected in the closing credits, which still had him down as Sergeant and we got the Brigadier’s full name here as well – Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Sarah Jane (re Robot): “It was insane and it did terrible things. But at first it was so human.”
The Doctor: “It was a wonderful creature, capable of great good… and great evil. Yes, I think you could say it was human.”

Sarah Jane: “You can't just go.”
The Doctor: “Why not, it's a free cosmos!”
Sarah Jane: “The Brigadier …”
The Doctor: “The Brigadier wants me to address the Cabinet, have lunch at Downing Street, dinner at the palace, and write 17 reports in triplicate. Well, I won't do it. I won't, I won't, I won't!”

This was released on DVD in May 2007 with a commentary from Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Terrence Dicks. The “Are Friends Electric?” compliments the serial very well.

While the Tom Baker era is littered with so many brilliant moments, I raise my hat in praising “Robot” so much. It’s just plain fun, light hearted with an ethical debate but overall just a good glimmer of exciting things to come really.

Rating: 8 out of 10.