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4.6 out of 5 stars57
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on 11 April 2006
Story: 5/5 - Extras: 2/5
One of Doctor Who's finest stories, not for special effects or outstanding originality, but for the quality of the script and the performances of the cast. The premise of the story is unashamedly derivative, both of past Who stories and of the works of Isaac Asimov, but here it is cleverly mapped onto a claustrophobic, Christie-esque whodunnit that will keep the average viewer guessing until the true villain is eventually revealed.
The impassive, Art Deco robots are all the more menacing for their almost human appearance and voices. New arrival Louise Jameson is establishing herself well as the bright savage Leela, only occasionally slipping out of character, and Tom Baker is on good form as the enigmatic Fourth Doctor. The conclusion is ultimately satisfying and reasonably inventive.
The only letdown is the package of extras. This being Who's first release on DVD (apart from "The Five Doctors Collector's Edition"), we are presented with a limited range of bonus material that includes some unused model footage, a photo gallery and some studio floor plans, which forms a much lesser package than many later Who DVD releases. This is saved to some extent by an intermittently interesting commentary from producer Philip Hinchcliffe and writer Chris Boucher, but there are long pauses between their golden nuggets of information.
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on 6 May 2005
This is not only one of the best Tom Baker episodes, but also one of the best Doctor Who's of all time, and certainly one of the most stylish. It also has one of the strongest cast to ever feature in an episode, apart from say, off the top of my head 'City of Death'.

The robots are very slick & stylish and may have unintensionly started off the trend in 3/4 length trousers. The costumes that the humans wear are are bit too camp for my taste, but after all, the human crew are supposed to be a bunch of pampered primadonnas who have robotic servants to do everything for them.

This is a brilliantly acted, gripping, claustrophobic, edge of the seat episode, which moves at a frenetic pace.
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on 27 November 2002
Robots of Death has to be one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time. It was even voted in at number 2 in DWM's survey for the best story. There are many elements that make this story work. Visually it is a feast of colourful costumes, and amazing robots in black polo necks! Second of all the superb acting. It's not only Tom Baker and Louise Jameson who shine out here. The supporting cast is so strong that you really get caught up in the murder mystery storyline.
The story has to be the strongest thing about it. From the moment the Doctor and Leela arrive on the sand miner. It's just a whirlwind of accusations, murder and sabotage. This was also a good developing episode for Leela as she starts to learn more about the Doctor and is even helpful in the investigation of the murders.
For me the best thing about this was D84. A robot that is supposed to dumb class and not talk but is vital to the Doctors investigation. You even feel sorry for him as the army of killer robots emerges but he manages to be helpful rather than a hindrance. Which once again down to good script writing.
All in all a fantastic story and a must buy for all Doctor Who fans. It was the first story I brought on video in the 80's and it got me hooked on Doctor Who for good.
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on 20 March 2007
There is something about this episode. Whether it be the sharp script, the wealth of excellent supporting characters, the claustrophobic atmosphere, the genuinely gripping plot, the creepy featureless robots, the iconic Art Nouveau design of everything, Tom Baker's finest performance, Leela's skimpy i know what it is. Its the ideas. The whole story is steeped so much in names / places / ideals / theories / fantastic imagination...yet below it lies a simple murder mystery, and thats what is so enveloping. The storm mine and its crew have a whole history, you could swear the future they live in is true. In much the same way Tolkien created Middle Earth, Chris Boucher has created the world in which this story takes place. You care for the characters, and not one thing goes above your head as unbelievable. In particular, robophobia: not a fear of robots, that would be cliche, but instead a fear of something the human mind can't recognise, but thinks should be human. Its fantastic. So many things which are made up but you believe in them instantly: dust miners, scoops, corpse markers, VOC robots.

I can't wax lyrical about this enough. It truly is my favourite doctor who story, there isn't a doubt. I laugh every time that Borg knocks the jelly babies away...i shudder every time they go into that cargo hold and the Doctor asks Poole: "What would you do now...?" And Poole says, without thinking..."Why...i'd...I'd call for a robot!"

Stunning. The best Who story ever, highly recommended.

Oh...and don't get me started on why the robots themselves. VOCs, SVOCS? They're so...just so brilliant. Especially that poor one with the secret.

"Then...I have failed."

Oh, wicked. I'm going to go watch it again. Right now.
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This story hails from the Golden Era of Tom Baker Doctor Who adventures. It has everything going for it - script, cast, direction and production design. If you want to show someone how good Doctor Who could get in its 26 year run, you can't go far wrong with The Robots of Death. I am overjoyed it is coming to DVD - and with an audio commentary to boot! The story is a marvellous mix of Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Agatha Christie. The art deco robots are a triumph. Strong supporting cast includes Russell Hunter, Pamela Salem and Brian Croucher. Highly recommended.
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on 17 February 2003
Tom Baker the longest running Doctor and to some the best, though I think all 8 of them were excellant! The Robots perhaps were the most elegant looking of his foes. This is essential for any who collection. The quality of the DVD presention is incredible. Its such a shame that Tom's fallout with the BBC has meant little input from him on the DVD extras. Special effects seem a little poor on the mining ship now, but when they were originally broadcast seemed ok. Buy it.
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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2004
Many of the episodes broadcast in the Philip Hinchcliffe produced era of Doctor Who, were influenced by classic literature. In this instance we can see how the whodunnit style adopted famously by Agatha Christie, has been used as the basis for this story. It should be noted that it is far more successful here, then in the later story Terror of the Vervoids, which has a somewhat similar tone. Here the Doctor and Leela arrive on a sandminer in the far future, owned by a rich civilisation, who use robots as their manservants. However as the crew start to get killed off one by one, it seems someone is manipulating these robots, but who ? Alhough Tom Baker and Louise Jameson relationship off screen was not always the best, this does not show in the story. Indeed Leela is a good addition to the show after the very successful Sarah Jane Smith. The guest stars are very good in this one, and the Robots, like the Zygons of the previous season, are so well designed, that it is a mystery why neither villain appeared again. Chris Boucher has continued to write books about the society featured in this story, they are worth looking at also. As this was an early DVD release, there are limited features, however if you want to see one of the all time best adventures, take a look.
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on 25 February 2008
I am old enough to remember this from its 1st broadcast, and although it has dated a little with some poor model work showing the sandminer and some of the conventions of making television 30 years ago, in most of the important aspects, it's still very good.
The robots of the title have a wonderfully innovative design. They wear slightly pyjama/dressing gown type costumes and have a very unthreatening looking mask that when I was a child I thought resembled legendary TV presenter Bruce Forsyth. The played down look of the robots makes them all the more chilling when they turn bad and this is helped particularly by the voice of Miles Fothergill as lead Robot SV7, especially chilling as he calmly tells Sub Commander Toos she must die.

The actor who plays a robot posing undercover as a dum (they can't speak) D84 is very touching in the way he sounds almost childlike stressing words oddly.

Uncle Tom & Louise Jameson make a great team. her second story Leela the savage, is written for with intelligence working out someone is not what they seem from their body langauge.
Uncle Tom never lets the side down whether acting like a grim prophet of doom for the robot based civilisation or taunting his would be executioner;

"You're not half the robot your father was!"

This is well directed story and truly is an SF whodunnit. For what I believe was his last story. Michael Briant pulls out all the stops directing the robots in a defnite tempo that transcends the fact they are men in costumes.

I'm afraid that I had to take a mark off the overal package because due to the poor haul of extras. Even though this was an early release the commentary with writer Chris Boucher and Producer Philip Hinchcliffe is dry and in places dull.

We have unedited poor modelwork footage for anoraks and a scene of SV7 as voiced by Miles Fothergill before voice treatment which really doesn't sound any different to the finished version.

Buy it for the story not the extras and under a tenner, it'll worth it.

I'm borderline as to whether this is one for fans of the current version although if they enjoyed the Host in Voyage of the Damned, they may see some roots here.
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on 12 November 2000
I'm impressed for the most part. The only fault I can find is with original tape scratching on part 1, and maybe dropout in part 4. WAY better than the VHS release. You can see the after-glow from the shiney things very clearly :-)
The commentary was very entertaining even though it started off a bit dry. Time just flew by! Non fans would probably get lost though for example when Chris Boucher says he's just done a sequel (he's just written a follow up novel).
The other extras were quite good too. The model shots were interesting, although I question the inclusion of a 1 minute static shot of some rock scenery and then some smoke! These showcase the difference between VHS resolution and DVD resolution, as the unused model stuff comes from a tape format of similar resolution to VHS. The photo gallery had some great stuff in it, and I don't usually think much of them. The studio floorplans don't really work because of the low resolution of a TV, but still are worthwhile (I recommend viewing these on a DVD-Rom, they seem much clearer). Continuity stuff was a nice inclusion too.
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on 10 January 2003
The Robots of Death is thought to be one of the very best 4th doctor outings and quite right too. Tom Baker is now very comfortable in the role as he had been playing the part for the while and his saucy companion Leela put in an very good performance.
The set, the acting, the plot, the effects and the costumes are really first rate. It is a very enjoyable watch. The extras are thinner on the ground than the others but the commentaries and on screen production notes are very enlightening. Great fin.
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