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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Begins.
Tom Baker, at this point in his illustrious life was a bad tempered, chain smoking, irreligious, binge drinking, bricklayer on a construction site somewhere in London. Then he met Doctor Who's producer, Barry Letts, the man who would quite literally change his life forever and make Baker one of the most well-remembered and iconic people of the 20th century. Now, as a huge...
Published on 23 April 2012 by The Real M.B.E. Of Tooting

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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The nose is a definite improvement..."
To appreciate the effect Tom Baker's debut as Doctor number 4 in late December 1974 might have had on a contemporary audience, it's necessary to remember all the qualities that made up his predecessor's Doctor. Pertwee was dignified, aristocratic, smartly (if eccentrically) dressed and although occasionally ill-tempered and patronising was at least someone who would give...
Published on 2 Jun 2007 by Hector Lerbioz


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Begins., 23 April 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Tom Baker, at this point in his illustrious life was a bad tempered, chain smoking, irreligious, binge drinking, bricklayer on a construction site somewhere in London. Then he met Doctor Who's producer, Barry Letts, the man who would quite literally change his life forever and make Baker one of the most well-remembered and iconic people of the 20th century. Now, as a huge fan of the devilish Jon Pertwee and his 3rd incarnation of the titular character, I found Tom Baker quite different to say the least. As Mark Gatiss puts it in the preceding story's DVD release "Planet of the Spiders" main documentary, it took him some time to warm to this bizarre man and his portrayal of The Doctor and I felt quite the same. That said, Tom is an instant natural, his alien-esque-ness is evident from his first word and there is no doubt in my mind that Tom was born to play The Doctor. So then, after 5 years of Pertwee mania, Tom Baker fulfills his destiny by laying on the floor {trying not to laugh} and regenerating into the most exciting and popular Doctor we have seen to date.

As stated above, My Doctor is Jon Pertwee, but its almost two close to call between the two of them. The main reason I've always marked Tom's Doctor down is the fact that he just stayed too long and the stories were just becoming utter nonsense. The show goes on but Tom wanted to carry on carrying on with it, and so after 7 exhaustive years of new producers, new companions and 178 weeks of episodes to record, Tom departed the role that made him a true household name, in March 1981, {completely shattered I wouldn't wonder}. Anyway, that's 7 years away, I'm more interested in the first few stories that made Tom so infamous. Robot is a brilliant story to open the 12th season of 1974-5, you can still detect very clearly that the show was in the hands of resident producer Barry Letts and script-editor Terrance Dicks, the whole story would not be out of place in the middle of the Pertwee years. But funnily enough, this doesn't take anything away from Tom's new performance, he's still as manically and intelligently Doctor-ish from the word go, and Baker is an absolute joy to watch. This truly is one of the better post-regeneration serials.

Regulars Sarah Jane Smith {Liz Sladen} and the Brigadier {Nic Courtney} are both on hand to help the new Doctor find his feet again, Sarah's first story with the new bombastic Doctor is a beautiful and at times quite touching affair. The two work so well together, never another one like Sarah Jane Smith, especially in Baker's eyes. Moving on, one can always rely on Brigadier Alistair Gordon Leth-Bridge Stewart to help the story along, action wise as well as comedy wise. True, the Brig was always most at home with Jon's third Doctor and as is only right, thought of as the Third Doctor's companion, rather than any other Doctor's, but still Nic and Tom share some great moments. Very similar to the moments Nic shared with Patrick Troughton back in the late 60's.

The Story is very strong with some fine performances coming from Edward Burnham as the mad professor and Father / creator of the Robot, Patricia Maynard as leader of the SRS {Scientific Reforn Society} Miss Winters and the creep of the show, Alec Linstead as Jellicoe, Winter's assistant. John Levene puts some energy into one of his final roles as Benton, the ever-reliable. I've always loved John as a person as well as an actor, such an emotionally in-tune man and very happy and nostalgic about his time in the series. Ian Marter also shares some brilliant scenes with Tom as his character "Harry Sullivan" bounces off the new Doctor wonderfully.

The BBC DVD release sees this story gloriously remastered by the Doctor Who Restoration Team and packed with enough bonus content to serve this remarkable story justice. The main disc's documentary "Are Friends Electric" is a brilliantly produced and highly emotional production with some beautiful contributions from nearly all the cast and crew. Further to this we have a fascinating feature about Bernard Lodge's creation of the distinctive Tom Baker title credits and all the other Doctor's intro's up to this point. Highly recommended stuff indeed,

And so in summary, Robot is a classic story with some great performances and the debut of the maddest and most well remembered Doctor Who of them all, Thomas Stewart Baker. The 4th Doctor has arrived. 10/10.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The nose is a definite improvement...", 2 Jun 2007
By 
Hector Lerbioz (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
To appreciate the effect Tom Baker's debut as Doctor number 4 in late December 1974 might have had on a contemporary audience, it's necessary to remember all the qualities that made up his predecessor's Doctor. Pertwee was dignified, aristocratic, smartly (if eccentrically) dressed and although occasionally ill-tempered and patronising was at least someone who would give a straight answer to a straight question. Suddenly, after 5 years of this Doctor (yes odd, but reassuring) from the leftist of left fields comes this scruffy, scarf-wearing, boggle eyed basket case who's apparently subject to massive mood swings and can't even sit or lie down in a conventional manner. At times he's just plain silly. One imagines that many people at the time would have just hated this new spin on a much loved TV hero.

However, it's established fact that Tom Baker became one of the most popular and iconic Doctors within a matter of serials and with hindsight it's easy to overlook the jarring change that had just taken place to the show. The writer of ROBOT, Terrance Dicks attempts to reassure the audience by wrapping up the potentially bitter pill of the change of leading man in the sugar coating of familiarity. A fairly uncomplicated plot heavily reliant on the staple ingredients of the Pertwee shows: UNIT, Sarah Jane's career as an investigative journalist, the Brigadier, a monster that is impervious to light artillery means that the audience is gently cajoled into accepting this bizarre stranger as the nation's favourite Time Lord. In fact, regulars Nicholas Courtney and Elizabeth Sladen do a terrific job here and ROBOT boasts some stalwart performances not only from them but also from Patricia Maynard and Edward Burnham - whose hairdo has to be seen to be believed.

However, call me a cynic, but I don't think ROBOT is a great story. It's more of a guilty pleasure. Not that it's trying to be an all-conquering epic. No, its purpose is functional, and in this regard it is effective. To be fair the design of the titular robot is excellent, even if it does look pretty wobbly out on location (my sympathies go out to poor old Michael Kilgarriff who must have had a tough time stomping around in that huge aluminium suit) and there is some good solid story telling for most of the time. Things go pear-shaped however, around the 3rd episode and especially in part 4 when the robot gets a blast from an unconvincing secret weapon that causes it to grow to gargantuan size. It then goes on a KING KONG style rampage with effects that must have looked fairly ropey even in the mid 1970's. Also, I simply don't buy Baker's first go at playing the Doctor. Granted he's laying the groundwork here and there are some amusing moments, but they are at the expense of the delicious detachment and moodiness that makes his Doctor so magnificent. Newcomers to the old-school DR WHO would be better advised to seek out DVD's of THE ARK IN SPACE, GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, HORROR OF FANG ROCK or THE HAND OF FEAR to see Tom Baker at his best.

The extras are not exactly generous, but are fairly good nonetheless. The feature: "ARE FRIENDS ELECTRIC?" covers the casting of Tom Baker and the memories of cast and crew about the making of ROBOT using some rather lovely contemporary behind the scenes footage. The commentary with producer Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Baker and Sladen is good humoured and mostly entertaining, although I can't help feeling that it might have been more tactful of the writer and ex-producer not to have referenced the Pertwee period so often in the presence of his successor.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not a classic., 6 July 2007
By 
Greg (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
This story is firmly situated in the middle of what I regard as the golden age of Who (1970-1977). However, it has to be said that it is a bit on the weak side. The special effects suffer from the usual 1970s CSO problems, and the model shots are particularly embarrasing (my wife laughed at the Sarah model & the tank). The plot itself is a mixture of King Kong, Beauty & the Beast and Frankenstein. The 'secret' SRS meeting in episode 3 is lifted wholesale from the Dicks/Hulke early Avengers story 'The Mauritius Penny' (Sarah substituting for Cathy Gale). However, there are some good moments, such as the post-regeneration scenes. The new Doctor comes across as being arrogant and self-congratulatory, something which seems to have been changed very soon afterwards.

The extras are entertaining & worth watching.

So overall this is one of the weakest pre-Invasion of Time stories, and not the greatest introduction to a new Doctor, but still well worth buying if you like the fourth incarnation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly Good!, 24 Jan 2008
By 
Matthew D. Phillips "zax93" (Outer Limits) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
I didn't expect a lot from this tale but was pleasantly suprised to find that this is one of the best old school Doctor Who tales I have viewed in some time. Tom Baker is excellent as The Doctor and comes out of the starting blocks with a fully formed character right from the start.

I would reccomend this one to fans of the new series who would like to check out the old stuff as the feel is quite similar in tone. We have Sarah Jane Smith on her own quest much like the modern Sarah Jane Adventures and the Doctor's eccentric behaviour after his regeneration reminded me a lot of David Tennant's performance in 'The Christmas Invasion'. Harry is introduced to the team (yay) and the Brig is left behind as the doctor leaves earth at the end of episode 4.

Great extras, and it's interesting to listen to Tom Baker in the Commentary as it is the first time he has actually seen the show himself!

All in all - this is great fun and full of energy - well recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very important story, but not the very best, 4 Aug 2007
By 
M. Wilberforce "mwilberforce" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Story: 3/5 - Extras: 4/5

"Robot", by Terrance Dicks, is a transitional story designed to ease the viewer from the earthbound UNIT era into the new era of the show, which would see the Doctor and his companion(s) freed from the established Earth ties of the Jon Pertwee years. The newly regenerated Doctor, played for the first time by Tom Baker, and established companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisbeth Sladen) are joined in their travels by the old-fashioned and highly British UNIT medic Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), a likeable character making his first appearance in this story.
The first episode is devoted partly to the aftermath of the Doctor's regeneration, with ample clownery by the boggle-eyed Tom Baker in his scenes with the exasperated Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), interspersed with Sarah Jane undertaking her own investigation into goings-on at the scientific organisation Think Tank. It is Sarah Jane's investigations at Professor Kettlewell's lab that leads the Doctor and UNIT into contact with the robot. After that, the robot takes centre stage in the story, along with its creator (an eccentric performance by a flyaway-haired Edward Burnham).
Unlike the Cybermen, however, the robot is a much more "human" creature, and we actually feel a certain amount of sympathy for the confused machine, as it wrestles with instructions to kill that are contrary to its prime directive. After Sarah shows it compassion, the story takes on "King Kong"-like overtones that play out in the story's crazy fourth episode (I shan't spoil it, but it involves some very bad CSO special effects!).
Although there are some good guest performances and Tom Baker is on splendid form from the off, I wouldn't describe "Robot" as being much more than average, with episode four being over-ambitious, resulting in it being rather silly and badly put together. However, the story occupies a very important position in the show's continuity, and sets the Doctor, Sarah and Harry off on the journey that would link the rest of the stories in "Doctor Who"'s acclaimed twelfth season under new producer Philip Hinchcliffe ("Robot" itself being produced by outgoing producer Barry Letts).
The DVD features aren't quite as comprehensive as sometimes, but as well as a feature commentary with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and writer Terrance Dicks, there's a documentary on the casting of Tom Baker and the making of "Robot", and a featurette on the creation of the Fourth Doctor's well-known title sequence, plus other extracts from the archives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dr Who goes King Kong, 14 July 2007
By 
Mr. J. Hadwin "John Hadwin" (England, Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
The one with the Robot. I was too small to remember the program, but had the Robot as a toy up to my early teens. And what a Robot. Fantastic design, impressive, scary, imposing and practical... on BBC children's TV budgets. Did anyone win an award for that?
The acting between the Robot and Elisabeth Sladen... we've seen little better. Just great stuff, mixed with the Nazi scientists and the whole King Kong thing makes this a wonderful story.
It does have its problem The first episode falls into silly Douglas Adams type stupidness... the skipping? Whose idea was that? And the costume changing?
Also the Robot when it grows is not convincing, and the rag doll Sarah and toy tank are terrible.
But it was all about Tom. And indeed Tom was great, dramatic, odd and funny. This was to most (Myself included) a golden age of Who. Indeed in this fans humble opinion, only David Tennant can touch Tom Baker.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Extras are worthwhile, 10 Jun 2007
By 
Andrew Eaton (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Tom's first story - what can you say. I can still remember watching it over that Christmas when I was 13. It made a huge impact on me, despite being someting of a curate's egg.

What makes this DVD release so special is the sheer amount of quality materials in the extras. Absolutely breathtaking. Te first time I think I've ever heard Tom being interviewed, rather than rambling on on his own.

A must have if you want to call yourself an anorak
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Baker In Pertwee's Clothing.., 21 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. I. Clarke "wellerard_21" (Leeds UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
Robot is somewhat of an oddity. It marks the start of a new era, while bearing all the hallmarks ofan old one. The setting and the writng by Terrance Dicks is positively Pertwee; UNIT battling a power mad scientific faction on Earth had already been done, most obviously in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. But the changes are there. Gone is Pertwee's suave arrogance, and in is a wide eyed, positively manic at times Tom Baker. While there are still some edges to be smoothed out here (and they would be smoothed out pretty quickly) in his performance, there is no doubt that from the offset, Baker was in charge, and because of this presence he won the fans over spectacularly.

The performances from the regulars are good, Nick Courtney being given the chance to be able to play the Brigadier as a real soldier again, Ian Marter makes a strong debut as Harry, John Levene gets a little more leg work as Benton, and Liz Sladen is ever reliable as Sarah. You can't be quite as glowing as the regulars with the guest artists, although all of them manage to create the right mood for their characters effectively. You have to give special mention to Michael Kilgariff as The Robot itself, wearing that costume and delivering a perfomance cannot have been easy (the fact he trips up on camera in clear shot highlights this).

The plot itself, being Terrance Dicks is a solid enough idea, yet it seems a little stretched in places. The finale, an homage to King King has degrees of success and failure. The fact that the whole thing was shot on video helps the special effects along well, it's a big improvement on Invasion of the Dinosaurs! However, the 'model' Sarah, the actual CSO 'growing' where parts of the Robot disappear, and as Dicks quite happily admits 'the Action Man tank' do tend to let the overall effect down, and I have to agree, a touch of CGI in the modern world would have been a welcome addition.

All in all a pretty solid story, but one that is certainly not reflective of either era, and has some trouble getting going in places. Tune in next week for The Ark In Space and you see how it really has all changed.

Extras are all good, the documentary Are Friends Electric being particularly worth watching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bring on your tin man, 18 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
'And I hate mummies and daddies too!' quoth Michael Kilgarriff the only time I ever saw him live on stage; it was Stanley Baxter's Jack and the Beanstalk in Manchester 1978, and not very good. Mr Kilgarriff was, at least, the best thing in it.

He's the best thing in this too, and my admiration is not at all entirely down to his being able to walk unaided in James Acheson's wonderful but incredibly heavy costume; it's quite an affecting performance from a man who's encased in an aluminium box.

Not to deny the supporting company: Patricia Maynard is particularly unpleasant as Miss Winters, and Edward Burnham a fussy, womblish Kettlewell (does he always do professors?), and Timothy Craven is very good as Mr Short - I just wish he had more than one scene.

It's an interesting (rather than wonderful) story, and quite clearly King Kong is a big influence, with Sarah standing in for Fay Wray, but there's shades of Frankenstein too. Miss Winters belittles people that give pet names to motor cars, marking herself down as one that needs to belittle people that give pet names to motor cars, but also begging the question of just how self aware is the robot? Is K1 it's name, or merely its code number? Is the metal really living? Self-aware?

The mixture of Authoritarianism and Green politics that the villainous Scientific Reform Society seem to espouse is an interesting tack, if not entirely convincing; environmentalists do not usually tell young women off for wearing trousers, nor do they often embrace nuclear destruction as a price worth exacting. There is a throw-Teddy-out-of-the-pram nihilism in Miss Winters' willingness (or is it enthusiasm?) to start a nuclear war. I think she's probably mad. and do wish that the moment that Sarah pulls a gun on her could be better emphasised - with possibly a later aside that the pistol's not loaded!

It's a story that could have been played by any of the previous Drs, but Tom Baker defines his take on the part with admirable clarity, though much of the actual story is carried by Sarah and the Brig.

Some of the CSO at the end of the story is poor, but by no means all - I like the bit when the robot's foot goes straight through a nissen hut. It's all so much better than the eponymous models in Invasion of the Dinosaurs - apart from the tank anyway.

And the debut of Tom Baker is very well handled (referencing Spearhead at every opportunity) especially the scenes with the deeply unfortunate Harry Sullivan, and I really don't think that the Viking/playing card/clown costume sequence is the silliest thing in Dr Who.

Though that might have been in Creature from the Pit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom Baker's First Adventure as Dr Who. Corny but Good., 14 Jun 2013
By 
Traffic (Kiruna, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] (DVD)
To me Tom Baker is Dr Who; it was he who was the incumbent Time Lord when I was a kid and enjoying watching these episodes every week. Back then they seemed all the more real and, in some species, frightening. Watching them now I realise how dreadful some of the acting was (not, I am glad to say on the part of Mr Baker), and the sets and special effects are pretty lame (watch for the action man tank!), yet it still has a nostalgic magic to it.

In this set of 4 twenty-five minute episodes we see the Dr battling a dangerous robot who has been ordered to steal Top Secret equipment and information for a crack-pot "we want to rule the world" organisation.

This was Tom Baker's first outing as Dr Who and for me will always stick in my memory as the real Dr Who. I hate the way the series has gone today; too much showy special effects and poor choices of actors playing the part of Dr Who. Still, I guess the kids of today who like the current Dr Who will say the same thing later in their lives about the then Dr Who.

There are a few extras on this DVD; commentary by Tom Baker and other members of the cast, a short documentary on Tom Baker's introduction as Dr Who and the making of his first Time Lord adventure. There is also an insight into the making to the famous `time tunnel effect' seen in the opening sequences of the Tom Baker episodes. The visual quality of the programmes themselves is good considering the age of the episodes.

For those of you who enjoyed watching Dr Who as a kid in 1974-1981, and to the die hard Dr Who fan, this DVD will be a great addition to your DVD library.
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Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963]
Doctor Who: Robot [1974] [DVD] [1963] by Tom Baker (DVD - 2007)
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