Doctor Who: Robot  
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The newly regenerated Doctor (Tom Baker), assisted by Sarah, Harry and the Brigadier, has to track down the theft of the components for a powerful new laser gun, and the death of a prominent politician. Sarah investigates the mysterious Think Tank, where it becomes clear that robot K-1 is being misused by its political extremist masters and the Doctor has to prevent the robot from being used to start an atomic war. Tom Baker's first story as the Doctor.
Tom Baker's reign as the venerable British science fiction hero Doctor Who began with this four-part serial from 1974-75; it also marked the dawn of what was arguably the most popular period in the program's history. Written by Terrance Dicks, Robot also introduces the late Ian Marter as the Doctor's companion-to-be Harry Sullivan, a UNIT medic who is pulled into the adventure after treating the Doctor, who is recovering from his fourth regeneration (third Doctor Jon Pertwee appears briefly at the beginning of the first episode). Meanwhile, Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) investigate a series of robberies involving a top secret weapons project that seem to have been carried out not by humans, but a colossal object. Could the mysterious "Think Tank" and its robotics division be involved? Robot is a terrific launching point for "The Baker Years"--the star himself is charming and amusing, and the story itself is brisk, involving, and quite suspenseful at times. In short, it's an excellent point for Who newcomers to introduce themselves to this most well-loved of Doctors.
The single-disc DVD includes commentary by Baker, Sladen, Dicks, and producer Barry Letts, as well as a 40-minute documentary titled "Are Friends Electric?" which recalls the production of Baker's first serial via interviews with the cast and production team, including producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and director Christopher Barry. "The Tunnel Effect" is a 13-minute interview with graphic designer Bernard Lodge on how he created the memorable "infinite tunnel" titles for the Baker stories, and there's a clip from children's program Blue Peter, which was broadcast from the set of Robot. The by-now standard photo gallery, production notes, and a PDF of the Radio Times listings round out the extras. --Paul Gaita
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Doctor Who is a British showed funded by U.K. TV license payers . Unfortunately the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC Worldwide seems to have forgotten this and makes releases aimed primarily at the US market. Recently then we have re- releases on Blu- Ray running 1080i/ 30fps instead of the UK standard of 1080p/25fps resulting in a incorrect running speed.
Thus I have bought the 2017 release of Shada but eschewed the HD up scales of both the TV movie of 1996 and the modern series 1-3, which by all accounts are inferior to the DVDs owing to their incorrect running speeds . No amount of pretty steelbook packaging can tempt me.
It is also up for debate the artistic and aesthetic merits of presenting an old show in HD format , when it was designed, shot and broadcast in SD. HD for the classic series has the unfortunate effect of glaringly highlight even more how poor the sets or make up where when budget and time were not limited. Do not judge an old show by modern standards . I do not complain I’m watching a picture in 4:3 format because clearly that is the aspect ratio it was shot and broadcast in.
On the other hand , the recent HD release of Shada looked superb for the most part bar some odd choices for the film colour grading and Mark Ayers has proved time and again he can work magic with modern technology, creating the expansive use of sound to greatly enhance old mono soundtracks by making 5.1 surround soundtracks as he has done for Power of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons and Shada.
The fact that two stories are being given a surround sound treatment plus we have a wealth of new extras does in theory make the season 12 boxset a worthwhile purchase . With the caveat that the mastering should be done for the U.K. market first and foremost.
To my mind you can see the difference between Tom Baker and the other doctors commercially. Power of the Daleks steelbook is still available over a year after its release; whereas the Shada steelbook was sold out within 1month of its release . In short: Tom sells like hot cakes on both sides of the Atlantic.
So let’s wait and see. Get the picture upscaling and mastering right and this is a must buy. Cynically exploit the U.K. fans with a US targeted release and it should be eschewed
The Robot is a brilliant creation, designed by (later) triple Oscar winner James Acheson, but i can't ever quite feel sorry for it as one is supposed to, and it's lack of mobility is too often apparent with actors having to help it walk about, it stumbles a few times and some of the CSO doesn't come off, though some is pretty good.
Tom Baker is pretty darned good in his first story, but he doesn't quite nail it til Ark in Space and the whole story feels like a bridge between a traditional Pertwee style UNIT story and a new era, not one or the other so it feels a little out of place. Ian Marter as new and unnecessary companion Harry is goor but already redundant with nothing to do. The supporting cast are excellent and I particularly love Edward Burnham as the batty and doomed Kettlewell.
And please don't remind me of the Action Man tank (really) or the doll Sarah Jane carried by the King Kong Robot. Oh, dear.
It's very watchable though.
The extras are the usual fare, nothing special but good enough.
The best thing about 'Robot' by far is Tom Baker's inspired performance. Of course, Tom Baker ended up becoming the most enduring and iconic Doctor, lasting longer and appearing in more episodes than any of the others, but here he was a relative unknown and so his confident, energetic performance in his very first story is quite remarkable.
Ian Marter is a very welcome addition to the regular cast as Harry Sullivan, it's a shame he was only on the show for a short time. Nicholas Courtney works very well with Tom Baker and he helps with the transition between Pertwee and Baker just as he did with the transition between Patrick Troughton and Pertwee.
The story is fast paced and action packed and director Christopher Barry does a good job; the story mostly looks great. The costume for the titular robot is a great piece of design work.
Sadly the guest characters are a bit flat and cliched. Kettlewell is a stereotypical mad professor and Miss Winters, Jellicoe and the Scientific reform society are a bunch of ranting lunatics. The performances, however, are strong.
After three episodes the story runs out of steam and there are signs of desperation; we see what is quite clearly a toy tank and the robot swells to giant size for no apparent reason except to keep the story going. This involves some very dodgy effects work.
The story would have worked out better at three episodes in length. Nevertheless, Tom Baker's wonderful debut performance, the fast pace and a good monster make this a promising start to Tom Baker's tenure.
As for extras, there is 'Are friends electric?' an in depth documentary about the making of 'Robot' and the transition from Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker. It's approximately 38 minutes long and is quite interesting.
There is also 'The tunnel effect' which is footage from an interview with Bernard Lodge about how the iconic title sequence that debuted in this story was created. Lodge also talks about all previous title sequences and some of the more recent ones.
There is also a short clip from an episode of Blue Peter filmed on the UNIT headquarters set.