Doctor Who: Robot (Episode 75) (DVD)
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 the U.K. 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