I’ve seen the first season of Tom Baker recently; and I know about half of the Tom Baker serials are ones I’ve seen before (maybe more? I don’t know, I’m not going to skim summaries to find out which I remember/have seen and end up spoiling things for me.)

This is exciting; this is MY Doctor. Though I now believe that Jon Pertwee was the first Doctor I ever saw, I don’t have any definitive recollection. I do recall my first Tom Baker – THE ARK IN SPACE – vividly. It’s always been one of my faves.

Anyhow, enough gushing, I’ll probably do a separate post about Tom Baker’s Doctor at some later point. I do plan on doing some more thinky thoughts about Troughton and Pertwee, first.

On with the show!

Episode 1:

Last season, we ended with the first glimpse of Tom Baker. We start with a recap, as Jon transforms to Tom and the Brig quips, “Well, here we go again.” He gets on the phone calls for Lt Sullivan, the medical officer (Harry!!!)

The Doctor sits up, going on about the brontosaurus; for years, this meant nothing to me. Now I know that it is a reference to INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS. He begins babbling incoherently as Sullivan arrives and orders for The Doctor to be taken to sick bay. Benton, who has just walked in, gets informed that the strange man on the floor is The Doctor.

You mean he’s done it again, he’s changed? – Benton

Apparently. I saw it happen this time.” – The Brig

That night we see a fenced facility; looking through the eyes of… well, obviously a robot (and since the title of the serial is ‘ROBOT’, I don’t think I’m being unnecessarily spoilery), we see it approach the fence. A guard stands in the way, fumbling for his gun as the pincer-like hands of the robot grab and disarm him.

The facility is a Ministry of Defense location. Next two dogs run up and we hear yelps of pain. The robot moves on and breaks into a particular building. Inside there is a large vault, which it opens with ease, taking a file marked “TOP SECRET”.

Later, the Brig tells Sarah Jane about the break in – plans for a new disintegrator weapon were stolen. The Brig is telling her because he has nobody else to tell – The Doctor is still unconscious in sick bay, it seems. They both are worried, but both try to put on a brave front.

Sarah Jane asks the Brig for a visitor’s pass to Think Tank, a collection of scientists. He agrees and they head to his office for the paperwork, discussing The Doctor and Lt. Sullivan – Sarah says he seems a bit “old fashioned”.

The Doctor, skulking about in a nightgown and coat, shoes in hand (a nod to Jon Pertwee’s first serial?), avoids them and makes his way to the TARDIS. He checks his pockets for a key, finding it in his shoe (a definite nod to Pertwee’s first serial.)

Before he can unlock the door, Lt Sullivan (he hasn’t been introduced to us as Harry yet) finds him. There’s some banter, all of it delightful, which I’m not going to transcribe line for line, but I will share a wonderful quote:

No, Doctor, I’m the doctor, and I say that you’re not fit.” – Lt Sullivan

You may be A doctor but I’m THE Doctor. The definite article, you might say.”

We get the traditional seeing his face for the first time; he likes his nose but not the ears.

The Brig and Sarah Jane return to The Doctor’s lab, to find Lt Sullivan tied up and in a cabinet. The TARDIS begins to whirr and groan as it departs, but Sarah bangs on the door and it stops. The Doctor pokes his head out and says he hates goodbyes.

Sarah Jane tells The Doctor that the Brig needs his help with an investigation. The Doctor almost leaves again, but then remembers who they are and is curious about the secret weapon.

We next see another facility being approached; again, we are looking through the ‘eyes’ of the robot.

Inside a vault, a guard sits reading, but gets on the phone when the robot enters. It grabs him and tears the phone out of the wall and then goes to collect specific parts.

Back at The Doctor’s lab, Lt Sullivan and the Brig are entertained by a bevy of costumes that The Doctor tries out – first a Viking-ish warrior, then a kingly outfit, followed by a clown/harlequin type thing and finally his coat and scarf.

The three men head to the scene of the second break in; The Doctor realises that the items stolen are what’s needed for the disintegrator gun.

Sarah Jane arrives at Think Thank, though the administrator doesn’t seem terribly enthused at her presence.

The Brig calls in to have his men sent to the next anticipated target for a break-in.

Sarah Jane talks to the director and her assistant, blathering on about the distintegrator ray (which she shouldn’t know about), then opening a door marked “Positively No Admittance” (right, at that point, they’d have grabbed her, had security bar her from the premesis, upon threat of arrest if she returned.) Inside, she finds an old work room labeled “JP KETTLEWELL”, a name she recognises – a scientist who turned his back against the establishment, chasing “alternative science”, whatever that means.

At Emmett’s Electronics facility, the UNIT troops are out en masse. We see all sorts of precautions, as the narrates to The Doctor about the measures taken. The Doctor points out that all directions but one are covered – approach from below.

The robot is seen burrowing up into the bunker containing the desired equipment. A guard hears and enters and opens fire and The Doctor, Brig and others come running, but it’s far too late.

Sarah Jane has left Think Tank and is now visiting Professor Kettlewell; he’s very mousy/nervous. When she asks if anyone could be carrying on his work in robotics at Think Tank, he says nobody could follow his research. He dismisses her and watches as she leaves.

The entrance point of the tunnel is found; at the scene is a large foot print, too big to be a human’s. It is also pointed out that whomever dug in would not have been able to breathe.

Sarah Jane returns to Think Tank, using her pass (still good for another 10 minutes), claiming she left her notebook behind. When the guard goes to call it in, she ends up sneaking in over the wall (which makes using the pass rather stupid) and returns to Kettlewell’s old lab.

There, she sees an oil slick (that she slipped in during her first visit), but then the robot enters and demands to know who she is. It approaches her… and the credits roll.

A good solid start – nosy journalist getting herself into trouble, quirky scientist, giant robot, sinister administrators, the appearance of Harry Sullivan – I’m digging it and so are you! (If you’re not, turn in your Doctor Who fan card.)

(spoiler)

Episode 2:

Sarah Jane runs out from the lab, bumping into the director, who says that she and her assistant played a little joke on Sarah, saying they knew what she was up to when they heard she was back. They offer the chance to see the robot again and she accepts.

The Doctor tells the Brig that whomever is behind the thefts isn’t alien nor enemy powers but “home grown”.

The robot, who towers over everyone, is brought out again. It’s a vaguely humanoid shape, broad torso and shoulders, egg shaped head. It explains to Sarah Jane it is designed to replace people in dangerous tasks such as handling radioactive materials, mining and the like.

When Sarah Jane questions whether the robot is dangerous, the director gives it an order to destroy her, but the robot cannot obey – its prime directive does not allow it to harm anyone. Sarah Jane is concerned about the robot’s conflict with its prime directive.

Sarah leaves, acting indignant at the way she’s been treated; again, since she broke into the facility, she’s lucky she’s not been arrested (remember, this is a scientific establishment with top secret security levels.) It’s hard to swallow this part without complaining.

The director’s assistant complains that Director Winters took a big risk, telling it to kill Sarah. He says there have been problems with the circuitry, even if he had switched it back to the safe programming. So, as is obvious, they’re behind the thefts.

Sarah Jane returns to UNIT to tell them about the robot.

Jellicoe (Winters’ assistant) and Director Winters work on the robot; really, Jellicoe is doing the tech work. As they reassemble it, they discuss the recall instructions not being 100% effective; Jellicoe says that the last time, it was found near Kettlewell’s place. They waken the robot and show it a picture of a dignified older man, saying he is an enemy of the human race and must be destroyed.

Sarah Jane insists that Think Tank is obviously behind what’s going on. They discuss sending in Lt Sullivan into Think Tank to spy about. The Doctor says he wants to speak to Kettlewell; they go to see him and get him to speak about the robot. Kettlewell says the robot was supposed to be dismantled. He says that if the robot has been reprogrammed to go against the prime directive, it would end up driving the robot mad.

The elderly distinguished man is seen in his house, checking on his safe as an alarm sounds. He gets on a red phone, when the robot disintegrates through the wall and attacks him and breaks into the safe, using the disintegrator ray again.

The Brig tells The Doctor and Sarah Jane about the break in and death of Joseph Chambers, cabinet minister. The Brig then goes on to discuss a good number of the Think Tank scientists being aligned with a group who wanted to change the world to operate under scientist-guided principles.

The robot returns to Kettlewell, distraught over its orders; it asks him for help.

Sarah Jane is seen interviewing a member of the Scientific Reform Society, who gives the usual “rule by superior intellect is logical” sort of line. He doesn’t approve of her wearing trousers and is rather offensive.

The Doctor and the Brig are at Think Tank, wanting to see Kettlewell’s robot. Winters says after Sarah Jane’s visit, they dismantled the robot and had it destroyed.

Doctor Sullivan, from the ministry” is introduced after they leave; he is there to do a check on the staff’s medical records.

Kettlewell calls The Doctor to report the robot having come to the house. After he gets off the phone with him, Jellicoe and Winters arrive.

The Doctor takes Bessie to Kettlewell’s.

Sarah Jane and Benton (who we learn has been promoted to Warrant Officer) find a note from The Doctor in his lab and rush off to get help for him.

The Doctor arrives at Kettlewell’s, entering to find nobody present. When he turns on the light in the workshop, the robot is there and asks him to identify himself. When he does, the robot says he has orders to kill him but does not want him to resist, so he can kill him with as little pain as possible.

The Doctor does resist, scurrying about, trying to avoid him. He tries to get the robot to obey his prime directive, but still he attacks. Finally, he knocks The Doctor down and approaches menacingly… and the credits roll.

The timing of the last scene was a little off; it was like they had to squeeze in an extra minute or two to fill the episode length.

Episode 3:

Sarah Jane pulls up outside, parking next to Bessie. Seeing damage to the door from the robot’s attack on The Doctor, she rushes in and tells the robot not to harm him. He remembers her sympathy and stops. He becomes confused, but then the UNIT boys show up and open fire.

The robot leaves, battling the soldiers when they get in the way. Sarah Jane and Benton find Kettlewell tied up in a cabinet; seems to be a theme with this serial. Kettlewell is brought back to UNIT; he talks about the robot being made of “living metal” and his other discovery, a virus that turns metal weak and brittle.

Kettlewell sees the brochure from the SRS and since they had extended a membership to him, Sarah talks him into going to the private meeting that night and smuggling her in.

The Brig informs The Doctor that the nuclear codes for America, China and the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenals were kept in Chamber’s safe. (Cuz that makes so much sense.) With those codes, they could launch every missile in the world.

When The Doctor learns that Kettlewell went off with Sarah, he is upset at the Brig for allowing her to go with him.

Kettlewell sneaks Sarah into the building as Winters gives a rousing speech to her followers, talking about their scheme so that they can take their rightful position. As Sarah watches, hiding and taking pictures, Kettlewell is introduced as their inspirational leader. The robot is brought out and ferrets out Sarah Jane from her hiding spot.

The Doctor appears and is grabbed by the guards. He asks Kettlewell why he’s helping them, and he says it is because people are harming the planet and with the SRS’ help, he can make them listen to him. Winters wants to kill them, much to Kettlewell’s dismay, but then UNIT shows up.

With Sarah Jane as hostage, and the robot to protect them, Winters and Jellicoe and the robot get into a lorry and escape.

The Doctor tells Kettlewell’s attack by Winters and Jellicoe and all was faked – the sad thing is we saw them break into his place, and he wasn’t happy to see them, wasn’t allied with them – it was obvious from the body language. So the show lied to us, and that’s not very cool.

Lt Sullivan calls in from Think Tank to report that it seems they’re pulling out, evacuating. He just tells them about overhearing about a place called “the bunker”, but the connection is broken as Harry is attacked by Jellicoe and a SRS guard.

UNIT shows up outside an atomic bunker built by Think Tank during “the Cold War days”. (I know the UNIT serials were set in the near future, but it’s interesting to note they were being optimistic enough to think they’d end that soon, when in reality they lasted another 16 years.)

From within the bunker, Winters contacts the Brig. She says that the governments of the world have been given the ultimatum and have thirty minutes to agree or the destructor codes will be used.

Automated defenses are taken out by UNIT soldiers, then The Doctor sets off some mines around the bunker entrance, using his sonic screwedriver. Using a modification, the screwdriver becomes a sonic lance, and he cuts open the lock on the front door.

Winters bullies Kettlewell into programming the destructor codes, while Jellicoe fetches the robot and fits it with the disintegrator gun. He sends it out to deal with the UNIT forces. As the robot emerges, the UNIT troops fall back at The Doctor’s insistence.

The robot disintegrates a man and a tank and then orders them, “Go! Go now or I will destroy you all,”… and the credits roll.

Episode 4:

In the bunker, Sarah Jane are struggling with each others’ bonds.

Winters asks Jellicoe how long they can last with food. He’s “not really sure”. Really? A bunch of braniacs with a bunker and they don’t know how to inventory their food supplies? On their way to check, they stop by to discuss what to do with their captives; Winters says they’ll have to be “disposed of”, but when Jellicoe pulls out his gun, ready to do just that, she tells him it can wait.

The robot stands guard outside; The Doctor says that the disintegrator gun has a range that could cut a hole in the Moon. Really.

Kettlewell, struggling over what he’s being forced to do, decides to smash the machinery with a chair. Jellicoe, returned from checking food stores, apparently, pulls a gun on him, but Harry shows up to knock him down with a punch (yay, Harry!)

Kettlewell turns off the count down and opens the main doors. As they leave, the robot turns on them. Sarah Jane argues with the robot, telling him that the SRS wants to kill millions. It struggles with its programming. Kettlewell steps forward and the robot disintegrates him, then collapses as its mind can’t handle that it just killed its maker.

Winters finds Jellicoe KO’d, sees the UNIT forces entering on the video. She restarts the countdown, but The Doctor manages to stop it with two seconds left.

As they clean up, everyone realises that Sarah and the robot can’t be found. The robot has her prisoner, in a store room in the bunker, saying it will destroy all of humanity except for her.

You know, just once, I’d like to meet an alien menace that wasn’t immune to bullets,” – the Brig, talking about the robot. (Though why he called it an alien menace, I don’t get.) Benton reveals what Kettlewell said about his metal virus and that the robot was made of living metal.

Harry and The Doctor take off in Bessie to Kettlewell’s lab.

A UNIT soldier runs across the robot and Sarah but she intervenes on his behalf and the robot spares him. The robot goes to the control room in the bunker and restarts the countdown (at 300 again, why I’m not sure, it was still on ‘2’.) The robot says that Kettlewell’s plan must not fail since he killed his maker. The robot plans to kill humanity and replace them with machines.

At Kettlewell’s lab, The Doctor is working on the metal virus in an active solution. When the Brig tells him about the robot still in the bunker, he tells them to contact the world governments to issue the fail safe command. With nine seconds left, the fail safe interrupts the countdown. The robot says he will still destroy mankind.

In Kettlewell’s lab, Harry watches as The Doctor has a successful solution of the metal virus.

The robot leaves the bunker, with Sarah Jane in tow; the Brig grabs the disintegrator and fires it on the robot, but for some reason it just makes it grow in size so that it’s fifty to 100 feet tall! (Because living metal would grow when disintegrated, of course.)

The robot picks up Sarah Jane and walks into town, putting her on a rooftop. The UNIT forces attack the robot but are forced to fall back. The Doctor arrives and dose the robot with the active solution of metal virus, which causes it to shrink down and collapse, ultimately decaying away.

Later, in The Doctor’s lab, Sarah sits, upset. The Doctor comes in and tries to cheer her up by offering her a Jelly Baby (mmm, Jelly Babies…) and offers to take her with him on a trip in the TARDIS. When she says he can’t go because the Brig needs him, he goes on a rant and slams his fist down. She says he’s being childish.

Of course I am. There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” – The Doctor

Harry walks in as The Doctor and Sarah Jane are about to depart. When they tell him that they’re about to go for a trip in the TARDIS, he says police boxes can’t go gallavanting about. The Doctor asks him to step inside, and he does. From within, we hear, “I… say…”

The Doctor and Sarah enter, laughing. As the TARDIS dematerialises, the Brig walks in, “Doctor, about that dinner at the palace, Her Majesty…” He stops and looks around, seeing the TARDIS is gone. “Yes, well, I’ll tell them you’ll be a little late…” and the final credits roll.

A good story, a few really silly plot points. I really didn’t care for the fake scene showing the hostility between Jellicoe/Winters and Kettlewell. I thought that was poor television.  

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