Another one I’m not sure if I’ve seen; I know I’ve seen a lot of the Tom Baker ones, many so long ago that I don’t recall. And many I’d not seen every episode of the serial – I think our local PBS often showed only two or three episodes of a serial on the night, and I think I may have missed many episodes that way.

Episode 1:

We open with an alien (okay, one thing I love about the Tom Baker era – LOTS of alien world stories. This is something I wish we’d see more of with the new show – more space stories, less Earth stories) landscape, rocky, craggy, green and red hues. In the midst of it a ginormous machine moves.

Inside the bridge, robots move about, operating the craft.

In a recreation area, robots attend to the humanoid (don’t wanna say humans as they may not be and don’t seem to be) occupants, massaging and serving drinks and snacks. One humanoid talks about a massage robot that went bezerk in Kaldor City, tearing off a man’s arm. The man he is talking to is currently receiving a shoulder manipulation from a robot and gets irritated at the story and tells the robot, V-16, to cease.

The commander of the vehicle is playing chess with a robot (who informs him that mate will be reached in eight moves), when he receives a call from the bridge. The robot there informs him they have detected a sandstorm and, as the ship is a surface mining vehicle, they adjust course to take advantage of the storm, which will bring richer minerals to the surface.

The humanoid crew snap to, readying to pursue the storm.

In the (secondary) control room of the TARDIS, Leela is playing with a yoyo. She asks The Doctor why the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and he demonstrates with two boxes, bringing a smaller one closer to her, as a demonstration. She says it’s silly.

The TARDIS materialises inside somewhere metal. He wonders where they are, and Leela discovers he’s not exactly in control of where it goes. He insists he can control it, “Nine times out of ten… well, seven times out of ten… five times out of ten. Never mind, let’s see where we are.”

The Doctor tells her not to bring the energy rifle she had brought with her from the Tesh stronghold on her home planet. They exit, she with her knife at the ready.

On the bridge, the humanoid crew arrive wearing strange uniforms, ones they were not wearing in the rec area and ones that seem not terribly practical. More ornate, almost ceremonial.

There’s lots of unnecessary banter between them; even the Commander (especially him, it seems) engages in it, it’s almost like gossip and childish insults more than adults at work. This, combined with the strange outfits, makes me think they’re almost a group of bored extravagants at play than people trying to work for a living or even pursue riches.

Scans reveal some rich minerals and the Commander tells Zilda, the one he was most childish with, “Cheer up, Zilda, I’ll make you rich again,” so I wonder if they’re former wealthy types forced to find new money.

Chub, one of the humanoids, is in a store room (I think it was the one talking about the haywire robot) and calls for a robot. One robot shows up, but its eyes are glowing red, never a good thing in Doctor Who. He gives it orders to launch some instruments, but it doesn’t obey. Instead, it approaches him, heads extended threateningly.

Another crew member, Poul, is walking through the halls when he hears a scream.

On the bridge, the Commander is all business now, readying to mine the storm. A robot reports there is an obstruction on one of the forward scoop decks. The Commander orders it removed, and we see the TARDIS snatched up by a giant claw.

The Doctor and Leela move about, seemingly in the forward scoop area – I have a feeling they’re going to be in danger soon.

The storm is moving away and the Commander demands for more power. Poul comes in to report that Chub is dead. The Commander is more interested in the storm and potential gain, but the man says he was murdered, strangled in the forward store room.

The Commander reluctantly backs down, as several of the crew insist that he’ll have to give up chasing the storm.

The Doctor and Leela look out the forward vents. They see the sandstorm approaching; The Doctor realises the danger they’re in and they rush back to the TARDIS, but it’s not there. He rushes back to the shutters, hoping to find manual controls, but they close anyways as he reaches there.

The Commander and Poul examine Chub’s body and find a strange red disc on his wrist.

Two robots approach The Doctor and Leela.

The Commander addresses the crew (all but one, Kerril, who is on his way but was in the rear of the mining craft and will take a short while) about Chub’s murder, saying one of them did it. Suspicions and the like are cast about.

The Commander shows the disc, asking if they know what it is. One of the men whose name I didn’t quite catch yet says it’s a corpse marker. They’re used to mark a deactivated robot. More suspicions are cast about, all without any real evidence.

One robot seems to be superior to the others and, on the bridge, is running things, saying the ship is under full robot control.

One of the robots brings The Doctor and Leela to a room and asks them to stay there. It loiters outside and listens to their conversation as The Doctor explains the mining ship.

Leela, not understanding a lot of what he says, remarks, “Sometimes you talk like a Tesh.”

Thank you.”

It was NOT well meant.”

I do love the chemistry between these two; I recall from seeing serials back in the day that Leela was a bit more adversarial/confrontational than most companions.

The silvery robot who was coordinating things on the bridge arrives to ask them to identify themselves and why they were in the scoop. It asks them to wait there and it departs.

After it leaves, The Doctor opens the door and he and Leela slip out.

The Commander receives a report that there were intruders who have been incarcerated. He presumes they are the murderers and tells everyone it’s time to get back to work, but the others begin arguing, as not all of them buy that assumption.

The Commander gets irate; he wants them to get back to work (while the robots are mining, he says they lack their instincts and would be lucky to get half of what they could get if they were running the mining in what seems to be the largest storm they’ve encounter in their two years out so far.) He reminds them they are there to make money, not pleasure, and orders them to get back to work.

When the Commander calls to have the intruders brought to him, the robots inform him that they have escaped.

The Doctor and Leela poke around the ship, looking for the TARDIS. Leela finds Chub’s body and it’s great to see her not scream. The Doctor finds the TARDIS before he realises that Leela is no longer with him. Looking for her, he opens a door and finds another dead crewmember.

Behind him, the door is shut and sealed and bits of rock begin pouring into the room, covering The Doctor and the body… and the credits roll.

Okay, I am pretty sure that I have never, ever seen this one before. It’s very interesting so far and I’m excited!

Episode 2:

Leela hides from robots as they collect Chub’s body.

The Doctor is covered in ore/debris, but it stops pouring in after just covering his completely and he uses a small tube to breathe through.

Several of the crew go off to assist the robots in the search, despite the Commander’s attempts to make them stay.

The ore in the chamber is drained out after the silver robot drains out the ore. The robot identifies the dead body as Kerril. The silver robot identifies itself as the coordinator and has another robot take him away to be detained.

Leela returns to the room they escaped from and finds one of the crew, who had gone to assist in the search, dead. She confronts a robot, who is painted darker than any of the others. It restrains her and says it is important that it is not found, but is not the killer. Leela and the robot question each other. It asks her not to tell anyone about it.

Suddenly, as the Commander enters, the robot restrains her. He assumes that Leela killed the other man, but she says to ask the robot. The Commander says the robot is D-class (“d for ‘dumb’, it cannot speak”) and cannot help her. Leela doesn’t seem to realise this is what the robot was asking when it said not to tell anyone. (There are two classes of robots – green V-class robots, who can talk, of which the coordinator robot seems to be one. Then there are the darker, almost black, D-class robots, who cannot talk.)

Poul arrives to inform the Commander they’ve caught the man and believe him to have killed Kerril. Poul and the Commander argue, casting blame at each other and at others not present. Leela is dragged off the by D-class who can talk to accompany the Commander.

The Doctor and Leela are reunited and questioned by the assembled crew. The crew is still busy casting aspersions at each other. The Doctor angers one of them and he assaults the Time Lord, but Leela injures the man for his temerity. The Commander orders the two taken away and locked up.

After the other crew depart, presumably to attend to mining, Zilda and the Commander (Uvanov is his name) exchange verbal barbs. Zilda is from one of the high families and again the Commander seems to have singled her out for his disdain.

A robot meets with a man, but we don’t see whom. The man hands the robot (a green V-class) a corpse marker disc and says in an unidentifiable whisper, “Zilda.” The robots, replying, “I will kill Zilda.”

The Doctor and Leela are in restraints, standing up against a wall. Leela struggles to break free, but it’s to no avail.

On the bridge, they discuss they are under 50% quota. Zilda says she’s going to take her rest period and departs.

Poul visits the prisoners, saying he’d like to help them. Leela says not to trust him, he moves like a hunter. Poul says he knows Uvanov and knows it’s just a matter of time before the Commander decides it’s better to kill them off.

The Doctor talks him into releasing the restraints on him and in exchange he offers his theory – that a robot is at fault. Poul brings up that robots are programmed not to, but The Doctor suggests someone could have found a way to reprogram that. He says he wants to look at something and after Poul frees Leela, the three of them depart.

Zilda walks with puurpose, entering the Commander’s chambers.

Poul takes them to where Chub was murdered and found. They quickly figure that Chub would’ve called for a robot to assist him with readying the package.

The assassin robot approaches the chamber that Zilda is in. Inside, she opens a safe and pulls out some files. Reading them, she begins to cry and gets on a communication device, accusing Uvanov, “You did it,” and other accusations. Uvanov takes off as the others speculate whether she’s gone batty or found something out.

Poul takes The Doctor and Leela back to the recreation area, saying he will summon the others. However, he is contacted and told to go to Uvanov’s chambers; Toos tells him what Zilda did and Uvanov’s reaction.

Left behind, The Doctor talks about the societies that depend on robots and the unease/distrust they feel for them, saying they can’t really trust them but can’t live without them. When Leela asks what it will mean if the killer is a robot, The Doctor says it will be the end of this civilisation.

Poul confronts Uvanov in his chambers, accusing him of murdering Zilda, relieving him of command. Poul attacks the Commander when he tries to pass him by.

Leela says something is wrong, she can feel it. The Doctor says it’s just her imagination, but then shortly thereafter, the mining vehicle tips severely, sending everyone to the ground.

The ship is out of control; The Doctor and Leela arrive to the control deck, demanding the power be cut. Dask reports in that the engines have been sabotaged. Toos orders him to the deck. As she is concerned about the intruders. Toos orders the motive units to be stopped, but the robots report they cannot turn them off, the controls have been sabotaged.

The Doctor moves to “fight sabotage with sabotage”, but Dask arrives and the two men struggle. A robot reports that “all readings are 85% above safety,” and Toos screams, “She’s going,”… and the credits roll.

Pretty tense (melo)dramatics there.

Episode 3:

The Doctor convinces Dask what must be done and they stop struggling and Dask cuts the wires. The ship comes to a stop and the robot announces that the readings are falling to safety levels, but the ship begins to sink into the sand – two meters a second.

Dask leaves to fix the motive units while The Doctor works on the controls. Toos has been injured and Leela tends to her wound. Poul arrives to say that Uvanov is under restraint because he killed Zilda. He says Uvanov killed a man ten years ago, leaving him outside rather than give up chasing a rewarding strain.

Toos says she doesn’t believe it, but Poul says, “I saw the… I was there.” He changes in mid sentence, which is awfully suspicious, what what? Poul says Kerril was there, too.

Poul says the dead man was Zilda’s brother. They hear the sounds of the hull beginning to buckle but Dask reports that the engines have been repaired and the ship rises atop the surface again.

The Doctor tells Leela that Poul is not telling the whole truth and he wants her to keep an eye on him. Toos departs to lie down and Leela and Poul chat; she asks him why they live this life. When her questions get personal, he leaves and locks the door, leaving her there.

In a robot storage area, Dask finds a robot that has irreperable damage. He places a corpse marker on it. Poul wanders by, asking what he’s doing, and he replies, “My job,” before walking out. Poul pokes around inside and finds the robot, but it has blood on his hand.

Poul drops to his knees, holding his head and freaking out.

SV-7 enters a chamber and communicates via video monitor with a man who very much seems to be Dask, though the video is distorted. Orders are sent over the link, as data, and SV-7’s eyes turn red and says it has received the new orders and stutters in saying it has received and will obey.

You are one of us now, brother,” the Dask-like face whispers.

D-84, the robot that shouldn’t talk but does, checks on Zilda’s corpse. The Doctor is in the room and confronts it. “Professional interest or morbid curiousity? Which? There are there types of robots aboard this mine – Dums, Vox, a Super-Vox… and then there’s you. Do you care to explain that? Well, then, perhaps I should tell SV-7 you can talk.”

This compels D-84 to answer his questions, but it says it cannot explain. The Doctor says that it can.

A hooded figure works on a robot with a corpse marker on its chest. He takes the faceplate off and reprorgrams it, whispering, “Freedom, revelution, death.”

D-84 and The Doctor discuss letters signed by Taran Cappel, an important roboticist. He wrote letters to the company about the “robot revolution” and the company placed D-84 on the ship to keep an eye on things. There is no photographic records of Taran and The Doctor enlists D-84’s assistance in finding Taran’s workshop.

Toos is sleeping and SV-7 enters her chambers. She wakes as it reaches down towards her. SV-7 reports that Commander Uvanov has escaped and that repairs are on schedule, but there are minor malfunctions with doors and lights and other facilities. Toos orders SV-7 to leave, but to fetch Leela and bring her to her.

Leela bangs on the door, still locked in the one room.

The Doctor skulks about the corridors, avoiding robots (not sure why.) D-84 hears Leeal’s cries for help, but The Doctor thinks he means his cry of startlement when D-84 touched his shoulder.

SV-7 approaches three other robots, saying their controller has ordered the death of the remaining humans. It gives them discs to go and kill Toos, The Doctor Leela. SV-7 retains two discs, saying it will go to kill the others.

Leela is approached by her would-be assassin. She throws her knife, but it has no effect, so she runs out of the room.

The Doctor and D-84 find a room and enter; saying based on the equipment, this is likely where the robots have been altered – he sees the robots have already been modified and uses a communicator to contact Toos, telling her about the robots. He tells her to get all the humanoids to the command deck.

When she tries to leave, the robot assassin is outside her door. She shuts the door on the robot and calls The Doctor for help. D-84 says it will go to help her as it is stronger and faster.

Leela hides from her robot stalker in the room where the damaged robots are stored. After it leaves, she sees Poul hiding under a table/console. He seems frantic, talking about them watching him all the time, they hate him. He seems mad, thinking the robots as walking dead.

When she tries to get him to leave, he starts screaming that she’s there. She gets him to shut up and leaves him there.

Uvanov confronts The Doctor in the room where the alterations are carried out; at first, The Doctor thinks Uvanov is Taran, but it’s obvious that he is not. The robot sent to kill The Doctor arrives and approaches him, repeating, “Kill The Doctor…” and the credits roll.

Pretty decent cliffy there.

Episode 4:

Uvanov comes to The Doctor’s rescue by attacking the robot with a laser probe.

Toos’ assassin enters and attacks her.

SV-7 and another robot cut off The Doctor, who is carrying Uvanov, who got wounded while fighting the robot assassin. Behind them, the assassin, still mobile, is staggering, repeating its orders. SV-7 orders the third robot to kill them.

The Doctor puts his hat and scarf on the one accompanying SV-7 and the disoriented robot attacks it. The two robots struggle as SV-7 calmly instructs the disoriented robot that is not The Doctor. The robot being attacked keeps repeating, “I am not The Doctor.” It’s really kinda funny, the total lack of emotion in their statements and the contrast with the situation.

SV-7 radios for V-6 to come immediately; as this is the one strangling Toos, it leaves her lying there, unconscious.

The Doctor informs Uvanov his suspicions that Taran Cappel is behind all of this as they make their way to the command deck.

Leela arrives at Toos’ chamber, and sees D-84 looming over her. She grabs the hand that V-6 left behind and throws it at the D. This allows for quite possibly the greatest line in all of television:

Please do not throw hands at me.”

Toos wakens and clings to Leela. D-84 informs them that The Doctor sent him to help Toos. Toos says everyone needs to go to the command deck, but D-84 goes to fetch Poul.

SV-7 checks on V-4 and says the damage is extensive and must report to their controller. It sends the other two remaining assassins off to kill all humans (it’s word not my choice) and emphasises that secrecy is not needed.

Leela and Toos hide in a hopper from the assassin robots. Toos contacts SV-7, but Leela cautions her not to give away their location. Toos realises SV-7 should have recognised her voice and not confirmed that it was Toos calling. Leela says it was not SV-7.

The Doctor and Uvanov arrive at the command deck to find the robots there immobilised. Someone, likely Dask, has tripped the robot shutoff, though obviously it does not affect the reprogrammed ones.

Leela and Toos arrive at the command deck, then D-84 brings in Poul. The Doctor has determined that D-84 and Poul is an operative for the company and is D-84’s controller. It seems Poul is suffering “robophobia”; Uvanov relates his one experience with the illness – his first command, a young man went mad with it and left the ship, would not return. (Zilda’s brother; the father had it covered up, fearing it would reflect poorly on the family.)

SV-7 contacts them, giving them five minutes to surrender or be destroyed. The Doctor sets Uvanov to creating some “anti-robot bombs” with their blasting packs and then he departs with Leela and D-84.

They hide from ten robots marching by, on their way to the command deck; The Doctor muses that he would have expected Taran Cappel to be among them.

Dask bangs on the door to the command deck; Uvanov goes to let him in, but Toos admonishes him, reminding Uvanov that The Doctor insisted they let nobody in. She says the robots might be using him to get them to open the door.

Outside, we see Dask, his face painted silver and green like a robot. He, as we’ve already surmised, is Taran Cappel.

In the damaged robot storage, they find the robot with blood on the hand. The Doctor takes off its head and opens it up. They talk about robophobia; The Doctor points out that since the robots don’t have body language, it makes most people very uneasy about them. With some people, this can escalate to robophobia, and when Poul saw the blood on the robot’s hand, that was enough in his case to do just that.

The Doctor rigs up a deactivation device; he warns D-84 that it cannot accompany them as its brain might be destroyed by the “final deactivator”, but D-84 says it is not important.

On the deck, as Toos and Uvanov listen at the door, wondering what the robots are up to, Poul wakes up and begins panicking.

SV-7 reports to Controll Cappel that The Doctor and Leela are not on the deck, nor is their location known.

Uvanov uses one of the bombs on a robot trying to get in; V-5 is destroyed, and the two leave Poul behind to take the offensive.

When Taran gets word of this, he questions how humans could destroy a robot, talking of them as if he were not a human. He’s obviously gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, know what I mean? Cappel gives orders for all of the humans to be destroyed.

The Doctor secrets Leela in a cubby hole in the robot alteration room, giving her a tank of helium. He instructs her to turn it on when Dask comes in. It will alter his voice so the robots cannot identify it any more.

D-84 and The Doctor move to leave to go “robot hunting”, but Taran and V-6 are there at the door. Taran stabs D-84 with a laser probe and the company robot drops. V-6 attacks The Doctor. Taran instructs him not to kill The Doctor, “Not yet, bring him to the bench.”

Leela, in her cubby hole, opens the valve on the gas.

Uvanov and Toos skulk through the corridors, following a robot.

The Doctor wakes up, strapped to the alteration table. Taran sets up a laser probe and says he’s going to burn out the Time Lord’s brain. He activates it and The Doctor writhes in pain. Despite his insistance that he would not, Cappel goes on about his plans for the robot revolution.

D-84 activates the device and fries the nearby robots (himself presumably). Cappel grabs the laser probe and tries to impale The Doctor’s head with it, but they struggle.

SV-7 enters, only slightly fried. He’s stuck on “kill the humans” and goes after Cappel. When Taran talks, trying to say he’s the master of the robots, his voice is altered by the helium and SV-7 kills him.

He then attacks Toos and Uvanov, who had been following him there. The Doctor frees himself from the bench and stabs SV-7 in the head with the laser probe.

Returning to the TARDIS, The Doctor says that the helium did not affect him because he’s a Time Lord. He calls Leela a mouse again, they enter and the TARDIS dematerialises… and the final credits roll.

Not bad, a fun serial, a bit light on the writing side but still enjoyable.