Doctor Who – Robot + Survival
C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B/C Episodes:
Robot (Story #75) B
Survival (Story #159) C
with the arrival and conclusion of the greatest of all runs as Doctor Who, BBC Home Video has issued
the two key episodes of the series that marked the beginning of Tom Baker’s
classic run and the end of the original record run of the show before its odd,
recent revival. Robot (1974) not only introduced Baker, but is one of the great
classic tales in all of the series, enough that when a toy line of action
figures was introduced by Palitoy, the title machine was one of the choices.
Doctor is working with UNIT to find out how and why key electronics are being
stolen and it turns out not by normal means.
Joined by K-9, Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry (Ian Marter),
along with his regeneration a success, are immediately thrust into new
trouble. Baker is instantaneously
perfect in the role and the greatest era of the show was on its way, while the
writing is top rate.
never really recovered when Baker left in 1981 and even with the current
revival still has not. The ironically
titled Survival has the rather
miscast Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor badly paired with Sophie Aldred as
Ace. The only thing Baker eventually
asked for in the show that stuck too long in later versions was the
preposterous idea that The Doctor only have a single female sidekick. If later actor’s eras had shaken this up, the
show might have lasted longer. It is a
stale legacy that haunts the current version.
time, The Doctor is taking Ace back to the town she grew up in, only to find
pets are being killed while some of them have been possessed (i.e., black cats)
to watch and manipulate what turns out to be some kind of takeover and a hunter
who turns out to be all too familiar.
The show is so bad, it is unintentionally funny and dates much faster
than most earlier shows in the series.
It was time to fold things and after this mess, you can see why.
X 1 image on both DVD releases comes from analog PAL masters, looking about as
good as they are going to. Both have
Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and are fine for their age, with Robot monophonic and Survival
simple stereo at best. Amusingly, the
sound design on the 1974 show is more complex and has more character than the
one 15 years later. The documentaries
are anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 and look fine.
for Robot include audio commentary
by actors Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen and writer Terrance Dicks, DVD-ROM accessible
Radio Times listing, terrific documentary Are
Friends Electric? - A new documentary looks at Tom Baker's introduction as
the Doctor & the making of his first story, featuring actors Tom Baker,
Elisabeth Sladen, Alec Linstead, Patricia Maynard, Michael Kilgarriff and
Edward Burnham, producers Barry Letts and Philip Hinchcliffe, script editor
Terrance Dicks, director Christopher Barry, production unit manager George
Gallacio, Easter Eggs, The Tunnel Effect
featurette with Graphic designer Bernard Lodge explaining how he created the
complex 'never-ending tunnel' opening titles for Tom Baker's stories narrated
by George Kelly stills and text production notes. Survival offers audio commentary by actors
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred and script editor Andrew Cartmel, another
DVD-ROM of Radio Times listings, deleted scenes, Cat Flap two-part “making of” documentary, Endgame - documentary on the end of the original series, isolated
music track, fan commentary (episode 3 only), Continuities, Search Out Science schools program
featuring the Doctor and Ace with Stephen Johnson and K9, Little Girl Lost retrospective on Ace, Destiny of the Doctors - Anthony Ainley’s last appearance as The
Master from 1997 computer games, stills, outtakes and text production notes.
For more Dr. Who, try this link:
- Nicholas Sheffo