The recent DVD release of several classic Doctor Who serials has been an extraordinary event for fans of the classic show, especially so for those of us in the United States. Sci-fi geeks like myself may have been somewhat familiar with the Doctor, but until recently it has been a challenge to catch the programs. Prior to the arrival of BBC America, it was usually a case of catching a Public Broadcasting marathon once in a while, and that was about it. The people at the 2 Entertain Company are rectifying this situation however, and one of their latest offerings is “The Robots of Death,” from 1977.
The Doctor is played by Tom Baker, who filled the role from 1974 to 1981, and was the fourth incarnation of the character. In “The Robots of Death,” the Doctor is joined by the sexy warrior Leela (Louise Jameson). The TARDIS takes them to an ore planet, which is being mined by a crew and their robot helpers. When the Doctor and Leela arrive, there is a crisis underway, as a crewmember has been found murdered. The whole crew seems to have a bit of a pirate element to them, but all are working together towards the common goal of filling the ship with treasure. It is understood that everyone will be rich when the outing is completed.
The Doctor and Leela are immediately considered to be the prime suspects in the murder. Hints that something far more sinister is going on quickly emerge though. Even as the Doctor and Leela are detained, other murders are discovered. Then there is the strange behavior of the robots themselves. For example there is the “D” series of robots, which stands for “Dumb.” They are not supposed to be able to talk, or think for themselves, yet some of them exhibit these traits. There is also a strange reddening of the eyes in some of them, which corresponds to actions being taken which were not ordered by the men and women of the crew.