“nine times out of ten”– Robots of Death, episode 1

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robots of deathThis will be my first commentary for a classic Doctor Who story.  Up this time, one of my particular favorites… Robots of Death.

I’ll post this in 4 parts, matching the episodes.

 

Pause, pause pause!  I first need a Coke refill (who knew this DVD had an auto-start feature?)

 

And, away we go… Episode One

 

  1. I really like the Tom Baker opening sequences, especially the tunnel.
  2. I’ve always wondered: is Chris Boucher related to Anthony Boucher who wrote episodes for the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce) on the radio?
  3. Not so creepy rock pit set/ model shot, but well-lit
  4. *giant* machine looks like a love child of the Sphinx and K-9.  I shall dub it Strychnine.
  5. Oh, dudes.  Good try with the CSO, but no dice, my dears.   Bless your hearts, as we say down here.
  6. Design of robots and inside sets, though—awesome!  Totally art deco.
  7. Make-up cool, and makes everyone look like they could be the bad guy.  Bet the local store ran out of eyeliner on this day.
  8. Blah, blah, blah—this bit is for those who haven’t read Asimov.
  9. Um, as to the chess conversation… isn’t word for word, but it’s darn close to the conversation b/w Doctor and K-9 at the beginning of The Sun Makers (which came AFTER this story). 
  10. Is the ship kept very cold?  They are all wearing tons of heavy gowns as they head out to check if the haul will be any good.
  11. Love the wooden control room *desktop theme*.  Let’s bring it back, shall we?
  12. Leela is one of my favorite companions because she is so alien and new to everything and FIERCE.  She brings a fresh perspective, though they do get a few laughs with her, like the yoyo here.
  13. I dig the explanation of trans-dimensional engineering here.  Prob. the only one we’ve gotten that’s ever made a lick of sense.
  14. This is Leela’s first trip in the Tardis, so she doesn’t know anything.  How nice.
  15. Tom’s looking quite Victorian today.
  16. “If people see you mean them no harm, they never hurt you.” – don’t you wish that were true!
  17. Wide-shot of Leela leaping up stairs in Tardis—can we say padding?
  18. Intense music on goofy ship close up
  19. Techno-babble does make them sound competent, but those hats!?  Oh, dear.  Can you imagine being the sales clerk who convinced them those monstrosities were the height (ha!) of fashion?
  20. With picture paused as he & robot stand at controls, can really see how design of costumes mirrors set.
  21. All this about Zelda and the founding families—points for background detail, minus points for not convincing me to care.
  22. Dude—RED EYES—never good.  Why does no one every notice them until it’s too late?  Makes you want to do the bit from Galaxy Quest: “Have any of you ever SEEN the show?”
  23. Umm… it’s a bit hard to do blood-curdling screams when one is being strangled, minor point there.
  24. I like the slightly sing-song voice of these robots; reminiscent of the early cyber-men voices.
  25. Just had a thought—what if these chaps are mining the same desert planet as the bugs in Planet of the Dead?
  26. My—that commander is snippy, isn’t he.  Did we not have our coffee this morning, hum?
  27. Way to be compassionate there, commander.
  28. You know, I like when they have to be clever with the camera tricks.
  29. Sand storm unconvincing.
  30. If Who can’t go to the quarry, let the quarry come to them.
  31. For all the fanciness elsewhere, their storeroom still looks like some closet at the BBC.
  32. Ah—my point (the scream vs. being strangled)
  33. Red buttons look goofy, but are also creepy
  34. “Fool!”—such distain.
  35. Don’t worry, that robot doesn’t have red eyes.  He’s cool.
  36. I like the sarcasm from white-suited guy: “You did say, one of you.”
  37. Enter Poirot scene of confronting suspects.
  38. “Please, Pool!” 
  39. Where does the commander get off being so condescending to Zelda?
  40. This guy who knows about corpse markers looks vaguely familiar.
  41. Hey—points for having more than one woman AND an Indian man in the same episode—none of which is a bad guy or a stereotype! 
  42. Go Strychnine!  You hunt that dust!
  43. The bridge is a much nicer place when its just robots.
  44. The actors playing the robots walk so distinctly and with such strong posture.
  45. I want a lounge that looks like that!
  46. Point of order—robot is eavesdropping; he’s a ROBOT, wouldn’t he have superior hearing to humans and thus not have to put his ear up to the door?
  47. Featureless faces so void.
  48. “Sometimes you talk like a tech.” “Thank you.” “It was not well meant.”—ha!  Who else besides Leela would insult the Doctor by calling him a scientist!?
  49. “Robots have no feelings.”—Umm, I’m pretty sure that the Daleks and the Cybermen have feelings.
  50. Cute that Leela makes the joke of feelings and feelings.
  51. Ah, naïve Leela has yet to learn that when someone says, “Wait here,” that means that the Doctor must wander off and get into trouble.
  52. I’m really enjoying the squabble between all of the characters.  I can’t be bothered to remember their names, but they all have distinct accents and advanced degrees in snarkiness.
  53. Ha!  That’s the right answer for “That’s an O-R-D-E-R.”
  54. How many spare robots are there, exactly?
  55. Good grief… MORE corridors.  At least in this story they have the courtesy to paint stripes on the walls.
  56. Why, hullo ol’ gal.
  57. CSO of sand filling up is a good effort, but it wobbles.  Did no one notice this?
  58. They must have done the scene of him calling for Leela at the last minute or after many rehearsals b/c Tom looks utterly bored and disconnected, except for the tiny uneasy glance that he shoots toward the dodgy CSO.
  59. This looks like a particularly uncomfortable way to die.  Also, more points for not having this ending become a cop-out in the next episode.  He does actually have to be rescued.

 

And that’s episode one, folks.  Episode two is now up– click here.

Let me know what you thought.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Robots of Death pt 2 commentary « Words All Day Thru

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