Sunday 11 December 2011

384 Robot Part Three

EPISODE: Robot Part Three
TRANSMITTED: 11 January 1975
WRITER: Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: Christopher Barry
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Barry Letts
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who – Robot

The Doctor is saved by Sarah, who the robot trusts, and Benton who drives the robot off with a machine gun. UNIT troops attempt to contain it but it escapes. They find Kettlewell in the house and bring him to UNIT HQ where he explains the robot is made of a living metal that can grow and that he has a "virus" that can break metal down into a recyclable material. Sarah talks the professor into taking her to a Scientific Reform Society Meeting. The Brigadier admits that Chambers was holding the nuclear codes for a number of countries and that was what was stolen from his house. The holders would be able to set off every atomic missile in the world. The Doctor is angry when he finds out Sarah went with Kettlewell. At the meeting Winters tells the SRS members their scheme is coming to fruition and introduces Kettlewell to the stage with his robot. The Doctor disrupts the meeting but is restrained. The Brigadier raids the meeting but Winters, Jellicoe, Kettlewell and the robot escape with Sarah as a prisoner. Harry is taken hostage at Thinktank. The Brigadier locates Thinktank's bunker but they find it defended by automated machine gun nests. Winters demands that the Brigadier surrender. Harry & Sarah are held prisoner by the robot. Troops deal with the Machine Gun while the Doctor detonates landmines enabling them to approach the bunker where the Doctor starts to open the doors. Winters has Kettlewell start to program the destructor codes. The doors to the bunker open revealing the robot armed with the disintegrator gun, which destroys the tank the Brigadier sends against it.

Yup that's a particularly insane plan the Scientific Reform Society have but the idea that any one country, let alone person, should be holding the codes for all the world's nuclear weapons is perhaps a conceit too far on the part of the writer, while the Brigadier's "and naturally there was only one country that could be trusted" puts the seal on it. We get the début of a Fourth Doctor staple here: the Doctor emptying his pockets and all sorts of junk coming out. The line about the Doctor being "an honorary member of the Alpha Centauri Table tennis club" is nice reference to the occasional third Doctor character Alpha Centauri, confirmed by the Doctor's remark about "6 arms and 6 bats". Against that ...... my word that's a rubbish cardboard bunker that gets blown up by a grenade. And as for the Action Man tank that appears at the end of the episode.... deary me.

The major location in this story is Wood Norton Hall in Evesham, Worcestershire. It previously appeared, both inside and out, in the Third Doctor's début Spearhead from Space. This time the crew were forbidden from filming inside by the official secrets act: The site was a designated emergency broadcasting centre in the event of nuclear war. Why they were allowed in 1969 and not in 1974 remains a mystery. This is the first Doctor Who story to have it's location work recorded using Outside Broadcast video rather than film producing a more consistant look with the studio filmed footage.

This story sees the début of another new opening title sequence, now featuring Tom Baker's face and for the first time the Tardis. It's broadly similar to the title sequence used for the Third Doctor's last season and uses the same logo and ending. You can compare and contrast the on YouTube: The Pertwee titles are here and the Tom Baker titles are here. While Pertwee's last season play the end credits over a receding diamond shaped tunnel, the Tom Baker titles feature a round silver tunnel approaching us (again contrast on YouTube here and here). These two new title sequences would be used for the next SIX years making them the longest used set of Doctor Who titles. The Doctor Who: Robot DVD has a feature on how all four title sequences to date were achieved.

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