"Robot" marks the first episode of Tom Baker as the Doctor. While that is reason enough to watch the episode, you'll be pleased to know that "Robot" is also a satisfying serial adventure.
The story: After battling the effects of regeneration, the Doctor decides to help the Brigadier investigate a series of robberies. The Doctor finds a clue that leads to a robot being responsible for the robberies. Shortly after, the reason for the robberies becomes clear as they discover the Scientific Reform Society has used the robot to obtain nuclear missile launch codes in order to hold the world hostage. Can the Doctor stop the SRS group and the powerful robot?
"Robot" may not be the most original episode, but it is one of the stronger episodes of the Baker years simply because it never drags and is a breezy action-adventure. It doesn't hurt that the robot itself is a nifty villain (especially when he grows to King Kong size proportions).
The real star of the episode is of course Tom Baker, who perfectly establishes his take on the legendary character in his first adventure. Unlike Jon Pertwee, Baker is not a serious/James Bond like Doctor. Baker is a charismatic, humorous, lively, unpredictable and utterly strange Doctor, which is undoubtedly why he is the most popular Doctor to this day. His appeal is especially evident in the show's more humorous scenes such as when he tries on outfits or jump ropes with Harry.
The supporting cast is in top form too. Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith- who now has her own show) and Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan) are all beloved companions and characters in the Doctor Who universe. My only complaint is that the character of Harry Sullivan was vastly underused in the series. He did make the best of the time he had though as he had great chemistry with both Baker and Sladen.
The 4:3 fullscreen video has been nicely restored. With that said, the original video quality of classic "Doctor Who" episodes has never been breathtaking. The episodes (like "Robot") contain a large portion of color glare and fuzzy picture (especially whenever gunshots occur).
The mono stereo track does a commendable job of balancing the dialogue, music, and sound f/x. The track won't win any awards as it doesn't have Dolby Digital quality sound, but it's solid enough.
* A 4 minute photo gallery that you don't have to manually look through.
* A 2 minute clip of the Blue Peter program on the "Doctor Who" set.
* A Radio Times Listing (DVD-ROM extra).
* An easter egg.
* A feature titled information text that you can play during the episode. In this feature, a subtitle appears every few seconds with an overwhelming amount of facts.
* A 13 1/2 minute featurette called "The Tunnel Effect" which features Bernard Lodge discussing how he did a few of the titles for "Doctor Who," what he thinks of later opening credits, what cameras he used to create the effect, etc.
* A 39 minute featurette titled "Are Friends Electric?" that basically talks about the new writing/acting/producing team brought in for the series. Interviews with Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen are featured. The highlight of this extra is a mention of other actors the producers considered for the doctor.
* A commentary track with Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen, Barry Letts, and Terrance Dicks. In this track, the four talk about everything from the symbolism of black gloves, the woman who created Baker's infamous scarf, actor Ian Marter, and the inefficiency of UNIT. The track is fun to listen to as they are constantly cracking jokes and laughing at the amusing parts of the episode.
"Robot" is yet another fine episode that has been given a proper DVD release. "Dr. Who" fans should not hesitate to buy this disk. I eagerly await the next batch of episodes to be released.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.