The Doctor wakes up and starts blurbing about Linx, the Brontosaurus and if a mouse spins. Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) takes him to the sick bay. An intruder walks towards a top secret base; it kills a guard and steals plans for a disintegrator gun. sarah gets a pass to visit "Think Tank", a science collective and research establishment. The Doctor, in his nightshirt, heads for the TARDIS. He is interrupted by Harry; the Doctor quickly proves he is OK by chopping a brick in half and skipping. The Brig and Sarah rush back as the TARDIS dematerialisation sound is heard. Sarah stops him rushing off by mentioning the robbery. The intruder gets into another place; it kills another guard and yakes electrical equipment. The Doctor shows the Brig a range of clothes; he is finally persuaded to settle on a floppy broad brimmed hat, a red velvet jacket, tweed trousers and a very long multicoloured scarf. (OK, an admission! I have a Tom Baker replica scarf, which I won in a dr.Who Club quiz at my school many years ago!) The Doctor, Harry and the Brig go to the crime scene. The Doctor finds a pulvarised dandelion, squashed by something weighing hundreds of kilos he reckons. Sarah goes to Think Tank and meets Jellicoe and Winters. The Doctor explains to the Brig that they are dealing with a non-human intelligence which is building a disintegrator gun; therefore they need to guard the third thing it needs. Sarah goes on a tour and, in one room, slips on a patch of oil whilst Winters tells her a Professor Kettlewell left some machinery. UNIT are in place at the factory but the intruder burrows in, kills a soldier and escapes with what it wanted. Sarah visits Kettlewell, who is studying alternative energy; he assures her no-one is carrying on with his research in robotics since he left Think Tank. Sarah sneaks back into Thinktank; she goes to the empty room, where she sees a robot, which asks her what she is doing there.
Jellicoe and Winters say they arranged a demonstration of the robot. The Doctor deduces that the enemy they are facing is homegrown. The robot comes into the room and sarah asks what it does; the robot was created to do jobs that are too dangerous for humans. Sarah wonders if it could be dangerous; Winters orders the robot to kill Sarah but it cannot because it conflicts with its prime directive. (Classic sci-fi: Isaac Asimov's law of robots.) Sarah leaves, with a warning from Winters to be quiet about what she has seen. Jellicoe complains to Winters that the robot has only been reset and could have killed Sarah. Sarah returns to UNIT and mentions the robot, which the Doctor was speculating about as the possible intruder. Winters shows the robot a man's face; she orders it to kill him. Harry suggests UNIT need an inside man at Thinktank; he is proposed as a mole by everyone. The Doctor and co. visit Kettlewell; the latter says it isn't possible that his robot still exists and if it did, Winters couldn't tamper with the robot's mind without driving it mad. The robot kills the man, a minister, and steals nuclear launch codes. Thinktank consist of lots of scientists who belong to an organisation called the Scientific Reform Society (SRS), intent on changing the world on scientific and rational grounds. The Robot, distressed, visits Kettlewell because it has broken its primary directive. Sarah visits the SRS group and learns about their ideology. They are an elitist group. The Doctor and Brig visit Thinktank; Winters tells them that the robot has been dismantled and melted. Winters meets a govt. minister, a Dr. Sullivan. Neither Winters or the Doctor believe each other's stories. Kettlewell calls the Doctor and arranges a meeting; he has the robot, and the Doctor leaves a note which sarah and Benton find. The Doctor is attacked by the robot at Kettlewell's house.
Sarah runs in and asks the robot not to kill the Doctor. The robot likes Sarah and is confused. Benton fires and the robot heads off. Sarah and Benton find Kettlewell locked in a closet. He explains the robot has been forced to commit crimes by Jellicoe and Winters and that this is unbalancing it. Sarah and Kettlewell sneak into an SRS meeting to find out more. The Doctor, Brig and Benton deduce that Thinktank have stolen nuclear codes to launch a war, using the robot, and that Kettlewell is part of the SRS plan. Winters addresses an SRS meeting of the SRS and introduces Kettlewell; Sarah is taken captive. The Doctor breaks into the meeting; he asks why Kettlewell is helping. He answers that the SRS are going to create a world without pollution and injustice. UNIT arrive but Jellicoe, Winters and the robot leave with Sarah. Harry reaches the Brig and mentions a bunker before he is knocked out and is taken captive. UNIT and the Doctor go to Thinktank's nuclear bunker; they break down the defensive measures around it. The Doctor cuts open the door with the sonic screwdriver. The robot moves to head them off. Winters sets Kettlewell to work on the nuclear codes.
UNIT prepare a desperate attack whilst the Doctor deals with the bunker lock. Kettlewell doesn't want to carry through with the SRS plan. Sarah, Harry and Kettlewell move to the surface. The robot kills Kettlewell and goes insane. The Doctor and co. enter the bunker and he sets to work deprogramming the launch codes. Jellicoe and Winters are arrested. The robot takes Sarah captive. The Doctor and Brig contemplate what to do. (Classic Brig: "Just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets.") Benton mentions something Kettlewell said about living metal and a virus that destroys metal. Harry and Doctor head for Kettlewell's lab. The robot restarts the countdown; the major powers have activated a fail safe. It plans on destroying humanity which it views as corrupt and evil. The robot emerges from the bunker; the Brig shoots it with the disintegrator gun, which makes the robot grow to King Kong size. It lifts Sarah up in a claw and puts her in safety. UNIT can't do anything against it (when COULD they?); the Doctor returns with a batch of the metal virus and pours it on the robot, destroying it. Back at UNIT HQ, UNIT is sad. The Doctor offers her a jelly baby. The Doctor says the robot was a marvellous thing, capable of great good and evil. Harry pops in; he doesn't believe the TARDIS is what it is said to be. He enters. The three take off to the Brigadier's consternation, who must think up an excuse for why the Doctor won't be dining at the Palace.
Tom Baker bristles with energy from the moment go! Another succesful story where a new actor fills the big shoes. And what a change too. Pertwee was without a doubt the most serious of the Doctors (surprising really, given Hartnell's tetchy grandpa portrayal); T.B. is just zany and anarchic compared to Jon. And I have a complete lack of objectivity here: I love Tom as he is the Doctor I grew up watching as a small child. The first story I remember is the Sontaran Experiment (nr.3 in this, the 12th season). The Who reviews will have a few childhood reflections from now on as this was the stuff I saw and was terrified by! My older sister pokes fun at me because we watched the show on weekends at my grandparents and I invariably hid my frightened face in a cushion in their front room.
The actual story is a rather weak re-working of the dino story: evil scientists want to make a better world by destroying most of humanity. Obviously, there are differences. The SRS aren't explicitly "green". The SRS dress up in uniforms with their logo on their arms - a group of fascists then. Plotwise (and otherwise, anyway!), it's a bit daft to have a bunch of scientists wishing nuclear holocaust and suffer its winter; they would, more than most, know the deadly result for themselves.
Not a classic, the supporting cast were boring for starters, but Tom's were to come. This story was the end of another era. The Barry Letts/Terrance Dicks producer and script editor duo ended here. Once again, objectivity vanishes as the new duo of Phillip Hinchcliffe (producer) and Robert Holmes (script editor) were ones I grew up with and love; I owe them some of my most unforgettable childhood, Saturday evening frights! Letts and Dicks, like so many before them, are great though - they have certainly entertained an older me.
I liked the music for the Robot. And the Robot itself is just fantastic! Kilgarrif (who played the Cyber Leader in Tomb of the Cybermen, for example) looms over all in this wonderous costume. Apropos music/effects:
The Bernard Lodge time tunnel was altered here and it is simply THE best title sequence in all of Who.
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