Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

verityepisode122Another excellent first for you this week! Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we discuss the 4th Doctor’s first episode. It’s also a first in a few other ways–including in our hearts for some.

How do you feel about “Robot”? Do you love the big lug, the wackypants new Doctor who defeats him, and Sarah Jane’s go-get-’em attitude? Or do you think it’s so blatant a King Kong ripoff it distracts you from the story. Let us know in the comments!


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Download or listen now (runtime 1:14:29)

Comments on: "122 – Doing the Robot" (5)

  1. I’m always interested to here people (in this case Lynne) talk about how they only really know Tom Baker as the Doctor. I’ve only watch 1 Fourth Doctor episode – I grew up with Tom Baker as Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, who is a very gloomy character.

  2. OB = Outside Broadcast.

    I didn’t see this one until I did my full watch of the original series a few years ago; I think Ark in Space was probably the first story I saw any of live, and I started seriously watching around Deadly Assassin. But yes, Tom Baker was the default Doctor for me; I enjoyed watching earlier versions on the rare occasions they were repeated, but I never cottoned on to Davison.

    As a story in itself I find Robot pretty thin: a rerun of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, really, with thoroughly blatant not-Nazis. (Remembering that this was broadcast at the end of 1974/start of 1975; all those scientists in their forties would remember what happens when you have shouty men in uniforms making speeches.) If it hadn’t been the regeneration story I don’t think it would be as fondly remembered now.

    For me, Tom starts by trying too hard to distinguish himself from Jon: all wacky all the time. When he settles down a bit he shows a surprisingly effective gravitas in between the jokes, and I think that may be why he worked so well overall: joking in the face of terror while still accepting that it is terror.

    I thought Harry ended up being rather redundant throughout his run, since Tom could after all do all the physical stuff. Ian Marter did his best… but he’s a bit one-note.

    I particularly like Sarah’s early-episodes blue jacket/skirt with that hat. Glad it’s not just me.

    Yes, the robot is a blatant man in a suit, but I find that much easier to watch now than 1970s CSO, especially when it’s interacting with the cast – and it’s all right combined with the CSO in the final fight too. (Sarah on the rooftop, with those CSO fringes and overlaps, is much more distracting about being a special effect than the giant robot fighting the soldiers.)

    I think it’s worth mentioning that this was Benton’s last appearance as a regular, though the Brig lasted a bit longer.

    Very much agreed: Miss Winters’ being not sexualised in her villainy makes her unusual in the old series, and nearly unheard-of in the new one. (To my mind Steven Moffat’s female characters tend to be cut from one of two templates: sexy fun girlfriend or sexless mother who shuts down fun.)

  3. Gary George said:

    Loving the podcasts Verity-folk, particularly listening to all your experiences with Classic Who. (Slightly OT comment – ‘The Sensorites’ is WONDERFUL!!)

    Anyway, as Jon Pertwee was my first Doctor, and Planet of Spiders was my first experience of a regeneration, I find this the most affecting of all regenerations – with the demise of Christopher Eccleston a very close second. So, while Planet of Spiders Episode 6 even after myriad viewings invariably reduces me to tears, Robot will always carry with it memories of both the vast excitement I felt over the wonder of a new Doctor but also a deep sadness at the passing of my first. I guess I fall perfectly into the wonderful Sarah Jane’s position in this story which was, of course, exactly what the companions were designed for back in Classic Who days.

    Thanks for the great show. I will keep listening and looking forward to more Hartnell podcasts! 🙂

  4. This is the very first story I can remember watching, which was shown in Australia when I was three. It took me a while to identify the story, as for several years I just had this image in my head of a giant Dalek travelling along, until I eventually saw a repeat of the story and recognised the shot I thought I recalled so well – my younger self had edited the memory of the giant robot (an early lesson of JN-T’s oft-quoted maxim that “the memory cheats”).

    It’s interesting to note that I never had the regeneration shock experience that so many people have described, as by the time Peter Davison came around I’d already read huge numbers of novelisations and two Target books about the programme’s history, as well as seeing repeats of Jon Pertwee stories. It was just one of those things which was part of the fabric of the character for me, so I was always interested to see how the latest regeneration would change the Doctor.

    While I’d agree that Tom Baker perhaps doesn’t have the widest range as an actor, you can definitely see different types of performance from him before his time as the Doctor. Afterwards he was largely cast by people who were after a “Tom Baker” style performance anyway, so it’s no surprise that he spends a lot of time simply playing a variant of himself. I would argue, though, that his roles in The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (1984), The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1986), The Silver Chair (1990) and Selling Hitler (1991) were all distinct from his Doctor performance style. (And even within Doctor Who, he pretty much has three different eras of performance – a more balanced mixture of playful and serious throughout the Hinchcliffe era and into the start of the Williams era, completely running loose at his most Tom Bakerish in Season 17, and more morose in Season 18.)

    It probably comes as no surprise that I love Tom Baker’s Doctor – he’s deeply embedded in my life, and I have so far proven to be incapable of watching his scene in “Day of the Doctor” without getting all teary-eyed.

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