Tom Baker is handed the keys to the TARDIS as he assumes the mantle of the Doctor in this first story of the 12th season of Doctor Who. Robot is a four-part story that was written by Terrance Dicks that aired originally from 28 December, 1974 to 18 January, 1975.
As the Doctor recovers from his regeneration, the story keeps things Earth-bound, and alongside Sarah-Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) and Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) we get introduced to a new character, Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter).
While the Doctor is settling into his new persona, and trying out wardrobe, a robot, crafted from living metal, which can allow it to grow, and react as a living being, breaks into the Ministry of Defense and steals the plans for a disintegration gun. This theft is followed by others, as the robot collects the materials needed to assemble the weapon.
The Doctor is enjoying learning who he is. He’s more relaxed and informal than previous regenerations, and he’s not afraid to let everyone know that he’s the smartest one in the room. He’s also figuring out what his favorite features and traits are, and proves himself to be delightfully eccentric right from the off, even more so than his predecessors. He is also immediately intrigued by the thefts
Sarah-Jane is off doing some investigating, and learns about the existence of the robot and the fact that it was created by a Professor Kettlewell (Edward Burnham). The robot’s official designation is K-1, and we all know what the ninth iteration is…
The robot is being controlled by a think tank run by Hilda Winters (Patricia Maynard), and Arnold Jellicoe (Alec Linstead), who send it after the Doctor when he gets a little too close to figuring out what is going on. Sarah saves him, having established a connection with the robot, but it escapes, as UNIT proves unable to stop it.
It seems it has had its programming altered by Winters and Jellicoe, on behalf of the Scientific Reform Society, who, along with Kettlewell, want to create a better world. A great idea, but they are also going about it the wrong way, armed with the disintegration ray, the robot, and missile codes, they plan to start a nuclear war, and start fresh with themselves as the rulers of the new world.
UNIT with the Doctor leading the charge, out-thinking everyone, assaults the SRS headquarters, and hopefully put a stop to the proposed destruction. But before they can make the attempt, the robot holds them off with the disintegration ray.
When Kettlewell gets between Sarah and the Robot, the creation kills its creator and shorts circuits itself, allowing the Brigadier to grab the gun and turn it on the robot with disastrous effects.
As time ticks down for the missile launch, the Doctor must create a virus to stop the robot, stop the missiles, and save the world once again.
The segue from Pertwee to Baker is pretty easy to take, as the humor that Pertwee had is still there, even enhanced, and Baker’s Doctor has such an enjoyable confidence mixed with a quirky, almost mercurial attitude that he’s a lot of fun to watch…
Let’s see where he takes us next week as we travel to The Ark In Space!