Doctor Who – The Robots of Death

Doctor Who Story 090 – The Robots of Death

Image of a Robot
Source: Tardis Data Core.

Written By:  Chris Boucher

What’s It About: The Doctor and Leela arrive on a sandminer in the midst of its tour. The miner is operated by robots that are overseen by a skeleton crew of humans. But when one of the humans is found dead, the crew suspects the two newcomers.

After being disappointed by the Boucher-penned The Face of Evil, I was worried that I would The Robots of Death would no longer seem enjoyable. Thankfully, I was wrong. I think this story is a lot of fun. It has great dialogue (“Please do not throw hands at me.”); it has an imaginative art-deco-sci-fi look; the story is a good play on Agatha Christie whodunnits (a murderer who uses robots as his murder weapon); and the robots are generally well played (the voices are great). I truly enjoy the Agatha Christie aspect of this story. The first few minutes establish the world of this story, but they also provide important clues to the identity of the murderer. And you can easily deduce the murderer if you pay close attention to the costumes.

This isn’t a perfect story, however. Zilda, an important character for establishing a significant red herring, is appallingly performed. The robot revolution and Taren Capel should have been established earlier in the story, possibly with a brief mention during the initial lounge scene. Likewise, some mention of robophobia earlier in the story would have made Poul’s breakdown less random. As it stands, robophobia is only hinted at a scene or two before Poul has his breakdown; this seems too sudden. And, of course, the ending is rushed. A slightly longer denouement would have been nice. But these are just the imperfections on this story. This is one of the highlights of the Hinchcliffe/Holmes era, and I enjoy it more and more with each viewing.

My Rating: 4/5

One thought on “Doctor Who – The Robots of Death

  1. This is one of my favorite classic Doctor Who stories. The world building is done so effortlessly–that is, it doesn’t feel forced–and I love a good Christie mystery.

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