Doctor Who: The Robots of Death (Story #90)

doctor who the robots of death dvd cover tom baker
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Decent story

Lame looking robots


No Leela…you might want to kill the robots but you can’t

The Doctor (Tom Baker) and his new companion Leela (Louise Jameson) find the TARDIS landing on a mining planet at a mining vessel called the Storm Mine 4.  The crew is dealing with a recent murder and the murderer is unknown.  First accused of the murder, the Doctor and Leela are prisoners but then are proved innocent as more murders occur.  As the Doctor begins to suspect the robots are behind the attack, he learns that a scientist named Taren Capel might be involved, and it is up to the Doctor and Leela to determine who Taren Capel is before it is too late.

Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death aired during the fourteenth season of Doctor Who.  It was a four part serial that aired from January 29, 1977 to February 19, 1977.  It followed Doctor Who:  The Face of Evil (which introduced Leela) and has been collected in The Tom Baker Years as Story #90.


Yes, I’m a robot…yes, I’m a robot of death

The story relies a lot on the Three Laws of Robotics by Isaac Asimov which has become the standard for robots in science-fiction.  Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death primarily revolve around the first law:  a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.  I think it is amusing that the Doctor initially acts like this law can never be broken because it seems like there are a number of Doctor Who episodes where this rule is broken (including the Doctor’s primary enemies the Daleks…ok they are alien and don’t apply to “Earthly” rules I guess).  The robots here are able to break the rule because of alternate programming by Taren Capel who was “raised by robots” and seeks to free them.  It is kind of ridiculous that if the “rule” can be rewritten that it is a “rule” instead of more of a guideline.

Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death is an entertaining serial that looks pretty good in Doctor Who terms.  There are a number of sets, but like many Doctor Who stories, the robots themselves are pretty weak.  I wish they had spent a little more on the robot designs to either make them creepier or less like they are simply wearing stupid performance masks.  Everyone also looks like they should be in a glam-rock band.


Oh no! Ziggy Stardust is attacking the Doctor!

A side interesting little exchange in the show is when the Doctor tries to explain how the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside to Leela.  He holds two boxes at two different distances to demonstrate how one box looks bigger because it is closer and that Time Lords deal in space and time.  Also in this episode, it is the last appearance of the wood paneled TARDIS control room.

Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death is an entertaining episode.  It is worth seeking out for Doctor Who fans and holds up decently.  I really like this run on Doctor Who and there are a number of good episodes.  Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death was followed by another popular serial Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Face of Evil (Story #89)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Story #91)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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