Doctor Who – The Robots of Death

This completes the Revisitations 3 box set, which also includes The Three Doctors and The Tomb of the Cybermen. The original DVD release was in 2000, and like many of the very early DVD releases didn’t contain much at all in the way of extras, so it’s a good choice for a bit of sprucing up and reissuing.

The story follows on from The Face of Evil – it’s Leela’s first trip to another time and place, and it turns out to be a very interesting place indeed. The location is a Sandminer, a huge vehicle crawling over a desert in search of valuable minerals. The society is dependent on large numbers of robots to do all the work – voiceless Dums for the grunt work and chatty Vocs for human interaction. Obviously, in the finest Asimovian way, robots are programmed to never harm humans. Which makes the series of murders on board rather difficult to explain.

What we have here is, quite shamlessly, an Agatha Christie in space story. And it works. Gradually, the mystery, and the mastermind behind it, are revealed, as is the undercover agent investigating the case. All good fun, and stands up well – the robots are beautifully designed, the somewhat decadent crew are entertainingly played, and the Dcotor and Leela work together well.

Extras, in addition to the usual expected stuff, include:

  • The Sandmine Murders – a new “making of” with contributions from cast and crew including Tom Baker and Louise Jameson
  • Robophobia – Toby Hadoke has fun with robots in sf, especially in Doctor Who
  • Studio Sound – How the robots sounded in the studio before the voices were dubbed in. Muffled, in short.
  • Model Shots – a bit longer than it needs to be, really. Raw shots of the sandminer model
  • Studio Floor Plan – a survivor from the original release, which lets you look at bits of the studio floor. Mildly interesting.
  • An additional new commentary – this time featuring Tom and Louise, amongst others

It’s been reported that there won’t be any more Revisitations sets, but I’m sure more of the early releases will be refreshed in a similar way. While some people like to complain about this, on the grounds that priority should be given to getting on with the unreleased stories, I don’t mind – if a better job can be done than was managed ten or more years ago, I’m all in favour.