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TME > Video > Commercial Releases

The Robots of Death


On a distant, barren planet, Storm Mine 4 trawls across bleak deserts and through fierce duststorms in search of rare and valuable metals. On board the Sandminer is a small skeleton crew, who alternate between indulgent relaxation and skilled mining work. The mundane, day-to-day duties of the mine are attended to by a much larger complement of servile robots.
This is a society that is dependant on robots for all areas of life, the people comforted by the knowledge that the strictest safeguards are built into each and every robot's programming. So when one of the miner crew is murdered, suspicion falls on two new arrivals...
The Doctor and Leela arrive on board, and are immediately accused of being the prime murder suspects. But the Doctor soon realises that perhaps the killer isn't human. More deaths occur - can he persuade the remaining crewmembers that the killer may be a robot?

   
-- from the DVD release, 2000

As well as providing an early VHS outing for the fourth Doctor, this story was also chosen to open the range of DVDs, following the release of the Five Doctors as a "tester" a year previously.

Episode timings on DVD: 24'06", 24'14", 23'51", 24'06"
Episode timings on PasB: 24'06", 24'15", 23'51", 23'52"

 

VHS releases



21/04/1986: UK - BBC Enterprises - BBCV2030 (and BBCB2030 - Betamax) [reissued 11/2/1988 as BBCV4108, deleted 1/2/1995]
??/??/1986: Japan - Pony Video - V128F185 [subtitled; title translates as 'Death's Robots']
??/??/1987: US - Playhouse - 3276 [renumbered by WHV in 2000 to E1120]
??/03/1988: NZ - Kerridge Odeon Amalgamated Video Services - BBC20302 [not pictured]
??/??/1988: Aus - Polygram - VVC20302 [not pictured]
13/02/1995: UK - BBC Enterprises - BBCV5521

With the exception of the 1995 release, these were all omnibus editions, which used the following special opening credits:

DVD releases



13/11/2000: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCDVD1043
11/09/2001: US - Warner Home Video - E1120
02/07/2001: Aus - Roadshow - B005049

The DVD was the first of three (see also 'Spearhead From Space' and 'Remembrance of the Daleks') featuring just a photograph of the enemy. Intending to use one image of the Doctor in the corner and spine of each release, the designers arbitrarily chose one from 'State of Decay'. As this DVD was initially intended for a 'U' category (see below), the first two versions of the cover feature that certificate (below).



The American cover erroneously uses a picture of Baker from 'The Stones of Blood'.

DVD Bonus features

Featurette
Several of the bonuses passed from the Restoration Team to the disc producers (including two intended as Easter Eggs) were accidentally edited together to form a featurette. This was a reconstructed continuity announcement leading into Part One (0'19"), followed by a comparison scene showing the visuals from the sequence in Part One where the Doctor and Leela meet SV7 backed with the audio from an original studio reel, demonstrating the robot's voice before being dubbed. (1'14") There then follows a collection of clips of the original mute model work done for the story in low quality b/w (0'36") before finally a brief, silent, presentation of the original continuity slide used throughout the final three stories of that season (0'21").

Photo Gallery
30 colour and b/w photos.
Studio Plan
Seven static screens (and an eighth showing an overview of four of them) showing the original studio floor plans for the story.

Commentary

Philip Hinchcliffe (producer), Chris Boucher (writer). Recorded at The Voice Studio in Television Centre during 2000.
Howard Da Silva Episode Intros
The American Region One release of this story also features a featurette on Howard Da Silva, the actor who provided introductory narration to the episodes themselves during their initial run in the States. It opens with a scrolling caption reading "Beginning in 1978, Time/Life Television distributed 98 half-hour episodes of 'Doctor Who' to commercial and public television stations in North America. Each episode featured voice-over openings and closings by Howard Da Silva. The opening served to introduce the viewer to what they would be seeing in that particular episode and to 'recap' what had happened in the last episode. The closing served to 'tease' the viewer with a bit of what they would see in the next episode. Though the actual 2" broadcast master tapes have been lost, copies of these voice overs, with the accompanying edited video packages, exist. These are the original openings and closings that Howard Da Silva narrated for the four episodes of 'Robots Of Death'..."
 

Uniquely, there are no production note subtitles on this release.

Restoration Notes

This release was remastered from the D3s during 2000.

Classifications

20/01/1986 - Passed as 'U' by the BBFC for the UK
11/06/1986 - Passed as 'G' by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
05/01/1995 - Passed as 'U' by the BBFC for unedited release in the UK
22/09/2000 - Menus classified 'PG' by the BBFC (1'26") [due to a series of violent shots being taken out of context]
31/05/2001 - Passed as 'PG' (for 'Low Level Violence') by the OFLC
17/05/2006 - First episode passed as 'PG' by the BBFC for use in the Sun offer.

This last decision is rather unusual, since the 2000 decision to make the story a PG was based purely on the menu sequences (the story itself gaining a U in 1986) - but the Sun DVD didn't contain such a sequence!


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