Friday, April 2, 2010

12.1 "Robot" Reaction Post

Starting stats: 12.1, Robot
Doctor: Four
Companions: Sarah Jane, Brigadier-General Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Harry Sullivan (barely)

The first thing I must say about Robot is that it's certainly the best-paced Classic episode I've yet seen (out of, y'know, two and a half, including itself.) Better plotted than Ark in Space, but not as quotable, I fear. Which leaves me a bit lost, as I'm not Jacob and I still don't know how I want to write these things. But ah well.

The regeneration sequence was a bit of a non-event--just a bleeding of one face into the other, no muss no fuss. I kind of like the modern Golden Light of Goooooold way of doing it better, I think. The Brig just mumbled "well, here we go again" and that was that. (I LOVE the Brig, by the way. His mustache is magnificent and his sense of humor is so wry and dry and... Iiiiiiii love it. [parentheses within parentheses to groan about how not-clever I am with the rhyming.] Anyway. He reminds me a lot of Martha, sometimes-- or, I suppose, Martha is an awful lot like the Brig. And not just for the UNITyness. They've just a way about them.)

Four sits up, babbling nonsense, and he's clutching Sarah Jane's arm so hard she's probably bruising under his grip. Sarah's plenty empowered and all, but every time I see her, I react the same way I did when I first saw Amy Acker as Fred on Angel-- which is to say, I repeatedly gasp, "but she's so small! look at how LITTLE she is!" every time she comes on screen. I don't mean it to be mean-- in fact, it's terribly endearing. But the point is, she really is just a slip of a thing, and the Doctor mustn't be so rough with her.

Oh my god the special effects are amazing. It's relatively easy, this time around, to get pulled into the story and kind of gloss over how awful the things you're actually seeing look, but if you pause it and come back to it? Oh my god, that robot. It's terribly impressive considering their budget and time period, but... oh, show. (They actually pull a Nosferatu with the cheapy-ass robot claw, too. I realize it's a classic suspense/horror technique, but... faaail.) (Oh, and THEN it steals a plain manila envelope stamped, in big letters, "TOP SECRET." Oh, show.)

Brig: "You realize, Miss Smith, that all of this is top secret?"
Sarah: [amused] "Then why are you telling me?"
Brig: "Well, be-bec--because there's no one else I can tell."

They're SO CUTE.

LOL FOUR. His face when he sees the TARDIS for the first time. A++++, I wish I had a screencap. And he snuck away from the Med Bay when he wasn't supposed to, of course, so he's in a dressing gown. Striped, obviously, as that's the way the Doctor prefers his jim-jams.

[Lis Sladen, in the commentary: "Very good lurking, there, Tom! Solid lurking."]

Harry Sullivan (a navy doctor, which they discuss more in Ark in Space) comes in to, y'know, apprehend the runaway and remind him he's supposed to be healing and all, and then the Doctor uses his still-canon extra regeneration energy to karate-chop through a (clearly balsa wood) brick and then SKIP ROPE, WITH HARRY. I cannot describe this scene with mere words. Just know that it is awesome. The two of them, face to face, maybe three inches apart, hopping to the time of the Doctor doing some creepy-as-fuck children's rhyme. Amazing. Oh, show.

And then, knowing Harry will only get in his way, the Doctor stuffs him in a closet. (Sarah finds him later. She walks into the empty lab, hears a vague muffled plea for help, says "Cupboard!" and finds him straight away. Doesn't even stop to think. Love that girl.)

[picking a new outfit: viking attire]
Doctor: "Do you think I might attract attention?"
Brig: "Just possibly."

(love. him.)

There's plot stuff and sneaking about stuff and blah, Sarah uses her reporter cred to get a visitor's pass to some sekrit military base... science... thing. "HEYA WHAT'S IN HERE?" she basically asks, barging right into a door that, I swear to god, is marked "Positively No Admittance." Oh, SHOW. While in the garage/lab where the phlebotinum was made, she notices a musty smell (and later, an oil spill) right off. She's such a good companion. (Also later off, she brushes the oil with her hand and gives it a sniff, and I have been watching too much Ten because I was terrified, for a moment, that she would lick it.)

Also also (I'm rubbish at linear thinking, apparently, so do try and keep up) later, she has to sneak back into the Lab. Her visitor's pass is about to expire, so she drives up to the gate guard all "I've forgotten my notebook-- I still have ten minutes left on my pass, can I pop in and get it?" and when he turns his back to phone a superior, she ABANDONS HER CAR, then HOPS A FENCE and RUNS ACROSS SEVERAL LARGE LAWNS to her destination. In a skirt suit and terribly absurd boots. LOVE THIS GIRL.

And then, just when I thought she couldn't get more awesome, she channels Rose. The crux of this story is a robot (big surprise) but it's a surprisingly adorable one, which doesn't want to hurt people can gets all conflicted and wobbles when confused. (Like a pokemon.) And Sarah's all "How can you be sure it doesn't have feelings?" and then asks the robot if it's alright, and pets it. And it's all very Dalek and god I love companions. They are the best.

[the Absent-Minded Professor is babbling about solar energy and pollution]
Doctor: "I know; humans. They can't see that what's under their noses is over their heads!"
[A-M P babbles on; Sarah Jane, in the background, laughs appreciatively at the Doctor's joke and then, realizing her faux-pas and seeing the Brig's poker face, half-heartedly tries to turn it into a cough, still smiling]

There's a wonderful moment, later in, when the Brig, the Doctor, and Sarah sit around in the Doctor's lab talking through the clues together. Not only do Sarah and the Doctor totally have an "Are you deducting?" moment, but I just... I love what an odd yet efficient little team they make. It's one thing to SAY Sarah's an investigative journalist; it's quite another to give her the mind of one. (In the commentary, the producer says "We very deliberately didn't make Sarah Jane an assistant--we made her an investigative journalist so she could, you know, start things on her own." To which Terrence Dicks replied "Yes-- assistants are for tying to train tracks!" and oh, that was so close to being inspired. But then Lis Sladen laughs and says "I never got that one-- it was the one I wanted!" which only further proves how awesome she is.)

But anyway. Sarah goes home to get some sleep (and change into an UTTERLY RIDICULOUS outfit, involving a scarf tied around her head for no reason) leaving the Doctor and the Brig to flail around and be useless in her absence:

Brig: "Doctor, what are we going to do? Or shall we just leave it all to Miss Smith?"

And later, when the Doctor types a note [a) on a typewriter and b) with super-speed] and tapes it to the TARDIS, explaining where he's run off to and what he's doing, he addresses it to Sarah Jane, and not the Brigadier. Even though he's parked in the UNIT lab and he has every reason to think the Brig would find it first.

"Please do not resist" says the polite, morally conflicted Robot. It's starting to become clear that he's adopted a King Kong style crush on Sarah Jane. Later, he will get hit with a ray gun and grow many stories high, and then he picks her up and carries her around. Well, a terrible doll of her. The SFX at that point at quite appalling.

[A-M P and Sarah want to sneak into a Sekrit Meeting of Bad Guys]
Soldier: "But the Brigadier would go spare-- so would the Doctor!"
Sarah: "Well, one's away and the other's asleep!"
Soldier: "Then I'll go wake the Doctor and see what he says--"
Sarah: "--DON'T YOU DARE. He had a nasty knock on the head and he needs to rest."
Soldier: "Well in that case miss, it's just not on. I'm sorry."
Sarah: "Oh, I--" [pause, then: epiphany] "MISter Benton,* are we members of UNIT?"
Soldier: "Well, no, of course not."
Sarah: "Are we under arrest?"
Soldier: [seeing where she's going with this; defeated] "No, miss."
Sarah: [beams the smile of Triumphant Feminine Wiles] "Well then, what we do and where we go is none of your business, is it? Come along, professor!"
Soldier: "Now, wai-"
Sarah: "No, you just go and [something british that I absolutely cannot interpret but is quite clearly a double entendre so I laughed] your rifle or something."

(... yeah, it kind of got away from me at the end, there. Moving on!)

WOOHOO Four drives Bessie! And it's awesome.

"James Bond" Sarah hisses derisively at a caught undercover Harry (having just been caught herself.)

Four uses the sonic screwdriver for the first time. Lots of things explode. It's fun.

[mutually trying to untie each other's handcuff bindings]
Harry: "How're we doing, Miss Smith?"
Sarah: "Ooookay?" [it's all in Lis's delivery, really.]

Robot kills A-M P and then laments, loudly, in his robot voice: "ohhhhh! I have killed the one who created me!" and then he drops to his knees before collapsing completely in a pathetic heap. [my hand-written notes for this section read: 'LOL LOL LOL LOL FOREVER']

[upon noticing Sarah Jane is missing]
Soldier: "Well we thou-- we thought she'd gone home."
Doctor: "Gone HOME?!" [I adore Baker's delivery on this. one part "are you fucking crazy?", one part "lol, have you met this girl?" and one part "because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there's no power on this EARTH that can stop me."]

(It is at this point that the Lis Sladen stand-in dolly does its Fay Wray impression.)

After it all, Sarah feels pretty down about the death of the robot:

Doctor: "Sarah? Sarah...? ... Would you like a jelly baby?"

It's the first time he ever offers. (Of course it's to her.) Initially, she refuses.

[on the robot]
Sarah: "It was so human."
Doctor: "It was a *wonderful* creature. Capable of great good... and great evil. ... yes, I think you could say it was human."

Then he paces and babbles and offers her a trip in the TARDIS instead, and my god, nothing ever really changes, does it? He whines about staying, and the paperwork UNIT would make him do, and he says "I won't I won't I WON'T!" and goes to karate chop another brick... only to practically break his hand. (Sarah Jane does her best not to laugh at him, bless her.)

Sarah: "Doctor, you're being childish."
Doctor: "Well of course I am! There's no point in being grown up if you can't act childish sometimes." [pauses, lets his hat cast a bashful shadow over his eyes as he looks away, offers the white bag again] "Are you coming?" (he won't look at her.)
[She breaks into a wide grin and eagerly pops a jelly baby into her mouth, as if he'll rescind the offer if she doesn't eat it fast enough. He grins at her, and she laughs at him, and it is quite possibly the cutest thing you'll ever see. Rusty owes a hell of a lot to this relationship, I'm starting to learn.]

And then, of course, Harry wanders in. Bah! He offers Harry a jelly baby, and he takes two.

Doctor: "We're taking a trip!"
Harry: "Wot, in that old police box?"
Doctor: [snatches back the other jelly baby, offended] "YES in that old police box!"

He doesn't, unfortunately, say "it's bigger on the inside" but we do hear his incredulous "I say," and Sarah giggles.

God I love this show. Even when it's bad, it's good. And Sarah/Four is SOCUTE.

Ending stats:
Jelly baby offers: 3
Displays of unrestrained physical affection: 0 (closest facsimile: when Four comes back to his right mind, he shakes the Brig's hand and then Sarah's. Then he gets distracted, but keeps holding Sarah's hand in both of his own as he talks. Cute, but not a hug.)
Speeches by the Doctor about how awesome humans are: 1ish.

* totally reminded me of Roses's "MISter Jefferson, SIRRR" from Satan Pit, but I didn't have a handy way to link to that. So, you get a footnote!

1 comment: