There is not a lot I can say about this story which hasn't already been said elsewhere. Insights following a viewing last night included:

Firstly, the stylised costumes of the Sandminer crew very much remind me of sea creatures. This is ironic considering the sand which they are mining is part of a vast ocean of desert.

Secondly, it is a sign of how far my fan appreciation of Doctor Who has been recoloured by the internet that I wondered whether there was any Leela/Toos fic out there. There is an interesting dynamic established once Leela binds Toos's arm; the Doctor seems cheered by Leela adopting the role of nurse - "You can fulfil the traditional feminine role of the companion after all! You are welcome aboard my patriarchal TARDIS!" - but Toos seems to cling to Leela for much of the rest of the episode, suggesting a particular 1970s male view about women in command; I was reminded of Ronnie Marsh (BBC head of serials in the early 1970s) vetoing the casting of Susan Jameson as Morgan in Colony in Space because he thought the placing of a woman as head of a futuristic paramilitary command structure would automatically be read by the audience as an indication of unconventional sexuality.

Thirdly, the notorious colour-distorted image of David Bailie as Dask - is it meant to hide that he is Taren Capel or not? Yes and no. I think that it was anticipated that part of the audience would recognise him, perhaps the children who were more used to the visual language of television, and that the answer to the question would be held back until Taren Capel and the robots try to break through onto the bridge.

Fourthly, I remembered that when this first episode went out I was in a car heading back home from my grandparents. I remember looking at the dashboard clock as we passed the chemical processing wasteland next to the Gateshead western by-pass where the MetroCentre now is, and reflecting that I'd be lucky to get back to see any of the promised episode at all. I knew from the Radio Times that it was about robots of death, and was underwhelmed by what I saw when I switched on the television, which was the Doctor in a small room being smothered by a fall of corn flakes as the closing titles screamed in...


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