You may be 'a' Doctor, but I'm 'the' Doctor. The definite article, you might say.By the 1970s, people had gotten used to the fact that the Doctor regenerates. The anticipation for the next Doctor was growing, but nobody could have expected what was to come.
Robot starts with the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) regenerating into his brown haired successor, and from the very start, with that enormous grin and gibberish lines, we knew this Doctor was going to be very different to the three elderly gentlemen that preceded him. The regeneration is witnessed by the Brigadier and Sarah Jane, so this gives us a stable continuity within the show that assures us we are watching the same programme.
This episode introduced us to some items that have become just as synonymous with the show as the Doctor himself. Early on we get the trademark scarf, which itself has become an icon of the show. Not many people could get away with lugging around a 13ft scarf, but again this is where Tom Baker's unique performance and character really sells it to us that he is an alien; perhaps the most alien he's ever been. Then at the end of the episode we get that marvellous catchphrase "Would you like a jelly baby?" Although the Second Doctor enjoyed the sweets too, it's the Fourth that really made them popular and used them to great effect, especially to show his innocence and fun during debates with authority figures.
Sarah Jane quickly adapts to the new Doctor, but is somewhat preoccupied with investigating the missing plans of a disintegrator gun. This episode is one of Sarah Jane's finest, with her investigative powers on full form as she helps UNIT and the Doctor to uncover the secrets behind the Think Tank and the K1 robot.
Once the newly regenerated Doctor has had his fun, he joins in with the investigations. When he visits the Scientific Reform Society meeting, we again get to see his brilliant humour as he empties his pockets to reveal random items including a fake pigeon and a yoyo. Again, this joke has been reused in Doctor Who numerous times, with the Fourth Doctor being a template for how the Doctor can be clever and funny at the same time.
Tomorrow we look at the Doctor that had to follow this perfect performance, as Suman reviews Peter Davison's debut episode, Castrovala.