Doctor Who review: The Robots: The Robots of War kicks off the second volume

The second volume of Doctor Who spin-off The Robots begins with The Robots of War, in which a small act of sabotage leads to an escalating situation…

This month sees the exciting new release of the second volume of The Robots. A spin-off from both the classic Doctor Who serial The Robots of Death and Eighth Doctor audio box set Ravenous 2, the series kicked off with a strong first volume late last year, helping to establish the world of Kaldor as one similar to our own but with advanced technology, and exploring interesting moral themes as a result.

The Robots of War continues with that sense of exploration. Focusing on a military training base, Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and her sister Tula (Claire Rushbrook) soon find themselves trapped in an escalating situation. One caused by both sabotage and a dangerous new protocol for the Voc Robots…

The Robots as a whole is heavily focused on Liv, who’s living on Kaldor during a gap year from her travels with the Eighth Doctor. But it’s her sister who’s focused on more in this story. We find out about an old flame of hers, and while her former relationship isn’t explored in too much depth, it does give us a larger idea of the character and her past.

Doctor Who

The cast for The Robots of War (L to R): Homer Todawala, Harley Viveash, Nicola Walker, claire Rushbrook, Silas Carson.
Image Courtesy Big Finish Productions

Growing problems

There is a danger with the Voc Robots to make a story featuring them simply a repeat of The Robots of Death, but in a different environment. So far, The Robots has been able to avoid that trap – every story has either had a fresh angle for them or is able to create a completely new threat altogether.

Roland Moore (who also wrote volume 1’s opening story The Robots of Life) finds a fresh way of making the Voc Robots a threat: this time, they’re just following their basic programming. Of course, in this case, the real danger is human stupidity. The fact that the situation escalates so rapidly from something so small highlights the increasing dangers from technology on Kaldor.

But it’s not just artificial intelligence that’s a growing problem. We’re given strong hints of the political group “the Sons of Kaldor”. What’s interesting about this is that, thanks to a Fourth Doctor audio, we already know where this is heading. Change is coming to Kaldor, and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent it.

The Robots of War is in some ways a small episode, especially in terms of its sense of scale. But it’s also an extremely effective one, too. Another interesting episode for the series – one that ends on an exciting cliffhanger for the following episodes…

Did you enjoy the previous volume of The Robots? Are you excited by where the series is heading next? Let us know in the comments below.