The time travellers arrive on a barren looking Earth. (The story was filmed entirely on location at Hound Tor in Dartmoor; I would love to visit the place as it looks absolutely beautiful. It was certainly a good choice of location for a post-apocalyptic landscape.) The Doctor begins work on the transmat device while Sarah and Harry go for a look around. Harry falls down a ditch. The Doctor hears a cry; Zake, a human, has fallen and broken his neck after being pursued bt a robot. The man's companions arrive and stun gun the Doctor. Sarah rushes back for help but the Doctor is gone; she returns to the ditch to find Harry has gone. Here she meets Roth, another of the humans; they hide to avoid the robot. Roth explains that there is a creature which experiments on humans. The Doctor is questioned by Vural, Efrek and Krans. The Doctor examines an alien piece of technology on Vural's spacesuit; his face can be seen on a monitor elsewhere. The humans believe the Ark (Nerva) to be a legend. Roth and Sarah recus the Doctor; he falls down the ditch too and Sarah and Roth are captured by the robot. It takes them back to a spaceship (followed by Harry) where Sarah sees a sontaran.
The Sontaran says its name is Styre; it shoots Roth, who tries to run, and begins to test Sarah. The Doctor crawls out of the ditch and is recaptured by Vural and co. Harry finds a human who is tied up and has been subjected to experiments. Vural and co. are taken prisoner by the robot. Harry tries to get Sarah but she is surrounded by a force filed. Syre talks with his Marshall; the Marshall insists that Styre finish his experiments quickly so that the Sontaran battleplan can proceed. It subjects Sarah to a series of tests to see her anxieties and fears. The Doctor tries to rescue Sarah; he is shot bt the Sontaran. (Which utters "Worm!" It's hysterical.) Harry meets up with the Doctor; a piece of Nerva protected him. The Sontaran subjects Vural and co to another experiment. The Doctor disables the robot with his sonic screwdriver; he overhears Styre and the Marshall talk about the series of experiments. The Doctor challenges Styre to a dual. Harry sabotages the energy unit on the Sontaran ship; Styre is destroyed when he tries to re-energise. The Doctor tells the Marshall that Styre is dead and the humans have the Sontaran battle plans. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry leaves the last humans, Vural is killed saving the Doctor in his dual, to await Vira and the others from Nerva.
It's a simple story (it was originally going to be part of a 6 parter, instead of two episodes) and has its weak points in the plot; the humans aren't great characters. I like it though and have the added sentimentality of this being my first memory of Dr.Who. (The bit I actually could remember before rewatching the story was the bit in episode 1 where Sarah catches a little glimpse of the robot; for some reason that really scared me as a kid!)
The music was once again top draw, although there are parts with no music at all. That highlights the quiet of the barren Earth (well, Hound Tor) . The sounds are good too; the robot makes a lovely electronic buzzing sound. It's design was interesting; it looks like a crab, with its two sensor whiskers at the front and stalk eyes spaced apart on a shell like head.
I always look on this one as a tasty aperatif for the next story in the season - and what a story that is too!
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