By Roy Mathur, on 2020-12-08, at 22:47:56--23:17:35 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show, Listen
The state of the revisit is rushed. I'm taping a day late, though it won't make any difference to release date. I'm late because... eBay.
The reason I feel deja vu is because I've seen this story recently (well, a few years ago) on the Horror Channel.
Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker
Companion: Sarah Jane Smith: Elisabeth Sladen
Director: Barry Letts
Writer: Terry Nation
Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe
Story 4 of Season 13, followed Pyramids of Mars (covered in 345), 4 x 25 minute episodes, first broadcast from 22 November to 13 December 1975.
Bugger all, though it was a couple days after Spain's fascist dictator General Franco kicked it.
A strangely robotic looking army corporal jerkily marches through the woods.
The TARDIS lands in the woods, land miles from UNIT HQ. Sarah enjoys freshness, just after a rain shower, but the ground is dry. The Doctor and Sarah are attacked by humanoids in what looks like hazmat suits. They shoot at the pair with index finger guns. In the pursuit, Sarah almost falls down a steep sloop. The corporal ignores their warnings, falls and is killed, and they discover a pod nearby.
After a walk, Sarah recognises the village as Devesham, where she once visited for an article. The local pub is empty, until the strangely docile locals are off-loaded from a truck by the same white-suited humanoids. Sarah and the Doctor hide and witness the villagers come to life at midday. The pair split up. The Doctor heads for the Space Defence Station to contact UNIT and tells Sarah to go back to the TARDIS. She bluffs it out with the locals after she is discovered. Back in the woods, she investigates a pod, sees the TARDIS disappear, and is attacked by the man within the pod who she discovers is an android, but escapes.
At the Space Defence Station, the Doctor is arrested by Senior Defence Astronaut Guy Crayford. Shortly thereafter, Sarah arrives and frees the Doctor. The escape is witnessed by a menacing alien face behind a panel. Sarah tells the Doctor that Crayford was lost in space a few years ago. In their dramatic escape, the Doctor dives through a glass window.
Guy Crayford, rescued from space by the technologically advanced Kraal species has been helping them with their plans to conquer the Earth.
Eventually Sarah and the Doctor fall into the Kraal's clutches, discover that the village and its surroundings are an artificial environment on the Kraal's dying planet Oseidon, in which to test their plans for imminent invasion of the Earth.
After a near poisoning with Styggron's test viral weapon, Sarah and the Doctor escape in Crayford's spaceship, full of android pods on its way to Earth. They secrete themselves in empty pods and reach Earth.
The Doctor has the Station's equipment altered to jam the invasion forces transmitters. This incapacitates the android replacements.
The last episode ends with the Doctor convincing Sarah to let him take her home, rather than she ordering a cab.
Clearly referenced were Westworld (1973) style robots; including shock mask reveals, and pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Fleur De Lys pub in Devesham, chock full of robots, is right out of Edgar Wright's The World's End (2013). There's also a touch of Predators (2010) with an artificial environment in which to test humans.
The gormless stuffed shirt Colonel Faraday is a poor replacement for Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart though he is a robot, so.... (Actor Patrick Newell was written in because Nicholas Courtney was unavailable).
The Kraal scientist Styggron is gloating sadist. We see this when he leaves the Doctor tied to the village war memorial with a matter disintegration bomb.
Harry, both robotic and real, is back in this story, though his role is minimal.
The very watchable story was very science fiction-y, the action non-stop, but then it was a Terry Nation script, so of course it was. Oddly, years later, the Radio Times's Mark Braxton called it a "limp effort from Dalek creator Terry Nation. Mate, not everything can be Daleks!
When the Doctor persuades Sarah to let him take her home in the TARDIS, rather than a cab, you would have thought she'd learned by now... Oh well.
The on location filming took place in Oxfordshire. The village of Devesham was in reality East Hagbourne, wherein there exists to this day a real pub called The Fleur De Lys.
With all the talk of radiation in this story, the premises used for the Space Defence Station was coincidentally the real world Radiation Protection Division in Didcot.