Doctor Who Reactions: "Pyramids of Mars" (SPOILERS)

1)Now we come to one of my all-time favorite Doctor Who stories.  This is probably the single story of the old series that I've watched the most often.  (The new series stories, being shorter, are easier to re-watch).  It's credited to Stephen Harris - he does not actually exist.  The scripts were originally written by Lewis Greifer, but were almost completely re-written by script editor Robert Holmes.  In its essence, the story is a science fictional take on the old Hammer "Mummy" films.

 

2)Baker continues to use his scarf alot as a prop in this - sort of a quiet justification for wearing the thing.

 

3)Lis Sladen never looked lovelier than she did in this one. I did wonder how she kept that white dress clean what with all the running around she did.  I gather she questioned Sarah's proficiency with the rifle - she wondered where her character would've learned to shoot so well - but Paddy Russell insisted on her looking like she knew what she was doing, felt it would make the character look bad if she fumbled with the gun. Sarah's reaction to seeing the "alternative time" 1980 was well-done.  The "post-Sutekh" landscape was quite effective.  She had some good comedy bits, as when she was locked out of the house or when she and Baker did a synchronized double-turn on Mars.

 

4)Gabriel Woolf  is quite good in this as Sutekh - so good that they brought him back thrity-odd years latet to voice a variation on the same character in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit". I must say that Sutekh's "jackal head" that we saw once he took his helmet off was fairly ineffective. The "mummy" robots were OK - neither particularly striking or excessively goofy-looking.

 

5)Bernard Archard is very good in this as the possessed Marcus Scarman. Michael Sheard - whom we'll being seeing again in "Remembrance of the Daleks", I believe - is also good as his brother Laurence. Laurence's reaction on seeing inside the TARDIS was quite amusing. His anguish over his brother was well-conveyed, too. Funny that fraternal love ended being his downfall. "As Horus was brother to Sutekh".

 

6)Clements the poacher was played by George Tovey, Roberta's dad.

 

7)We don't see alot of gruesomeness in this, but there certainly is alot implied. I'm thinking particularly of the death of Warlock - he sure has a bloodchilling scream- and the squishing of Clements the poacher.

 

8)"Victoria wore it. She traveled with me for a time."  A rare - at that time - mention of a previous companion.

 

9)"About time I found something better to do than run 'round after the Brigadier."  and the Brigadier wouldn't appear again until "Mawdryn Undead".

 

10)"I'm really from 1980." Ah, one of the lynchpins of the so-called "UNIT dating controversy".

 

11)"If I'm right, the world is in the greatest peril in its history."  Baker does a good job in this of conveying that Sutekh is an opponent that truly concerns - maybe even scares- the Doctor. 

 

12)"The controls of the TARDIS are isomorphic."  Except, of course, when they turn out not to be.

 

13)I gather that the business at the end with the puzzles was meant to be a deliberate change from the usual "action finale". It seems to me that the puzzles are more of a test of how clever you are than of whether or not you had any business gaining access to the Eye of Horus. Also, it was a little hard to tell which switch the robot was pointing at when Sarah was trapped. Not something you'd want to make a mistake about.

 

14)Also a little uncertain about why Sutekh was in the time tunnel at the end for the Doctor to trap him.  Why didn't he just break out of wherever he was in Egypt? Was the time tunnel his only way out? It can't be that he was after the Doctor - he was surprised to see him alive at the end.

 

15)The music is good in this - very atmospheric. Good work from Dudley Simpson.

 

16)Some more fun quotes:

  • "I'm not a human being - I walk in eternity."
  • "It means I've lived for something like 750 years."  "Oh, you'll soon be middle aged!"
  • "Of course, it would make an ideal headquarters for some paramilitary organization."
  • "Mummies are emblamed, eviscerated corpses. They don't walk."
  • "I really must congratulate you, Mr. Scarman." "On what?" "Inventing the radio telescope forty years early."
  • "I see." "I'm sure you don't, but it's very nice of you to try."  Patronizing sod.
  • "This pattern occurs three times in one line. Let's call that 'e', the commonest letter in your language."  He's assuming that the Osirans wrote in English?
  • "I bring Sutekh's gift of death to all humanity!"  A bottle of wine might've been a better idea.
  • "Where are we?" "Hiding." "Where?" "A priest hole." "In a Victorian Gothic folly? Nonsense!" "Don't be so pedantic at a time like this? What does it matter?" I love how they're arguing about architecture while the apocalypse is coming.
  • "Egyptian rockets building rockets? That's crazy!"  Oh, come on, Sarah, you've seen crazier.
  • "It takes a being of Sutekh's almost limitless power to destroy the future."  But it doesn't take him long!
  • "All life is my enemy!"  I'm with ya, pal!
  • "He's all-powerful - if he ever gets loose, there isn't a life form in the universe that could stand against him."  "Not even your lot - the Time Lords?"  "Not even our lot."  I almost want to see a "What if Sutekh had gotten loose?" story.
  • "Sweaty gelignite is highly unstable."  Who isn't?
  • "Sometimes you don't seem..." "Human?"
  • "I shall mingle with the mummies but I shan't linger."
  • "How do I look?" "Must've been a nasty accident." "Don't provoke me."
  • "Abase yourself, you groveling insect." You seldfom hear people say that in "real life".
  • "'Evil'? Your evil is my good."
  • "They had dome-shaped heads and cerebrums like spiral staircases."
  • "It reminds me of the City of the Exxilons." A callback to "Death to the Daleks".
  • "Poor Sarah. I should never have brought you here."  You didn't. Scarman did.

 

17)Cliffhangers:

  • Part One: The Servant of Sutekh kills Namin!
  • Part Two: The mummy very...slowly.. strangles Sarah!
  • Part Three: Sutekh tortures the Doctor!
  • Part Four: The TARDIS vanishes as the house burns!

 

Overall:

Again, one of my all-time favorites, well-acted, well-written, with good sets and mostly good effects.  This is one I might show to someone who didn't know the show to explain why I like it.

 

[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]

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The depiction of the head of Sutekh derives one of his depictions in Egyptian art. There is some uncertainty as to which animal the head derives from; see Wikipedia's pages  "Set (mythology)" and "Set animal" for more.

This is one I might show to someone who didn't know the show to explain why I like it.

 

Have to agree.  I have a fondness for Baker since my childhood, but this is one of the few stories that I watched of old Who in full in recent years. It's a good story.  Fairly clips along.  Some of your quotes highlight it, but Baker was really believable as an alien in this one.  I could be quite a strikingly weird individual when he wanted - with the big eyes and that profile. 

 

I thought Sutekh here owed a lot to Lovecraft, but that's probably true every time sci-fi interesects with horror in modern pop culture. 

 

I also thought the bit where they land in a radically altered present in the middle of a story was more typical of the type of playing they did with the Dr Who concept in the New Who shows than the old shows, where the time-travel is just a means to get the Doctor to an interesting adventure.

 

Perhaps worth noting that this programme was from the very height of Dr Who's popularity in post Daleks/pre New Who  era.  What strikes me is that it is just a great story, with an easily understood danger there and with all the elements of that story introduced or explained within it.

 

Dr Who, like many serial fictions, is at its best when being welcoming to the wider audience, rather than depending on insider knowledge for the stories to work.  An example of this is that Mrs Figs absolutely loved the early New Who, which were deliberately designed to be watched by people who knew nothing about Doctor Who, but the more recent seasons with those long continuity-driven arcs just leave her cold.

 

The trajectory of the viewing figures would seem to show that many people are in the same boat as her.

"An example of this is that Mrs Figs absolutely loved the early New Who, which were deliberately designed to be watched by people who knew nothing about Doctor Who, but the more recent seasons with those long continuity-driven arcs just leave her cold."

After the Paul McGann abomination (seriously, the last time I watched it, I didn't even like HIM anymore), I was blown away at how "Rose" was just the perfect starting point to a new series. Focus on the "real" people, and have The Doctor be a complete mystery. I recall how, at the time, many fans online weren't sure-- is the new show a REBOOT, or a SEQUEL?  Took about half the season before we were sure-- it's a SEQUEL!

However, I thought the "season-long arc" were un-needed, un-called for, and by the 3rd season, began to get on my nerves. I really didn't like when they brought back The Master, either. Sadly, I haven't been able to see the show since then, but I hope to one of these years.

I remember one day when my brother and his wife were visiting, "PYRAMIDS OF MARS" was on, and they watched it, with some amusement. (I don't think they really liked it.)

On another occasion, when I wanted to sit a friend down and introduce him to the show, I had him watch "THE ANDROID INVASION".  That's still one of my favorites.  I wish Terry Nation would have written more stories about anything OTHER than freakin' Daleks.

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