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on January 25, 2004
Some stories done during Dr. Who producer Phillip Hinchcliff's time has been known as the Gothic era of the show. He commissioned stories based on old horror and sci-fi. Pyramids of Mars is a tribute to Hammer Films' mummy movies, using a lot of Egyptology themes and names.
After being mysteriously drawn off course to 1911 in an old priory where UNIT HQ would be built, the Doctor and Sarah become involved in the attempted return of Sutekh, an Osirian who was imprisoned by his brother Horus in a tomb recently uncovered by archaeologist Marcus Scarman. He returns to the priory, a zombified puppet of Sutekh, who with help of service robots disguised as mummies, create a deflection barrier around the priory and set about constructing a rocket to destroy the pyramids of Mars to free Sutekh.
The Doctor and Sarah rescue Dr. Warlock, a friend of Marcus's who has been shot by an Egyptian, and enlist the aid of Laurence, Marcus's brother. Laurence is an affable fellow, but despite seeing the possessed Marcus, still thinks of Marcus as his brother and not a puppet of Sutekh. Laurence is played by Michael Sheard, a multiple Who alumni and Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back. Bernard Archard (Marcus) is effectively terrifying, his evil-looking eyes, curved down lips, and paled face put to good use.
How evil and how much Sutekh hates life is demonstrated in these lines: "The humans, animals, birds, fish, reptiles. All life is my enemy. All life shall perish under the reign of Sutekh the Destroyer." "Your evil is my good. ... Where I tread, I leave nothing but dust and darkness. I find that good!" Gabriel Woolf's sepulchral voice is put to good use here as Sutekh.
Lots of Egyptology comes in, such as Horus's defeat of Sutekh with the help of 740 Osirians. Not so coincidentally, 740 gods were listed on the tomb of Thutmosis III. The answer to that is the wars of the gods (Osirians) entered into Egyptian mythology and the whole of Egyptian culture founded upon the Osirian pattern. The various sarcophagi and artifacts boost the story's theme.
An interesting discussion takes place between Laurence Scarman, Marcus's brother, and the Doctor. He takes Sarah and Laurence to a future Earth, a desolate planet circling a dead sun, which is how Sutekh would leave it. "Every point in time has its alternative. You've looked into alternative time. ...The actions of the present fashion the future." When Laurence asks him if a man can change the course of history, the Doctor says "To a small extent. It takes a being of Sutekh's limitless power to destroy the future." The Doctor is thus a prisoner of moral obligation--until he stops Sutekh, he just can't up and leave.
Funny lines from Tom Baker: "deactivating a generator loop without a correct key is like repairing a watch with a hammer and chisel. One false move and you'll never know the time again." And he panics at Sarah throwing him a box of gelignite, saying, "Sweaty gelignite is highly unstable. One good sneeze could set it off." When he asks the chastised Sarah for detonators or fuses, she can't find any, and mischievously says, "Maybe he sneezed," meaning the owner of the gelignite. We also learn here that he is 750 years old.
A blaring booboo comes when Sarah claims she comes from 1980. UNIT stories generally take place the year the story is filmed. Also, as the Brigadier retired in 1976 (q.v. Mawdryn Undead, this is clearly inaccurate, as a future story in the same season has the Brigadier still working. So Sarah should've said she comes from 1975.
Trivia: at the time of shooting, the property where this was shot belonged to no less a person than Mick Jagger, but before, the house in the story had belonged to Lord Carnarvon, the archaeologist who uncovered King Tut's tomb, so a coincidence there.
Stylish and evenly-paced, with the Egyptology motif a good asset.
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on March 11, 2002
I remember watching Dr. Who as a boy and being fascinated with the series. I came across this video while browsing and thought why not, with some trepidation that, as an adult, I may have lost the fascination and wonder.
I haven't. This video is terrific. Dr. Who is pulled off-course by a temporal anomaly and lands in 1911 England (amazing how much excitement happens in England). There he discovers that Sutec, the last of the Osirians (a race of cosmic powers and abilities), is attempting to escape his 7,000 year old prison, in Egypt. Sutec was imprisoned there by Osiris after a titanic struggle which so overwhelmed the primitive people living along the Nile at that time that they copied their civilization after these alien beings.
Sutec, the destroyer, hates life and living beings, from fear that one day, some one may grow to match him in power. To prevent that he tried to eradicate all living everywhere in the universe. Thwarted by Osiris, he plotted his revenge for millennia.
Only the Doctor stands in his way. After destroying a missile aimed at Mars (to destroy the generator which imprisons Sutec) by dressing as a mummy robot, Sutec gains control of Dr. Who and forces him to take his minions to Mars. Once there, the Doctor is too late to prevent the generator's destruction.
Only the fact that radio waves travel at light spped while the Doctor travels without speed allows the Doctor to trap Sutec in a temporal tunnel and send him to his death.
I will buy more of these videos.
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on March 2, 2002
Much has already been written about this story already but I would like to add my twopence worth. Another fantastic (in every sense of the word) story which sees the expansion of the typical doctor storyline to incorporate eatern religion and mysticism. In some ways the story harks back to the early days of the Doctor where a historical interlude was often to be found sandwiched in between the more fantastic science fiction escapades. But this particular Doctor had more darker episodes than most and I think this one is particularly so.
Predating Stargate by some considerable years, the show postulates a race of immortal beings with a bad apple among them. His crimes were so heinous that he is sentenced to life imprisonment as the other immortals were so reluctant to take any life no matter how evil the crime. Upon gaining his freedom he will destroy all.
Human life counts for nothing as the evil one battles the Doctor to secure his escape and even the will of a Timelord is insufficient to defeat him. In the end, as always the Doctor wins through and sends Sutek to finish off his sentence in a time loop. While we all cheer for his demise it is easy to forget the cruelty of such a fate and while it may be poetic justice, we should not forget that there are some things worse than death.
One of my personal favourites which ranks with the Robots of Death - two thumbs up!
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on January 4, 2004
I seem to be in the minority on both this series and Stones of Blood, the other episode in which Tom Baker as Doctor Who takes on a god/goddess whose fate and life are wound up with an ancient archeological treasure, in the case of this series with the Egyptian pyramids, in the case of Stones with Stonehenge. Both series are cheesy in the extreme, illogical, and while they have entertaining sequences, fall well short of the truly great Tom Baker episodes (and there are many of those).
In this series, the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are diverted to 1911 England where a mysterious Egyptian has ensconsed himself and some Egyptian artifacts in a house belonging to a missing archaeologist. The Egyptian seems able to conjure up the spirit of a deity by playing creepy, horror music on an organ in his living room. We also have robots who look like gray mummies with breasts, bad hieroglyphics, and the missing archaeologist who is not, in fact, missing, he's just been taken over by the deity and runs around pale white, calling the deity master and killing off anyone who gets in his way. It's really a rather silly episode with not much to commend it, other than the Doctor's compassion for the human race and willingness to expose himself to danger, but those two traits appear in almost every Tom Baker episode and being chased around by cheesy mummies gets a bit dull after a while. This one has entertainment value, but there are many better episodes.
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on January 23, 2002
The Pyramids of mars was one of the first episodes that i ever watched.It has a stunning concept and plot.There was action,but not to much so that they over-did it.Pyramids of mars was exceptional from its predecesers.It was a very good example of what you can achieve with good actors,on-location filming and good props and costumes.It was a very controlled episode.It was a good idea using the concept that the whole of what we know as egyptoligy was actually based on an alien race.Pyramids of mars also differd from its others because of the badee.Usually the enermys that the doctor confronts are very mortal and have the flesh and blood concept about them.This was very different in pyramids of mars.Instead the enermy was a mighty god called SUTEK the destroyer.He was unstopable.It was mear luck that the doctor managed to trap him in the time vortex.But wherever there is a bad guy there is allways a good one.HORUS god of light fought sutek and managed to imprison him in an eternity of agonizing pain.Of course he escaped and that was that.This is one enermy that if the doctor slipped up on he would not of been able to stop.I pesonally adore this episode and it will allways remain one of the all time Doctor Who classics.
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on June 18, 2004
This continues the good stories that are well known in the early Baker years. His companionship with Sarah, one of the best Doctor/Companion pair ups of the entire series. The location and set designs, music and villians are all well done. Sutek makes a chilling villian, and the characters are all well acted. Classic scenes are infact the Tardis' voyage to 1980 earth to show Sarah what would become if Sutek were allowed to go free. Also the Mars pyramids and its many puzzles I found to be intriguing. The only flaw I found in this story is the organ playing in the beginning. Someone should delete this on the DVD release. We all know that is why Sutek sent his servant to kill the egyption in the first place. This is a classic Doctor Who story.
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on January 26, 2004
I like this story throughout. The plot is action packed with little padding. Tom Baker for once manages to stick to the script most of the time and is not guilty of massive overplaying as he is in many other episodes. There is humour but it is good. There are some genuinly scary moments. Along with Genesis of the Daleks in my view the best of T Baker!
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on August 24, 2003
I didn't see this mentioned in any of the other reviews and I wanted to share it. I thought Professor Scarman was awesome as a villain, even moreso than Sutekh. The mummys were a bit silly looking but I would have been more scared of Prof. Scarman than those 3 mummys put together.
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on July 7, 2014
awsome show. great dvd
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on September 4, 2002
I have never seen this video yet due to that this video is edited.
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