Pyramids of Mars

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Pyramids of Mars

Postby Jedi Princess on November 9th, 2009, 2:43 am

Four years ago, while out shopping, my mum and I came across a stack of DVDs. They all had "Doctor Who" on them, and when my mom started talking excitedly about how she used to watch the show when she was my age, I got curious. She said I could pick out one DVD.......because I love Egyptology, I picked the one called "Pyramids of Mars". We took it home, and sat down to watch it a few days later. By the end of the first episode, I was in love with Tom's Doctor. By the end of the second, I was in love with the show as well. By the end of the fourth episdoe, I was clamoring for more DW stories. And thus began a life of dedication to the Doctor.

I will always maintain that Pyramids of Mars is the best DW story ever written. The 4th Doctor was at his most alien, showing in every word and action that he wasn't just another human....he was a Time Lord. Sarah Jane was wonderful, of course, her friendship with the Doctor never clearer and more beautiful. The characterization of the other people in the story was flawless as well, with no flat or less than fully rounded characters. Even the smaller parts like the Butler and the Poacher were so real that you cared about their deaths. Lawrence's concern about his brother, and his attempts to reach out to him are so sad and touching, especially since they lead to his death by that same brother. Marcus does an excellent job.....he doesn't show the usual cardboard flatness of characters who are possessed. But of all the guest characters, Sutekh is the best. Gabriel Woolfe brings life and animation to what could otherwise have been just another shouty, insane villian behind a cardboard mask. Sutekh is chilling and masterful......you can see why the Doctor is afraid of him. Sutekh has to be the best one off villian in the whole show.

Then there's the story itself. The idea of an ancient Egyptian deity who wants to do nothing but destroy, and who is too strong for the Doctor to stop, is superb. There's no unnecessary padding, everything flows smoothly, and there are no loose plot threads at the end. Every minute of each episode is entertaining and spellbinding, with never a dull or yawnsome moment. The only quibble I have is the part where Scarman recieves the Tardis key....he practically has to grab it out of the air. But that's not worth fighting over ;)

I would have to say that this is the best of any Doctor Who episode ever made, and I reccomend it as the starting episode for anyone who hasn't seen Doctor Who before.
"The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship... Everything has its time. And everything ends." - Sarah Jane, School Reunion
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby merlinsseer on November 9th, 2009, 11:13 am

Yes, i agree, the key scene was a bit of a spell breaker. I try not to notice the string or wire that can just barely be seen swinging it through the air :lol: .
There is one missing scene in this that has always bothered me. After the failed attempt to blow up the rocket ? thingy on the grounds of the estate, the Doctor announces that he is just going to have to go to mars to distract the baddy long enough to let it blow up. The next thing we see is the Doctor heading off to mars.
Maybe the scene inbetween ended up on the cutting room floor or was never filmed ( or wrote ?) , but i cannot see this idea going over very well with a certain Miss. Sarah Jane Smith ! " YOU'RE GOING TO GO WHERE AND DO WHAT ? " :lol: I always wonder where the Doctor stashed her , how he kept her from following him ( because you know she did ) and how she ended up knocked out in the clutches of the robot mummies . ( little things like this just bug me :lol: )
Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby Toothy Grin on November 9th, 2009, 12:11 pm

Without doubt, an absolute classic, Pyramids of Mars has atmosphere in spades, a very well realised period setting, great location filming, and a truly terrifying and awesomely powerful villain in Sutekh. Tom is at his peak here, and the chemistry between him and Lis Sladen was never better. I do find the final episode a little disappointing, and that's why it's not quite in my all time favourite list, but Pyramids Of Mars is very close to being faultless.
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby Jedi Princess on November 9th, 2009, 3:41 pm

Maybe he put her in the mummy case :D

Toothy Grin, why were you disappointed in the last episode? The last episode is my favorite out of all four, I think.
"The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship... Everything has its time. And everything ends." - Sarah Jane, School Reunion
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby merlinsseer on November 9th, 2009, 3:45 pm

or he tied her up with mummy wrappings long enough to get out of the room :lol: ( notice she wasn't far behind )
Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby Toothy Grin on November 9th, 2009, 4:24 pm

The last episode is a bit (and only a bit) disappointing as the atmospheric setting of the old priory and it's grounds gives way to a cheap looking studio with poor special effects, and the problem solving 'traps' are very similar to Death to the Daleks and not very interesting. And the defeat of Sutekh seems rushed and too easy. I do like the 'time delay' bit, but yes, that's why I find the last episode lets things down slightly.
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby Jedi Princess on November 9th, 2009, 4:59 pm

I hadn't seen Death to the Daleks, so I didn't notice any similarities....when I watched Death to the Daleks, I thought it was similar to Pyramids of Mars :D Honestly, I think the special effects were quite good for the time period it was filmed in......and I didn't think Sutekh's defeat was too rushed. Ah well. To each their own :)
"The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship... Everything has its time. And everything ends." - Sarah Jane, School Reunion
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby bcm77 on November 9th, 2009, 11:31 pm

One thing I like about this story is how scared the Doctor gets when he realises just what he's up against as it shows a vulnerability to the character that I don't think has been displayed as much by later incarnations.

Even though we know the good guys always win in the end part of the fun for viewers and the challenge for writers is making the audience suspend their disbelief and think that the hero may not prevail and in this story Tom shows how to do it perfectly and the usually super confident, fearless Doctor for a while seems just as afraid and helpless as the people he usually defends.
"I'm not a human being........I'm a Time Lord. I walk in eternity"
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby John on November 9th, 2009, 11:45 pm

Pyramids of Mars is a thing of absolute beauty, how could anyone not enjoy this story?

Egyptology traditionally lends itself very well to science fiction, and Robert Holmes beautifully crafted storyline takes full advantage of the genre. As with many Doctor Who stories of this kind, Pyramids is all about transposing myths and legends into science, gods into aliens, magic into technology. But where this story triumphs over others is that it so utterly convincing. Shrewdly, Holmes conceived all his antagonists as human or humanoid, avoiding the need to put a convincing monster on the screen. This strategy lent the story greater credibility, you could show this to a sceptical non Doctor Who fan and they would almost certainly enjoy it.

Holmes second master stroke was his decision to base Pyramids of Mars in the wonderful period setting of 1911. This is not only in keeping with the archaeological excavations of the 1900’s, but it’s also a brief that BBC designers excel at. Filming a costume drama against the beautiful backdrop of Stargroves manor gave the story a real edge, images of marauding mummies crashing relentlessly through the undergrowth is one of the most iconic images of this era of Doctor Who.

But of course it’s the characters that really bring the story to life, and there is plenty of acting talent on hand, the most captivating of which are Bernard Archard and Michael Sheard as the tragic Scarman brothers. Lawrence’s heart wrenching refusal to accept Marcus’s fate, leading to his own grisly demise at the hands of his brother underpins the whole mood of the story. But most shocking of all is the manner in which the Doctor casually rolls Lawrence’s body over and continues with his work, much to the resentment of Sarah. We never get to see Gabriel Wolf’s face, and trapped as his character is behind a force-field, he can’t even move very much, yet that voice, and the emphasis he places behind it makes Sutekh one of the greatest villains of all time.
It’s also Tom Baker’s coldest and most alien performance, but the Doctor’s apparent callousness is all strictly in context, and serves as a reminder of the gravity of the situation.

Aside from some curious plot imperfections, namely Sutekh’s remarkable resourcefulness considering his entombment, Pyramids of Mars is an action packed thriller, worthy of it’s high status in fan circles.

Rating: 5 Tom's out of 5
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Last edited by John on December 17th, 2009, 5:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pyramids of Mars

Postby Jedi Princess on November 9th, 2009, 11:45 pm

I agree :) And when I watched this story, I didn't know when Tom's Doctor regenerated........so when he got strangled by the mummies, I actually cried! I really thought he was dead.
"The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship... Everything has its time. And everything ends." - Sarah Jane, School Reunion
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