Number : Season 13, episode 3 of 6.
Which One : Egyptian gods and mummies.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Sarah-Jane : Liz Sladen
Sutekh : Gabriel Woolf
Professor Marcus Scarman : Bernard Archard
Laurence Scarman : Michael Sheard
Dr Warlock : Peter Copley
Collins : Michael Bilton
Erbie Clements : George Tovey
Namin : Peter Mayock
Ahmed : Vic Tablian
Written By : Robert Holmes & Lewis Griefer
Produced By : Philip Hinchcliffe
First Broadcast : 25 October – 15 November 1975.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor attempts to re-visit 1970’s UNIT headquarters. The Tardis lands in an earlier time-period of 1911. The manor house is ran by a mysterious Egyptian man, called Ahmed; who has a bunch of lumbering robotic mummy servants.
Whats good : Sutekh. The gothic horror tones. High production values. The mummies.
Whats bad : Nothing
Review With Spoilers : Pyramids Of Mars is the 3rd episode of season 13 and marked a period, when Who was reaching it’s artistic peak.
Whilst Tom Baker was laying down, the most memorably definitive portrayal of the Doctor, on screen. Behind it, producer Phillip Hinchcliffe was pushing the show’s envelope – in new directions off it.
When Hinchcliffe’s name is mentioned – in terms of Who. It usually follows; ‘the guy who brought a healthy dose of gothic horror to Who’. Whilst this is most definitely true, the episode thst can best sum this approach up; is Pyramids Of Mars.
Pyramids Of Mars is a story dipped in Egyptian myth, of a fallen god-like Osirian; called Sutekh. Who commands an army of robotic mummies and re-animated corpses.
The sight of the mummies – slowly lumbering after the poor Gamekeeper, pay their dues to classic Hammer Horror. Especially the mummies novel way of disposing of said Gamekeeper – by bellycrushing him to death.
“[Alternative 1980 where Sutekh has laid waste to the Earth ] 1980! Sarah! If you want to get off……” The Doctor
Both Gabriel Woolf, as Sutekh and who-regular Bernard Archard as (his right hand corpse) Marcus Scarman, bring a menacing edge to their characters and gives Tom Baker’s huge personality – a run for it’s money.
Woolf in particular, bestows Sutekh with the kind of presence and depth, a villain in Who is usually not afforded. This makes Sutekh a dangerously powerful and memorable opponent of the Doctor.
Sutekh though, for all of the Egyptian imagery – is an alien. As such, he commands his army of robotic mummies, forcefield egyptian pots and Osirian war missile. The latter of which the Doctor destroys with blasting gelignite.
Some really nice touches, include; the Doctor taking Sarah forward in time, from the new alternate 1911 timeline to 1980 – to prove a point. After a newly freed Sutekh has destroyed the world. Which was very similar to a scene from the much later Back To The Future 2.
The puzzles and games on Mars – following Sutekh’s attempt to destroy the Eye Of Horus, (which imprisons him) are more than reminiscent of the Exillon City in Death To The Daleks. Sarah-Jane even remarks this fact, to the Doctor (despite not having witnessed the Exillon City tricks and traps herself).
Tom Baker especially, is right at the top of his Doctor game. Having found his feet after a full season, with greatest companion; Sarah-Jane beside him. With an inspired producer, behind the scenes – in Hinchcliffe; Who was firing on all cylinders.
Pyramids Of Mars marked a high point in the show and the Tom Baker years. Thanks to a strong villain, supporting-cast and villain.
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