EPISODE: Pyramids of Mars Part Four
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 413
STORY NUMBER: 082
TRANSMITTED: 15 November 1975
WRITER: Stephen Harris (pseudonym for Robert Holmes and Lewis Griefer)
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Pyramids Of Mars
Sutekh interrogates the Doctor learning he is a Time Lord. Scarman contacts Sutekh telling him Sarah has been captured. Sutekh sends the Tardis key to Scarman and instructs him to travel to the pyramid of Mars but the Doctor convinces him he is needed to operate the Tardis. The Sutekh controlled Doctor is returned to 1911 and takes Scarman, Sarah & a Mummy robot to Mars. Scarman orders the Mummy to kill the Doctor and then they both leave for the pyramid. However the Doctor has used his respiratory bypass system to survive. Sarah & the Doctor pursue Scarman through a number of traps. Scarman destroys the device restraining Sutekh and, his usefulness at an end, dies and disintegrates. Sarah & The Doctor race back to the Tardis and journey back to the priory. Sutekh stands for the first time in centuries and uses the vortex to journey to the priory but the Doctor traps him in the Vortex killing him. The Sarcophagus housing the vortex explodes, setting fire to the priory & destroying it.
Oh dear. Now I know it's traditional for Egyptian tombs to have booby traps prevented tomb raiders from looting them but what results here is half the episode is spent ripping off the last episode and a bit of Death to the Daleks. Sarah even makes reference to it reminding her of the Exillon city, which odd because she never went in it! They'll be a similar sequence next year in Hand of Fear too. We also get the famous appearance of the "hand of Sutekh" at 20:40 into the episode where a technician's hand can be seen helping Gabriel Wolfe to stand!
I know Pyramids of Mars is loved by Doctor Who fans the world over but...... something about it doesn't quite work for me. I'm not sure what though. I've never liked this last episode terribly much but the first few are rather grim with, apart from a few witty one liners, little humour or light to it. Is Pyramids of Mars the first Doctor Who story where everyone dies? Possibly. Celestial Toyroom? Most of the characters were imaginary, ditto The Mind Robber (although I think the Master survives at the end). Sometimes I've watched it and got into the first three episodes, others they've left me cold. This time I've been more towards the second of these two views.
Pyramids of Mars has been repeated twice by the BBC: The first time was on 27 November 1976 as 60-minute compilation and then episodically over 17 years later from 6 to 27 March 1994 on BBC2. It was novelised by Terrance Dicks in 1976. A compilation video was released in February 1985 and an episodic version in February 1994. Pyramids Of Mars was released on DVD on 1st March 2004 having topped a Doctor Who magazine poll the year before as the story most wanted for release on DVD. I'm told that Pyramids of Mars is available with the DVD & Blu-ray of The Sarah Jane Adventures - Series 4 making it the first classic Doctor Who story to be released on the Blu-Ray format.