When the TARDIS is

 infiltrated by a

 mysterious force, the

 Doctor and Sarah

 Jane are drawn off

 course and arrive in

 England at the turn

 of the 20TH century.

 Dark forces from

 aeons ago are

 beginning to stir, and

 the whole future of

 life on Earth is at

 stake. Sutekh, last of

 the Osirians, is

 breaking free from

 his ancient prison,

 and no power in the

 universe can stand in

 his way...


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Pyramids of Mars

25TH OCTOBER 1975 - 15TH NOVEMBER 1975







Winner of Doctor Who Magazine’s Fortieth Anniversary Poll for “Most Wanted DVD Release”, the polished release of “Pyramids of Mars” lives up to its lofty expectations quite easily.



The beautifully packaged DVD, with its striking purple artwork, is crammed full of some top-drawer special features. We are given the rare opportunity for such an old story of viewing a short selection of deleted and extended scenes, as well as being treated to a wonderful commentary with Elisabeth Sladen, Philip Hinchcliffe (Producer) and Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman). Paddy Russell (Director) also makes a few infrequent and disjointed appearances, obviously recorded separately from the rest of the commentary. It is not too disruptive though, and she usually has a worthwhile story to tell about a particular scene’s production.


The Restoration Team obviously saw this as a monumental release as the disc features not one, but two in-depth documentaries. “Osirian Gothic” concentrates on the making of “Pyramids of Mars” itself, whilst the 45-minute “Serial Thrillers” looks at the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era as a whole. Both document-aries are absolutely fantastic, though I must say that the latter is particularly enjoyable as it focuses on some other great stories too, such as “The Deadly Assassin” and “The Brain of Morbius”. Even the “Now and Then” feature - which I usually find rather tedious - is quite interesting on this disc as the history of the famous house where this serial was shot (at the time of filming, owned by Mick Jaggar!) is explored with Who veteran Sheard. Finally a short spoof, very much in the spirit of “Earthshock, Part Five”, is also included for a more light-hearted look at the story’s villain – Sutekh the Destroyer, once again played by Gabriel Woolf. I cannot stress enough just how impressive the bonus material is on this disc; the Restoration Team are certainly making full use of the capabilities of the DVD format presently.


The four-part serial itself stands up alongside serials such as “The Caves of Androzani”, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, and “City of Death” as being one of those classic, iconic stories that almost all fans agree on as being the best of the best. Simply put, the story has all of the ingredients required for greatness, and the execution is sublime.



Tom Baker, as always, is superb. This so-called gothic horror era is often regarded as the peak of the show by many, and although this is largely due to the sterling efforts of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, in his first few years in the role Baker cemented himself as a legend – as the Doctor. Whenever the Doctor makes an appearance on Dead Ringers or The Simpsons, it is always in his fourth incarnation. “Pyramids of Mars” is a brilliant example of Baker at his absolute best; he brings a certain magic to every scene that he is in, especially those that he shares with Sladen.



The rest of the cast all put in superb performances; Bernard Archard is exceptional in his portrayal of the Sutekh-controlled Marcus Scarman, particularly in the scenes where he has to convey his character’s inner-conflict. Sheard as his brother is the perfect foil, and the scene where Sutekh forces Marcus to kill Laurence is one of the story’s best and most powerful scenes. Woolf steals the show though as Sutekh himself; his soft but menacing tones proving altogether more eerie than the harsh metallic tones of Daleks or Cybermen.



All told, “Pyramids of Mars” was certainly a fantastic concept dreamed up by Lewis Griefer. There is something inherently frightening and compelling about Egyptian mythology - something that the Stargate franchise has since exploited to the hilt - and when combined with some classic hammer horror, Holmes’ final version of Griefer’s script makes for one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time. Needless to say, this DVD is an absolute must for any discerning fan.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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