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Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

"No...You will not die yet..."
―Sutekh
Pyramids of Mars
Series: Doctor Who - TV Stories
Season Number: Season 13
Story Number: 82
Doctor: Fourth Doctor
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Enemy: Sutekh
Marcus Scarman
Robot Mummies
Setting:
Writer: Stephen Harris
(pseudonym of Robert Holmes),
based on a story by Lewis Greifer
Director: Paddy Russell
Broadcast: 25th October - 15th November 1975
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: Planet of Evil
Following Story: The Android Invasion

Contents

Synopsis

In a Victorian gothic mansion, strange things are afoot. The master of the house, away in Egypt, has been replaced by a sinister Egyptian and cloth-wrapped Mummies roam the grounds killing people. Beneath a pyramid, the last of the OsiriansSutekh the Destroyer — waits to be freed, to at long last bring his gift of death to all who live.

Plot

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Part 1

Egypt, 1911. Marcus Scarman, Fellow and Professor of Archaeology at All Souls College, Oxford University, is excavating a blind pyramid and finds that the door to the burial chamber is inscribed with the Eye of Horus. Scarman's Egyptian assistants panic and flee at the sight of the glowing hieroglyph, leaving the Professor to enter the chamber alone. As he holds a light up to see the undisturbed tomb, he is blasted by a green ray that emanates from a seated and cowled figure.

The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are still on their way back to UNIT headquarters in the TARDIS. At the same moment as the tomb is disturbed, the TARDIS is forced out of its flight path and Sarah sees an apparition of an alien, jackal-like face in the console room. The Doctor comments that a mental projection that could have this effect on the TARDIS would be powerful beyond imagination, the Doctor follows the energy source back to its point of origin and lands the TARDIS in the Scarman family home, a former priory somewhere in England, occupying the future site of UNIT HQ.

The Doctor and Sarah explore the priory and find what appear to be Egyptian artifacts in the storeroom in which the TARDIS materialised. Discovered by the butler, they are told that the house has been taken over by a mysterious Egyptian gentleman by the name of Ibrahim Namin. The butler urges them to leave. As he turns to inspect the room after the Doctor and Sarah's departure via the window, a sarcophagus lid is seen to be moving.

In another part of the priory, Namin is being confronted by Dr. Warlock, an old friend of Professor Scarman, but their heated debate is interrupted by a scream. Warlock and Namin find that the scream came from the butler, who has been crushed to death in the storeroom. Namin shoots Warlock in order to prevent him from going for help. The Doctor, who has witnessed the argument and heard the scream, prevents the shot from being immediately fatal by using his scarf to pull the gun in Namin's hand. The three make their escape into the grounds of the estate. Instead of following, Namin removes the lid of another sarcophagus to reveal a mummy. Holding up his ring, he commands the mummy to activate and orders it to pursue them.

The Doctor, Sarah and Warlock hide in the woods until the pursuing mummies are called off the hunt by Namin, who is summoned to the central room of the house by a blast of organ music. The three fugitives make their way to a hunting lodge in the grounds that is used by Laurence Scarman, Professor Scarman's brother, as a home. Laurence is an amateur scientist whose latest invention, which the Doctor recognizes as a primitive form of radio telescope, has intercepted a signal from Mars. The Doctor uses a more portable device to decode the signal as "Beware Sutekh".

The Doctor explains that Sutekh is the last of a powerful alien race called the Osirians, a paranoid megalomaniac who came to believe that all life was his enemy. He was pursued across the galaxy by his brother Horus and was finally defeated on Earth by the combined might of 740 Osirians. The Doctor returns to the house in order to formulate a plan to stop Sutekh, followed by Sarah and Laurence Scarman.

Namin and the mummies — really service robots — greet the arrival of Sutekh's servant who travels to the priory via a Lodestone the portal of which is disguised as an upright sarcophagus. The Servant of Sutekh appears as a dark-helmeted humanoid figure dressed in black. The Servant ignores Namin's pleas for his life and kills him, declaring that Sutekh needs no other servant.

Part 2

After killing Namin, the Servant transforms into Marcus Scarman, although he appears to be an animated corpse. Scarman then uses the spacetime tunnel to communicate with Sutekh, immobile in his pyramid, who orders Scarman to secure the perimeter of the estate and to construct an Osirian war missile. After Scarman and the robots leave to execute their orders, the Doctor, Sarah and Laurence Scarman enter the main room. The Doctor locates the spacetime tunnel but accidentally activates it and is nearly dragged through. He disrupts the tunnel using the TARDIS key and is knocked unconscious by the energy discharge. Laurence hides the three of them in a priest hole for fear of being discovered by his brother.

In another part of the estate, a poacher, Ernie Clements, finds a mummy trapped one of his snares. He retreats but is prevented from escaping the estate by the deflection barrier that Sutekh has ordered to be generated in order to secure the perimeter. Once Scarman has finished placing the generators, he finds Warlock and questions him about the other people within the barrier. Clements hears Warlock's death scream and tracks Marcus Scarman back to the house.

While in hiding, the Doctor realises that he will be able to stop Sutekh controlling his Servant and the mummies by using Namin's ring and Laurence Scarman's scientific apparatus. Marcus Scarman is prevented from finding them by the sudden appearance of Clements. Clements fires his shotgun at Marcus Scarman's back and is amazed to see the explosion reverse and all damage healed. Clements panics and retreats, pursued by the robots.

The Doctor locates Namin's corpse and retrieves the ring. All three proceed into the TARDIS to avoid detection. Laurence is amazed by the dimensionally transcendental nature of the TARDIS. Sarah suggests they should just leave in the TARDIS, because they know that the world did not end in 1911. The Doctor demonstrates otherwise by moving the TARDIS forward in time to 1980. There, the TARDIS doors open onto a blasted wilderness, with thunder, rain and lightning hammering down on to ash fields. Sarah understands that they have no choice but to return to 1911 and stop Sutekh, or the future will be lost.

The TARDIS returns to 1911 and the three retreat to the hunting lodge in order to jury-rig a jamming unit to prevent Sutekh controlling his servants. Laurence finds it too hard to deal with the Doctor's assertion that Marcus Scarman is dead and that the being with his appearance is just a puppet. Laurence overhears the Doctor telling Sarah that when the jamming device is activated, all of Sutekh's servants will stop, Marcus Scarman included.

At the crucial moment when the device is activated, Laurence attempts to stop it from happening. The robots overrun the hunting lodge after finding and killing Clements. They knock Laurence out and throw the Doctor to the floor.

Part 3

One of the robots attacks the jamming device and is disabled by a sudden discharge of power. Sarah is threatened by a robot, but the Doctor tells Sarah to grab the ring that they took from Namin and order the robots to return to Control. Sarah does so and the robots obey.

Surveying the ruined equipment, the Doctor decides that the only thing that he can do is to blow up the partially-assembled rocket in the stable courtyard of the Priory. Laurence suggests using blasting gelignite, a supply of which Clements kept in his hut on the estate. The Doctor and Sarah leave to locate the gelignite, ordering Laurence to strip the bindings from the now deactivated robot left in the hunting lodge.

The Doctor finds the energy barrier and, with Sarah's help, deactivates a generator loop in order to get through. The deactivation is detected by Sutekh, who orders Marcus Scarman to investigate. Marcus finds Laurence in the hunting lodge. Laurence tries to make Marcus remember his childhood in order to revive his humanity, but fails, and Marcus tortures Laurence in order to find out more about the Doctor.

The Doctor and Sarah find the gelignite and hide it near the rocket before returning to the lodge. There they find Laurence in a rocking chair, strangled, and a robot stripped of its bindings. The Doctor asks Sarah to disguise him in the bindings in order for him to place the gelignite on the rocket without being detected.

However, when Sarah detonates the gelignite by shooting it with a hunting rifle, they see the explosion pause, then retreat back upon itself. The Doctor realises that Sutekh is holding back the detonation using mental power alone and that the only way to destroy the missile is travel to Sutekh's prison using the spacetime tunnel and distract him. As he enters the chamber and calls out Sutekh's name, the last of the Osirians turns in response. On Earth, the explosion consumes the rocket. Angered, Sutekh paralyses the Doctor with a blast of mental force.

Part 4

Sutekh interrogates the Doctor and discovers that he is a Time Lord from Gallifrey. He then locates the TARDIS and decides to use it to transport Scarman to the Pyramids of Mars in order to deactivate the Eye of Horus, the force that is trapping him. The Doctor avoids being killed by claiming that the TARDIS controls are isomorphic, meaning they respond to him alone. Sutekh subjects the Doctor to mind control and returns him to the priory as another of his servants. He then orders Scarman to bring a robot and Sarah into the TARDIS to travel to Mars.

On Mars, Sutekh orders Scarman to dispose of the Doctor and the robot strangles him. Scarman and the robot then find the way out of the first chamber beneath the pyramid and leave Sarah weeping over the Doctor. The Doctor then wakes up, revealing that his respiratory bypass system allowed him to avoid death, and they then set off in search of Scarman.

The Eye of Horus is located at the end of a corridor beneath the pyramid. The corridor is divided in to a series of chambers and progress through the chambers is dependent upon solving logical and philosophical problems. Sutekh navigates Scarman and the robot through each problem with no deliberation but the Doctor and Sarah are slower. At the last puzzle, a transparent cylinder materialises around Sarah. The voice of Horus tells the Doctor that the chamber has two switches and that he is allowed to ask one question of one Guardian of Horus. The Guardians materialised at the same moment as the Crucible and are mummy robots swathed in gold bindings. There is not much time as Sarah has a limited air supply within the chamber and will suffocate unless he can find out from them which is the right switch to activate. One robot will always tell the truth and the other always lie, but which is which?

Since the Guardians are contra-programmed so that one will always give a false answer, the Doctor asks one Guardian, if he were to ask the other Guardian which was the life switch, which would the other indicate? The Doctor reasons that if the Guardian he asks tells the truth then it must indicate the death switch and the if it is the liar then it would still indicate the death switch. The Doctor presses the other switch and the chamber and Guardians disappear, freeing Sarah.

Scarman and the robot reach the chamber containing the Eye of Horus. Another Guardian of Horus appears and does battle with Sutekh's robot. Sutekh realises that he is moments away from freedom and channels all of his power through Scarman in order to destroy the Eye of Horus. Scarman momentarily transforms into the jackal creature Sarah saw earlier in the TARDIS and destroys the Eye before falling to the floor and decaying to dust in an instant. Arriving too late, the Doctor looks back and sees the bulkhead doors open one by one, revealing the TARDIS at the end of the corridor. He realizes that the time factor can still save them.

Back in the priory, the Doctor exits the TARDIS at a run, holding a piece of the TARDIS console. He runs to the main room of the priory and attaches the device to the spacetime tunnel. Sutekh appears in the tunnel, travelling towards the exit, but he cannot seem to reach it. He pleads with the Doctor to release him, but the Doctor simply turns the dial and Sutekh recedes screaming. The Doctor declares that Sutekh lived for about 7000 years. The Doctor explains that time control from the TARDIS shifted the mouth of the spacetime tunnel into the far future, which Sutekh could never hope to reach. They had two minutes to return to Earth from Mars and set the trap because this is the amount of time that it takes for radio waves to propagate between the two planets.

As the Doctor and Sarah pack up and prepare to leave, a thermal imbalance in the time tunnel causes it to catch fire. The Doctor remembers that the UNIT headquarters was built on the remains of a burnt priory and the two decide to leave it alone, re-entering the TARDIS and dematerialising. Outside, the priory is consumed in flames.

Cast

Crew

References

1666, The Brigadier, Thutmoses III,

  • Sutekh is also known as 'Typhonian Beast'.
  • The Doctor notes that the dress Sarah wears in this story belonged to a former companion, Victoria. Although Sarah jokes about Prince Albert wearing the gown, it seems certain the Doctor is referring not to Queen Victoria but rather to Victoria Waterfield.
  • Sarah refers to the puzzles being similar to that of the Exxilon City, (although she never set foot in the City) she did see some of walls outside of it.
  • The Doctor mentions as he leaves that he was blamed for causing the Great Fire of London in 1666.
  • The Doctor accidentally burns down the Priory, which is where one of the UNIT HQ.
  • "Deactivating a generator loop without the correct key is like repairing a watch with a hammer and chisel. One false move and you'll never know the time again." The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to deactivate the loop.
  • The Doctor says he has a respiratory bypass system.
  • When asked directly by Sarah, the Doctor admits that not even the Time Lords would be able to to stop Sutekh if he were to be freed.

Story Notes

  • The story was originally written by Lewis Greifer, but was considered unworkable. As Greifer was unavailable to do rewrites, the scripts were completely rewritten by Robert Holmes. The pseudonym used on transmission was Stephen Harris.
  • Although the name of Sutekh's race is pronounced "Osiran" throughout the serial, the scripts and publicity material spell it as "Osirian" in some places and as "Osiran" in others. Many fans use the "Osiran" spelling, as do some reference works such as The Discontinuity Guide.
  • Pyramids of Mars has the unfortunate distinction of contributing to one of the biggest and most widely discussed contradictions in the Doctor Who universe: the "UNIT dating controversy." For full details please see that page.
  • The new TARDIS console which debuted in the preceding story Planet of Evil does not appear again until The Invisible Enemy. Due to the cost of setting up the TARDIS console room for the filming of only a handful of scenes, a new and far less expensive set and console were designed for the following season.
  • All the stories from this season were tributes to classic horror and science fiction films. This one was an obvious tribute to, and influenced by the original "Mummy" films produced by Universal Studios during the 1930s and 40s, which in turn were partly inspired by the legends about the supposed "King Tut's Curse."

Ratings

  • Part 1 - 10.5 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 11.3 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 9.4 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 11.7 million viewers

Myths

to be added

Filming Locations

  • The exterior scenes were shot on the Stargroves estate in Berkshire, which was owned by Mick Jagger at the time. The same location would be used during the filming of Image of the Fendahl.Jagger however was not the only famous person to have lived at Stargrove; by curious coincidence, the estate had previously been owned by Lord Carneveron, the archaeologist who led the dig which ultimately unearthed the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • At one point, the Doctor, Sarah and Laurence Scarman hide in a priest hole in the priory. This is an anachronism that even the Doctor comments on, since priest holes were a feature of the Elizabethan era and earlier, and not of Victorian architecture. No explanation is given, however. The designer of the priory could have put it in on a whim.
  • The hand of a stagehand can be seen behind Sutekh's throne when he stands up. (Often known as 'The Hand of Sutekh'.)
  • The Doctor claims that only he can operate the TARDIS. This cannot be true as several others have been seen to do this in other stories. He may be lying, but his tone does not really suggest that as a possibility; also, since Sutekh could see through all his other lies, it's far more likely that he is referring to some sort of security device that is malfunctioning or is turned off.
  • From where did Sutekh gain the mummies and all of the equipment he would need to build the war rocket? He was sealed-up with a small amount of equipment, like the view screen, and some mummies to keep him occupied during his long imprisonment by the other Osirans. However, he had been planning his escape for centuries and with the use of his mental powers he was able to cannibalize the necessary parts he needed from this equipment in preparation for the day someone would finally stumble into his tomb. No doubt he also used Scarman to make some additional components and alter the programming of his mummies.
  • Why bother to send Scarman back to England instead of having him build the missile in Sakara, on his own 'doorstep'? Sakara is too densily populated. Scarman's estate was a much safer place to carry-out construction undisturbed.
  • Where are Horus and the rest of the Osirans? Isn't their plan to merely imprison Sutekh a little short-sighted given the fact that the Earth was heavily populated at the time they captured him, and sooner or later someone was bound to break in to the tomb? The novelisation of this episode states that a cult was started by the Osirans to stop this.
  • The defenses within the pyramid on Mars seem a little lack-luster. Wouldn't it have been more prudent to have left an army of Horus's mummies to defend it from intruders? Perhaps, but we do not know what resources and restrictions they had at the time.
  • Sarah says that the complex design of the eye of Horus 'reminds me of the city of the Exxilons' But she was never in the city in Death to the Daleks. [Perhaps the Doctor shows her some pictures, as it was one of the 700 wonders of the universe.] She did see the outside of the city however, and knew the gist of it (various puzzles to overcome as defenses.)
  • Rather conveniently, Sarah puts on a period dress before realising that they've landed in 1911. Convenient, but not unreasonable.
  • Marcus' tie design changes all the time.
  • The Osiran warning is in English. It's not clear that it was in English. The Doctor does the interpreting of the message from the pattern.
  • Why bury Sutekh with everything that he needs to escape?
  • If Scarman controls the mummies telepathically, why isn't the Doctor spotted when he dresses up as one? His actions correspond more or less with what the mummies were being told to do. Also, it would be a lot easier to control them collectively, rather than individually.
  • The Doctor's extraordinary babblings over a puzzle in the pyramid, involving seven stitches, binary figures and centimeters, are mere showing off over an 'odd man out' puzzle (it's the one with the vertical stripe). It also contains a mathematical error: '120.3 [should be 20.3] cm multiply by the binary figure 10 zero zero.. The Doctor showing off occasionally is quite consistent with his character.
  • Just before Scarman is shot by the poacher, as he approaches the priest hole, the square outline of the metal plate (to protect the actor from the explosive squib) can be seen underneath his jacket.

Continuity

  • Sarah refers to the Exxilon City from DW: Death to the Daleks
  • In The Visitation it shows who started the Great Fire of London (the Doctor here mentions he was blamed for it). ST: The Republican's Story attempts to reconcile this two different accounts of how the fire started. There is no inconsistency between Pyramids of Mars and The Visitation. The Doctor was at some point blamed for starting the fire even though he had not, and then much later (in his personal time stream) the events of The Visitation reveal how it actually did start.
  • VD: Scarab of Death is set immediately after this story and has the Doctor and Sarah visiting the ruins of Phaester Osiris in the future.
  • This is one of several stories in which everyone the Doctor and his companion(s) meet are dead by the end of the story. The only character who does not die is Ahmed, who is not present for anything except the opening scene in Egypt.

Timeline

DVD, Video and Other Releases

DVD Releases

Released as Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars, the DVD had topped a DWM poll in 2003 as the most wanted DVD release at that point in time.

Released:

PAL - BBC DVD BBCDVD1350
NTSC - Warner Video E2023

Contents:

  • Osirian Gothic Documentary - A nostalgic look back at the making of the story.
  • Serial Thrilers Documentary - A look back as the Philip Hinchcliffe era and what made it one of the most successful and popular periods in Doctor Who's history.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Now and Then - The locations of the story revisited.
  • Oh Mummy! - A tongue-in-cheek look at Sutekh the Destroyer's varied career after Pyramids of Mars
  • Photo Gallery
  • Production Subtitles
  • Easter Egg
  • Commentary: Elisabeth Sladen, Michael Sheard, Philip Hinchcliffe, and Paddy Russell

Notes:

Video Releases

Released as Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars.

  • First Release:
PAL - BBC Video BBCV4055

Notes: The video was edited into movie-format.

  • Second Release:
PAL - BBC Video BBCV5220

Notes: Was released unedited.

Audio release
Excerpts from Dudley Simpson's score, arranged by Heathcliff Blair, were released by Silva Screen in the early 1990s on their compilation CD Pyramids of Mars: Classic Music from the Tom Baker Era (FILMCD 134)

Novelisation

Main article: Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars

Novelised as Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars by Terrance Dicks in December 1976.

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Pyramids of Mars
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Pyramids of Mars
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Pyramids of Mars
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Pyramids of Mars
  • The Tardis Library: Book release information for Pyramids of Mars
Season 13
Terror of the Zygons  • Planet of Evil  • Pyramids of Mars  • The Android Invasion  • The Brain of Morbius  • The Seeds of Doom
Wikipedia
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Pyramids_of_Mars. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

This article uses material from the "Pyramids of Mars" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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