Pyramids of Mars

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Pyramids of Mars
It’s Sue and Neil before Sutekh…
 

Part One

Sue: Is there anything I should know about Stephen Harris? I don’t remember seeing his name before.

Me: Only that he doesn’t exist. It’s a pseudonym for Robert Holmes. He had to completely rewrite another bloke’s script at the last-minute; the only thing he kept was the title.

Sue: Oh, well if it’s Robert Holmes, it’s bound to be good. That’s excellent news. Unless it’s rubbish and he took his name off it because he was ashamed. Oh, why does it have to be so complicated?

Pyramids of MarsOur story begins in Egypt…

Sue: For a second there, I thought they’d gone abroad to film a Doctor Who, but that would be silly, wouldn’t it? Nice stock footage, though. It almost had me fooled.

A British archeologist, Professor Marcus Scarman, enters an ancient burial chamber.

Sue: It’s a very clean tomb. I would have expected a bit more dust than that.

The Professor is attacked by a mysterious green light and Sue agrees that we’re off to a good start.

Meanwhile, on the TARDIS…

Sue: That’s a very nice tracking shot. Very moody.

Sarah enters the console room in a white Victorian dress (which is really handy when you think about it), and the Doctor calls her Vicky by mistake.

Sue: Victoria never wore a dress like that. And the other Vicki definitely didn’t wear a dress like that. Now, a mini-skirt on the other hand…

Pyramids of MarsNot only is the Doctor forgetful today, he’s a right moody arse as well.

Sue: Awww, the Doctor is having a mid-life crisis. Just like you, love.

Before I can argue with her, the TARDIS goes haywire and Sarah is spooked by a horrible head floating in mid-air.

Sue: Why does Sarah Jane always pick up on the weird shit before the Doctor does? What’s that all about? Is she supposed to be psychic or something?

The TARDIS makes an emergency landing and the Doctor immediately opens the door and rushes outside…

Sue: This Doctor is very cocky. He didn’t check to see if it was safe. Hartnell would never have done that – he’d have spent fifteen minutes checking the oxygen levels. One of these days, the Doctor will open that door and he’ll be killed straight away. That’ll teach him.

The Doctor and Sarah have arrived at UNIT’s HQ in 1911, when it used to be a priory. In another part of the house, someone is playing an organ with all the stops out.

Pyramids of MarsSue: Is it the Master in a fez?

Namin, for it is he, is interrupted by a man named Doctor Warlock and they get into an argument about Professor Scarman’s whereabouts. The Doctor and Sarah escape through a window so they can scout around the premises.

Me: This is Mick Jagger’s house.

Sue: Really? It needs a bit of work. It could with a good sandblasting for a start.

Me: He hasn’t moved in yet.

Sue: Well, he should get it sandblasted before he does. The window frames could do with some work, too. And that fascia doesn’t look very Victorian to me.

The argument between Namin and Warlock escalates and Namin pulls a gun. The Doctor and Sarah try to intervene but Warlock gets shot in the process.

Sue: That was a bit cack-handed. The Doctor must be having an off-day. If I were him, I’d go back to the TARDIS and start again. He’s in a foul mood.

The Doctor and Sarah carry the injured Warlock away from the priory.

Sue: Look at all that blood. You’d never see that much blood in the new series.

Namin opens an Egyptian sarcophagus to reveal an inert Mummy standing inside. Namin delivers a brief incantation and the Mummy steps out.

Pyramids of MarsSue: That’s a nice design. I like the concave chest a lot. They would have scared me as a kid.

Namin and his Mummies pursue the Doctor outside, but Namin is stopped in his tracks when the priory’s organ starts up again.

Sue: Somebody is playing with his organ without his permission. He isn’t very happy about it.

Me: Maybe Rick Wakeman has popped round for a cup of tea?

The Doctor and Sarah escape to a nearby lodge, where they meet Marcus’ brother, Laurence. And even though Laurence is clearly distressed, Sarah blithely tells him that she is a time traveller from the year 1980.

I pause the DVD. You can guess the rest.

Sue: I don’t really care, Neil. Maybe she was rounding up or showing off. Does it really matter?

I sigh and press Play.

As is becoming customary now, Sue falls under Tom Baker’s spell whenever he launches into one of his speeches.

Sue: Tom really sells the threat when he’s in a bad mood. He could make fairy cakes sound like the most terrifying thing on earth if he was pissed off at the time.

Back at the priory, Namin is worshipping at the feet of an Egyptian sarcophagus.

Sue: He’s set his organ to auto-pilot. Wouldn’t it be funny if it slipped into the bossa nova setting by mistake…

A figure dressed in black steps out of a multi-coloured tunnel that has formed around the sarcophagus. His feet leave a smoking trail behind him.

Pyramids of MarsSue: That’s a great special effect. That can’t have been easy. Hang on, is it an Ice Warrior? They’re from Mars, aren’t they?

Namin abases himself like an ant, but it’s to no avail…

Sue: What is it with Doctor Who villains and neck massages? They’re obsessed!

Namin receives Sutkeh’s gift of death…

Sue: I hope he kept the receipt.

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Part Two

Pyramids of MarsThis episode begins with a reprise of Namin’s death…

Me: The only problem I have with this scene is that I can’t watch it without thinking about boys having underage sex.

Sue spits her tea out.

Sue: WHAT?

Me: I’m talking about Queer As Folk. There’s a scene in the first episode where Russell T. Davies intercuts this cliffhanger with some red-hot rimming action. I have no idea why he choose this particular bit. It must be one of RTD’s favourite moments, I suppose.

Sue: Yeah, I don’t understand why a bloke in a S&M mask and a black latex suit would appeal to a gay man, either.

Me: Oh, yeah… Actually, doesn’t Gary have a thing about Egyptian men with beards? It all makes sense now.

Sue: There’s something for everyone in this show.

Meanwhile, back on Pyramids of Mars, a poacher stumbles across some Mummies on patrol.

Pyramids of MarsSue: They are even more scary in the dark. I really like the Mummy design – it’s simple but effective. Just don’t let them talk.

The poacher returns to the priory and he shoots a possessed Marcus Scarman in the back. The bullet passes straight through him but the process is mysteriously reversed and Scarman survives.

Sue: That was very nicely done but wasn’t the poacher jumping to conclusions? He didn’t actually see Scarman do anything evil and yet he tries to murder him. That’s a bit of a leap. Even if he is in the right.

But it’s not all bad news:

Sue: Mick Jagger’s parquet floor is very nice.

Me: This isn’t Mick’s house – this is BBC Television Centre. You only see the exterior of his house in the location scenes.

Sue: Really? I thought they took the cameras inside the house. Oh, in that case I’m really impressed with the sets this week. The carpentry is excellent.

Tom gravely spells out the threat posed by Sutekh.

Sue: Tom is really into this, isn’t he? The Doctor is scarier than the main villain.

Pyramids of MarsWhen Laurence steps into the TARDIS, he is overcome with excitement.

Sue: Is he Harry’s replacement? He’d be a great assistant – very enthusiastic. Although that might get on your tits after a while.

Sarah isn’t worried – she’s from the year 1980 and everything was perfectly fine when she left (which, if you ask me, proves that she can’t be from 1980), so the Doctor takes her there for a quick visit.

Sue: OK, OK, so the stories are definitely set in 1980. I get it. Let’s move on. Actually, I like this scene – sometimes you have to remind the audience the future can be changed. It would be boring if they did it every week, though.

Meanwhile, back in 1911, a poacher is beging chased by two Mummies.

Sue: They are pretty spry for dead guys.

The poacher is captured and the Mummies crush him to death between their ribcages.

Pyramids of MarsMe: One of my more vivid memories from childhood involves me re-enacting scenes from this story in the school playground. I definitely remember being crushed between the chests of two girls pretending to be Mummies. Happy days.

Sue: You sick bastard.

Me: I was seven years old!

The episode concludes with the Mummies bursting into the lodge to attack the Doctor and Sarah.

Sue: That was a very intense cliffhanger. I’m enjoying this.

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Part Three

We are joined by Nicol, but only because this story manages to combine two of her favourite subjects – the Victorians and the Egyptians. She kicks herself when I tell her we are already halfway through.

Sue: Tom Baker would be a terrible Samaritan.

Pyramids of MarsShe’s referring to the Doctor’s brusque dismissal of Laurence’s mounting concern for his brother, but when we see Mummies building an Osiran war missile out in the courtyard, Nicol is thrilled to see another one of her favourite things:

Nicol: It’s the Louvre!

Me: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Sue: Forget that, what’s a cytronic particle accelerator, Nic?

Nicol: A completely made-up thing? How am I supposed to know?

The Doctor and Sarah find the invisible force field surrounding the estate.

Nicol: That’s cheap.

Me: Don’t knock it. Stephen King managed to squeeze a 1000-page novel out of the same idea.

Pyramids of MarsThe Doctor attempts to disable the force field but when Sarah breaks his concentration, he snaps at her.

Sue: Oh dear. He’s turning back into Jon Pertwee. Why is he in such a bad mood today, and why is he taking it out on Sarah Jane?

Me: He’s very tense. He’s worried about Sutekh.

Sue: But he was being an arse before they arrived. I hope he isn’t like this from now on.

And then we get our first glimpse of a mysterious figure sitting on a chair somewhere.

Nicol: Is it the Master?

Me: Don’t you start.

It turns out that Sutekh wants to destroy all life.

Pyramids of MarsSue: So who will Sutekh talk to when everybody is dead? He definitely likes the sound of his own voice but there won’t be anyone left to gloat over if he kills everything. He hasn’t thought it through.

Sue decides its time to bring Nicol up to speed:

Sue: That’s Mick Jagger’s house, Nic.

Nicol: So is that Mick Jagger’s potting shed?

Sue: Yes. I wonder what he might end up growing in there (if you know what I mean).

Sutekh sends Marcus the co-ordinates for the pyramid on Mars in a metal container.

Sue: It’s a big thermos of tea. Go stick the kettle on, Nicol.

Nicol: I can’t. I’m watching this.

Pyramids of MarsBack at the lodge, the Doctor and company unwrap a Mummy, revealing a robot skeleton beneath.

Sue: Oh, I like that. That’s very Doctor Who, isn’t it?

Nicol: It looks like an Antony Gormley sculpture.

Laurence finally confronts Marcus but it doesn’t end well for him.

Sue: That was very grim.

Me: It was very poignant.

The Doctor casually pushes Laurence’s body to one side.

Sue: Not it isn’t – it’s needlessly bleak. There aren’t many laughs in this one, are there? Maybe Robert Holmes was in a bad mood when he wrote it.

Sue admits that she is struggling with this story.

Sue: I have a problem with the plot. It feels a bit contrived to me. I can’t enjoy it if I can’t get a handle on it.

Pyramids of MarsSarah shoots the gelignite that the Doctor has secreted on the Osiran war missile.

Sue: I didn’t know that Sarah was a crack shot. When did they cover that at journalism school? Still, fair play to her.

Sutekh uses his willpower to stop the explosion from going off. The Doctor rushes back to the priory and he activates the transporter hidden in the sarcophagus.

Nicol: What the hell is that, and why do I have this sudden urge to eat a bag of Skittles?

Sue: It’s a time-space tunnel, love.

The Doctor steps into it.

Nicol: He’ll end up soaked in Hawking radiation, now. That’s nice.

The Doctor enters Sutekh’s lair…

Pyramids of MarsSue: Sutekh needs a better interior decorator. It looks like he’s been paint balling in there.

Sutekh just has to stare at the Doctor to pin him to a wall, and the episode concludes with the Doctor screaming in agony.

Sue: Robert Holmes always writes the best cliffhangers.

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Part Four

Pyramids of MarsThe episode begins with Sutekh completely dominating the Doctor.

Sue: That isn’t something you see every day.

Me: This scene completely ****ed me up when I was seven. It ****ing terrified me.

I don’t tell her that it still does.

Sutekh sends a hypnotised Doctor back to the priory, but when the Doctor takes Sarah and Scarman to Mars in his TARDIS, Sue is adamant that the Doctor is bluffing.

Sue: He’ll wink at Sarah Jane any minute now.

Pyramids of MarsHe doesn’t.

The TARDIS arrives on Mars and it turns out that the Doctor was under Sutekh’s command after all.

Sue: Bloody hell. That’s a bit scary.

A Mummy strangles the Doctor (“Technically a neck rub”) and Scarman leaves him for dead. But the Doctor was only pretending and he rushes off with Sarah to stop Scarman from freeing Sutekh.

Sue: What does tribophsyics mean, Nic?

Nicol: Something to do with friction, probably. It’s Doctor Who – it could mean practically anything.

Pyramids of MarsThe Doctor and Sarah are stopped in their tracks by a puzzle on a wall.

Sue: Hang on a minute… We’ve seen this episode before. And it was boring then.

Me: At least Robert Holmes draws attention to the fact that this is a rip-off of the Exillon city from Death to the Daleks.

Sue: Oh yeah, the Exillon city. It was on the tip of my tongue, honestly.

Nicol: What have you done with my mother, Neil?

The Doctor and Sarah continue their pursuit and even Nicol believes she’s seen it all before.

Nicol: It’s The Crystal Maze. Again!

Me: You and The Crystal bloody Maze. You are obsessed with it. Let it go – it’s never coming back.

Nicol: It’s not my fault. Every time I watch an episode of old Doctor Who it has this scene in it, or something very similar to it. Are they all like this?

Sarah is trapped in a large perspex cylinder.

Pyramids of MarsNicol: The Doctor will have to give up one of his crystals if he wants to let her out. It all depends on how much time he wants in the Dome.

Sue: Mars is a shit hole. I don’t think much of their interior designers at all.

Me: It’s supposed to be a prison, not a holiday camp.

Scarman reaches a room made entirely of CSO and he frees Sutekh. Sutekh rises from his throne. Nicol laughs her head off.

Sue: OK, what did I miss?

Oh, I suppose she has a right to see it, so I rewind the DVD; it’s not as if we can follow the plot with Nicol howling like a drain.

If by some miracle you’ve never seen the scene in question, here you go:

Sue: Oh dear. That’s terrible. Why didn’t they paint that out for the DVD release?

Me: Because if they did, the DVD producers would have been hunted down and killed.

Sue: I know that feeling.

Me: Doctor Who fans like it warts and all.

Nicol: But it’s ridiculous. I can’t take this seriously anymore.

Pyramids of MarsAnd then Sutekh reveals his true form…

Sue: What the **** is that supposed to be? It looks like a horse on hunger strike.

Sue hasn’t got a clue what’s going at the end when the Doctor races back to 1911 to do something vitally important.

Sue: The solution sounds clever, but it’s very confusing. And it’s a bit of an anti-climax, too.

Nicol: I followed it. It’s silly but it makes sense. Just about.

Sue: I’m not convinced. It a lot of build-up for not very much at all.

The priory explodes.

Sue: Mick Jagger won’t be happy.

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The Final Score

Sue: That was OK, I suppose. Tom Baker was very good, even if I don’t like his attitude. But it fell apart in the last episode. Don’t get me wrong – it looked great and the acting was great but the plot was all over the place. The bits on Mars were boring and they should have spent more time explaining what was going on at the end. Sutekh was completely wasted, although I did like the Mummies. But there’s definitely something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think I’d like a lot less gobbledygook and a lot more drama, please. I don’t know what to give it. A six, maybe? A seven at a push.

I grab that seven with both hands.

7/10

It’s official – Pyramids of Mars is just as good as The Mutants. I have battened down the hatches. Hey, at least she didn’t think it was racist. You know, this is just as difficult for me to hear as it is for you. It’s clearly a ****ing nine. I have therefore posted video clips of her appearance on Bullseye circa 1989 on our Facebook group as a punishment. Now let that be a lesson to her.

The experiment continues…
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Doctor Who – Pyramids Of Mars [1975] [DVD] [1963]

Price: £7.71

4.7 out of 5 stars (54 customer reviews)

 

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Discussion

  1. solar penguin  April 30, 2012

    Sorry Neil, but Sue was right. It’s nothing but typical gothic horror nonsense: looks great and is very atmospheric, but it’s ruined because the plot is full of huge annoying holes. Just like all gothic fiction. There’s noting special about DW that makes it an exception. Nice to see Sue approaching this without the usual rose-tinted glasses of fandom. If anything, she was too generous.

    One point where she was wrong: the ending. Last time the Doctor fought a version of Satan, he only won as a result of the contrived supernatural-style ending that’s more in keeping with Satanic horror stories than DW. This time, to turnn things round and really secure the victory, it’s absolutely right that the Doctor should use proper science to defeat this Satan’s magical psuedo-science. That’s the only bit of the plot that really works for me.

  2. Will Brooks  April 30, 2012

    Yeah, I have to agree with both Sue and the Solar Penguin – it’s an ‘alright’ story, but nothing quite as special as people seem to think!

    (But then I don’t like 1970s ‘Who’ anyway, so I’m biased…)

    • Dan  April 30, 2012

      I have to agree with Neil, but then I like 70s Dr Who, and think Gothic horror is perfect for the programme. I can understand the plot criticisms, but it’s usually possible to fill things in for yourself and sometimes it isn’t just about plot. This was wonderfully doomy and atmosphericand scary at the age of six.

      • Jane  April 30, 2012

        Who is at its best when it’s breaking genres or mashing them up in unexpected ways. While the Gothic era was fairly well executed, it’s often content to sit on its laurels, adhering to its tropes rather than upending them.

        Glad Sue gave this a 7, putting it on par with The Mutants. Funny, it’s like a reversal of polarity, one suffers from being too ambitious, while the other suffers from playing it safe and repetitive.

  3. Ludwig Wittgenstein XI  April 30, 2012

    Oh, dear, oh, dear …!
    Just when I thought it was safe to return … oh, well …
    now, where’s the “Sue’s right …!” brigade …?

    Cheerio …!

    p.s.: Sue’s adorable in the clip though so that’s a punishment fail, sir …!

    • Jaspar Grunwelden  April 30, 2012

      Why do people having a different opinion from you have to be dismissed as a “brigade”? Funny how you have to flounce off because you can’t bear anyone thinking for themselves.

      • Ludwig Wittgenstein XI  April 30, 2012

        Let’s just be honest here … Sue is endearing and that attracts solidarity, as simple as that (and there’s an abundance of evidence of that already in this comments section) …
        And yes, I was just being a wee bit snarky but that doesn’t, by any means, equal *dismissal* on my part (that would be incredibly presumptuous and I am simply not such a dick of a person) …
        But …! I will draw the strictest of lines on “Horror of Fang Rock” when the time comes… Nothing less of a 8,5 will satiate me …! No matter how lovely a human being Sue is (I’m lying, an 8 will suffice) …
        Cheerio …!

        • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

          “Let’s just be honest here … Sue is endearing and that attracts solidarity, as simple as that (and there’s an abundance of evidence of that already in this comments section)”

          You mean, as opposed to people making their own mind up and happening to agree with her?

  4. Ludwig Wittgenstein XI  April 30, 2012

    well, there you go …!

  5. Andrew Bowman  April 30, 2012

    I think seven is probably fair, although a trifle harsh, perhaps. Saying that, Sue is absolutely spot on regarding the perceived faults, and it certainly does fall apart during the final episode. With regards the racism element, I’ve never quite understood the objections? Is it just that Namin is played by a white, British actor? Personally, I’d rather see a great performance from Peter Mayock than a distinctly average or terrible performance from Rick James or Leee John or whoever. Now, Retu Setna in Hand of Fear, that’s a good combination of both: an ethnic actor who is brilliant at his job. Sadly, this kind of casting is few and far between in 20th century Who (and 20th century television, if we’re honest), but that doesn’t make it all right, I realise that. Maybe Sue didn’t notice it because it isn’t really there, or maybe she’s not expecting any great leaps forward in terms of progressive representation of other cultures in Doctor Who during the seventies? Perhaps both, maybe neither. :)

  6. Ben Goudie  April 30, 2012

    Excuse my pedantry, but your introduction to part three would seem to place 1911 in the Victorian age, a good decade, and a whole extra monarch, after Victoria’s death. Surely a more sizeable slip than Sarah’s 1980 insinuations, as the extension of an era by 10 years would make William Hartnell the Doctor in this story (and leave him alive until 1985).

    Very good to have y’all back.

    • Jane  April 30, 2012

      As punishment, Neil should do the TV Movie and the Revival with Sue after the Classic experiment is over.

      • Dave Sanders  April 30, 2012

        Sutekh would make him do all the action figure fan-episodes on Youtube.

  7. Harry  April 30, 2012

    It’s so good to have this blog back that I’ll let the difference of opinions between Sue and I on this story slide, though what I do agree on, for all my love of it, is that Episode 4 is largely pants once the TARDIS arrives on Mars. Parts 1-3, and the bits in Sutekh’s prison in part 4, are mostly exceptional, though.

  8. Dave Sanders  April 30, 2012

    That one ‘alternative time’ scene is worth the ENTIRETY of The Satan Pit.

    And no joke about Admiral Ozzel being strangled? That’s where the two marks got knocked off.

  9. Nathan  April 30, 2012

    “One of these days, the Doctor will open that door and he’ll be killed straight away. That’ll teach him.”

    Give it another 21 years.

  10. DamonD  April 30, 2012

    *head explodes*

    …well, actually, yeah Pyramids is pretty damned good but it’s just not quite in the top drawer for me either. Very close, closer than Sue felt, but no cigar. Ep4 kinda lets the side down a bit. Still loads to enjoy though.

    “I hope he kept the receipt.”

  11. Simon Harries  April 30, 2012

    Hurrah!! They’re back and IT’S ABOUT TIME! I completely agree with Harry that the Mars scenes are tedious and, as a result, I agree with Sue that things fall apart somewhat in part four. However, I’m a sucker for this Gothic approach and indeed for Tom’s early series. I still love ‘Pyramids’ and I can watch it over and over again, no matter how much it may fall apart at the end. Now then folks, here’s a thought. During the part four, as the Doctor is tortured by Sutekh, Tom Baker is basically stood there in a green spotlight, screaming, while Gabriel Woolf is talking inside a wooden helmet – but both performances are so stunning that I am utterly convinced of the Doctor’s pain and that Sutekh truly can shred his nervous system into a million fibres. This is one of the series’ most harrowing scenes and I can’t think of any other that comes close – even in “Human Nature,” with the Tenth Doctor in agony as the TARDIS re-writes his DNA.

  12. Steye Trimingham  April 30, 2012

    Welcome back Sue and Neil,

    We’ve missed you!

    Love Pyramids of Mars, but Sue’s right, Bob H was shamelessly padding a three part story into four.

    I personally forgive a great deal for the part one cliffhanger and the wonderful line “I bring Sutekh’s gift of death” which still sends a chill down my spine after thirty odd years…

  13. Marty  April 30, 2012

    Lovely to see you two back, and Nicol too!

    Favourite quote: “It’s silly but it makes sense. Just about.”
    You could actually say that about all of Doctor Who.

    I quite like Sarah mentioning city of the Exxilons, it’s nice her mentioning something she got up to with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor.

    Sue shouldn’t be asking Nicol about science, it’s Doctor Who, it only pays attention to science when it *really* needs to, and then probably not.

    • Dan  April 30, 2012

      It was an ad lib too!

  14. Jazza1971  April 30, 2012

    Punishment via the medium of Facebook posting…I like your style! Does Sue know what you have done yet, Neil?

  15. John Callaghan  April 30, 2012

    Great to see you back and as readable as ever!

    I’m hoping for a Husband In Darts punishment for Neil, with him watching every episode of Bullseye.

    And it’s clear I *am* the only person who finds “Neil before the might of Sutekh” funny. I would have thought it’d be worth putting on a mug…

    • Jazza1971  April 30, 2012

      I don’t suppose the “Neil” joke could be a mug as 2|Entertain did the joke first with a comedy skit on the DVD involving a rabbit called “Neil”. It made me chuckle.

  16. DPC  April 30, 2012

    YAAY! Glad to see this review!

    From “Neil before Sutekh…” to “What the **** is that supposed to be? It looks like a horse on hunger strike.”, this is one of the best commentaries yet – thanks to you all!!

    I won’t spoil future episodes, based on some things said in the review, but they will definitely be worth reading once you get to them! =D

    • Dan  April 30, 2012

      Apparently it faithfully represented the “Sutekh animal”.

      • Dan  May 1, 2012

        By the way “apparently” isn’t meant to sound critical – the mask *does* look like the Sutekh animal, which doesn’t look precisely like any real animal.

  17. Frankymole  April 30, 2012

    Pyramids was always a weak link in the Hinchcliffe/Holmes reign, but it’s got worse on every rewatching to be honest. A shame, as the basic story is there, and Lewis Greifer and Bob Holmes are both great writers from the Golden Age of telly, but somehow the production seems to fall into a mid-season, let’s-just-copy-Hammer lethargy trap.

    Maybe it’s the director or the crew, as the actors and designers seem to be with it (even if the SFX are very ropey, sub-Tomorrow People stuff). Dudley’s music doesn’t inspire either.

    When “The Android Invasion” is more exciting, you know you’re in trouble!

    This is the story most known to make newbies drop off to sleep.

  18. Alex Wilcock  April 30, 2012

    “The carpentry is excellent.”
    “Mars is a shit hole. I don’t think much of their interior designers at all.”
    Fab – it’s like you’ve never been away. I hope you both feel suitably recharged (or that you’ve sent your cloth-wrapped servitors against the meanies from a month ago). And double yay! I laughed at the terrible opening pun.

    And Sue’s forgotten that the Doctor was in a right old mood in Planet of Evil, too – Tom basically has a year-long sulk. I hope she makes it.

    “They are even more scary in the dark. I really like the Mummy design – it’s simple but effective. Just don’t let them talk.”
    I think she’s hit on a perfect recipe, there (and one of the ways a later story this season goes wrong).

    I’m with Neil – on the mark, obviously (or higher – at least Sue preferred it to The Dæmons), but also the re-enactments. I remember acting out bits in my Nana and Grandad’s garden; I always ended up killing my brother. Look, Sutekh terrified me like no other Who villain, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a role model…

    The Jagger references made me laugh, too. I guess we have that answer now: “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” Sutekh.

    “He’ll end up soaked in Hawkins radiation, now. That’s nice.”
    Wouldn’t that be Hawking Radiation? Hawkins radiation just makes you say flobalobalob.

    “It’s supposed to be a prison, not a holiday camp.”
    Ooh, Neil, you’ve gone a bit right-wing!

    “Stephen King managed to squeeze a 1000-page novel out of the same idea.”
    In a daytime TV link, I prefer Uncle Terrance’s 125-page one, and I just happen to have an in-depth review of Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars that I prepared earlier. Complete with why this story made me unable to walk in Blackpool. I love the elegiac Epilogue, personally, but these days also that Tom so clearly got into it while he was reading it – so it’s this book we have to thank for doing all his shiny new Who CDs these days…

    • Alex Wilcock  April 30, 2012

      Oops – bolloxed up the link. It’s Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars.

      And much as I hate to disagree with Frankymole, I reckon this is one of Dudley’s two or three best scores, and he goes a bit wrong next time (not the only one)…

    • Tristan Alfaro  May 9, 2012

      Wasn’t there a Captain Hawkins? Ah, wiki tells me it was “Captain Hawkins, played by Paul Darrow, fought against the Silurians before being killed by the Young Silurian when he came to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s rescue in the Third Doctor serial Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970). According to the Doctor Who: Missing Adventures novel The Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell, his first name is Sam. The canonicity of spin-off media is unclear.” Glad we cleared that up.

      So maybe Captain Hawkins emitted some kind of radiation that zaps?

  19. Matthew Marcus  April 30, 2012

    Sue gave this a 6 and in your heart you know it, Neil! (Good to have you both back, by the way.)

    It’s the epitome of solid, dependable Hinchcliffe/Holmes era: competently executed, above averagely scary, but not half as groundbreaking as the Cult of the 70s would have you believe. If all Doctor Who was as good as this, I’d do a happy dance, but if no Doctor Who was better than this… I don’t think it would retain its crown as my favourite show for long!

  20. Richard Lyth  April 30, 2012

    Great to see the Perrymans back at last! Sue’s verdict seems a bit harsh, I would say this stands out as one of the better stories of the era, certainly the best since Genesis. But I seem to remember not liking it much the first time I saw it, maybe it’s one that takes a few viewings to get the hang of.

  21. Glen Allen  April 30, 2012

    Caling the wife, calling the wife, this is the reader here…well one of ‘em.
    What kept you?

    A great (re) start and a bit like Vraxoin, I was missing my fix, only to find you bring me Sutekh’s gift of homosexual rumpy pumpy to boot :)

    Keep it up, as it were

  22. Catseye  April 30, 2012

    That sue wasn’t that impressed doesn’t matter right now. They’re back! Hooray!!

  23. David  April 30, 2012

    I’m ashamed of you Neil! There’s still hope for The Crystal Maze! ;)

  24. Erik Stadnik  April 30, 2012

    Sue is 100% right about this story.

    Welcome back, guys!

  25. encyclops  April 30, 2012

    It IS clearly a 9, and Sanders is so right about The Satan Pit. But I love Sue for keeping her own counsel on this as always, and I love both of you for being back so soon.

    I wonder if, in retrospect, this era will turn out to be unusually consistent. That’s how it always seems to me: there are fewer downright unwatchable stories than in any other era of the programme, and while I do think a lot of them stand out as excellent, I can see how the overall level of quality might adjust the threshold there.

    Speaking of adjusting the threshold, I’m now convinced it’s time for me to give Queer as Folk a try.

    • solar penguin  May 1, 2012

      Why is it “clearly” a nine? What’s “clear” about it?

      It’s a dull story, all far too serious with no light-hearted fluffy bits. Even the Doctor’s being all gloomy and serious and not at all Doctorish, as Sue points out. Yawn.

      It’s a cliche-filled story, with evil Egyptian mummies and von Daniken-style space gods. Yawn.

      It’s a senseless story, since Sutekh’s motivation doesn’t even begin to make sense. He’s evil because he’s evil because he’s evil… Mbwhahahah!!! The Master is more subtle and nuanced than that.

      It’s an even-more senseless story since the details of Sutekh’s plan don’t make sense either. Why kill Naimin? Having more than one servant would mean Naimin could chase the Doctor & co. while Scarman supervises the mummies building the rocket, or vice versa. More efficient.

      And it’s an even more even-more-senseless story, since why didn’t Scarman travel back to England on the boat with Naimin and the Mummies and the artefacts, which would’ve prevented people like Dr Warlock getting suspicious. He could’ve personally reassured them he was back, but suffering from a tropical disease that meant he couldn’t get out and a bout much, and then used the time tunnel to commute back and forth between England and Egypt.

      And that’s before we start to wonder how the Doctor decoded the “Beware Sutekh” message when E is the only letter that repeats in it. Or why it was being transmitted in English instead of Osiran hieroglyphics. Or why the TARDIS has never been drawn off course before if the “lodestone” sarcophagus had always been on the 1911 site of UNIT HQ. Or why Sutekh’s animal face appears in the TARDIS in part one. Or…

      (*sigh*)

      The whole plot just makes no sense at all.

      If that’s your idea of “clearly a 9″ I’d hate how bad the writing would have to be before you gave something an 8 or lower…

      • Leo  May 1, 2012

        “It’s a cliche-filled story, with evil Egyptian mummies and von Daniken-style space gods. Yawn.”

        By these kind of terms, any Doctor Who story which features alien monsters or robots or cyborgs is cliched. And indeed, to some people, the series overall is anyway, for reasons like that. If it’s OK to borrow inspiration from various other sources – and most DW stories have inspiration from somewhere – then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for some to also borrow from those. One can dislike that kind of idea being used by all means – I have issues of my own with Daniken-style concepts which I won’t bore anyone here with – but that doesn’t necessarily make something objectively bad.

        “It’s a senseless story, since Sutekh’s motivation doesn’t even begin to make sense. He’s evil because he’s evil because he’s evil… Mbwhahahah!!! The Master is more subtle and nuanced than that.”

        He wants an entire universe that reflects only his own ego and sense of self, one that only exists in his own image. One where only he exists, where he is more or less everything. A common motivation in some Who villains. They can’t tolerate any identity that isn’t their own.

        “It’s an even-more senseless story since the details of Sutekh’s plan don’t make sense either. Why kill Naimin? Having more than one servant would mean Naimin could chase the Doctor & co. while Scarman supervises the mummies building the rocket, or vice versa. More efficient.”

        As they’ve got several mummies they could already split them up for those tasks easily. It’s doubtful he’d consider it necessary for anyone to supervise the mummies going off and killing anyone caught within the barrier. Plus when Scarman comes through, he isn’t aware that the Doctor and co are around, so they wouldn’t have been factored into the calculation. I don’t think that to establish a case for arrogant over-confidence on the part of the baddy is evidence of a plot not making sense anyway. It makes sense to him if he believes that the resources he has to hand are sufficient for what he wants. That would only be a logic problem concerning the plot if Sutekh’s judgement were supposed to be infallible, and as it’s never claimed that it is – if it were, it’d be impossible for anyone to outwit and defeat him in the first place – the argument’s irrelevant. A villain being overconfident in their own abilities does not amount to a plot hole.

        “And it’s an even more even-more-senseless story, since why didn’t Scarman travel back to England on the boat with Naimin and the Mummies and the artefacts, which would’ve prevented people like Dr Warlock getting suspicious. He could’ve personally reassured them he was back, but suffering from a tropical disease that meant he couldn’t get out and a bout much, and then used the time tunnel to commute back and forth between England and Egypt.”

        Conversely, an issue like Warlock getting suspicious may not have been important enough to him for something like that to be considered worthwhile. As he was intending to break free shortly afterwards and finish everyone off in short order, he could conceivably have believed that the prospect of friends of Scarman getting suspicious wouldn’t have mattered enough to make any difference to his plans.

        “And that’s before we start to wonder how the Doctor decoded the “Beware Sutekh” message when E is the only letter that repeats in it.”

        Because it’s a code he’s encountered before? If he’s read other messages in the same code previously, he might already know how the word “beware” looks, and be able to work out the other word from knowing how each letter translates.

        “Or why it was being transmitted in English instead of Osiran hieroglyphics.”

        Do we know that it was English? Could just be a translation convention and that, whatever language it was, the Doctor knew it.

        “Or why the TARDIS has never been drawn off course before if the “lodestone” sarcophagus had always been on the 1911 site of UNIT HQ.”

        One could just as easily ask why, in stories where there’s a distress call it intercepts, it has never intercepted the same one before. There have been occasional stories where the TARDIS has been summoned back to Gallifrey (Arc of Infinity, Mindwarp). Does that mean that if it ever passes through the same time zone it was in on those occasions, it might get picked up and transported there again? If it ever passes through the same day The Three Doctors was set on, would it get sucked through the black hole to Omega’s world again?

        “Or why Sutekh’s animal face appears in the TARDIS in part one.”

        Momentary mental contact of some kind? The TARDIS briefly picking up an impression of his consciousness?

        Perhaps more important than whatever one might think as to whether any of these questions have an answer, though, is the odd implication that plot quibbles like these are somehow something that can only apply to horror-based stories? A contrived story can belong to any kind of genre. A dull story, however one measures that, can belong to any genre. A story with plot problems can be told in any genre. And so on.

        I’d say that neither the inclusion, nor the lack of, “light-hearted fluffy bits”, means anything much in terms of evaluating the quality of something. Any drama will have a range of moods and emotions to draw on, and the balance of these will be determined by what it wants to do. That is to say, if something is aiming at a particular effect, it should really be judged on how well or otherwise it succeeds in that aim, whether the intended effect is to your taste is really a separate concern. It would be no use complaining that a harrowing social realist drama isn’t funny, for example, any more than it would be to complain that a slapstick comedy lacked gravitas.

        Concerning the blog on its own terms, I have to admit to being rather baffled about this bizarre narrative which some people seem to be intent in constructing around it. It makes little sense to me, since Sue is not criticising the Hinchcliffe era particularly harshly anyway. She’s praised far more than she hasn’t, most of her scores have been in the 5 – 7/10 range, which is pretty standard on the whole, certainly for the blog, and the average score for the era is pretty complimentary for a non-fan. The criticisms she’s made don’t seem to me to be significantly more critical than those I’ve read from various fans in print or online over the years. She isn’t breaking that radically from most of the views on the era that I know of, and while it’s a popular era in my experience, it’s rarely been one which people have found untouchable, or haven’t had at least some criticisms of here and there, at least.

        • solar penguin  May 2, 2012

          @Leo — Thanks for answering the points one by one. Nice to find someone who takes the time to read comments, instead of just reacting with a knee-jerk response.

          “By these kind of terms, any Doctor Who story which features alien monsters or robots or cyborgs is cliched.”

          Yes, most Doctor Who stories are cliched and deserve to lose a point or two because of that. There’s nothing special about Pyramids that means it doesn’t deserve to lose points because of it.

          “A common motivation in some Who villains. They can’t tolerate any identity that isn’t their own.”

          No-one should have to tolerate any identity that isn’t their own, except to help define their own: “This is mine, so for me it is superior to all those which aren’t mine.” But Sutekh doesn’t even do that, since without other identities to contrast his to, he might as well not have any identity at all. A universe without inferior identities because yours is the only one is as pointless as a universe without inferior identities because there’s too much tolerance. Either way the end result is the same. So why is he aiming for one instead of the other?

          “Plus when Scarman comes through, he isn’t aware that the Doctor and co are around, so they wouldn’t have been factored into the calculation.”

          Which just makes it even more stupid that he kills Naimin without even getting an update or progress report.

          “That would only be a logic problem concerning the plot if Sutekh’s judgement were supposed to be infallible, and as it’s never claimed that it is – if it were, it’d be impossible for anyone to outwit and defeat him in the first place – the argument’s irrelevant.”

          He doesn’t have to be infallible, just show some basic common sense.

          “A villain being overconfident in their own abilities does not amount to a plot hole.”

          As we don’t get to see his full abilities at that stage in the story, it’s hard to understand why he’s so overconfident in them in the first place.

          “Conversely, an issue like Warlock getting suspicious may not have been important enough to him for something like that to be considered worthwhile. As he was intending to break free shortly afterwards and finish everyone off in short order, he could conceivably have believed that the prospect of friends of Scarman getting suspicious wouldn’t have mattered enough to make any difference to his plans.”

          So mortals aren’t important enough for Sutekh to bother worrying about, but are important enough for him to go to all the bother of wiping us all out just so we don’t compete with his ego. Again, confused motivation.

          “Do we know that it was English?”

          The Doctor says it was, and that he’s translating by using English letter frequencies. I guess you could justify this by using “Rule No.1, The Doctor Lies,” but that’s not actually the impression given by the story.

          “One could just as easily ask why, in stories where there’s a distress call it intercepts, it has never intercepted the same one before.”

          Presumably because it’s never been near those space-time coordinates before. But it has been to 20th Century UNIT HQ before.

          It’s also worth remembering the Time Lords and Omega deliberately summoned/brought the TARDIS to them. Sutekh’s lodestone was accidental.

          “Perhaps more important than whatever one might think as to whether any of these questions have an answer, though, is the odd implication that plot quibbles like these are somehow something that can only apply to horror-based stories?”

          I’ve no idea why, but I certainly seem to notice them more in horror stories. Maybe it’s just because I’m less caught up in the fictional world, less able to suspend disbelief and immerse myself completely in it, that I’m able to notice them more. (There’s a very interesting aside in the latest TARDIS Eruditorium post, which argues that immersing yourself in a fictional world of a horror film and identifying with it is a bad thing and also impossible. He tries to claim that this proves all such identification is impossible in all genres, but I think it just highlights a specific problem with horror.)

          • Leo  May 2, 2012

            Thanks also for appreciating the reply.

            I should say, by the way, as I probably haven’t made it clear enough so far, that I am not arguing in favour of the story being “obviously a 9/10″ or indeed obviously an any score, it’s more a case of my explaining why most of the issues which have been put forward here aren’t in themselves too much of a problem, for me at least. Personally, I probably wouldn’t give it a 9 if I were scoring it, although I don’t especially dislike it either.

            [i]“Yes, most Doctor Who stories are cliched and deserve to lose a point or two because of that. There’s nothing special about Pyramids that means it doesn’t deserve to lose points because of it.”[/i]

            No, but then I’m not making a case for it being special, at least concerning those aspects, and I doubt whether the mere fact of it containing robot mummies and the like is one of the main reasons for its general popularity, although no doubt there are some whose taste runs to that sort of thing, and so for whom such an inclusion maybe helps. There’s also questions as to how it is done, the realisation, but let’s press on…

            [i]No-one should have to tolerate any identity that isn’t their own, except to help define their own: “This is mine, so for me it is superior to all those which aren’t mine.” But Sutekh doesn’t even do that, since without other identities to contrast his to, he might as well not have any identity at all. A universe without inferior identities because yours is the only one is as pointless as a universe without inferior identities because there’s too much tolerance. Either way the end result is the same. So why is he aiming for one instead of the other?[/i]

            Well, I meant to tolerate the very existence of any identity other than one’s own. Sutekh probably sees the existence of anything outside of his own will as something to be swept away. Now, we can say that that’s pointless, or that the endpoint of that would be, but as we are not supposed to regard him as a psychologically healthy individual, acknowledging that doesn’t cause me any issues with regard to the story. Sutekh wants, as far as I can tell, a universe which consists of himself alone, which could be said to be a form of solipsism or egotism taken to an ultimate extreme. It’s obviously deranged by any standard we’d be likely to think in terms of, but he would see a universe that consisted only of him as the only kind worth existing.

            “Which just makes it even more stupid that he kills Naimin without even getting an update or progress report.”

            As he would have learned from Scarman that Earth is, by his terms, an isolated backwater, with no known alien contact since his era, he probably wouldn’t have been anticipating any alien visitors there and then, and could have just dismissed any stray outsiders caught in the zone as simple fodder for the mummies, who would be easily dealt with.

            [i]“He doesn’t have to be infallible, just show some basic common sense.”

            “As we don’t get to see his full abilities at that stage in the story, it’s hard to understand why he’s so overconfident in them in the first place.”[/i]

            Perhaps not at that stage, but if more is revealed about what he’s capable of further along the way, that could be considered to fill in part of it.

            This does, actually, highlight another aspect of the story which I remember someone once expressing their dissatisfaction with, that the nature of it means that the villain spends most of it stuck in a chair, where his capabilities can mostly only be conveyed to us via reportage. Which I think is fair comment, and one possible reason for someone to find it lacking. It doesn’t bother me that much, and is partially a side effect of having an ‘incompletely buried villain’ model for a story, but I can understand how people could be unhappy about that.

            The decision about killing Namin can be looked at in at least a couple of ways. The point of view you’ve given, that it would have suited his interests better to keep him alive and have two servants directing his activities, or the point if view that one person is quite capable of doing what’s needed, and so having two would be an unnecessary surplus. It just indicates that Sutekh thinks he can multitask sufficiently to allow for the latter, which could be considered a cost-cutting mentality or something akin to that. It’s not a problem for me if he goes on either side of those options.

            “So mortals aren’t important enough for Sutekh to bother worrying about, but are important enough for him to go to all the bother of wiping us all out just so we don’t compete with his ego. Again, confused motivation.”

            Not important enough in the sense of not having the capacity to defeat or hinder his plans, because they don’t possess power on anything like the same scale. That doesn’t mean he’s content for them to exist, and he speaks in the story about how he regards them, specifically the Doctor, as “insects”. Their inferior status to him is why he wants them disposed of, and also a reason why he doesn’t expect them to be able to offer any effective resistance to him.

            [i]The Doctor says it was, and that he’s translating by using English letter frequencies. I guess you could justify this by using “Rule No.1, The Doctor Lies,” but that’s not actually the impression given by the story.[/i]

            The way in which I think of this scene is that the Doctor intercepts a message, and then translates or decodes it, and that the script tries to convey this by putting it in a way which viewers, perhaps especially children, will pick up on. That was partly what I was thinking of when I suggested a translation convention. So, yes, one could dispute the mechanics of the way in which the concept is rendered, but the basic concept of it is one I can roll with.

            [i]Presumably because it’s never been near those space-time coordinates before. But it has been to 20th Century UNIT HQ before.

            It’s also worth remembering the Time Lords and Omega deliberately summoned/brought the TARDIS to them. Sutekh’s lodestone was accidental.[/i]

            Yes, although while the TARDIS may have been to 20th Century UNIT HQ before, it might never have been taking exactly the same route on any of the previous journeys it made there, as it would have starting from a different place and time on each occasion. In the case of this story, the implication is presumably that only by taking this exact trajectory does the TARDIS get affected in this way.

            [i]“I’ve no idea why, but I certainly seem to notice them more in horror stories. Maybe it’s just because I’m less caught up in the fictional world, less able to suspend disbelief and immerse myself completely in it, that I’m able to notice them more. (There’s a very interesting aside in the latest TARDIS Eruditorium post, which argues that immersing yourself in a fictional world of a horror film and identifying with it is a bad thing and also impossible. He tries to claim that this proves all such identification is impossible in all genres, but I think it just highlights a specific problem with horror.)”[/i]

            That’s quite possible as far as your personal taste goes, obviously I can’t know about that. I’ve known other kinds of story in the series inspire similar arguments, so I suspect it’s something where the criteria can vary from person to person.

            I’ll have to look at that Eruditorium posting, haven’t read it so far. My inclination would be to speculate that full scale immersion in a fictional world is never entirely possible anyway, except very briefly perhaps, although I’m not even sure about that. But that’s something for me to read later.

          • PolarityReversed  May 2, 2012

            On the subject of the translation/cypher:

            Of course, such a short text couldn’t be unravelled by frequency analysis. The Doctor conjectures that it’s intended as a warning and is therefore meant to be understood, presumably by natives of Earth at an unforeseen time in the future. Like any good codebreaker, he already has his suspicions – he does a fair bit of the Holmesian (Sherlock, not Bob) “I’ve got a theory, I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not going to tell you til I’m sure” stuff. It is possible that the repeated message includes a large chunk of mathematically universalised information to aid translation, but the Doctor doesn’t bother Sarah and Lawrence’s pretty little heads with it. As with the plaque on Pioneer 10, launched not long before this story aired, interestingly enough.

            Point is that the reference to simple cryptanalysis is a narrative convenience, and one that is potentially educational to little minds.

            Doctor Who has to be in English, otherwise every single off-world story would have eps 1-23 dominated by comparative linguistics (Quickstart Poosh for Travellers, etc). Another narrative convenience – Babel fish, a universal translator,Tardisy-wardisy stuff etc.

            It’s easy to deconstruct Doctor Who ad absurdam. The basic premise is ludicrous, and if you’re happy to go along with that, it doesn’t seem very logically consistent to quibble about anything else.

            As for Sutekh’s motivations, as well as every other “big bad” – well, psychopathy is fundamentally illogical.
            “No-one should have to tolerate any identity that isn’t their own except to define their own.” A very bleak and rather disturbing lemma. You’ll have to enlighten me, is that a Nietzschean principle? We revisit the ultimate extent of will to power with Davros, don’t we, hypothetically in Genesis and more starkly in the reboot era.

      • Dafyd  May 2, 2012

        James Blish introduced the idea of the Idiot Plot – a plot which suddenly makes complete sense when you realise all of the major characters are idiots. He meant it as a criticism of bad writing. However, a large majority of Holmes stories are plots that suddenly make complete sense when you realise that all of the antagonists are idiots. (Sometimes, as with Sutekh and the Master or Trau Morgus, they’re idiots in only the way that very intelligent people can be idiots.) This is because Holmes was a grumpy and cynical sod and if his stories have a moral it is to never underestimate the sheer malignant power of idiocy.
        So I don’t think that X is an idiot is ever a valid criticism of a Holmes story. X’s idiocy isn’t interesting is. (Why, for the love of anything, does Horus construct a puzzle system around his control centre that is easily cracked by Sutekh, but which holds up anyone trying to stop Sutekh’s minions? And why does he include a logic puzzle that any twelve-year old child knows the answer to? I suppose Horus was a few thousand years ago so maybe it was new in his day. Ok – Horus is an idiot is a possible answer. But it’s not an interesting form of idiocy.)

        • Dan  May 2, 2012

          Sutekh’s probably been filling the time reading logic puzzle magazines. He was well known as being rubbish at maths back in Osirian school.

          And if you sit in the same chair for three thousand years there’s a danger of pressure sores. That’s why he needed someone to move his cushion around.

          • PolarityReversed  May 2, 2012

            Yeah, a few millennia with just sudokos for company, no wonder he’s bonkers…

      • Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 3, 2012

        1) Sutekh’s motivation is to destroy all life so that he can never be threatened: also he is insane and therefore doesn’t need any logical motivation.
        2) Nakhim is killed because Sutekh can only control one human at a time (?)
        3) He only had one ticket
        4) Bit pointless sending a warning message in a dead language: probably some sort of universal code that only highly intelligent species can understand (anyway hieroglyphics don’t have nouns anyway, so the message would have read “bwr stkh”

        • PolarityReversed  May 3, 2012

          Or maybe “[Picture of Narked Horse with Bedsores] [Picture of Wilson, Kepple and Betty Running Away]”

          How about: Namin is killed because his allegiance to Sutekh is based on religious tradition. Scarman is better because he’s effectively a high-functioning zombie with Sutekh in his head.

  26. Frankymole  April 30, 2012

    “It’s official – Pyramids of Mars is just as good as The Mutants.”

    “The Mutants” is far better – more exotic, more layered, a less pissed-off Doctor, less racism, better monsters, better costumes and sets… I’d far rather rewatch it than this. That said – I’d rewatch both before anything from NuWho with its limited, 21st-century-earth-centric, imagination.

  27. jsd  April 30, 2012

    I wonder if there’s any correlation between when you first saw this story and what you rate it now? I saw it many times as a 12 or 13 year old on my local PBS station during their unending run of the first three Tom Baker seasons. I loved it then and I love it now. An easy 9. Maybe even a 10. The Mars puzzle stuff was like candy to the teenaged-me. Not boring in the slightest.

  28. John G  April 30, 2012

    “For a second there, I thought they’d gone abroad to film a Doctor Who, but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?”

    Oh it would Sue, it would – in 1975 anyway! A warm welcome back – it’s great to see that you have returned earlier than I anticipated, and with yet another superbly funny blog. I actually think Pyramids is by far the best story in a largely overrated season, and I’m surprised at the number of negative comments here regarding it. Things do fall apart a bit towards the end, but this story is a case of acting and atmosphere easily making up for plot deficiencies, and Sutekh, thanks to the brilliance of Gabriel Woolf, is easily up there as one of Who’s scariest villains.

    It will be fun to see what Sue makes of the next story – will Terry F****** Nation’s reputation plummet again following its post-Genesis upturn?

  29. iknowbest  April 30, 2012

    Sue would like less gobble-d-gook huh! oh dear oh dear…give it up now before WHO really turns into…..

    Im a little bored by this experiment and Sue’s repetitive comments. Sorry but tis true..same ole stuff mentioned – could write the thing myself it feels like. Time to put this whole thing to bed particularly in light of the utter dross which is to come. If Sue is scoring classics like this one so low…whats the point!

    • jsd  May 1, 2012

      “Im a little bored by this experiment”

      Nobody’s holding a gun to your head, are they?

    • Tristan Alfaro  May 9, 2012

      The point is… You know what? I really can’t be bothered explaining it. If you can’t see the point and are upset that someone has the audacity to have a different opinion to yourself you might as well just not bother reading this, quite frankly, excellent, funny and heart-warming blog. If you “could write the thing myself it feels like” why don’t you do so?

  30. encyclops  May 1, 2012

    Response in part to Ludwig’s comments about what he characterized as the “Sue’s right brigade”:

    I think one of the many reasons this project strikes a chord is that, in my observation, many classic Who fans have a curiously self-effacing attitude. I don’t know many fandoms that well, but can’t recall encountering any similar community so angst-ridden over the question of “what would the casual viewer think?” or, indeed, “what would a kid make of this?” We’re never more vicious than when we’re heaping scorn on an episode with too many continuity references (meaning that the show recalls its own history and behaves as though it exists in a real universe) — in other words, an episode that’s geared toward the very segment of the audience too filled with guilt about its own fandom to enjoy.

    I don’t know if it’s fear of another cancellation (which I don’t want either, but let’s face it, how many other shows have a 20-year run to their credit, to say nothing of being running AGAIN after almost 50? Who brought this show back to life if not hardcore fans in high places?) or some sort of nerd trauma we all have that makes us secretly fear the show’s no good unless the people who don’t like it can be coaxed to like it, but either way we are never satisfied to be a cult. If the appeal isn’t broader than ourselves, it somehow is meaningless. Of course I don’t agree, but I’m also not immune from this tendency. Then I stop and think: why SHOULDN’T a fan react differently to certain episodes than a non-fan? Isn’t that, over time, why some people become fans in the first place and others don’t?

    In any case, I think this self-consciousness about how we and our beloved show look to outsiders is what makes this fascinating, and why there are dismayed fans on the one side wondering why Sue didn’t love our baby as much as we love our baby, and those on the other eager not only for a reassessment of our conventional wisdom about which babies are cutest but specifically for a reassessment that comes from the outside, from the supposedly objective and superior non-fan perspective. I’m not saying that everyone who pipes up “Sue’s right!” doesn’t actually think that Sue is right. But the disposition to side with her isn’t JUST about how charming and funny she and Neil are (though they are).

    Incidentally, another thing I love about Sue’s commentary is that I can relax knowing she will never, ever, ever describe any Doctor Who episode as “a romp.” I think that if she did I would probably throw myself onto a Janis thorn.

    • solar penguin  May 1, 2012

      (Repost because the connection dropped first time.)

      Sorry, encyclops, but all this “self-effacing fans” stuff is just nonsense.

      I’ve never liked horror, especially gothic horror, and have always found it boring and annoying at the same time (which is quite a trick). I’ve tried to get into it, really I have, but never managed to enjoy it. Give me fun, silly, light-hearted fluff any day. That’s what entertainment is supposed to be about.

      Like I said, I don’t think there’s anything special or magical about DW that makes it an exception. As a result I hate the tedious, over-rated Hinchcliffe era just as much as I hate, for example, anything with a vampire in it.

      Unfortunately, DW fandom is dominated by a bunch of idiots who are too stupid to see how dull, contrived and annoying horror stories are, while other fans go along with them like sheep. Thankfully, Sue is above all that, not being part of fandom, and can actually speak the truth, and those of us who feel the same way appreciate it. It really is that simple.

      • Jazza1971  May 1, 2012

        I have to say I was agreeing with you, solar penguin, until the point that you said “DW fandom is dominated by a bunch of idiots who are too stupid to see how dull, contrived and annoying horror stories are”. Basically what you are saying is “I don’t like this kind of story, so people who disagree with me are a bunch of idiots who are too stupid to see how dull, contrived and annoying horror stories are”. I would say that everyone can have their own opinion, if they disagree with what I think, then fair enough. The fact that anyone dislikes a story I like isn’t going to spoil my enjoyment of it, but it is still interesting for me to hear others views. That is why this project is such fun. Sue can rate my favourite story 0 out of 10 for all I care…I would still rate it as my favourite story, but I could also laugh at Sue’s comments.

        I suppose, really, people reading this project should ask themselves whether they can take someone having a different opinion from themselves on a story and can take the good humoured piss-taking. If they can, then they will enjoy the on-going project for what it is. If they can’t then perhaps it would be a good idea to stop reading as it is clearly causing them a lot of stress. After all, there are millions of websites out there…there are bound to be ones that meet exactly with their own opinions and this would lead to a lot less anguish all around.

        • solar penguin  May 2, 2012

          @Jazza — In that case, you’re part of the problem just as much as the horror-lovers and horror-appologists are.

          In fact, it’s sheep like you, who turn traitor and side with those you disagree with, that are partly to blame for them getting away with so much in the first place!

          • Jazza1971  May 2, 2012

            Meh.

      • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

        I find plenty of things uninteresting but I would never think of deriding those who enjoy them as idiots or sheep.
        There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Penguin.

      • encyclops  May 1, 2012

        I’m happy to agree to disagree with you about horror in general, gothic horror in specific, and Pyramids in particular. I enjoy all three, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people who don’t.

        I don’t think “silly, light-hearted fluff” is the only thing “entertainment is supposed to be about,” but I can enjoy it too, and I look forward to your comments on those stories. (Are we talking Graham Williams? Gareth Roberts? I’m a fan of both.)

        I can even agree to disagree with you about DW fandom being “dominated by a bunch of idiots,” and about Sue’s objections to this story being based on “how dull, contrived and annoying horror stories are.”

        However, I simply cannot go along with you when you say that being “boring and annoying at the same time” is “quite a trick.” From what I’ve seen, it’s actually very easy to pull off.

        • solar penguin  May 2, 2012

          @encyclops — Whenever someone says they’re “happy to agree to disagree” it means they know they’ve lost the argument, but are to0 proud to admit it. So I think that means I’ve won.

          • PolarityReversed  May 2, 2012

            That is utter penguinshit.

            I hope encyclops, after being gracious enough to acknowledge your opinions, a courtesy you don’t extend to him, doesn’t feel the need to respond to your playground crowing.

  31. jasonpnutt  May 1, 2012

    Bit of a waste of time this idea. Well past its sell by date. Initially humourous – the ‘novelty’ of the idea…but now all seems very long in the tooth…ho hum..can see them coming a mile off. In effect to me at least it does seem to be critising WHO but dressed up a little.

    Theres really no need to comment on every bit of nonesense, drab set design, script and a hundred other things which are wrong with WHO. The ‘fans’ know whats wrong with the show – lets just sit back and enjoy it. We all have our favourites for whatever reason. No need for the drab and to be totally honest by-the-numbers put downs. Just my views…i know..i know..if you dont like it dont view it….but still….some of the scoring for classic WHO is disappointing.

    • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

      See the little ‘X’ in the top right hand corner of the screen…?

    • Dave Sanders  May 1, 2012

      ‘Criticising’.

    • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

      A propos scoring, you seem to be applying very modern values to a programme produced 40 years ago on a shoestring budget.

      Back in the day you couldn’t just fire up a load of samples and drench the thing in soupy samples. You had to beg a hopefully sympathetic production team for every scrap from the budget, and only if you felt it was really justified to bring an extra musician on board.

      I think they were amazingly inventive, in the general Dr Who “get the best out of what you’ve got” production ethos.

      • Dan  May 1, 2012

        But the criticism was mainly about plot Polarity.

        • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

          Just to clarify – I was talking about the music. “Scoring” in that vein.

      • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

        She liked the production values.

    • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

      Hi jasonputt – or should I call you iknowbest? After all, you *are* the same person. Why not go three for three?

      • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

        Actually, you don’t even need to be able to see the ip address – I just noticed a much more obvious indicator that they’re the same person. Tch, WHO fans eh, what are they like?

  32. Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

    So glad we came back.

    • jsd  May 1, 2012

      I’m glad you’re back! Ignore the haters.

    • encyclops  May 1, 2012

      I’ve probably said this before, but I would rather see you moderate the comments to filter out the dullards or even just turn them off completely than sour on this project. I’d miss the discussion if you turned them off completely, but not nearly as much as I’d miss the main event. Do what you have to do and carry on.

      Hate mail just proves you’re doing something right, I think.

      • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

        You should see the private emails we get! I could just delete the negative comments and make this place all nice and fluffy but if we dish out criticism we have to be able to take it.

        Just don’t tell Sue.

        • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

          I think you should publish the nasty private e-mails you receive, maybe with an indication of what the name might be (eg. from N*** P*******). Might make them think twice if they know they’re going to get embarrassed in front of everyone.

        • JASONKNOWSBEST  May 1, 2012

          Appologies, lets all hold hands together and sing about just how much we all love this site and the concept. Lets ignore the repetative nature of the thing. Lets ignore the poking fun at obvious targets.

          Did’nt realise you only set up this part of the site for fellow worshippers to your website to was lyrical at the sheer brillance of Sue’s repetative warblings….You should be embracing all sorts of feedback and not just exterminating them so to speak . The idea was decent enough, honest, but i suppose naturally after so many episodes the same old put-downs are going to creep in. End of the day, as a fan of WHO, I know what late 70′s and 80′s WHO is to come….i do not relish Sues comments on these episodes when Zygons and Mummies scored low…these are 9/10 episodes. They were back in the day, and still are now.

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

            If I really thought that then I’d simply remove any negative comments from the site. I only have a problem with the same person posting the same criticism within the space of a few minutes under different names. We get it. Thanks.

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

            Oh, and it is you *again*. Why not pick a name and stick with it?

          • Dan  May 1, 2012

            Mr Troll, you’re being a little rude and you’re objectively wrong. I think you should go to Tardis Eruditorum and try and explain to the blogger how we should “all just sit back and enjoy it”…

            Sorry, don’t want to extend the discussion too much.

          • Simon Harries  May 1, 2012

            Hello Jasonknowsbest. Are you always this unpleasant or is today a special occasion?

          • Paul Mudie  May 1, 2012

            If you get angry when people poke fun at obvious Who targets, I hope you have some tranquilisers handy for when we get to the McCoy era…

        • Doctor Whom  May 1, 2012

          You don’t take the criticism though, Neil. You periodically go into a Stephen Fryesque sulk about it and announce that you may be giving up on AWTWIS altogether. I suppose it depends on what “private emails” you receive and whether they’re personally abusive (in which case you’re right to take offence) or merely critical (in which case climb down off your pedestal).

          Your Comments section reminds me of online forums where the same people pronounce every new DW episode as the best ever. 90% of the Comments you get are invariably from people brown-nosing the pair of you. Maybe if there were fewer sycophants telling you how wonderful you are, you wouldn’t be so shocked by the occasional reader posting valid criticism.

          When AWTWIS is good, it’s very good and that’s why I keep reading it. But when it falls below its own standards, you ought to accept the occasional bit of criticism and not paint it all as extreme abuse. The more you throw a paddy when someone says something critical, the less people will bother criticising and all you’ll get is people telling you how fabulous you are. And that’s when you’ll stop making an effort to be either interesting or entertaining.

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

            When have I ever said that? We took one break because the criticism got *very* personal. Please keep constructive criticism coming, though. It’s just a blog. It’s not life and death. I let *every* negative comment on the blog (although I will edit the c-word).

          • Doctor Whom  May 1, 2012

            Alternatively, if the blog comments or private emails are genuinely personally abusive, it’s not rocket science – be a man and block them from commenting or block your inbox from receiving their emails. There can only be a finite number of people sufficiently interested in being personally abusive to seek out your private email address. You”ll eventually have blocked all of them and things will be fine.

            Don’t use the excuse of not blocking people because you want to encourage a free exchange of views about the blog. Firstly because I don’t believe a word of it and secondly because personal abuse doesn’t count as an exchange of views.

            As it is, constantly going on about abusive feedback just puts off people with honest criticisms from bothering to express them. That’s not your intent surely.

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

            Doctor Whom – the comments come to me via the internal contact form on the blog. I can’t just set up a spam filter or I won’t know when someone genuinely wants to contact me – and this form has been very helpful in the past. As I said – keep the constructive criticism coming but short of re-programming my wife, I can’t stop her from giving Zygons or Pyramids a seven.

          • Doctor Whom  May 1, 2012

            OK – saying that you’ve more than once publicly pondered giving it up may have been an exaggeration but in a world where Sue still gets away with asking “is it the Master?” two seasons after he last put in an appearance, exaggeration for effect is surely allowed.

            But seriously, just block the wankers. That’s what I do and you’ll find that it cheers you up no end.

            Oops, nearly got myself blocked there. When I say “block the wankers”, of course I was only referring to the wankers who get abusive.

            If you stick to boot into the abusers, they’ll disappear and we can all get on with the important stuff like wondering how on Earth you managed to snare someone like Sue. Was it blackmail or do you posess Master-like powers of hypnotism?

          • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

            You may believe that she’s taking the piss when she asks if it’s the Master (she probably is) but when I asked her about this recently she honestly said that she expects him to turn up again any day now. So who knows?

            I can’t block the wankers. But that’s my problem and I will stop banging on about it.

            As for how I managed to snare Sue – it’s a question I ask myself every day.

          • Doctor Whom  May 1, 2012

            Reprogamming your wife? I think you’d better skip The Android Invasion next week. It might give you ideas. You’ll end up plotting to turn Yorkshire into a Whovian version of The Stepford Wives.

            NEIL: Sue, this is my favourite Tom Baker story. What do you thinK?
            SUE: IT-IS-WON-DER-FUL-MAS-TER.

            Then none of us would have any complaints about her scoring.

          • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

            Harsh. I don’t see much evidence of this brown-nosing you mention. People seem to agree, disagree, reminisce and discuss in pretty equal measure. Neil only seems to get on his starved horse, rightly in my opinion, when the criticism gets personal or offensive.

          • encyclops  May 1, 2012

            Maybe I’m naive, but I thought that the process is something like: the two of them watch the episodes, Sue says what she says, and Neil transcribes the best parts for us. He baits her from time to time with leading questions but for the most part she isn’t given any kind of script or agenda to follow in commenting on the episodes. I can’t see how it wouldn’t ruin the whole point if she took direction from people’s comments here; she’s probably self-conscious about it enough knowing all of us nerds are hanging on her every word. Let her react honestly, please, and enjoy it or don’t. If you think she’s repeating herself (which I frankly don’t see, but let’s assume), just read something else until next week. Neil may be interested in “constructive criticism” but if Sue pays any attention to it the whole thing is pointless.

          • Daru  May 20, 2012

            @ Doctor Whom -

            Chill out please. And really I feel a little got at as a person who enjoys the blog by being referred to as a “sycophant”

            No need for this, please.

        • Jazza1971  May 1, 2012

          I don’t know, maybe you could get Sue to give a frank and honest view of some of the negative comments…that’s if the swear filter could handle her reply!

    • Ian  May 1, 2012

      Welcome back both of you! Another great review. Shiny!

    • Daru  May 20, 2012

      Yes – Neil I am so glad that you came back too. I don’t really have any time for any folk who either appear to hate or love something so much that they become unfriendly.

      What I want to salute you and Sue for – and why I really enjoy this blog – is the spirit of friendliness and celebration. That’s why we enjoy a programme such as Doctor Who isn’t it? Even on the occasions when it doesn’t quite work or we don’t like it, we can laugh and celebrate it’s wonkiness.

      I celebrate you guys for carrying on in the face of the moaners.

  33. PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

    Welcome back.

    For sheer atmosphere and style this is one of my favourites, but hey – live and let bring the gift of death to all mankind, I say.

    That classic logic puzzle leaves Exilon hopscotch in the shade.

    Interesting that the debate should get so heated at this point. Could it perhaps be because we’re now entering living memory for many contributors, so people are starting to take things more personally? Perhaps we now have a heavy dose of the “you weren’t there, it was special to me” creeping in. Maybe there’s a contrarian anti-4 thing going on. Maybe the blog has got to the point where it’s a victim of its own popularity. I don’t know.

    But I enjoy this space and this community, and I really hope it continues. Welcome back guys, and Sue can take the piss out of washing-up bottle spaceships, Sutekh’s mind-controlled hoovering, hammy performances and ASMs’ arms in shot as long as she damn well pleases as far as I’m concerned.

    • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

      I think more than than the living memory element, we’re entering the “Hinchcliffe is God” fan wisdom phase. Criticising the Hinchliffe era for some fans is akin to criticising Jesus for Christians, you just don’t do it without a fight. If you don’t toe the party line, you’re a “brigade” who simply fall in line behind Sue because you find her personally appealing or because you can’t think for yourself rather than, y’know, genuinely agree with her and don’t actually think that much to the era. (For the record, I do actually like the era, but hey, it’s just a TV show. Crazy talk, I know).

      The irony being, if course, that in a lot of cases fan favourites are a fluid thing, which suggests a sheep-like element to conventional fan wisdom. People are free to like or dislike whichever shows they want to, of course – like I say, I like Pyramids a lot – but I can’t help wonder if the people who are getting uppity are doing so because you *have to* like Pyramids Of Mars, rather than because *they* like Pyramids Of Mars. It’s funny how “this is a waste of time” is dragged out by two different people for a classic that got a bit of a “meh” score, rather than, say, Time Monster, a story that it’s okay to hate.

      • John G  May 1, 2012

        Hear hear. As I commented on an earlier post, I think certain people who hold this particular era dear to their hearts are taking Sue’s criticisms way too personally. They should either lighten up (this blog is ultimately a bit of fun, after all), or just stop reading and let those of us who do enjoy Sue’s observations continue to do so.

        • Dan  May 1, 2012

          I don’t understand why people don’t think when they write posts like that “Do I really need to send this?”

          Perhaps Neil will have to make people sign up to view the blog, which will make it harder for people to say “Why are you forcing me to read this!”

          Does anyone seriously think they should stop now, after 402 episodes?! Just because THEY’RE a bit bored?!! Dear me.

        • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

          Well, this era is dear to my heart but it’s just as flawed and silly as any other, and I love it as much for the daftitude as anything else. Hey, in certain lights, yes I accept that my baby is ugly. But I couldn’t give a flying pyramid for “fan wisdom” – I’ve never minged with the mongs, attended a convention, read a ‘zine, owned a fez. If fundamentalist “fan wisdom” happens to coincide with my opinion, it’s nothing to do with me.

          Well… actually I did used to have a fez. They most certainly aren’t cool, but they’re bloody good for a laugh onstage when playing Night in Tunisia, Caravan or Istanbul Not Costantinople. There. I’ve fezzed up.

    • Daru  May 20, 2012

      I do agree with your first point – about “living memory”. Also as Philip Sandifer discusses we have then with this era the beginnings of the tyranny of the “fan-complex”.

  34. Catseye  May 1, 2012

    Wow, I’ve sat down and really read some of the comments for the first time and Neil and Sue, I’m so sorry that people can be so negative. Please ignore the haters guys. I don’t get the negativity, it’s not even trolling since that implies a certain skill…..

  35. John Callaghan  May 1, 2012

    Is it possible the criticisms of this website are the same person posting under different names?

    This idea inspires me to start an ongoing flame war with myself, probably about crumpets.

    • Neil Perryman  May 1, 2012

      Yeah, they have the same IP address. And they call us repetitive.

      • Jaspar Grunwelden  May 1, 2012

        Sad. Always nice to see Doctor Who fans doing the image of Doctor Who fans a favour there.

    • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

      John – there have to be easier ways to toast your crumpets.

  36. Simon Harries  May 1, 2012

    Hi Neil, as you rightly say, if you dish out criticism then you have to be able to take it. But the stuff you’re writing here is hardly a devastating attack on Western values, or a bitter critique of our democracy. Sue is making wry remarks in good spirits about a children’s television programme made nearly forty years ago, and the majority of us appreciate you both very much for doing it. If someone has a go at you for that, then of course they’re quite entitled to – but some of them occupy an extremist position. Since they can’t blow up your site, the only recourse left to these immature ****s is to spray it with graffiti. The rest of us are only too delighted to help you clean it away and encourage you to proceed with your superb project. I can’t wait to read what Sue thinks of The Android Invasion, The Brain of Morbius and The Seeds of Doom :-) One of them ought to be worthy of an 8 or a 9!

  37. David  May 1, 2012

    Hello

    Not commented before, but just wanted to say how pleased I am that you’re back. I love the experiment and really enjoy Sue’s comments (even when I disagree with them), the banter and the way it is making me look in a new light at some of the stories.

    I wish you could be spared the abusive comments, but I’m sure you know that the vast majority of us are getting great joy out of your posts.

    David

  38. Paul Mudie  May 1, 2012

    I’m really more of a horror fan than a sf fan, and I love this one because it’s bloody terrifying. I like the bleakness of it too, and the setting, and the mummies, and Sutekh. Still, it’s hard to argue with Sue’s criticism of the plot.

    It’s lovely to see the experiment continuing, by the way! :)

  39. Nick  May 1, 2012

    Welcome back – delighted to see the updates return. Sorry to hear that the detractors are still banging away tactlessly. I for one thoroughly enjoy these critiques, especially as they come from the perspective of someone who is not a fan but views with an open mind. The Hinchcliffe / Holmes era always will be my favourite period of the series – and I would probably rate the stories more highly myself – but this is the joy of free speech and being allowed to voice one’s own opinions. Please keep going, as not only do I eagerly await each instalment, but you have a right to be heard.

    Good on you both!

  40. Zoe  May 1, 2012

    Hurray! You’re back!

  41. Huw  May 1, 2012

    DELIGHTED to see you back! By chance I happened to watch this only last week (it’s a bonus on Sarah Jane Season 4) and enjoyed it a lot. Yes, I would have rated it higher than Sue did, but no one would want to follow a thread of my ramblings. I’m dull – Sue is brilliant!

  42. Huw  May 1, 2012

    PS I can’t see the link to the bit that made Nicol crack up. And I missed it when watching, to my embarassment. Can anyone tell me what happened?

    • Simon Harries  May 1, 2012

      The infamous hand which holds the cushion in place on Sutekh’s throne as he stands up… a hand which then disappears from view!

      • Dave Sanders  May 2, 2012

        The Hand Of Floor Manager.

  43. Dafyd  May 1, 2012

    It’s slightly surprising that it consistently rates as a top ten Doctor Who story when it’s scarcely a top ten Robert Holmes. Ok – saying it’s not a top ten Robert Holmes is hardly condemning it. Three of the episodes are consistently suspenseful and entertaining, and the fourth is horrific to begin with and then clever at the end, if you ignore the blatant and daft padding in the middle. Still, Holmes at his best can be much more than suspenseful and entertaining. You know Holmes is off his form when he’s borrowing ideas from Terry Nation.
    Oh, and another voice saying that anybody complaining about the blog is Missing the Point.

    • encyclops  May 1, 2012

      If you’re talking about the tomb puzzles: that was my favorite part of Death to the Daleks, and I loved it here too. Something for everybody!

      • PolarityReversed  May 1, 2012

        If I were to ask Doctor Whom what JASONKNOWSBEST would post next what would he say?

  44. matt bartley  May 1, 2012

    Neil, the abusive posters couldn’t be a certain bitter ex-student, could they…?

    Anyway, back to the important stuff – Pyramids! It’s full of so much great stuff, blessed with great performances and directed at such a cracking pace that I really don’t mind that episode four falls apart pretty badly. It’s a genuinely convincing threatening episode and the visit to alternate 1980 is quite possibly my favourite moment in Who ever.

  45. Matthew C  May 1, 2012

    Good score, though I might have given it 5 or 6 out of ten. Definitely the most overrated Doctor Who story ever.

    Pyramids of Mars is not the worse Doctor Who serial, but I don’t like it very much at all.

  46. J'mann Seelo  May 1, 2012

    Welcome back guys.

    This is my first time posting, but I’ve been lurking a while and I just wanted to say keep up the great work. Don’t let the bitter internet wanna-be bullies get to you. You know how it is, these people are just looking for someone to vent their overblown rage at. If it wasn’t you, it would be somebody else.

    Personally it doesn’t matter to me what score a story gets or how much I agree/disagree. I just love this blog because the both of you are so witty and fun to read. Sometimes the best comments come from things I disagree with you on. Who cares, it’s just a TV show in the end.

  47. Neowhovian  May 1, 2012

    Wow. Well. That’s certainly a… lively… comments thread. It seems like whatever I might say about this story is likely to piss somebody off, and I debated whether or not to say anything at all. I’m going to be brave, though, and say my piece.

    I didn’t grow up watching Who. Tom Baker and this era are not my favorite. However, I do enjoy most of these stories. I like Pyramids a fair bit, but I probably wouldn’t rank it any higher than a 7, either. Perhaps I just haven’t learned to appreciate it fully. ~shrug~

    And I happen to enjoy reading Sue’s thoughts because they give me a different perspective than (a) “fan wisdom” from the greater fanbase and (b) my own. I guess I thought that was the whole point of the blog…

    • Neowhovian  May 1, 2012

      Rats. Missed a closing italics tag. ~sigh~

    • encyclops  May 2, 2012

      I think someone else remarked that the time you saw these stories probably still impacts how you perceive them today, and I think that’s true. Speaking only for myself, you won’t piss me off by not holding this story or any other in high regard, so please don’t be afraid to speak up.

      This one in particular is a tough one to sell, I think; you either love it or you don’t. I’m not sure it would grow on you, or that there’s something to appreciate. It’s sparsely populated, so if you’re looking for sparkling repartee it’s not going to do much for you. If you’re not already biased in its favor due to the Egyptian trappings, as I was and am, you’re probably going to be a bit bored. If the idea of a tomb you can only penetrate by doing logic puzzles doesn’t make you swoon, yeah, that last ep might be a chore.

      But then even stories that take a while to sink in, like “Ghost Light” — I mean, after numerous viewings and reading about all the references I get why I should appreciate it, but I think I’m still a long way from actually liking it.

      I think the two things we all agree on are (1) “fan wisdom” means “the opinions of everyone except me” and (2) if “fan wisdom” is correct, it’s only by accident. :D

  48. Dan  May 1, 2012

    I think you make a fair comment!

  49. Simon Harries  May 2, 2012

    That reminds me, I must wipe my nose clean before I leave the house tomorrow….

  50. Roderick T. Long  May 2, 2012

    One of these days, the Doctor will open that door and he’ll be killed straight away.

    How absurd! That would never happen.

  51. Alisaunder  May 2, 2012

    Welcome Back!

    You were greatly missed for sure and Nicol seems to be volunteering to watch a little too. Thats amazing.

    Horror and Gothic not really my thing but as always Sue is right. The first 3 are clearly a 9 or 8, the last one lowers the average but Im happy knowing that Sue knows who Robert Holmes IS.

  52. Robert Dick  May 2, 2012

    My favourite posts are the ones where people point out that Neil’s ‘One Day’ comments will one day come true. They’re like subtitles for the hard of understanding.

  53. Lewis Christian  May 2, 2012

    Is there a way to simply moderate comments? So people who have commented before get a free pass, whereas first-timers or certain people get banned/blocked if they post shit?

    Ignore the trolls/wankers, seriously. Please don’t close the comments because then you take away the fun for us 95% of people who are nice and honest and polite.

    In any case, glad you’re back!

  54. Wholahoop  May 2, 2012

    Welcome back

    May I offer my sincerest apologies to Jason et al (if there is an al) whom, if I read them correctly, seem to think that I believe the sun shines out of the Perymans’ arses and that they can do nowt wrong.

    Henceforth, i.e. from The Android Invasion onwards, I swear to post a diatribe highlighting each time Sue repeats any word or phrase previously used ‘cos that is the most important thing in the world to me apart from my internet access

  55. Russell Watson  May 2, 2012

    Huzzah, you’re back, “Excellent!”

    Can anyone enlighten me as to what’s so funny about the Sutekh thing? I’ve watched it a few times & I get the feeling I’m missing something obvious. Thanks.

    • Jamie  May 3, 2012

      When he arises, keep your eyes on the furthermost part of the cushion he’s been sitting on for thousands of years.
      I hope you found my explanation handy.

  56. Jon Clarke  May 3, 2012

    Welcome back guys! I have missed the fun very much. And now Ihave two reviewers waiting to read. Good work, ignore the idiots.

  57. Chris Too-old-to-watch  May 4, 2012

    Hi and welcome back.

    What a commotion about a simple little story. I’ve always liked this one personally

  58. BWT  May 5, 2012

    They’re back! And it’s about time.

    I love the backwards gunshot as Uncle Bernie does his evil best at coming back to life. And the casual attitude to the recently deceased other Scarman brother excellently sums up the “alien” side to the Doctor (much better than any attempt during the ‘other’ Baker years): “His late brother must have called.” is an excellent line full of proper black (or should that be ‘bleak’) humour. Nice and lovely.

    Goodilybylode…