Saturday, 7 January 2012

411 Pyramids of Mars Part Two

EPISODE: Pyramids of Mars Part Two
TRANSMITTED: 01 November 1975
WRITER: Stephen Harris (pseudonym for Robert Holmes and Lewis Griefer)
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Pyramids Of Mars

The servant is revealed as Marcus Scarman who gives the Mummies generator coils, shaped like Canopic Jars, which he orders placed at the compass points to contain the estate in a deflection barrier. The Doctor is injured interfering with the vortex inside the mummy case and is hidden in the priest hole by Sarah & Lawrence. The local poacher encounters the deflection barrier and, visiting the hunting lodge to seek help, sees Scarman use a Mummy to murder Warlock. The poacher attempts to kill Scarman who dispatches the Mummies to kill him. The recovered Doctor, Sarah & Lawrence see the Mummies removing advanced equipment from the room of Egyptian antiquities which the Doctor deduces they are using to build a rocket to release Sutekh from his imprisonment on Mars. They take shelter in the Tardis and Sarah asks to return to her own time. The Doctor takes her there and shows her the devastation that will occur if they don't stop Sutekh. They return to 1911 as Scarman confers with Sutekh via a mummy. Lawrence attempts to stop the Mummies from killing the poacher but it merely attracts their attention as they storm into the cottage.

Yup, more mummies wandering around looking menacing. The thing this episode is famed for is the trip to 1980 where the Doctor shows Sarah what her time will look like. It also rather annoyingly conclusively dates Sarah from 1980 when, as future stories will show, we'd like her to be actually from the 1975 when this story was broadcast. Hmmm. Solution: The Doctor has taken her back to 1975 sometime between Terror of the Zygons & Pyramids of Mars and comes back for her again in 1980. That'd create a neat little gap to allow the Doctor to pop off somewhere which, as we shall also see, would be useful.

This episode has one of my favourite effects ever: The glow in the stripes round the face on the sarcophagus as Scarman talks to Sutekh. It's simple, but it works.

The Poacher seen in this episode, Ernie Clements, is played by George Tovey who was the father of Roberta Tovey who played Susan in the two Peter Cushing Doctor Who films. Heard in this episode, but neither credited or seen until the following one, is Gabriel Woolf as Sutekh. Many years later he returns as the Beast in The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit.

The name attached to the writing of this story is Stephen Harris, a pseudonym. The initial draft, involving the British Museum which is perhaps a more obvious setting for mummies, was written by experienced writer Lewis Griefer, who wrote The Prisoner episode The General. However problems with the story straying too far from the original concept arose, then Griefer was taken ill and finally left England for a teaching position in Israel he'd previously committed to, all of which necessitated a major rewrite from script editor Robert Holmes.

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