Saturday, April 23, 2011

Classic Who - The Pyramids of Mars

Today on Classic Who watching we see the 'Pyramids of Mars.'

Commonly considered one of the best Classic Who episodes 'The Pyramids of Mars' stars the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith as they investigate the source of an energy signature inside a Victorian mansion filled with Egyptian artifacts.

There is a lack of spoilers below.

Can I say that I bawled like a baby when Sarah Jane walked in wearing that white dress? Oh Elizabeth.... You left us too soon....

SO! A guy named Warlock who doesn't end up being the evil one, mummies from space, and the Egyptian gods actually being aliens from another planet who came to Earth to defeat the actual big bad.

I can see why this episode is commonly considered one of the best. It's funny, amusing, keeps the attention, and has Four and Sarah Jane at their best. Plus, who doesn't love evil mummies? It's like taking a terrible B movie, and turning it into pure awesome. The best part of the episode for be was seeing Sarah Jane in action. If you've seen any of series 12 (the first series in which Four appears), you know that version of Sarah Jane mostly got herself captured by various baddies and screamed prettily for the Doctor to save her. This Sarah Jane is a return to the character that appeared with Three. She's smart, sassy, and does shit! She hides from mummies, finds the Doctor in the middle of forests, turns on machines while being attacked by mummies, shoots at boxes of explosives, and only shouts for the Doctor when she actually needs help... You know, when she's actually being strangled by a  mummy.

The Doctor is an interesting character too. Despite having a sonic screwdriver, he doesn't use it that much. Upon finding himself in a locked room he pulls out a lock pick to try and open it instead of whipping out the screwdriver like Ten or Eleven would have. I can really understand why some people say that the screwdriver is too much of a cheat. It was also interesting to see a more alien Doctor and compare him to Eleven. Unlike Eleven, Four is much more severe a person. If Eleven walked into a room and found that one of the people who had been helping him had been strangled he would have become sad or at the very least angry. Four? Well, the dude's corpse is too close so he shoves it aside. Nice one Four. And I get that he has a respiratory bypass system to save him from being strangled, but Sarah Jane listened to his chest for his heartbeat before she started crying. Did he stop his hearts too to trick Sarah Jane? If so, he can't complain about her getting his shirt wet.

And oh, the special effects.... Oh, 1980s! How amazing you were! String and horrible computer graphics.... If those are even computer graphics... and using the magical power of making actors stand still and stopping the film to make people appear and vanish. And who thought of putting that 'one person always tells the truth and one person always lies' riddle to the story? I can't tell if that was a genius move, or if they should have added the subclause that there is a third hidden guard to smack people who ask clever questions.

In any case, the Doctor and Sarah Jane save the day, burn down the mansion like it was supposed to, and do it all with only 6 deaths! That is actually a pretty good track record considering some Classic Who episodes!

So what about everybody else? What did you think of this episode?

Next week: We'll be watching the Seventh Doctor story 'The Curse of Fenric' as that one was the one that was about to win when Elizabeth Sladen died.