Thursday, October 22, 2009

4G2 - Pyramids of Mars 2

It almost seems easier to list the number of classic, quotable scenes from each episode of Pyramids of Mars than it is to review the episodes proper. Two scenes in Episode Two really stick out as being particularly good, which I shall mention in reverse order.

The scene where The Doctor is trying his best, with increasing frustration, to explain to Laurence Scarman that his brother, Marcus, is no longer alive and hasn't been since his body was inhabited by Sutekh. Poor Laurence is devastated, but the best The Doctor can come up with to comfort the poor man is to give him a quick tap on the shoulder. This story almost goes out of its way to show how alien The Doctor really is (perhaps even a little too far at times), but it's small little moments that really distinguish the Fourth Doctor.

The second special scene happens earlier when The Doctor pilots the TARDIS to 1980* to show Sarah that if they don't stop Sutekh in 1911, then the future that she knows will no longer exist. It's a fascinating moment that explains a great deal behind The Doctor's motivations. Although not stated explicitly until the new series, The Doctor really can see what is and what should never be whenever he lands in a new location, and will strive to put right whatever has gone wrong.

But this scene also shows what is starting to go wrong with Pyramids of Mars. If Sutekh is proving to be such a formidable threat to the universe, why does The Doctor have the time to jet off to 1980 for a few minutes just to prove Sarah correct? Surely Sarah would have learned the answer to the question of changing history back in her first story, The Time Warrior (also written by Robert Holmes). In that story, Linx obviously didn't succeed in altering the course of human history as The Doctor had warned as Sarah's present day experiences were the same before and after the Sontaran adventure. The scene is wonderful on its own, but it is completely unnecessary, and possibly detrimental, to the story as a whole.

*Ah yes - 1980. When Sarah Jane tells Laurence Scarman that she's from 1980, my reasoning is this: look at the way Sarah is talking to Laurence. She speaks to him in a smug way that looks like she's going out of her way to prove to him that she's from the future. She obviously thought that the year 1980 sounded more impressive than 1975, and so went with the former to get a more bemused reaction out of Laurence. At least that's how I choose to look at it. There - UNIT dating controversy solved.


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