In 1910, Egyptologist Marcus Scarman makes his greatest find ever – a crypt said to be the tomb of the god Sutekh. It is also Scarman’s last find. His life as he has known it ends and his body becomes an obedient servant to the still very-much-alive Egyptian god Sutekh, in fact an alien consciousness trapped on Earth.
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Sarah to Britain that same year, after a close call in the time vortex and the appearance of Sutekh’s face in the console room – a psychic breach of the time machine’s most important defenses. The Doctor follows the source of the interference to Scarman’s mansion, where strange things are afoot – including the shadowy appearance of walking mummies. With Scarman’s brother Lawrence in tow, the Doctor and Sarah stumble upon the force behind the unusual happenings: Sutekh is planning a strike, from Earth, against a mechanism on the surface of Mars which hold him captive on Earth. Even the primitive state of rocketry isn’t holding Sutekh’s effort back: he’s lending Scarman and his robot mummies advanced technology. Sutekh hopes to dominate the Earth with his immense willpower and then take revenge upon his fellow Osirans on Mars – even if it means wiping out the human race to avenge his centuries of captivity.
written by Lewis Griefer (a.k.a. Robert Holmes)
directed by Paddy Russell
music by Dudley Simpson
Guest Cast: Bernard Archard (Professor Macrus Scarman), Vik Tabian (Ahmed), Peter Mayock (Namin), Michael Bilton (Collins), Peter Copley (Dr. Warlock), Michael Sheard (Laurence Scarman), George Tovey (Ernie Clements), Gabriel Woolf (Sutekh / voice of Horus), Nick Burnell, Melvyn Bedford, Kevin Selway (Mummies)
Broadcast from October 25 through November 15, 1975
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Atmospherically speaking, Pyramids Of Mars may be one of the best Doctor Who stories ever. Combining tales of ancient evils and mummy myths, the story quickly gets the idea across the Something Really Bad is going to happen to us all if the Doctor doesn’t engage in his usual brand of interference. Following the James Earl Jones dictum of casting the right voice for the ultimate evil, this story gives us one of the creepiest Who villains ever in the form of Sutekh, who doesn’t move much but sounds like the voice of death itself, courtesy of actor Gabriel Woolf.
Pyramids is also a fine example of the Tom Baker era at its best: the Doctor is not infallible here. In a showdown of psychic willpower, Sutekh comes close to laying the smackdown on our favorite Time Lord. It doesn’t diminish the Doctor in any way, either – he’s one brave dude to be standing nose-to-nose with a badass entity to whom ancient Earth lore gave the name “Satan.” It’s sad that this kind of storytelling was phased out later in Baker’s era, really – the Doctor almost not devoting that much concern to his enemies’ schemes diminished him far more than it did to see him momentarily overcome by Sutekh’s power.