Doctor Who-Pyramids of Mars (1975)

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Released 10-Jun-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Cast
Informational Subtitles-Production Subtitles
Featurette-Making Of-Osirian Gothic
Featurette-Serial Thrillers
Featurette-Now And Then
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Oh Mummy
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 188:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paddy Russell
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Baker
Elisabeth Sladen
Michael Sheard
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Information
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Growing up as pre-teen in the 1970's there were two shows that I made it my business to watch religiously on a nightly basis; The Goodies and Doctor Who. Luckily, they followed each other beginning at 6.00pm on the ABC. My favourite Doctor was the incomparable Tom Baker who reigned supreme in the late 1970s. I was also a big fan of Jon Pertwee, but didn't care for the other incarnations, especially the later ones. The episodes that always lingered in my memory were the classics - The Ark In Space, The Talons of Weng Cheung and the one reviewed here - The Pyramids Of Mars.

    The Tardis is forced off course by a malevolent being known as Sutekh and arrives in England at the turn of the 20th century. Sutekh is the last of The Osirians, an ancient race of extraterrestrials who were imprisoned eons ago. Sutekh’s secret is unearthed in the Pyramids of Egypt and now he is planning to break free and destroy all mankind.

    Released in 1975, this chapter in the Doctor Who saga is considered one of the best. Both the writing and performances are first rate. The episodes released during Tom Baker's reign as the enigmatic Doctor were more adult-oriented and contained greater elements of horror and science fiction. Viewed today, this great show appears somewhat tame. Some of the creature and alien menaces are quite laughable by today's standards, with unknown stunt men decked out in all their rubber-suited glory, but to an impressionable 10 year old they were VERY COOL.

    Tom Baker brought a wonderful charisma to the part of the ubiqitous Time Lord. More flippant and adventuresome than his predecessors, Baker had great fun with the role and Pyramids Of Mars showcases this to great effect. Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith was one of the more popular sidekicks (my personal favourite was the loincloth-wearing Lela), and had a great repartee with both Baker and his predecessor Jon Pertwee.

    The production design and special effects are very basic but do add a wonderful atmosphere to the show, especially the Egyptian motif, including Sutekh’s helmeted countenance. The Pyramids of Mars is a delight for Doctor Who fans and should entertain casual viewers as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The show is presented 1.33:1 Full Frame as it was broadcast and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is reasonably sharp for a 30 year old television show, but does suffer from soft imaging, especially during exterior shots. There were no aliasing problems, but the transfer does contain some slight edge enhancement which fortunately fails to mar the overall presentation.

    Shadow detail is acceptable, but loses a lot of clarity whenever the story wanders into poorly lit exterior locations. An example of this is when our intrepid Sarah Jane is hiding from the Robotic Mummies in a nearby forest – in these scenes, the image suffers from very poor background detail with ugly shadow levels. There is a fair amount of grain present throughout, but once again it is mainly restricted to exterior shots.

    Colours are washed out, but remain natural with no image bleeding.

    There are small quantities of dirt particles and scratches present in the transfer, but they remain unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The show has been given two audio tracks. There is an English 2.0 mono track and an audio commentary track in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround.

    Dialogue is clear with no audio sync issues.

    The show's music is appropriately creepy, dripping with atmosphere and menace.

    Surround channel usage is non existent with no directional effects apparent. The show's score can be heard in the rear channels but nothing else is directed there.

    The subwoofer adds limited reverberation, but does contain enough bass to enhance the moody score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    This mirrors the opening of the show, including the theme music.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Snippets from the show with accompanying theme.

Audio Commentary - Philip Hinchcliffe, Elisabeth Sladen, Michael Sheard and Paddy Russell.

    This commentary will please fans of the show. There is an abundance of behind the scenes comments and trivia regarding the series. Hinchcliffe, Sladen and Sheard were recoded together with comments by Russell spliced in separately.

Informational Subtitles

    Series trivia and facts.

Featurette - Osirian Gothic

    A 22 minute making of special with contributions from the main cast and crew, the only notable absence being Tom Baker. Considering its brief running time, this featurette has a wealth of information.

Featurette - Serial Thrillers

    A 47 minute documentary highlighting producer Philip Hinchcliffe’s contribution to Doctor Who history. This is a well made featurette with contributions from several key personnel, including Elisabeth Sladen, Michael Sheard (Actor) and Paddy Russell (Director). Unfortunately, Tom Baker is nowhere to be seen, but the show is interesting especially when discussing budget limitations. It also shows a lot of clips from other episodes not yet released on DVD.

Featurette - Now and Then : The Locations of Pyramids Of Mars.

    A 10 minute before and after feature on the Stargrove Estate.

Deleted Scenes

    3 minutes of deleted material that added nothing to the episode.

Featurette - Oh Mummy: Sutekh's Story.

    Definitely for fans only - this brief 5 minute short is supposed to be an amusing take on the career of Sutekh after his encounter with the Doctor.

Gallery-Photo

    A thorough compilation of production photos.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    All versions currently available are essentially the same.

Summary

    The Pyramids Of Mars is one of the better Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes and remains an enjoyable adventure thirty years on. The disc has quite good sound and picture quality considering the age of the show and there are plenty of worthy extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K
impulsegamer.com - Andrew Biz

Comments (Add)
Layer change? -
Restoration Team -
Did the restoration team leave the blooper in? -
Re: Did the restoration team leave the blooper in? -
Re: Did the restoration team leave the blooper in? -
"Jon" Pertwee - NovaDust REPLY POSTED
no great surprise Tom Baker didn't contribute to extras -
Tom Baker and lack of contribution? - NovaDust
Name Corrections - James O
Tom Baker's non-appearance -
Re; Layer Change -