Sunday, May 5, 2013

TV Series Review: Doctor Who: The Pyramids of Mars

And it's time for another classic Doctor Who serial, I really like how the serials that BBC decided to air complement each other so well. The Aztecs had one of the shows famous lines about not being able to rewrite time and in this episode when Sarah Jane questions if they really need to save the day since she obviously came from the future the Doctor shows her how much the future will change if they don't (and I really do think these two go together given the shows guidelines about what can be changed and what can't). In Tomb of the Cybermen we see the character Victoria and in this serial Sarah Jane is running around in some of her clothes (which are actually period appropirate for once!). And in Spearhead from Space the Doctor begins his long term relationship working for/with UNIT and here they were aiming to go back to them for a bit, and as usual end up in the right place but the wrong time by several decades. 

Doctor Who Classic: The Pyramid of Mars

Summary: While the Doctor and Sarah Jane were attempting to get back to UNIT after some adventuring they accidentally end up in what would become their headquarters a few decades too early, although knowing the Doctor and his relationship with UNIT that might have been on purpose. Also, knowing how adventure calls to the TARDIS it may also be no coincidence that they land in the middle of a plot to unseal an alien known as the Egyptian god Set from his prison on Mars. 

The Good: This was a fairly solid serial, it shows something that I've been thinking about a lot lately which is how it seems like in Classic DW the companions were always having their own side adventures instead of just tagging along with the Doctor (like they seem to do most of the time in Nu Who) and I like that, even if it's still a bit hard to see the companions as fully fleshed out characters when you only see a single story with them. Especially since in Sarah Jane's case my first experience with her was in Nu Who when she was completely and fully an independent adult whose a bit more jaded than she is here, honestly that made for some odd dissonance but that's my problem, not the show's. Other than that, while the twist on Egyptian mythology didn't work 100% for me it worked better than I would have thought if someone had just said "they were all aliens-" "suuuuure, because everything on Doctor Who is aliens-" "who sealed Set on Mars" and it's always a good thing when DW actually pulls off their bizarre set-ups.

The Bad: One thing I think I've said a lot over the years is how I don't like it when Doctor Who kills off a lot of it's one episode characters. Not because this is a family friendly show or such but because it always feels so pointless, the Doctor (and companions) rarely seem to be torn up over it and we never see how other people react to their friends and family mysteriously dying and that does frustrate me. I did feel like the story got a bit too overly complicated by the end but I guess that was the result of them needing to fill time. 

The Audio/Visuals: Oh dear, we’ve entered that weird era of British television where the shows were at least partially shot on a higher frame rate, here it’s really obvious to me that it’s not the usual 24 frames per second when the characters move around quickly. Even though I would love for us to move to a higher frame rate in general it’s still unusual enough to look jarring and, considering most of the special effects look cheesy to start with and I’ve heard it’s even harder to make them look good at higher frame rates, yeaaaaah. Weirdly enough there are some moments when the special effects look really good but by and large you can tell that most of their props were made of foam and for some reason that detail pulls me out faster than almost anything else. Also, there are some shots where the video looked a little distorted, like they were shot with a lens that was slightly fisheye, and I don’t think that was on purpose. I could be crazy and imagining something that wasn’t there, and it could be a result of aging over the years, but that didn’t really help the show regardless.

Yep I really can't wait until I'm back near my libraries that have a pretty good selection of classic Doctor Who (/the time to browse and see just what Netflix has for streaming), the more I watch of it the more I like it, bit sad that by the time the next classic serial rolls around I won't have BBCA anymore so who knows how I'm going to watch it. Actually, at this rate I won't have BBCA for the finale of the current season, that's going to be frustrating considering how spoiler laden the internet will be.....

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