Review: Doctor Who – The Pyramid at the End of the World

Peter Harness co-wrote this middle part of the current Doctor Who three-parter. His previous Doctor Who credits includes the divisive Kill the Moon and the more liked but unconventional Zygon Invasion/Zygon Inversion two-parter. There is a tiny but odd reference to Kill the Moon when the Doctor describes the Earth of the near future as “as dead as the moon” but UN/geopolitics set-up is more firmly like the Zygon Invasion.

The corpse-like monks are back but this time they’ve brought a pyramid an ancient pyramid and landed in central Asia in disputed territory near Chinese, US and Russian forces. The crisis sends the UN to look for the Doctor, which in turn leads the UN Secretary General to interrupt Bill’s date with Penny.

Meanwhile…in bio-research lab two scientists are conducting tests on plants. Given the flights of fancy of last week’s episode, the scenes in the lab are very grounded and nicely done. Erica (Rachel Denning) and Douglas (Tony Gardner) are presented as just ordinary people doing their job – although their very unconnectedness to the rest of the story creates a sense of lingering doom. Douglas has a hangover, Erica’s glasses were broken on her way to work: minor humdrum events that are setting ominous events in motion.

Good not great but also something of a classic. The story sits, rather like the freaky pyramid, at the borders of multiple Doctor Who elements: an overtly SF story about a bio-engineering threat to life on Earth, a more fantastical story about corpse-like monks in an alien pyramid, and the classic theme of the Doctor stopping multiple armies from shooting each other.

3 thoughts on “Review: Doctor Who – The Pyramid at the End of the World

  1. Yeah – trying to figure out how to “rate” this episode is very difficult. It’s easily the most flat episode in the series so far, spending far too much time on set-up (which is weird given that the previous episode was all set-up as well!) and yet it’s got the best individual sequences I’ve yet seen: the opening was gloriously done (how to one-up the Pope), the Doctor and Nardol in the TARDIS was a masterclass from two pretty good actors in a scene that was really just cheating the plot, and, of course, Bill doing what every companion in NewWho ultimately does – choosing the Doctor.
    Next week looks as though they might be revisiting the Master’s Year of Hell, but hey, that’s fine with me.

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  2. Okay yeah good episode. I’m wondering how the Doctor gets out of this situation. Classic Who; equal parts compelling and stupid.

    Anyway completely off-topic but I happened to glance at your twitter feed on the right there and noticed a meme about Tubthumping. Of possible interest to you may be a podcast called Surprisingly Awesome, which has an episode about that song (and Chumbawumba in general a little bit). They also handle other such amazing topics such as concrete, broccoli, pigeons, boredom and mattresses.

    The podcast is now defunct but the episodes take an interesting look at often ignored/overlooked topics that are um… surprisingly awesome. It got replaced by one called Every Little Thing which has a similar premise (interesting but overlooked things) but comes from a slightly different angle.

    Anyway sorry if you already know all this.


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