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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Time Travel > British TV > Doctor Who: The Sun Makers (Story No. 95/BBC DVD)

Doctor Who: The Sun Makers (Story No. 95/BBC DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A     Episodes: A+



For a lot of folks who grew up in the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tom Baker equalled Doctor Who.  He was the only Doctor I was aware of, and I enjoyed his adventures via the magic of PBS on Saturday afternoons.  The companions I remember and love best during this run were Leela (Louise Jameson) and K-9 (voiced by John Leeson).  As a young man, Leela’s strong demeanor, amazing outfit, and lithe body had quite and effect on me, and K-9 was a robot dog.  What could be cooler?


The Sun Makers” combines all of these nostalgic elements with a great Robert Holmes script and some wonderful performances by the supporting cast to create what I would call a quintessential Who story.  The Doctor and Leela arrive on the roof of what amounts to a giant industrial hive on the planet Pluto.  Six artificial suns burn in the sky providing light and heat where there should be none.  Leaving poor K-9 in the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela quickly intercede to prevent a poor industrial worker from leaping to his death.


In typical fashion, the Doctor gets involved in the local scene, finding that the workers are being taxed to death by the evil Corporation, a monolithic entity that squeezes every last drop out of its workers and gives little in return.  One of the nice things about Mr. Holmes’ script is its “rorscach test” approach.  Those right-of-center anti-tax folks can find something to like in its message, and those of a “leftist” persuasion can see a strong anti-corporate message as well.  Either way, it’s a ripping good yarn that pits the Doctor against the Collector, brilliantly played by Henry Woolf.  After a rough start he and Leela slowly win the bedraggled populace over to idea that a rebellion could work.


Richard Leech and Jonina Scott also turn in ace performances as villains Gatherer Hade and his assistant, Marn.  When K-9 finally gets into the action he gets plenty of face time, and Mr. Leeson provides his typically awesome voice talents to make the tin dog both wryly funny and lovable.


Extras abound and the main featurette on the story reveals some neat facts and inside details on this particular series of episodes.  It seems Ms. James and Mr. Baker did not always get along, so director Pennant Roberts was forced to do some creative blocking to keep the peace.


If someone pressed me to name a classic who disc to show to a person in order to sell the show, “The Sun Makers” would be on my short list.  It represents some of the best of the old series, and will make a worthy addition to any Doctor Who collection.



-   Scott Pyle


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