Doctor Who: The Sun
Makers (Story No.
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
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
- Scott Pyle