Doctor Who: The Sun Makers
Written by: Robert Holmes
Starring: Tom Baker (The Doctor)
Louise Jameson (Leela)
John Leeson (K9)
Aired: 26th November to 17th December 1977
Season 15 Serial #4
DWM Ranking: #162 of 241
(159. Battlefield; 160. Revenge of the Cybermen; 161. Planet of Fire; 163. A Town Called Mercy; 164. The Power of Three; 165. Closing Time; 166. The Highlanders)
NOTES OF INTEREST:
New Production Unit Manager: JNT
The Collector (Henry Woolf)
Gatherer Hade (Richard Leech)
Marn (Jonina Scott)
Cordo (Roy Macready)
Bisham (David Rowlands)
Mandrel (William Simons)
Veet (Adrieene Burgess)
Goudry (Michael Keating)
Opening Clip (12:29 - 12:49)
"Praise the Company" for the opening sequence of Doctor Who and the Sun Makers! A very fascinating satyrical take on the taxation imposed by governments on it's citizens. As a child, my grandfather told me about growing up in the 1900's working in the coal mines of Utah. He often quoted me the song, "Sixteen Tons," by Tennessee Ernie Ford, relating to the conditions his father grew up in, and how, although it had gotten better by the 1930's, when he was old enough to work in the mine, the system was still broken.
Sadly, when the scenes changed and we meet the Tardis crew of the Doctor, Leela, and K9, the grinding of K9's motor is a constant background distraction. As a Doctor Who Fan, I know it inevitably gets worse, until they finally transition K9 Mark I out at the end of "Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time," as Mark I, stays behind with Leela on Gallifrey. It was such a relief that The Doctor left K9 behind to go for a W-A-L-K on Pluto, which as this story takes place in the future, is back to being the 9th planet, no longer relegated to being a dwarf planet. I love how the Doctor talks down to K9 by spelling out the word "walk," and it could be seen as an "Eliza Doolittle" moment for the Doctor to Leela, spelling the word "walk," yet he distorts the phonemes of each letter, sounding out "Wuh-al-luk" to Leela. "I know," claims Leela, as K9 told her the correct word the Doctor was spelling.
The Tardis landing on top of a big building, in actuality a Tobacco Factory, resembles the opening planet Roj Blake is on in Blake's 7 (however, it has been some time since I watched that episode, so it might not look that similar).
(Clip 9:50 - 10:20 Taxes to Sacrifices) Unlike Katerina, the first primitive Doctor Who companion, Leela is able to see worlds outside her world. I'd say Doctor Who learned from its past mistakes, yet I don't believe the writers, script editor, nor the production crew knew much of the early years of Doctor Who. Robert Holmes, who wrote this episode was perhaps the oldest Doctor Who employee, having written The Krotons, back in the late 1960's.
Running from the Tax man. The connections between Blake's 7 and Doctor Who and The Sun Maker grows even more (Clip 10:55 - 11:12) as Cordo encourages the Doctor and Leela to leave the roof of the building, to avoid the correction center. The idea of the terrible corrections center, reminds me of the Netflix series, Black Window. In series 2 episode 2, they show a horrific corrections/punishment/interactive experience center for criminals found guilty.
Yet another connection to Roj Blake of Blake's 7 (Clip 11:35 - 12:15) Kandor conspiracy. Surviving 3 years in the correction center. Condo decides to run away to the "Undercity" where the D grade's who survive the correction center run off to. The band of merry men who run the Undercity are a form of Robin Hood-ish, rob from the rich, and gain for themselves.
(Clip 16:25 - 37) K-9 leaves the Tardis, visually on a flat surface that the production team most likely placed on the Tobacco Company's roof, as the gravel top didn't allow K-9 to move smoothly. I'd probably have blown up, injuring some Doctor Who staffer. Perhaps giving him super powers like the kids in the movie iBoy, when a shard of a mobile phone gets lodged in a kids brain. Very lame movie, lucky thing for fast-forward! Anyway, I love how the Gatherer has no idea what K-9 is, but to show he superiority, says he doesn't need to tell his assistant what K-9 is.
(Clip 18:24 - 19:00) Death Taxes, steal and kill. The Undercity group hold Leela hostage as a means to have the Doctor use an ATM card as means to steal 1,000 Talmars from the government. (Clip 22:46 - 23:20) The Gatherer has a slight paranoia about gun running rebellion.
The cliffhanger for the end of episode one has the Doctor getting sealed in the ATM machine, and gas enveloping the Doctor's face. My question to this, and something I looked for on the DVD show notes, is was Mary Whitehouse and her group of crazies up in arms about this. According to the show notes, which have usually been pretty thorough about jumping all over Doctor Who for its violence, wasn't mad at this?
The reprieve brings us back to the end of episode 1 cliffhanger, as the Doctor is using some sort of an ATM card with so many Telmars (credits) pre-loaded on it. He is
THIS POST WAS INCOMPLETE AS LIAM DECIDED HE'D RATHER SHOOT FROM THE HIP ON THE INTERVIEW THAN FOCUS ON SPECIFIC QUESTIONS OR DISCUSSIONS.