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Doc, Leela and K-9 lead a proletarian revolution against space capitalists on Pluto who may be in the business of making suns

There are two things certain in life: death and taxes. And the people of Pluto decided to put those things together in the name of a more efficient corporate strategy. Unfortunately for Citizen Cordo, Plutonian taxes can be raised at the drop of a hat and he can no longer afford to pay the death taxes for his father. With the cards stacked against him, Cordo decides that there’s no point even staying alive. Fortunately, the Doc and Leela find themselves on Pluto after the TARDIS centre column stops functioning. Leela spies Cordo attempting to throw himself off a building and, with Doc’s help, manages to bring him to safety.

With a new episode buddy in tow, Doc and Leela go to find out what’s happening inside the vast Megropolis on Pluto, where a sinister conglomerate run by The Collector manages — and taxes — every aspect of human life. A group of renegades called The Others, however, oppose the capitalist regime and soon recruit our TARDIS team in their ongoing efforts to stick it to The Man. With the help of K-9 and his awesome weaponry, a class war is all but inevitable!

Here's what we think of C095 The Sun Makers

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.3

Here's what we think of C095 The Sun Makers

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

3.7

Jim | @jimmythewho

3.3

Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C095 The Sun Makers”
  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    An Orwellian, company invested in suns sustaining overworked, drugged laborers following draconian rules in Robert Holmes’ satirical story.

    After the Doctor and Leela saved a suicidal laborer unable to pay death taxes, he guided them underground. There, rebel tax cheats held Leela hostage, compelling the Doctor to make an illegal ATM withdrawal. Upon capture, they tried to rescue one another. Leela would be executed as the Doctor was reeducated. Instead, he was released to locate the rebels and helped destroy the company.

    Until then, elite guards protected The Collector, a poisonous, alien weed and sadistic executive. He left his office to enjoy Leela’s lethal steaming after ordering an unpaid work stoppage and selling tickets. Watching this officious, bald bureaucrat tapping madly at his calculator as his nasal voice bemoaned falling production and profits was hilarious.

    The Gatherer was the Collector’s fawning sycophant until he was chewed out and told to finance a bounty on the Doctor. He felt better hurrying to punish rebels enjoying forbidden sunlight before they threw him off a roof.

    Management titles emphasized the story’s anti-tax theme, contrasting with the Gatherer’s assistant, Marn. She did her job and joined the tax revolt as the Doctor stopped the company from exploiting Pluto in a funny story with a powerful message.

  2. Kristaps Paddock | @PaddockND

    A lot of 70s Who seems to be filmed with some kind of film that only picks up brown, yellow and occasionally red, and this is one of those stories. The drab scenery matches a bit of a snoozy plot, one of Who’s many industrial relations melodramas, none of which ever work (just ask the Monster of Peladon). I don’t know what it says about this serial, but the most memorable part is when The Doctor learns that re-painting a space credit card doesn’t alter how it works. Who would have thought? Two point eight. God I can’t wait for The Key to Time.

  3. Phil Salter

    The Sun Makers is a strange one, a thinly disguised all out attack by Robert Holmes on the taxman in story form, whilst also an attach on private business as government. I know many people LOVE this story and it’s cynical take on things, but it’s a bit… run of the mill to me. Several unrelated points follow:

    The production team love that long echo-y corridor, what a find!
    Steam-death machine is a little odd as a point of spectacle
    The rebels are rubbish
    Richard Leech as Hade is amazing, truly amazing, his constant refrains of “Your Highest”, “Your Sublimity”, “Your Eminence” are wonderful.
    If you listen carefully, some sound effects in this story are also used in the radio version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

    A pretty good story, kind of run of the mill with 2 factions of rebels/evil people, good moments but I’ve seen better: 2.0

    Phil
    Twitter: Perhaps everyone runs from the “tweetman?”.”

  4. Jim The Fish

    To start with, Robert Holmes wrote it as a satire of his own fights with the Inland Revenue services (tax evasion is frowned on in the UK) and did such a good job that the producer Graham Williams cut some of the more obvious satirical material, fearing controversy from viewers whom he thought must goddamn love paying their taxes or something – where did he think he was, Russia? Yeah, I’m really sure a lot of people would have hated the idea of making fun of paying taxes….

    Admittedly, The Sun Makers might sound a rather dull affair, but, it’s great. These were the days when Doctor Who didn’t suffer stupid implausibility every few seconds and when the programme was really entertaining from moment to moment and rarely dragged.

    I hadn’t seen this one in years and thoroughly enjoyed rewatching it. This has the real sense of fun that stories like Robot of Sherwood aspire to but rarely reach or sustain across an entire story. It does not disappoint.

    (Counterpoint; Holmes is too selfish to pay his damn taxes, picks a fight with the government, and sows the first few seeds of the shows cancellation. Leela spends most of the story either talking about fighting people or getting captured when she tries to fight them. The bad guy is a space Jew).

    BRAVO HOLMES

    4.0/5

  5. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Episode 1

    Likes: the Doctor readily committing ATM fraud. (How did VISA not sue?)

    Episode 2

    “Before I die, I will see this rathole ankle deep in blood!”. I love you Leela.
    Austin Powers Cliffhanger. The little car is coming straight for us! (Albeit very, very slowly).

    Episode 3

    K-9 is the Dalek in Dalek. Why has no one built a K-9 battle army?
    Likes: the Collector’s preference for executions in Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
    Ready Steady Cook Cliffhanger. One steamed Leela, coming right up.

    Episode 4

    The execution spectators got a refund, right?
    The Doctor’s anti-violence pep talks to Leela are increasingly half-hearted.
    The Collector is an amoeba! Missed opportunity to enlarge him and bring back the giant shrimp.
    The merry mob chucking Gatherer Hade off the roof! Doctor, you’ve just handed the planet over to a bunch of murderous psychos. How do you sleep at night!?
    The bureaucracy of Company Plutocrats is reminiscent of the obsessive space-core directive quoting Caretakers in Seventh Doctor story Paradise Towers. Perhaps this is where the (surviving) Inner Retinue officials went after being handed their P45s.

    Summary: Kill the taxman!

    Rating: 3.5/5 Inner Retinue officials given the choice of being lobbed off a building, zapped by K-9 or filleted by Leela, for the crime of doing their job.

  6. Peter Zunitch

    This story is silly. It’s fluffy. It’s overly allegorical. It’s ham-fisted and it’s dopey simple. Personally, I love it.

    There are so many over the top characters here, and they’re all wonderfully performed. We even get Michael Keating, Vila Restal himself! who coincidentally is following a revolutionary who dresses just like Roj Blake. It’s just an insane character study where everyone is having so much fun yet taking their roles so seriously.

    What truly vaults this story is the premise, the world building and the backstory. Every time some new twist is introduced that moves the plot forward, there’s an equally interesting piece of past or present that is developed as well. The result is a world that we are comfortable in, with characters that make sense given all that has happened. Heck, even K-9 gets some useful moments.

    On the flip side, his monstrosity’s breakdown in the last scene is a bit of a non-sequitur. It feels like dialog was cut for time. Likewise, Leela’s ramming speed on the luggage cart always reminds me of the Simpsons when Sideshow Bob jumps on the parade float and we hear chief Wiggam yell, “Quick, he’s slowly getting away!” Still, moments like these only add to the fun.

    It’s far from perfect and nowhere near epic, but this fun little story is a shining example of how a production can get past it’s hokey production budget and limited resources and rise above into something special. All praise the company! 3.2

  7. Derek Moore

    Oh what a fun set of episodes! Perhaps because this was my first time watching, but this felt quite original, Blade Runner meets Logan’s Run meets The Office. The bureaucrats were really fun to watch. The biggest drawback was another instance of what felt like torture porn for Leela, and some gratuitous upskirt shots that were, well, gratuitous. Although I heard in the DVD extras this was Louise Jameson’s favorite story, so bonus points for that. Overall, a 3.7 out of 5 guns made out of cardboard which looked adorable.

  8. Paul Waring | @pwaring

    Watching The Sun Makers as a teenager I didn’t get all the references and jokes, but as a cynical taxpayer who’s just finished his self-assessment return for the year, it’s a much funnier story.

    Apart from the digs at taxation and capitalism, the main thing that stands out for me is the guest cast for this tory. Gatherer Hade is the most enjoyable character to watch, with my favourite moment being when he is told that he will have to pay the reward for the capture of The Doctor. Mandrel makes a convincing leader of the outlaws, ready to kill The Doctor one minute and then back his plan the next, and Cordo grows from being terrified to helping bring down The Company. The Collector is wonderfully evil, though he clearly needs to hire some better guards as I think they only manage to hit one target (Leela) in the entire story!

    Overall, an amusing story that makes me chuckle, but it’s towards the weaker end of Holme’s work and not one I rewatch that often. 3/5

  9. Daniel aka Doctor in Waiting

    Another jolly for doc and Leela on an alien planet with an overbearing government that tax the people to death a metaphor for Robert Holmes issues with the inland revenue…..

    Hang on… back up a minute did they just… kick K9 in the opening scene?

    The story flows along nicely and the Doctors exchange with Gatherer Hade after he is released from the correction centre is Tom Baker at his witty best.

    Hard to accept Michael Keatings in a tough guy role after watching him in Blake 7’s as the funny and often cowardly Villa.

    Leela stays true to her savage roots by detecting the suppressive gases pumped into the air and her classic Leela line of “the guard will have warned others we should have killed him”.

    The only distraction I had from this otherwise great story were characters switching their emotions suddenly. Cordo wishes to commit suicide then after a few words his troubles are gone. Mandrel flicks back and forth from wanting to kill the Doctor and Leela then he doesn’t several times throughout the story.

    Oh and why was there a need to make the collector become a fungus? Was him being a member of an evil financially exploitive race not sci-fi enough?

    Overall a rating of 3.4 tax rebates out of five.

  10. Nick aka The Doctor

    Happy New Year to you guys, and look forward to a year of more podcast hilarity

    This is quite a short review as somehow I don’t have much to say, except, perhaps controversially this is the lowest Tom Baker rating I have given thus far….

    There is a message here regarding the death taxes, corporation and one person’s exploitation of not only the workers but also the natural environment (or sun energy) and this is in fact very apt that you are covering this just as we are on the current political rollercoaster here in the UK. I’m sure you will get into this in the podcast. The story isn’t terrible – I think I probably just found it predictable. I love the sets and they are reminiscent of lots of 70s sci-fi (lots of running around endless shiny corridors). However Pluto looked mysteriously like a skyscraper roof on Earth. So what happens in the episode? Doc gets captured, Leela rouses the rebels, K9 shoots stuff – pretty sure we see a lot of this over the next few eps (and the previous few). The highlight was the gratuitous way in which the rebels straight up murdered the gatherer and actually laughed about it. So forgive my low rating (for this period of Who). 2.4

    Best wishes

    Nick

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