The Sun Makers

The Sun Makers
The Sun Makers.jpg
Season: 15
Episode: 4
Vital statistics
Air date 26 November – 17 December 1977
Written by Robert Holmes
Directed by Pennant Roberts
Episode guide
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Image of the Fendahl Underworld

The Sun Makers is a lark of a fourth story from Season 15 of British science-vision series Dock-Tor Hoo! 

Background

The story was broadcast in late 1977, just a few months after Star Wars had been released, a film commonly mistaken as having lead to the rejection of anything sci-fi that was made for British television. The programme gave no fucks and broadcast this much more enjoyably amusing story. The Sun Makers has no real name recognition amongst the embarrassing “fandom” because it lacks dumb Daleks or stupid Cybermen or super-epic! bullshit, but it is pure Classic Who fun to its core and may help you keep the poorer material in perspective as the trash that it is/was.

Plot

The Sun Makers is about how the Doctor, Leela and K9 arrive on Pluto to find it under the control of “the company” (yeah I’m the tax man, tax maa-aaah-aaahn, and you're working for no one but me) and foster a rebellion to help stick it to The Man and tear down this Orwellian Big Brother Brave New World sort of place. And speaking of terrorists, did you know that Leela is named after a real-life Palestinian hijacker named "Leila Khaled"? No shit, that’s really the real person’s last name - holy fuck that’s weird, huh? Anyway, Louise Jameson, another Palestinian hijacker, says the Sun Makers was one of her favorite Doctor Who stories to work on and it’s really pretty smart for a fucking children’s show.  

How so? Well 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, pinko fucks) 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, fucking Russia? Yeah, I’m really sure a lot of people would have hated the idea of making fun of paying taxes (then again, I live in America and we’re so fucking angry about paying even a tenth of a cent on a hundred dollar purchase that we stockpile guns for when they come for our recyclables).

Anyway, so all these human shmoes are being held under the thumb of a private corporation rather than a government, but obviously this was all that commie Holmes’ plan to get us to hate our governments and big business. One telling bit of evidence: when one of the rebels asks "What have we got to lose?" the Doctor replies, "Only your claims!", a playful paraphrasing of the slogan derived from the last lines of The Communist Goddamn Manifesto.

Admittedly, The Sun Makers might sound a rather dull affair, but fuck that noise, it’s great. These were the days when Classic Who didn’t suffer stupid implausibility every few seconds and when the programme was really entertaining from moment to moment and rarely dragged, you know like it always suffered during the JNT era, or even in the Third Doctor’s Colony in Space, which feels pretty similar except that was boring as hell, no matter that the Master was knocking about in it. So yes, here’s a perfect example of the fucking children’s show pitching some of its material above their wee heads at their parents, making Doctor Who once and for all a goddamned family programme, so stop posting that stupid meme about it being a children's show ok you guys

Even I like this one, and frankly, Doctor Who is shit, and I say that as a fan of the show. If you can honestly say you don’t like this one, you need to abandon this programme for something more your speed such as Teen Wolf or maybe Batman cartoons.

Notable points

I normally do an episode-to-episode write-up for these things, highlighting the numerous errors of logic, production and what-not, but this story has very few examples of those and is just damn fun so I won’t waste your time with that when you could be actually watching it. Some things worth mentioning however:

  • Doctor Four being his Tommie-Bakerest.
  • Leela kicking ass and proving herself a better single companion than any eighteen from JNT’s era.
  • I admit I was shocked to see Jon Nathan-Turnout’s name listed in the credits, even if he was just the "production unit manager" for this story.  Had no one at the BBC ever heard of the Peter Principle?  And no I’m not talking about Peter Davison.
  • Both The Gatherer (who mispronounces words like “mahogany” as “mah hoe gain ee”) and The Collector are both played in outlandishly silly mode and are a delight to watch practically every second they’re on screen.  JNT could have learned a few things for his later run on the show watching these guys instead wasting his time doing his… production-unit-managering or whatever.
  • Much of the story  is shot inside some unadorned 1977 office buildings, but who cares when we get to see Leela’s panties as she climbs down a ladder?
  • Yes, you read right: The Sun.

Reception

I hadn't seen this one in years and thoroughly enjoyed rewatching it.  This shit 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; Selfish cunt is too selfish to pay his damn taxes, picks a fight with the government, and sows the first few seeds of 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

Trivia

TARDIS Data Core (ugh) uselessly notes that as of March 2012, this story is one of only two — the other being Night Terrors — to be filmed on location in Bristol, like that’s important to goddamn anybody.  Don’t let the invocation of Night Terrors put you off watching this one, but do let this goddamn pointless trivia put you off using TDC.  They also note that some sound effects were also used on the radio version of Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe.