Doctor Who #469: The Sun Makers Part 2

"The cause of your unfortunate experience, of which I trust there are no ill effects?" "Oh, not at all, not at all. Your guards were entirely charming, and so attentive."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.3 1977.

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor is thrown into the Correction Center, but released by a curious Gatherer before he can be rescued by Leela and friends.

REVIEW: Not quite as witty as Part 1, Part 2 takes us closer to The Macra Terror by revealing the powers that be are pumping anxiety-producing drugs into the ventilation to keep the population afraid and under control. Even Leela feels the effects, and it's so alien a feeling to her that she immediately notices her unusual apprehension and then goes on to overcome it! That's why we love Leela. I do have concerns about the character though. Here, she promises to draw blood on the rebels who threatened her, and later shoots an unarmed technician, probably fatally. Now, a character with such an extreme position in a series like this can only really work if she evolves away from that position. By this time, Leela should be a little more civilized and less lethal. Otherwise, the Doctor has monumentally failed in trying to declaw her. She should have learned the program's lesson that there's a better way, and need not have lost any of her fiery temper in the process. Emasculating Mandrel with words is perfectly fine, trying to do it with her knife is not. (She doesn't make that attempt, mind, I'm making a point about her killing ways.)

As for the Doctor, he gets sent to the Correction Center, which could have been a little more Kafkaesque for my tastes given Part 1's penchant for the absurd. It becomes a good place for exposition about why the proles are such sheep (the 1% of course get pills to nullify the gas), and the Doctor narrowly avoids a lobotomy. Though Leela, Cordo and K9 are coming to save him, he's released by the Gatherer instead, leading to a pretty fun conversation where they try to outdo each other in politeness. Looks like it plays on the Doctor's prodigious ego too, because he seems to believe the Gatherer's sincerity. The Gatherer's courtesies are well honed as a fawning sycophant to HIS boss, the toad with a silly voice, hunched over calculations, called the Collector. Holmes has some fun with language in the scenes they share, but the latter may be a touch too cartoony.

On a production level, The Sun Makers is somewhat schizophrenic. The location work is interesting, crazy long white corridors with real depth, while the studio sets meant to match them are shoddy, with marks for the actors sometimes visible on the floor. I first thought it was meant to show a society in creative decay, but no, it's just ugly white walls badly joined to the floor. At least those are environments K9 can easily navigate.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - We've done satire, now let's get this plot moving, but at the cost of some of that very satire.

2 comments:

snell said...

In her defense, Leela's bloodthirstiness may be attributable to the gas--perhaps she hasn't shaken off the effects as completely as she thought...

Siskoid said...

Or shaken off the humiliation of getting captured, suspended and steamed!

 

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