Doctor Who #470: The Sun Makers Part 3

"It makes a profit, that's what it's for."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Dec.10 1977.

IN THIS ONE... Leela is captured and put in the steamer. Can the Doctor stage a revolution in time to save her?

REVIEW: While I appreciate the sense of the absurd with which the Company is handled - it doesn't do anything except make profit for its own sake and that criticism is still as relevant today as it was then - there's just not enough satire to really turn The Sun Makers into a classic. Instead, we're witness to a tired rebellion plot we've seen many times before. Oppressed society, Doctor swans in, encourages an overthrow, etc. etc. I'm also having difficulty with the Collector who not only speaks in a cartoony nasal voice, but makes all sorts of comedy sounds on his personal console. It's really distracting and not very funny. The Gatherer, while just about as much of a caricature, this toad's toady, is the better character, desperate to capture the Doctor so the reward money doesn't come out of his pocket. Greed is a realistic motivation, and the cartoon that motivates these characters has trouble appearing absurd or extreme. The fact that they send it up just makes it seem falsely played.

The Doctor is still quite watchable, of course, still finding ways to be insolent when threatened in new and amusing ways. Accelerating Mandrel's countdown to hot poker is a good example. He's also handy with CCTV manipulation, making an infinite loop of himself walking around the corridors in the best spy thriller tradition. K9 is basically a coasting gun at this point, and his only character moment, starved for approbation, is cute only if you believe Leela knows real dogs eat biscuits. Generally, she doesn't fare so well. The film scene in the corridor, with the vehicle and the barricades, is slowly paced and stilted, and the guards shooting at the remedial Stormtrooper level manage to graze her forehead and capture her. From there it's a lot of shouting and sarcasm, none of it particularly charming. And she does give away the Doctor's true identity. Apparently, the Company knows about Gallifrey and grades its potential for market development poorly. Yeah, the Time Lords probably don't have much use for an economy. They can grab anything they need from anywhere in space and time, and gotten round any need for real estate.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Disappointed in the run-of-the-mill plot and villains' camp performances, it's still watchable fare with occasional witty dialog.



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