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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Taking the P45?", 15 April 2011
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This review is from: Doctor Who - The Sun Makers [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Originally a beneficiary of the 2 entertain DVD boxset party game this was to be paired with Ambassadors of Death as the Solar System Boxset (well they both take place in the solar system!) but issues with the re-colourising of Ambassadors has caused it to go solo.
This is a hit and miss story where I think many would have a bit of sympathy for Robert Holmes' selection of target-the Inland Revenue. There are times when it becomes an attack on the tax system 1st and a story second and this is a bit of a weakness.

There is however plenty to enjoy as the Dr and Leela land on Pluto (made habitable by the provision of oxygen) where an evil company keep everyone in debt and below the poverty line, while they make huge profits. The dystopian setting is leaning toward the silent film Metropolis,albeit with jokes some subtle, some not. There are for instance vaguely humbuggish costumes, Internal Retinue & the celebrated P45 route.

The Dr and Leela of course join with the downtrodden masses and support/encourage rebellion. Amongst the rebels is a pre-Blake's 7 Michael Keating, playing a far rougher and meaner character than his Villa in that show. Shame he hasn't been in more things. There are references to perpetual day and suns plural which is nicely built on by having inhabitants scared of even partial darkness.

Gatherer Hade is played by Richard Leech who is wonderfully unctious and nasty at the same time. The Collecter a sort of camp Davros is played a bit OTT but it works, by Henry Woolf (best known otherwise for his diminutive Steptoe & Son gangster Frankie Barrow). Great casting.

Sets are good rather than inspired, as is the direction and there's quite a bit of corridor acting. There's an almost Barbarella look to one wall that looks as though it's covered in breasts.

The use of industrial locations may have influenced Blake's 7 as director Pennant Roberts went on to direct episodes. The location work in particular has a Blake's 7 look to it(The only bit where locations are badly chosen is a roof top scene that looks like the top of a multi-storey car park).

Leela is used as a warrior, I think this may be a favourite of Louise J and Tom gets to do a bit of rabble rousing.

It's a fun diversion but not all of it works. It's a Tommentary and he's accompanied by Louise J, director Pennant Roberts & Michael Keating. Tom takes a while top warm up but finds his form by part 2, answering Micheal Keating's musings about what happened to an actor friend after he moved to Brighton- "Nothing! People move to Brighton and are never heard of again!". Tom also claims that there was a dandruff epidemic there in the '70's! They notice the breast wall of course and talk about how fun Richard Leech & Henry Woolf were.

There's a great documentary "Running From the Taxman" in which Louise J reveals it is her favourite, why she loves it and that Robert Holmes was attacking the BBC in his script. Why they chose the high car-parkish roof -it was the only place high enough 20th century buildings could not be seen! There's commentary on the text itself, maybe a comment not just on the Beeb and taxman but also colonialsim and big business and a quick look at the science. Also it sagely points out how little the title has to do with the story. No mention of whether Richard Leech's surname as a coincidence but how the story led to Michael Keating geeting Vila in Blake's 7 is discussed.

There's also a Dudley Simpson featurette, the 2nd part to the one on War Games DVD which covers his 70's Dr Who work and is not as enjoyable as part one galloping too quickly through 10 years of the show but there's still enjoyable soundbites and it's clear Dudley loved the show & is still a little peeved at the way he was dumped.

There's a series of outtakes of 1 scene and transmission trails.

I normally don't notice the text commentary but this time it caufght my eye how the writer is obssessed with whether the Dr is handing out jelly babies when he says he is or some other sweet!

A good package for Tom fans.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 May 2011 08:56:56 BDT
Sophie says:
According to tvshowsondvd,com (themselves citing drwhonews.net), the commentary (recorded a few years ago) is Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Pennant Roberts and Michael Keating. However I don't know how accurate this info is.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2011 12:16:43 BDT
Bob Marlowe says:
Thanks Martin fantastic news, a new Tommentary! We can probably expect some crossover Blake's 7 material in it with Mr Keating & Mr Roberts. Perhaps they'll answer whether it bore influence on the later show.
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