- Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Michael Keating, John Leeson
- Directors: Pennant Roberts
- Format: Colour, Full Screen, Mono, PAL
- Language: English
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
- Studio: BBC
- VHS Release Date: 9 July 2001
- Run Time: 99 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00005CC0B
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,349 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Doctor Who - the Sun Makers [VHS] 
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Another adventure for everyone's favourite time traveller. The vast majority of the population labour in an underground city, crippled by the taxes imposed on them by the autocratic Company. It isn't long before the Doctor is siding with the underground rebel movement, but the need to overthrow the corrupt rulers takes on a new urgency when Leela is captured and sentenced to death by their leader, the sinister Collector...
Tom Baker's fourth season of Doctor Who marked a change from the exploration of Gothic horror. The unusually satirical "The Sun Makers" finds the Doctor, Leela (Louise Jameson) and robot dog K9 involved in a struggle against capitalism-gone-mad at the outer limits of the solar system. The Earth exhausted, mankind has colonised Pluto and lives in six vast "megropoli" lit by artificial suns. These colonies are run by The Company, with drugged human "work units" slaving simply to pay their funeral expenses. With video monitors, brain-washing and ruthless repression there is an obvious a debt to 1984, the white corridors echoing George Lucas' THX 1138 (1970) and the action a low-rent Star Wars. Michael Keating, who played a rebel in Dalek creator Terry Nation's Blake's 7 (1978-1981), is similarly cast as a reluctant freedom fighter. There are plentiful pot-shots at over-zealous taxation and bureaucracy--Robert Holmes wrote the story as revenge on the Inland Revenue after a frustrating VAT audit--and splendidly theatrical performances from Richard Leech and Henry Woolf as the ultra-capitalist villains. With no monsters and little conventional horror, Baker is on fine form in a briskly directed four-part comedy-thriller distinguished by its political edge. --Gary S DalkinSee all Product description
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There is a re-assuring solidity about the production of Sunmakers, which might be unusual in a programme shot in a studio and the roof of and inside a tobacco factory, and in Camden Deep Shelters. The production design is very good indeed. It all fits together remarkably well.
The concept is really the silliest stuff, but the quality of the writing is so high, coupled with committed performances and good direction more than compensate for that.
The ubiquitous Mary Whitehouse effect is offset here by Robert Holmes' flair for nasty ideas - the Steamer for one - and some deliciously ripe dialogue - Hade has all the best lines, and Richard Leech is clearly having great fun - even the consumbank at the end of Episode 1 works well, given that it's just a transparent box and dry ice, and there's plenty of implication of the horrors of the Correction Centre, even if we never do see them.
William Simons does two very good episodes as Mandrel (after that he turns into a good guy) and his exchanges with Leela (Louise Jameson clearly having fun too) are delightfully nasty. If the two ever did come to a fight, I'd bet on it being bits of Mandrel that'd end up being sent to recycling.
Henry Woolf does a lovely star turn as the Collector, with a delightful nasal drawl that never really sounds properly human, and those scuttling fingers like tentacles under that big, bald dome of a head with its Dennis Healey eyebrows.
And David Rowlands and Roy Mcready make a nice duo, as do Michael Keating and Adriennne Burgess (both to go on to Blake's 7), I especially like the latter as Veet.
The tax jokes are very good; the Inner Retinue, the P-45 Route, and the opening scene, where it because quite clear that poor Cordo is never going to pay off his debts. It all adds to the lovely feeling of liberation at the end - let's all stand up to the Tax Man - even if, with five other Megropolises still working , there may still be a lot for Cordo, Mandrel, Bisham, Goudry, Veet, Synge, Hakit and the rest to sort out after the TARDIS has gone.
And finally, it's a very good story for K-9, who was out of action for all of Image, but hurrah, the dog is back! Long live the doggie.
(I've said 3/5, but it's on its way to a 4)
Most of the 'jokes' aren't funny, although some of the lines are mildly amusing, such as the Doctor claiming that paying taxes is more painful than sacrifices to tribal gods. The script isn't satire; it's too witless for that, it spends much of its length moaning about taxation in cheap ways. Stories involving the Doctor helping to overthrow an oppressive regime can work brilliantly, just look at 'The Happiness Patrol', but the characters and the civilisation need to be more engaging.
The story is also madly made; it must have set some kind of record for the amount of time spent traversing dull corridors. The sets are bland and very, very overlit and the action sequence simply aren't exciting.
As mentioned earlier, there are loads of listless performances and when you couple this to the fact that none of the guest characters are well rounded it is nigh on impossible to root for the citizens in their struggle against their oppressors. Richard Leech is incredibly over the top as Gatherer Hade, but still unmemorable. Henry Woolf is better as the Collector, although he does have an annoying voice (basically he's a vastly less interesting version of Sil from 'Vengeance on Varos').
Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are both trying to their credit and there's some impressive location filming, but even so 'The Sun Makers' has very little to recommend it.
The special features include 'Running from the taxman', the usual 'making of' documentary which clocks in at approximately 24 minutes. In it Louise Jameson describes 'The Sun Makers' as her favourite Doctor story, amazingly.
The other main extra is 'The Doctor's composer-part two', this consists of footage from an interview with Dudley Simpson about the incidental music he composed for Doctor Who from 1970 to 1979 interspersed with clips from the Doctor Who stories he scored. This 18 minute feature is the highlight of the DVD and, if I'm honest, the only reason why I didn't award the DVD one star. One the downside, this feature could have been longer and more detailed, 'The Ribos Operation', for example, isn't mentioned.
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