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Doctor Who - the Sun Makers [VHS] [1977]

4.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: BBC
  • VHS Release Date: 9 July 2001
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005CC0B
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,109 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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...

From Amazon.co.uk

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 Dalkin

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I must have missed this one on the original run on TV and also in the Video release. Quite unusual then to watch a Tom Baker era story for the first time. The other reviews pretty much sum it up. Dated sets, low budget, etc. I enjoyed the performances though and in particular Louise Jameson's Leela - I'd not seen one of her stories for a while.

The extras are a little under par by Doctor Who standards. The Dudley Simpson featurette is good. The 'making of' documentary is passable. The Day of the Dalkes trailer is very good! The out-takes are ridiculously short but it makes you realise that the team behind the DVDs try and get everything they can into them - we are normally spoiled by the extras!
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One of the most hilarious myths in Who fan culture is that 'Sun Makers' is a right-wing allegory about the horrors of the big state and punitive taxation. This is to misunderstand the story but also, more important, it is to buy into one of the centrepieces of reactionary ideological bull pervading our culture: the idea that conservative politics is about the liberty of the individual while socialist politics is about the power of the state.

In 'The Sun Makers', Robert Holmes is not just satirising "the UK tax system", as fan guidebooks usually inform us. He's satirisng the symbiotic link between the state and big business. Yes, the Collector's personal guard are called the "Inner Retinue" (which sounds a bit like "Inland Revenue"... thus implying that the Vat man is a bit of a brutal thug, geddit???) and there are are corridors called the P45, etc. But all this occurs under the absolute domination of an organisation called "The Company", run by a guy in a pinstriped suit, who is clearly doing this for the profits. Where do the profits come from? From the ludicrously exorbitant taxes (i.e. "breathing tax") paid by the population to the Gatherer, who is the ultimate state official but is grovellingly subservient to his corporate master. So, the state gathers and the Company collects. Really, how much clearer could this possibly be?

It's sometimes objected that the society in the story is more like a Stalinist dictatorship... because it's got torture chambers, prison camps, a news service that broadcasts government propaganda and lots of bureaucrats. Well, the capitalist world has torture chambers, prison camps, utterly subservient news and bureaucrats aplenty.

In 'The Sun Makers', the Company has, effectively, bought out the government...
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There's a man trying to commit suicide because he can't pay his taxes. If I'd been ten years older, I'd have scented the satirical rat, but at 14, I didn't. What a very naughty man Mr Holmes could be.

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.
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Viewers of 'The Sun Makers' who had a year previously been treated to 'The Robots of Death' and 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' must have wondered what had happened to 'Doctor Who' in the intervening twelve months. Far from being a rich, dark fusion of homages to literature and classic horror films, 'The Sun Makers' is a witty satire, primarily on the British tax system but also on high finance and big business generally as the last survivors of the human race are held in thrall by an alien Company with its own agenda. The script is one of Robert Holmes's most entertaining, the performances are larger than life but given room to breathe and while the story may not be conventional Who, it's perhaps one to put on when you're in the mood for something lighter and slightly cleverer than your average serial.
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