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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THX-113WHO
This was always one of my favorite Who's as a youngster and it is a joy to watch it again as an adult and think about what we are seeing. Since the reviews above [or below] do a fine job in outlining the plot, my tact will be discussing the look and feel of this superior, offbeat entry in the series.
If nothing else, this Who episode makes me think of George Lucas'...
Published on May 27 2002 by S. Nyland

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3.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who - The Sunmakers
Arriving at a human colony living in an artificial biosphere on Pluto, the doctor discovers a citizen on the verge of committing suicide because of an impossible tax burden. Aiding the resistance, the Doctor discovers that the corrupt corporation controlling the colony is being run by an evil alien...
Published on Nov. 18 2001 by David


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THX-113WHO, May 27 2002
By 
S. Nyland "Squonkamatic" (Six Feet Of Earth & All That It Contains) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
This was always one of my favorite Who's as a youngster and it is a joy to watch it again as an adult and think about what we are seeing. Since the reviews above [or below] do a fine job in outlining the plot, my tact will be discussing the look and feel of this superior, offbeat entry in the series.
If nothing else, this Who episode makes me think of George Lucas' first feature, THX-1138, and I am sure that the producers and designers studied that film for ideas, such as the drugged, dehumanized work units and the use of sterile, pre-exitsing "modern" locales. Some of the hallways, subway tubes and of course the rooftop set were probably all located in the same factory or power plant. The familiarity of the settings, redefined for science fiction, produce an odd reaction within the viewer that work very well in serving the plot.
The contructed sets actually remind me of 3d game levels; the wall fixtures are decorated with flat, 2 dimensional slabs of "textures" that represent circuit boards and electrical conduits. While the illusion they present is incomplete in places, the result as a whole creates a very believable world. There is also a claustrophobic nature to the episode that nicely fits in with this futuristic plutocracy; the whole Megropolis is one big production machine, and the humans are merely expendable drones that service it -- echoes of Metropolis, THX-1138, Soylent Green, Logan's Run, Silent Running, et al.
The only part of the story that seems underdeveloped is that of The Others; They have a nice little pit with great looking duct fixtures to skulk about in, but where are they looting all of their provender from? Where do they plan to spend the 1000 telmars? Where did Mandrel get that bullwhip? I can buy into the idea of a group of malcontents living like rats in the undercity, but I wish some more time had been given to showing just how they make their keep. As is they just supply the plot with a readymade bunch of grungy, amoral roustabouts that The Doctor can use to ferment the rebellion against the Company, glory be to the Company. I'm willing to overlook it.
Doctor Who adventures pass or fail on the strengths of their villains, and The Sun Makers has two great villains in the form of The Gatherer ["Perhaps everyone runs from the Taxman."] and the slimy, gross, sneering Collector. I love the scenes where he sits at his control desk, fiddling with computations, issuing proclomations, mumbling figures and pressing levers that go BOINK. It is also interesting seeing The Doctor pit his wits against an Alien Menace that doesn't want to reduce the galaxy to ashes for a change, just make dividends, keep up production, and enjoy a proper Steaming every once in a while. My favorite line from the adventure is when The Collector describes The Doctor with the expression "He has a long history of violence and of economic subversion. He will not be sympathetic to my company's business methods." Contemporary PC sensitive viewers may be uncomfortable with a hunched over little villain confinded to a wheelchair, but the explanation of why The Collector can't leave the chair provides a great laugh. The only bigger laugh comes from watching the people tip The Gatherer over the edge of the roof at the end. Ha ha.
And then there is Leela ... Leela is my favorite of The Doctor's companions, and her role in this episode is pivotal to the plot rather than just penciled in to give The Doctor someone to explain things to. As a "degenerate unsported Telurian colonial savage" she is completely bemused by the culture she encounters but, as usual, adapts well to the situation and provides the spark that ignites the insurrection in her failed attempt to rescue The Doctor. My only question is, why do she and the rebel female character who wants her skins suddenly seemed to have bonded at the end, to the extent where they do some dopey combat buddy handshake? The last time they had seen each other they weren't exactly on the best of terms. But with her blue eyes, dusky skin and scanty costume [I think we see more of Louise's bod in this one than any other in the series] she provides a truly human "Girl Power" counterpoint to the sanitized, impotent futuristic world she is thrust into. Her little bondage scene in the Correction Center also suggests things that cannot be printed here ... ahem.
One thing that kind of raised an eyebrow when watching this again was the opening and closing segments in the TARDIS where Baker's Who is nothing short of rude and petulant to Leela and K9. Why? Was the screenwriter trying to show The Doctor on one of his crabby mood days or were they improvising, and was this Baker's idea of humor? Hearing him tell Leela to "Shut Up" just sounds wrong, though if I am not mistaken she soon left the series after this entry. Perhaps they were trying to set Leela up to where she would be ready to jump ship in the Invasion of Time, but I think a swift one to The Doctor's family jewels might have encouraged him to re-think the way he relates to his traveling companions when company isn't around. Being a super genious hero is no excuse for acting like a jerk.
Still, the satire of the episode shines through; it is not only one of the most humorous entries in Baker's Who tenure but amongst the most poignent. The dialogue, especially Gatherer Hade's scenes, is consistently amusing but still deals with some weighty issues. It also anticipated the ATM machine with it's ConSom bank, an interesting insight that turned out to be a reality of our world of today. But what really makes it work is that The Sun Makers is a story about people and the changes they go through during it's course, and Dr. Who is always it's most entertaining when dealing with humanity.
My favorite moment? The scene where Gatherer Hade and his "underling" Marn try to sneak up on The Doctor's "static loop" of himself ... they draw their pistols, creep up to the spot, and with a "Now!" turn the corner to a wonderfully comic staccatto of trumpet music. Totally stupid, but it works.
This interview is terminated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Down With the Company, Citizens!, March 29 2014
By 
Andre Le Blanc (Cranbrook, BC) - See all my reviews
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Achat Amazon vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sun Makers - Story 95 (DVD)
Originally aired in 1977, BBC suffered severe budget cuts that resulted in poor special effects: the décor looks as if it were made out of cardboard (watch especially "Main Control"), the uniforms appeared improvised, and the special effects were practically non-existent. The story, however, is very interesting to watch, rumours being it would have been written by a freelance writer who had been audited for his income tax, and the fans' favourite Doctor, Tom Baker, made this episode one of the fans' favourite. When the Tardis lands on Pluto, until recently considered to be the outermost planet of the solar system, the Doctor is stunned to discover not a planet so cold its atmosphere lies frozen on its surface, but a thriving community under a temperate climate. He also discovers a society oppressed by heavy taxes and mindlessly chanting the expression, "Praise the Company." But the Doctor cannot allows this oppression from continuing and motivates the oppressed masses into launching a revolution. In my opinion, this would have to be one of Doctor Who's finest ever episode that I would have no hesitation in recommending to all Whovians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the Tom Baker years, March 22 2003
By 
Matthew D. Cornelius (stockton, ca United States) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
This is denfinitely one of those episodes that you apreciate a lot more when your older.I remember enjoying this as a kid but being all of about 9 years old at the time the humor escaped me not knowing much about taxes or corperations at the time.But seeing it now I see just how brilliant it is this has to be one of the funniest Doctor Who episodes I ever seen.The humor is great and stays funny even after repeated viewings.The guest stars who play the Collector and the Gatherer are suppurb.The only weakness has to be the sets but if your a Doctor Who fan you are probably willing to over look such things.This a must have for any true fan 5 out of 5.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, July 30 2011
By 
Eric J. Kregel "Gaucho" (High Prairie, AB) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sun Makers - Story 95 (DVD)
Funny, tightly written, and, in some places, scary. It's everything the best of the Baker era has done. Leela is given a lot to do in this episode, adding some sub-plots and depth to the adventure. And the villain is one of the best in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-see, May 11 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
The Pluto of the future has been transformed into an Earth-like planet. Unfortunately for the human colonists, the Earth-like qualities extend to an Earth-like tax system. This is a real must-see, a bona fide political satire. Tom Baker is suitably wacky, there are a lot of little in-jokes (one of the corridors is numbered P45), the adventure aspects are well-written, and Henry Woolf is both sinister and hilariously obnoxious as the oppressive head of the Pluto tax company.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "To forgive is fine?", May 7 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
Incredibly underrated due to the cheap-looking production, but really has aged very well and extremely humorous. Another Robert Holmes superlative takes a look at the tax system. Although, not filled with many double-plays(a Robert Holmes signature in his serials), there is still lots of fun to be had. i find that this one seems to get lost in the shuffle due to Season 15 not being a real fan favorite. Louise Jameson has some great lines: "Then they should rise up, and slaughter their oppressors!"
A diamond hidden in the rough, unless you're a Graham Williams detractor...
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'Cos I'm the Taxman...and you're working for no-one but me, March 2 2002
By 
Junglies (Morrisville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
If you are an American viwer you are going to miss a lot of the humour in this Doctor Who story. Living in England in the 1970s was to live in a land of very high taxation. Income tax rates up to 83%, additional taxes could take up to 98% of high earners income. Stories of tax exiles abounded from the Rolling Stones (boo) to Rod Stewart (yeh).
This story has references to the fiscal situation littered throughout. The state is shown more than ever as uncaring and the workers to be ruthlessly exported. Mind you, big business too comes under attack as being as uncaring too with the implication that there is not too much to choose between either of them. With the ENRON debacle very much in American minds right now these episodes could not be better timed. Once again happy coincidence with the latest Bush budget proposals.
Returning to the show, Tom Baker puts in another sterling performance with the redoubtable Leela at his side. As a sidenote, Louise Jameson is currently on US screens in the miserable British soap Eastenders. K-9 shows a little more independence than usual and in doing so helps to save the day.
For all of this I like this story better than most and I am glad that it has finally been released. One last thought, I do wish the BBC was more customer orientated so that we have more regular releases of Doctor Who and a quicker transition to DVD. Why makes us buy the VHS now and have to pay more for the DVD later. Perhaps there is too much of the Company in them. All praise to the Company!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Praise the Company? Stuff the Company!, Feb. 25 2002
By 
Daniel J. Hamlow (Narita, Japan) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
On a Pluto heated by six artifical suns, a giant corporation known as "The Company" has set up a branch under their leader the Collector, using humans as "work units," working and taxing them up the you-know-what. Taxes are a primary consideration
The Doctor and Leela stop a D-grade foundry worker, Cordo, from committing suicide because of the unjust death taxes imposed on him following his father's death. They are captured by an underground resistance movement, who are none too friendly, and led by the scruffy-looking Mandrel.
Leela plays a highly inspirational part here as she denounces Mandrel's underground lot. "No pride, no courage, no manhood. Even animals protect their own." Mandrel's threat to kill her is empty, as Leela could go fifteen rounds with them and come out unscathed. And when Cordo is the only one to help Leela rescue the Doctor, she tells him that he is the bravest one compared to Mandrel's gang. One of Leela's best stories.
Richard Leach (Gatherer Hade) plays his part as a typical fat, corrupt, pompous, and hammy bureaucrat. He also misquotes the Earth proverb, "There's one rotten apple in every barrel," saying "acorn." His respectful honorifics to the Collector border on the ridiculous, "Your Grossness, Your Voluminousness, Your Amplification," but that contributes to his ridiculous character.
This variation of amoral but plummy character would later be played to perfection by Iain Cuthbertson in The Ribos Operation. Of course, the difference between Hade and Garron is that the latter is more enjoyable.
There's also a French Revolution influence in designating people as "citizens," and a revamp on an old proverb: "To err is computer, and to forgive is fine."
The dialogue has its moments as well. The Doctor theorizes that an overtaxing corporation is caused by too many economists in the government. His condemnation of the Collector, is well put: "You bloodsucking leach! Don't you think commercial imperialism is as bad as military conquest?" To which the Collector replies that "economic power is more effective." We only need to look at the exploitation of African and Asian countries even after their European masters gave them independence of the Doctor's veracity. Look at Shell Oil in Nigeria, for example.
The most inspirational speech comes from the Doctor, who tells Mandrel and his group: "I want you to scatter through the city and tell the people what has happened. Remind them that they are human beings, and that human beings always fight for their freedom."
This was criticized in the past for its leftist political leanings, but this would also have appeal to libertarians or populists who are against taxation. There's also an anti-corporate message here as well. I work in a retail outlet of a corporation and sometimes I feel like just a "D-grade work unit." So there is no surprise that this story, which I previously ranked in the lower tier of the Who canon, has a lot more relevance to me. I can only dream of fomenting the kind of French, Russian, or Eastern European revolution of 1989 depicted in the Sunmakers against the corporation I work for. To quote Karl Marx, "Workers of the world unite!"
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5.0 out of 5 stars PRAISE THE COMPANY!, Feb. 16 2002
By 
J. J. Dangermond (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
Plain and simple: This story, along with Horror of Fang Rock, stand out as the best of the fifteenth season. The story reflects all the bad sides of the corporate and government world that still exist today (this was originally on television in 1977!). Fortunately it is now back in episodic form rather than the movie version. Buy it now!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Should have been released years ago!, Feb. 8 2002
Ce commentaire est de: Doctor Who: The Sunmakers (VHS Tape)
Perhaps this is one of the great Doctor Who episodes that one wonders why it has taken so long to be released on VHS. The plot is simple: workers are being taxed to death by the government. Something that still is going on today. The good always win in situations like this. It has all the drama on can want: an attempted suicide, a rebel from another world, the Doctor in a straight jacket, the steaming execution, and the truth of who is actually running the planet! All and all it's a great buy! Even though Leela can be boring at times, a drunken Tom Baker makes up for it! The straight jacket did suit the Doctor well!
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