The Doctor (Baker), Leela (Louise Jameson) and K9 (who is close to beating the Doctor in a game of chess) find themselves in the far-flung future on the now settled planet of Pluto, which has a number of suns in orbit, making the planet close to earth normal.
But things aren’t going well on Pluto as the Time Lord and his companions soon discover.
The Sun Makers is a four-part story that was written by Robert Holmes and aired from 26 November to 17 December, 1977.
It seems there is a bit of a political and class struggle at work on Pluto. In fact this story probably resonates more now than it may have when it first aired. The rulers of Pluto house themselves in Megropolis One, where The Collector (Henry Woolf) rules, running his government like a business, and he’s the CEO, taxing and overworking his citizens to the point of collapse and death. His right-hand man, Gatherer Hade (Richard Leech) is a sycophant who delights in serving his master and squeezing the last drop of coin out of everyone under him.
There are those dwelling in the Undercity who are trying to survive outside of the Collector’s rule, but their leadership is shakey at best. Soon, the Doctor and Leela find themselves on the side of the people, rising up to confront the money-grubbing villains.
As the story unfolds, in typical fashion… the Doctor gets captured first so that he can learn what the baddies are planning, then his Companion is captured and put in peril so that the Doctor has to rescue them before the final confrontation.
There are things I do like though, the discovery that there are drugs in the air to keep the citizens compliant and under control, and things I don’t… I really don’t like the look of the Collector. It seems to easy to make him this little bald fella, with an odd voice. He comes across as too cartoony, and nowhere near as threatening as he could have been. Especially after the discovery that he is keeping the humans on the planet in a drugged state.
And of course, the Doctor gets drawn into confronting him when Leela is scheduled for a public execution. We also learn that the Collector isn’t even human, something else that I think would have made him even scarier, and reflective of the times we live in now.
Overall, it was an enjoyable enough story, showing that its not money but the people who should be running the government, and I think I would like to see an updated take on this in the Who-verse sometime soon…
K9 has some fun moments, and Leela, when the story allows her, continues to kick ass, and rescues the Doctor just as often as he rescues her.
Next week, our heroes travel to the Underworld…