And so, some fifteen short seasons in, we reach The Sun Makers.
Tom Baker is the Doctor again here, resplendent in practical tweed rather than the signature greatcoat ensemble. On damsel in distress duty is Louise Jameson’s Leela, and it’s not hard to see why. Looking like she’s just fallen out of One Million Years BC, The BBC were evidently targeting the ‘dads’ demographic when they dreamt up this character. Except, she’s not just a pair of inordinately long legs in a leather bikini, and come to think of it she ain’t in distress all that much either. Whilst elsewhere in the Empire in 1977 the Queen was busy having a Jubilee, Auntie Beeb were giving us girl power in the shape of a primitive savage with a beltful of knives. Oh, and she’s intelligent too. Progressive stuff!
The Doctor and Leela land on the roof of an office block on Pluto. The premise, we later discover, is that The Company have manufactured artificial suns in order to sustain life after, uh, something handwavy happens with the Earth. Then as you do when you’ve built a few stars, you tax the everloving crap out of everyone who wants to use it for self-indulgent luxuries like, oh I don’t know, staying alive, for instance.
Turns out, what we’ve got here is a system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and there’s a revolting underclass outside the system indulging in half-hearted acts of rebellion. It’s a lot like Dune. Or 21st Century England.
The supporting cast are a reasonably entertaining bunch. The bureaucrats are pure Douglas Adams: the self-satisfied Gatherer’s mannerisms perhaps inspiration for the Thermians in Galaxy Quest, and his boss the Collector is the amalgamation of every obsessed bean-counter stereotype ever. Unfortunately the leader of the underclass is instantly forgettable, but I suppose you can’t have everything.
We’ve also got the first appearence (in my rewatch list) of K9. First impressions, he’s a lot bigger than I remember! It’s a bit of a strange character, part intellectual genius and part ‘good dog, sit, stay, sic him, back to your kennel, have a biscuit.’ It feels a bit like having a precocious child savant on the team.
On the whole a reasonable tale, but a bit of a bureaucratic-monster-of-the-week anticlimax after the stellar Genesis of the Daleks.