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16 July 2011

Manufacturer: BBC DVD / 2|Entertain

Written By: Robert Holmes

RRP: £20.42

Release Date: 1st August 2011

Reviewed By: Dale Who for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 16th July 2011

The Doctor (Tom Baker) lands the ever unreliable TARDIS on Pluto, a dwarf planet on the outermost reaches of our solar system, where he finds it isn't the cold, barren, lifeless rock he was expecting. Someone's been very busy; Pluto now has a breathable atmosphere, it's warm and very humid, and has six suns. It also has an overly efficient taxation system, oppressed work units who live underground, and public executions. Can the Time Lord, Leela (Louise Jameson), and a small robot dog free the people and bring down the sinister Collector and his Internal Retinue? This single disc release from the BBC and 2|Entertain will let you find out... all praise the Company!

The Sun Makers is an enjoyably daft romp; a satire on taxation and bureaucracy. Two characters steal the show from start to finish; Leela, as played by fan favourite Louise Jameson, and Henry Woolf's delightfully odious and fiscally-obsessed Collector. Leela has all the best heroic lines - including a beautifully withering put-down of the less than brave rebels - and The Collector has all the best villainous lines, backed up with a characterisation that's hard not to warm to. It's all small fry by Whoniverse standards, and isn't an especially memorable story for plot reasons, but it's diverting and fun. The K-9 prop is so noisy it's untrue, the TARDIS door doesn't want to lock, and The Doctor no longer knows what a jelly baby looks like.

Annoyingly, the DVD is let down by a lack of decent extras, with only a few things holding the interest for any length of time; mostly because the rest of the extras are very, very short.

Commentary - This time, the commentary boasts both main cast members sitting in as both Tom Baker and Louise Jameson join Michael Keating and The Sun Makers director Pennant Roberts to talk about the story, the production and life during and after Doctor Who. Tom is always great fun to listen to, and teamed up with Louise again, the commentary provided is both entertaining and informative.

Running From The Tax Man - Louise Jameson is one of those people you instantly adore. She's very gentle and calm, witty and warm. She's also honest - but in a nice way that doesn't tread on people's toes. She's easily the best reason to watch this retrospective of The Sun Makers, and she reveals why this story above any other is her particular favourite. Also in the mini-documentary discussing the story are Michael Keating, (best known as "Vila" from "Blake's 7"), director Pennant Roberts, and an astronomer and a historian have been drafted in as well, partially to explain about Pluto and it's new status as a dwarf planet rather than a planet. It's an odd extra as it seems to repeat the same information several times, especially when it comes to the astronomy parts; but it's entertaining enough for that.

Outtakes - Citizen Cordo's gun fails to go off twice...No, really, that's it. Hardly an interesting or justifiable extra in itself, but would have been better used hidden away as an Easter Egg on the DVD, perhaps.

Trailer - The original BBC1 trailer for The Sun Makers.  Again, nothing else, just the one trailer.

The Doctor's Composer: Part Two - The second and final part of the series on one of Doctor Who's most prolific composers, the fantastic Dudley Simpson. This segment concentrates on his Doctor Who work from the seventies with the man himself talking us through much of his work and utilising many examples of his famous compositions through a wealth of clips. It's a delight to watch, as you try and figure out which music came from what story. A nice piece, with a genuine affection for one of Doctor Who's often unsung but most deserving behind the scenes heroes. This brilliant featurette gives a warm nostalgic glow and it's hard not to be drawn down memory lane for an enjoyably exciting jaunt.

Coming Soon Trailer - This one will blow your socks off. The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his assistant Jo Grant (Katy Manning) team up with UNIT to help save a peace conference being hosted by Sir Reginald Styles. However, those tinpot terrors The Daleks have other ideas... With new Dalek voices, and a wealth of new special effects and CGI, the Day of the Daleks Special Edition is out in September.

With the usual Photo Gallery of production and publicity stills, the Radio Times Listings in PDF format, and Subtitles available for those who might need them, and the usual information text on hand with trivia and viewing figures, The Sun Makers is a worthy enough story, rather badly supported by the extras available on the disc, and it all feels a bit empty as a result.

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