Who Wrote It?
What’s It About?
The Doctor and Leela arrive on Pluto in time to prevent a man from committing suicide. As they try to discern his distress, they discover a dystopian society controlled by The Company, which uses economic oppression to keep humanity subdued.
It’s just a knack. You’ve either got it or you don’t
And this is what you get when Robert Holmes attempts to make a point. Irritated by the British tax system, Holmes penned this thinly-veiled critique (and “thinly-veiled” seems to be overstating it). Holmes portrays The Company as a bureaucratic entity that keeps humanity working to pay taxes, never allowing them to get ahead. And in the end, the Collector is portrayed as a fungus that slithers down a toilet-like seat. Holmes leaves little room for mercy in this story. Subtlety is not part of his agenda.
On the whole, I enjoyed this story. The script, while heavy-handed, is extremely witty; it is full of the types of characters that Robert Holmes excels at. The dialogue between the Doctor and the Collector (and the Doctor and Gatherer Hade) is sharp and sparkling. The greatest fault in the script is the lack of subtlety, and even that can be dismissed as person preference. Unfortunately, the story is let down by the action sequences, which are poorly executed. The sense of danger is severely lacking.
I do, however, appreciate the idea of economic imperialism rather than conquest through war. It is something that is still relevant today. Likewise, some of the critique of mindless bureaucracy is still relevant; how often we still turn over our lives and money to support systems that we don’t understand. And where does that money go? It is a shame that this story, whose themes are still quite relevant, is damaged by areas of poor execution. If not for that, this story would still pack a satirical punch.