Mon, 25 June 2012
The Seventh Doctor and Ace visit a human colony on the planet Terra Alpha, and are unsettled by the planet's unnaturally happy society. Cheerful music plays everywhere; the planet's secret police force, the Happiness Patrol (governed by the vicious and egotistical Helen A, who is obsessed with eliminating unhappiness), roam the streets wearing bright pink and purple uniforms, while they hunt down and kill so-called 'Killjoys', and the TARDIS gets repainted pink so as not to look depressing. While exploring the planet, the Doctor and Ace encounter Trevor Sigma, the official galactic censor, who is visiting Terra Alpha to discover why so many of the population have disappeared.
The Doctor and Ace have a brief period of incarceration in the Waiting Zone (Terra Alpha's version of prisons,) to find out more about the planet's laws against unhappiness, and meet unhappy guard Susan Q, who becomes a firm ally, and allows Ace to escape when she is taken away from the Doctor to be enrolled in the Happiness Patrol. The Doctor, meanwhile, encounters another visitor to the planet, Earl Sigma, a wandering harmonica player who stirs unrest by playing the Blues. Earl and the Doctor venture to the Kandy Kitchen, where most of the missing population of Terra Alpha vanished to, and discover Helen A's twisted executionist, the Kandy Man; a grotesque, sweet-based robot, created by Gilbert M, one of Helen A’s senior advisers.
The Doctor manages to outwit the Kandy Man by gluing him to the floor with lemonade, and he and Earl escape in to the candy pipes below the colony, where dwell the native inhabitants of Terra Alpha, now known as Pipe People. They want to help overthrow the tyranny of Helen A. The Doctor returns to the surface, and begins stirring up trouble, supporting public demonstrations of unhappiness, encouraging the people to revolt, and attempting to expose Helen A's 'population control programme' to Trevor Sigma.
Ace and Susan Q have meanwhile both been recaptured, and have been scheduled to appear in the late show at the Forum, where the penalty for non-entertainment is death. The Doctor and Earl rescue them both, and the four head off to Helen A’s palace for a final showdown, while a revolution takes full effect outside the palace walls. The first to be disposed of is Helen A’s pet Stigorax, Fifi, a rat-dog creature used to hunt down the Pipe People, which is crushed in the pipes below the city when Earl causes an avalanche of crystallised sugar with his harmonica. Then the Pipe People destroy the Kandy Man in a flow of his own fondant surprise (previously used to drown Killjoys). Realising that she is beaten, Helen A attempts to escape the planet in a rocket, only to discover that the rocket has already been commandeered by Gilbert M and Joseph C, her husband. She tries to flee, but the Doctor stops her, and tries to teach her about the true nature of happiness, which can only be understood if counter-balanced by sadness. Helen A at first sneers at the Doctor; but when she discovers the remains of her beloved pet Fifi, she collapses in tears, and finally feels some sadness of her own. The revolution complete, the Doctor and Ace slip away, leaving Earl, Susan Q and the Pipe People to rebuild the planet – but only once the TARDIS has been repainted blue.
Broadcast and reception
In The Discontinuity Guide, Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping identify a gay subtext to the story: "there's entrapment over cottaging, the TARDIS is painted pink, and the victim of the fondant surprise is every inch the proud gay man, wearing, as he does, a pink triangle." The story ends with Helen A's husband abandoning her and leaving with another man.
A novelisation of this serial, written by script-writer Graeme Curry, was published by Target Books in February 1990. Adapting his scripts rather than the televised version, Curry's book includes scenes cut during editing and his original envisioning of the Kandy Man with a human appearance, albeit with powdery white skin and edible candy-cane glasses. An unabridged reading of the novelisation by Rula Lenska was released by BBC Audiobooks in July 2009.
VHS and DVD releases