One of the latest Doctor Who releases is Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol. In this three-part serial, The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) arrive on a planet where everyone is happy. The music is happy; the clothing is happy; even the police are happy. They'd better be, or the villainous Helen A. (Sheila Hancock) will get rid of them. In fact, even the dreary blue TARDIS isn't happy enough, soon being painted pink to fit in!
The incessant joy is enough to make anyone suspicious, and The Doctor isn't just anyone. He soon meets up with Trevor Sigma (John Normington), a census worker tasked with figuring out why the population of this planet is dropping rapidly. Does it really make sense that people would move away from happiness, or that happiness would continue if many are dying? Not really, but then, Helen A. doesn't exactly give anyone a choice in the matter.
Of course, it isn't long before The Doctor and Ace are captured. This is OK, though, because it gives them the chance to find out what is really going on. Ace is taken away and made to join the Happiness Patrol, the planet's version of a police force. The Doctor goes to the Kandy Kitchen, where a robot called The Kandy Man (David John Pope) serves as executioner, employing all sorts of creative methods to murder people.
It also isn't long before our heroes make a couple of allies. There's Susan Q. (Lesley Dunlop), a guard unhappy with her situation, though she doesn't dare show it to certain company. Also, Earl Sigma (Richard D. Sharp), a Blues musician, which doesn't exactly fit the profile of what Helen A. allows. Even better, The Doctor and Earl find the Pipe People, residents hiding below the surface. With them, they can raise a rebel army to take on Helen A.!
It will come as no surprise that The Doctor and his companions win in the end. This time, it isn't about killing or capturing anyone, but rather, teaching Helen A. the true value of sadness. How can joy be appreciated if there is nothing to measure it against? It's a sobering lesson for Helen A., and a little preachy for the audience, but it's still a fun ride.