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Adventures with the Wife and Blake»Archive for January 2014

Archive for January 2014

Project Avalon

The Federation Strikes Back…

Sue: Is this one directed by Douglas Camfield?

Me: Wait and see.

Project AvalonI challenge Sue to name the actress playing this week’s featured Mutoid.

Sue: I have no idea, but I do know that Douglas didn’t direct this. I can just tell.

Her second challenge is to not only recognise the location for this episode – Wookey Hole – but to remember which Doctor Who story was filmed here as well. She fails hopelessly on both counts.

Sue: I haven’t got a ****ing clue. Was it a Tom Baker?

Me: Yes.

Sue: Something of the Daleks.

Me: Is that your final answer?

Sue: Something of the Cybermen.

Me: That’ll do.

Space Commander Travis has arrived in some frozen caves to set a trap for Blake. He intends on using a woman named Avalon as bait.

Sue: Snow goggles are wasted on Travis; he should have a snow monocle instead.

Project AvalonTravis: This time we’ll be ready for you, Blake.

Sue: Did Travis look straight down the lens just then? It’s difficult to tell because he’s only got one eye.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Cally is tracking Avalon’s signal.

Sue: Cheer up, Cally, it may never happen. They always look so bloody miserable on this ship. Are they actually trying to out-frown each other?

Avon: We’ve come at the worst time, of course. The northern hemisphere is just entering its winter cycle. They call it the Long Cold. Something of an understatement, it lasts the equivalent of eight and a half Earth years.

Sue: It’s just like –

Me: Game of Thrones, but with less incest. Yes, we know.

Sue: Hey, this is Blake’s 7, there could be more incest.

A resistance group has gathered in the caves. Travis, flanked by four Mutoids, makes his presence felt.

Sue: (singing) Your lights are on, but you’re not home…

Travis wants to know where Avalon is, and he holds a gun to a man’s face in order to find out.

Me: Oh look, it’s Stuart Fell.

Sue: Oh yes, so it is. He’s dead then. Spectacularly.

Once again, Stuart doesn’t disappoint.

Sue: Ouch! That must have hurt. I’ll give him a 9.8 for that.

Avalon is taken away and the Mutoids massacre the rest.

Sue: We’ve seen this before, with the same shit guns. I wish Douglas had directed this. Very bleak, though.

Project AvalonThe featured Mutoid of the week still doesn’t ring any bells with Sue.

Me: Do you recognise her yet?

Sue: Has she been in EastEnders?

Me: Yes.

Sue: Is she the one who gave that blow job in the car?

Me: Not as far as I know.

Sue: Does she ever take her hat off?

Me: No.

Sue: Then I give up. Who is she?

Me: She’s Makepeace from Dempsey and Makepeace, otherwise known as Glenda Mitchell, or Glynis Barber to her friends.

Sue: You have to start somewhere, I guess. I bet she doesn’t like to talk about this, though.

Blake and Jenna prepare to teleport to the planet.

Vila: Surface temperatures are down to minus one-eighty. Better wrap up warmly.

Sue: That’s the understatement of the century. I’m sure you can’t survive in temperatures like that, especially in a Parka from Millets.

Project AvalonMe: It isn’t Fahrenheit or Celsius – it’s minus-180 Terrys. That means it’s a bit chilly.

Down on the planet, Travis is torturing Avalon..

Sue: Wait, don’t tell me: you definitely remember watching this scene when you were eight years old – it explains a lot, actually. Either they are interrogating her or they’re going to give her one hell of a tan.

Blake and Jenna join forces with Chevner, the lone survivor of the massacre. Chevner warns them that they will have to override the Federation’s security systems if they want to rescue Avalon, so Blake orders Vila down to the surface.

Vila: Now wait a minute, it’s cold out there, and I’m very susceptible to low temperatures. I’ve got a weak chest.

Avon: The rest of you’s not very impressive.

Sue: Brilliant. I half expected Avon to belt Vila across the chest with a handbag when he said that.

Project AvalonVila is dispatched to the planet, but not before he makes a big song and dance about it.

Sue: That was quite funny. At least the programme knows that Vila an irritating dick.

After Vila leaves, Avon and Cally exchange a meaningful look before laughing their heads off.

Sue: They are definitely shagging. All they have to do now is put Gan to bed and they’ve got the place to themselves.

Me: Just open a Live Journal account and be done with it, Sue.

Servalan arrives on the planet to give Travis his annual appraisal.

Sue: How many space minks died to make her coat, do you think? The bitch.

Servalan is feeling the pressure.

Servalan: There have been two attempts on my life… I consider Blake to be responsible.

Sue: Have we missed two episodes?

Project AvalonServalan: Oh, not personally, of course, but stories of his exploits are still circulating. They excite people.

Sue: Which exploits are these then? Are you sure we haven’t missed an episode, Neil? They can’t be talking about the one with the catheter cock monster, surely to God.

Servalan chastises Travis for not doing his job properly.

Sue: I bet they’re at it.

Me: Why not, everybody else is! Look, can you watch an episode of Blake’s 7 without imagining all the lead characters having sex with one another, just for five minutes.

Sue: It’s not my fault. Look at them! Tell me they haven’t done it, Neil.

Servalan changes the subject, thank God.

Servalan: I think the labs have come up with what you wanted. It’s totally new, and very costly.

Sue: Have the Federation been cooking up some space meth?

A prisoner is taken to a secured booth. A glowing ball is placed on a conveyor belt which rolls the ball into the booth and across a table.

Sue: This is the worst episode of The Generation Game ever. Sparkly ball… sparkly ball… sparkly ball. Didn’t he do well!

Project AvalonThe ball is smashed and the hapless guinea pig is turned to mush.

Sue: Whatever it is, it’s painless. He didn’t even flinch. Which makes it easier for the vision mixer, I guess.

When the process is over, all that remains of the poor bastard is his skeleton. Travis is very impressed with his new weapon.

Sue: He’s Chemical Travie.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator…

Zen: Sensors report spacecraft approaching.

Avon: Identify.

Zen: Analysis indicates they are Mark Four Federation interceptors.

Sue: Is Avon blind? The baddies’ logo is on the ****ing radar screen. And who else could it possibly be? The Klingons?

The tunnels are by patrolled by a security robot and Blake’s gang are forced to take cover.

Sue: Watch out, it’s Dusty Bin again. It’s head can spin round and yet its peripheral vision still manages to be shit. How is that even possible? How can it not see four terrorists hugging that wall over there? That’s ridiculous.

Vila opens the hatchway which leads to the detention centre.

Sue: Vila should get himself a nice shoulder bag. That cooler box is a nightmare. There he goes – clunk, clunk, bang, clunk – down a narrow corridor like a baby elephant.

Project AvalonChevner leads Blake into the detention centre.

Sue: Wasn’t this guy in Crossroads?

Me: No, it’s not Ronald Allen, although I can see where you are coming from. It’s David Bailie.

Sue: The photographer?

Me: No. Although he does work as a professional photographer now, which is very confusing, especially as Big Finish keep pestering David Bailey to do a cameo.

Chevner searches the prisoner database for Avalon’s cell number.

Sue: Just free all the prisoners! Open all the doors and free everyone – it’s the right thing to do!

But Blake only has eyes for Avalon.

Sue: It’s quite exciting, this.

Me: Does it remind you of anything else?

Sue: Star Trek. They all remind me of Star Trek.

Me: Not Star Wars?

Sue: Oh yeah. I see what you mean. It is very similar. So which one is Chewbacca, because Vila is definitely C-3PO.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this:

[jwplayer mediaid=”6483″]

Blake frees Avalon from her cell.

Blake: I’m Blake. We had hoped to get you out sooner, we’ve had a bit of trouble.

Me: Aren’t you a little short for a Blake?

Blake blasts his way out of the detention centre.

Sue: I still think Douglas would have done it better, but that wasn’t bad at all.

The Liberator – which has been on an evasive detour – returns for Blake.

Avon: You’d better switch on the communication channel.

Gan crosses flight deck and switches it on.

Sue: Finally, Gan actually did something useful. Things must be serious.

As they escape, Blake’s gang are confronted by the Federation’s security robot.

Sue: There are five of you! Shoot the bloody thing!

They teleport to safety before the robot can attack.

Project AvalonSue: Oh my God, it’s actually peeing fire.

The Liberator hightails it out of there.

Sue: Servalan will have Travis’s balls on a plate for that. What a **** up. And in the middle of his appraisal as well.

Blake suspects that his escape was far too easy. Raising his suspicious further are the Federation’s new weapons.

Sue: It’s a mastic gun. I’ve got one in the shed.

Avon examines the weapon.

Avon: It’s not standard issue. Low energy bolt discharge. This could bruise or stun, but it couldn’t cause any serious injury.

Sue: Great for sealing windows, though.

Meanwhile, Avalon has changed into something more comfortable.

Sue: It looks like Christmas has come early for Gan. And it proves once and for all that the Liberator does come equipped with pyjamas after all.

Avalon tells Gan that Chevner attacked her.

Sue: She’s the baddie! It’s definitely her! Come on, Gan, it’s a Terry Nation script so it must be her. The Federation have brainwashed her. It’s obvious.

Avalon prepares to launch a chemical attack on the crew, and it takes the combined might of Gan, Jenna, Blake and Vila to restrain her.

Sue: Avon would have put his fist through her face.

Project AvalonIt’s a good job he didn’t because he would have broken his fist in the process. You see, the Avalon they rescued is a robot duplicate.

Sue: That’s a clever effect for its time. I can just about buy that.

Even though she’s a telepath, Cally never suspected a thing.

Cally: I still find it hard to believe.

Sue: What is the point of Cally again? I’ve completely forgotten.

Blake asks Avon to reprogram the robot, and then he teleports back to the planet and demands to speak with Travis.

Sue: The look on Travis’s face is priceless. I almost feel sorry for him.

Servalan and Blake face each other for the first time.

Sue: Do you think Servalan secretly fancies Blake?

Me: ARGHHHHHHH!

Blake instructs the robot to open its thumb and forefinger, just enough to grip a ball.

Sue: This isn’t the first time Avon has programmed a robot to do that. I’m saying nothing.

Blake: The robot will crush the phial in response to one of three triggers. A particular word, a specific sound or a certain movement. You had all better be very, very careful about what you say and do.

Blake teleports to safety.

Sue: If Blake was really a terrorist, he would have programmed the robot to drop the ball as soon as he got out of there.

Travis moves towards the robot and the ball is dropped.

Project AvalonSue: Or maybe he did. Or maybe Travis set it off. We’ll never know for sure, but this only works if Blake planned to murder the entire room, so I’m going with that.

Travis catches the phial before it can break.

Travis: If it takes all my life, I will destroy you, Blake. I will destroy you. I will destroy you.

Sue: They have to stop ending episodes like this. It’s a bit silly.

Me: I’ll get you, Blakey!

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: That was pretty good. Some of it was very exciting. I think Blake’s 7 has finally found its groove. When Servalan and Travis are around it feels like we’re actually going somewhere. It’s all that mucking about on mysterious space ships and shitty planets for no apparent reason that I don’t get. This is what I thought Blake’s 7 would be like; it’s only taken them nine episodes to get there.

7/10

Next Time:

The next blog will be published on Friday 7th February. There won’t be an update this Tuesday. Sorry about that.

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Next

Duel

Eye to eye stand winners and losers…

This episode begins on a planet where a figure carved out of rock forms a very striking centrepiece.

Sue: It’s the sort of statue that you’d see outside a football stadium. Is it a goal celebration?

Me: No, it’s Yohan Cabaye tearing up his Newcastle United contract.

An old lady named Giroc has been summoned to this monument.

Sue: The Sisters of Karn have really let themselves go.

Giroc joins a younger woman named Sinofar, who has materialised out of thin air.

DuelSue: It must be freezing on this planet.

Me: Because her face is blue?

Sue: I’m not talking about her face. Neil. Stop pretending that you can’t see them.

Me: Yeah… I definitely remember this episode.

Sue: I bet you bloody do! She may as well have not got dressed.

There’s plenty of exposition in this scene and Sue tries to keep up.

Sue: OK, so the old woman is the Keeper. Are you sure this isn’t football related?

Meanwhile, on the flight deck of a Federation pursuit ship…

Sue: Oh good, it’s Travie.

Me: Travie? He’s a bad ass Space Commander, not a bloody dog!

The ship is piloted by two Mutoids.

Sue: Lady Gaga must have seen this episode. She wore a hat like that once, although I think it was made out of bacon.

Travis has pursued Blake across several galaxies.

DuelSue: It’s nice of him to hold the microphone like that. It saves the crew having to struggle with a boom in such a cramped set.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Jenna scans the alien planet below.

Sue: I like her space dress. Ooh, and that was a lovely focus pull. Who directed this?

Me: You tell me.

Sue: Is it Douglas Camfield?

She shoots, she scores. However, given that Douglas Camfield is the only Doctor Who director she can remember the name of, and there’s a photograph of him hanging in our kitchen, I guessed this would happen.

Me: Well done. OK, so if this is Douglas Camfield that means something else is different about this episode. Have you spotted it yet?

Sue: Yes, this one is quite good.

Me: No, something else. Come on, it’s obvious.

Sue: It’s the music. The music is different. This isn’t Dudley.

Me: And why is that?

DuelSue: Because Douglas hated Dudley’s guts. Something to do with a champagne bottle, wasn’t it?

Vila accuses Avon of being a machine, which Avon takes as a compliment.

Sue: Either Avon wants to shag Vila or he wants to kill him; he can’t make his mind up.

On the Federation pursuit ship, the Mutoid pilot recharges her plasma supply.

Mutoid: Opponents of Mutoid modification call us vampires.

Sue: Space vampires? Really? Brilliant.

She isn’t being sarcastic. Honest.

Sue: I’m well into this. Even the model shots look good. And I’m sorry, Dudley, I really am, but this music is a huge improvement. It’s really atmospheric instead of parp-parp-parp-maracas.

Blake, Jenna and Gan, oblivious to the threat posed by Travis, decide to explore the alien planet.

Sue: This place is obviously made from polystyrene in a pokey studio in Television Centre, but Douglas is getting away with it. I’ve seen a lot worse. There’s wind and everything. It’s nicely lit, too. It’s a shame they didn’t use film, though. This is when you need film, not when you’re standing in an empty room.

DuelGan spies Federation ships in the sky above them.

Sue: Classic Camfield three-shot. Lovely.

Sinofar also strikes a pose.

Sue: Her dress looks like it’s been painted on.

Me: She’s Isla Blair.

Sue: From the Generation Game?

Me: No, Isla Blair from the Royal Shakespeare Company. She’s married to Julian Glover.

Sue: That name rings a bell.

Me: He’s the randy old priest who gets his knackers out on Game of Thrones.

Sue: Oh yes. Well done him.

Vila sounds the alarm on the Liberator, and Avon nearly skids off the set.

Sue: That was brilliant.

DuelI pause the DVD.

Me: Have you forgiven Avon for punching a woman in the face yet?

Sue: He’s on probation.

Me: Some Blake’s 7 fans think you were a bit sexist for complaining about Avon smacking a woman in the face. Double-standards and all that.

Sue: They can **** off.

Me: They claim that Avon was well within his rights because Sara was trying to kill him.

Sue: She was unarmed when he punched her, so that’s completely wrong for a start. Look, he’s a bad lad. I get it. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, especially when there’s no need for it and he really enjoyed it. I love the way Avon runs, though, so can we just get on with it, please?

The Federation are closing in…

Blake: Maximum speed and range?

Jenna: Standard by four, about eight million spacials.

DuelSue: That’s about half a mile. Seriously though, this is excellent. It’s Das Boot in Space.

While the Liberator is bombarded by plasma bolts, Blake uses state of the art technology to work out his tactics.

Sue: I’m sure they’ve nicked that from Match of the Day. Are you absolutely sure this isn’t about football?

Avon isn’t convinced by Blake’s plan of attack.

Blake: Have you got any better ideas?

A violent explosion throws Blake into Avon’s arms.

Sue: (as Avon) We could have a cuddle while we wait to die, if you like.

Me: Stop that, please.

Blake prepares to ram Travis’s ship. And then everything grinds to a halt. Sue thinks there’s something wrong with the DVD, but when she realises that it’s all part of the plot, she gives me the thumbs up. In slo-mo of course.

Sue: I don’t think ramming the ship is a such a good idea. The Liberator‘s pointy bits will snap off.

When the two ships are a million spatials apart (about an inch), Blake and Travis begin screaming in agony.

DuelSue: OK, it’s gone a bit mad, now. I don’t have a clue what’s going on any more, but it’s going on for ages.

When normality is resumed – Sue says she could have made a cup of tea in the time it took – Giroc’s voice echoes through both ships.

Giroc: Your ship is tethered, held in a stasis beam, it cannot break free. Only your life support systems will function normally, the rest will remain in our control, until we have completed our task.

Sue: I didn’t understand a word of that. Did she forget to put her teeth in?

Blake and Travis find themselves on the alien planet with Sinofar and Giroc.

Sue: Oh, I see. The old woman is Yoda and the woman with practically nothing on is Q from Star Trek. I get it now.

Travis tells his hosts why he hates Blake.

Travis: This man is an enemy of the state and a fugitive.

Sue: You left out child molester. If you really want them to be on your side, start with child molester.

Travis’s response excites Giroc.

Sue: Are there only two woman left on this planet?

Me: Yes.

DuelSue: If I were Blake, I’d be saying “I don’t fancy yours much, Travis” at this point.

Giroc: Tell us, what is your dispute?

Travis: I have told you. This man is an enemy of the Federation, tried and convicted.

Sue: Just say it. He’s on the sex offender register.

Giroc appears on the Liberator‘s scanner to explain the offside rule to the rest of the crew.

Sue: She’s definitely got a William Hartnell vibe going on here.

Blake and Travis will fight each other to the death, but a friend will be sent to keep them company, which means Jenna also vanishes from the flight deck.

Sue: Thank God they didn’t send Vila. Blake would be dead in seconds.

Blake finds himself in a forest.

Sue: This looks great, but I bet it would look even better in widescreen.

Burn the heretic!

Sue: This is basically the The Hunger Games of its day. But with space vampires and magic wizards.

Giroc sends Blake into a tizzy.

Sue: That’s the best directed mind-**** I’ve ever seen. That was brilliant. Douglas was wasted on television.

Blake’s remaining crew monitor events from the comfort of the Liberator‘s coffee lounge.

DuelSue: I’m surprised Gan hasn’t got a tub of popcorn on his lap.

And then something terrible happens.

Sue: Oh no! Bad chromakey.

It appears that Douglas had to cobble together some pick-ups in the studio.

Sue: Either the episode was running short or something went horribly wrong on location. Poor Douglas. Oh well, he’s only human. What he did film looks great.

Blake sharpens some branches with his knife.

Sue: They’ll come in handy against the space vampire. Good thinking, Blake.

When night falls, Blake and Jenna hide in a tree.

Sue: Blake and Jenna sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Me: Stop it. Just stop it.

Sue: What?

DuelMe: Stop shipping.

Sue: Shipping? What the **** are you talking about?

I explain the basic concept of shipping to her.

Sue: Is it called shipping because they have sex on space ships?

Me: Yes, that’s exactly why they call it shipping. Now please stop it.

Meanwhile, Travis and a Mutoid are also sitting in a tree, but there no sexual tension. Instead, Travis passes the time by tormenting his companion.

Travis: I know who you were. Your name was Keyeira.

Sue: You were named after an exotic orange flavoured drink from the 20th century. It’s a very silly name.

Blake is attacked by a bat. Yes, a bat!

Sue: Oh dear. Douglas was definitely having a bad day. It can happen to anyone.

Avon is bored senseless and decides to go to bed.

Avon: Blake is sitting up in a tree, Travis is sitting up in another tree. Unless they’re planning to throw nuts at one another, I don’t see much of a fight developing before it gets light.

Sue: OK, I forgive him.

Morning arrives and the second half kicks off.

DuelSue: So, is Blake a vampire now? What are the chances of that? He gets turned into a vampire on a planet with a vampire on it, but he isn’t bitten by the vampire, he’s bitten by a random bat. That’s just bad luck. And speaking of bad luck, here’s some more bad chroma. It probably rained. That must be it. It looks like it’s been raining. Poor Douglas.

Blake climbs another tree.

Sue: Yes, they are definitely losing light in this scene. What a shame. They should put the floodlights on.

Jenna is abducted by the Mutoid so Travis can use her as bait. The Mutoid wants to snack on Jenna, but Travis won’t allow it.

Sue: She doesn’t get any sexual gratification when she drinks blood. It’s all done mechanically. That’s a bit shit; I wouldn’t want to be a space vampire.

Travis draws Blake out.

Travis: I have your friend. Your friend will die, Blake, unless you give yourself up.

Sue: Has the actor who plays Travis been in anything else?

Me: Loads of stuff.

Eat your heart out, Toby Hadoke.

DuelSue: He’s really good. I like him a lot. Wouldn’t it be great if Travis had a change of heart and joined Blake’s crew? He’d fit right in.

Travis springs his trap, but the hungry Mutoid makes a right pig’s ear of it and Travis and Blake end up fighting to the death.

Me: This sounds like Tangerine Dream.

Sue: Everything sounds like Tangerine Dream to you.

I’m serious. Listen to the soundtrack to ‘Duel’:

And then listen to this snippet from Tangerine Dream’s seminal 1973 album, Atem:

Me: It’s uncanny.

Sue: Whatever.

Sue couldn’t care less; she’s enjoying the testosterone-fuelled fight too much. Blake finally gets the upper hand but he refuses to kill his nemesis in cold blood.

Sue: That act of kindness will set Blake and Jenna free. It’s a bit obvious, but they did it quite well.

Sue is quite right: Sinofar sets Blake free, accepting that his encounter with Travis was a score draw.

Sue: Perhaps Blake should drop kick the old woman in the face before he leaves. You know, just to be “edgy”. She did try to get him killed after all. And she’s armed with a big stick, so he could call it self defence. No?

The Liberator breaks orbit.

Sue: I wish we could see the ship go VROOOOOOOOM! like they do on Star Trek. Never mind.

DuelThe episode concludes with Travis continuing his hunt for Blake.

Travis: He made one fatal error. He should have killed me.

Sue: That’s twice now. I think Blake has a soft spot for Travie.

Me: STOP IT!

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: That was more like it! Why can’t they all be like that? Just let Douglas Camfield direct every episode; it isn’t rocket science. What I really liked about this episode was that you learnt quite a bit about Travis and Blake as characters. It’s a good set-up for the future. It looked great too, although I’ll have to knock a mark off for the bad chroma. And even though the script was a bit clunky at times, I really, really enjoyed it.

9/10

Next Time:

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Mission to Destiny

An Avon calls…

Sue continues to have a complicated relationship with the theme music.

Sue: It reminds me of The Onedin Line. It’s much too horny for me.

Me: I beg your pardon?

Sue: Too many trumpets, so don’t get any funny ideas. ‘Mission to Destiny’, eh? Sounds like the title to a bad seventies disco album.

She doesn’t mention Terry’s name any more. She simply sighs.

Mission to DestinyThis episode begins on:

Sue: The starship Ann Summers.

This starship is piloted by a very familiar face.

Sue: He’s familiar.

Me: He’s best known for playing a serial killer in Coronation Street, but you wouldn’t know about that because you didn’t watch it. I wouldn’t allow it.

Sue: What I do know is that he definitely had a crafty sniff before he said his line. He must have a really bad cold. Or a drug problem.

The Ortega‘s pilot attends to his duties.

Sue: Is that a Dot-to-Dot puzzle?

The pilot is bludgeoned over the head by an unseen assailant, who then smashes the Ortega‘s controls to pieces.

Sue: If we were watching Doctor Who, we wouldn’t have seen any blood.

Me: Unless you count those episodes of Doctor Who were we saw some blood, of course.

Sue: It’s a lot more adult than Doctor Who. It’s trying to be edgy and shocking. But it’s mostly shocking.

The Liberator stumbles across the stricken starship.

Blake: How long before we’re in teleport range?

Zen: That will depend on speed as yet unspecified.

Mission to DestinySue: Can’t they download a different voice for Zen, like you can with your Sat-Nav? You know, so he doesn’t sound quite so arsey all the time.

Zen: Confirmed.

Sue: Because every time Zen says “Confirmed”, all I hear is “**** you”.

Avon, Cally and Blake teleport to the Ortega.

Sue: This is nice and bijou. At least it isn’t just an empty room. There’s a nice selection of board games, too.

Blake can smell trouble.

Avon: Could be the change of atmosphere, a different recycle system to that of the Liberator?

Blake: No, it’s more than that. I can’t place it…

Sue: Whoever smelt it, dealt it.

Sue approves of Avon’s new look.

Sue: I like the different shades of grey. I guess it’s supposed to represent Avon’s character. That’s clever, and it also explains why Vila is dressed like a dick.

Blake and Cally search the Ortega‘s cabins, which contain the ship’s unconscious crew.

Sue: Did Blake just stifle a yawn? I know this is tedious, but even so.

Mission to DestinyCally suddenly succumbs to the arms of Morpheus and Blake has to snap her out of it.

Sue: (groggy) I can’t. It’s… a… Terry… Nation… script…

It’s gas, actually.

Blake: It’s Sono Vapour. Tranquilizing gas.

Sue: So the pilot didn’t have a cold or a drug problem after all. It makes perfect sense now.

Blake closes the cabin’s ventilator.

Sue: He pulled the knob off! It just bounced across the floor.

Blake finds Avon in the part of the ship where the crew grows their marijuana.

Sue: They had a heavy night on the spacey super skunk. They’re sleeping it off.

Cally continues to investigate the ship.

Sue: Either someone is playing an old silent film with a tinkly piano soundtrack in that room, or Dudley is taking the piss.

Mission to DestinySpeaking of film…

Sue: Why have they switched from video to film all of a sudden? Did they have some old stock they needed to use up?

Me: They must have gone on location to film this room.

Sue: What a waste of money! It’s just a panel with a thing sticking out of it! Did they really have to leave the building to film that? They could have shot that anywhere. I would have murdered the producer for that. And it’s really grubby film as well. If this was a Doctor Who DVD, it would look a lot better than this. This is worse than VHS.

Avon finds the gas cylinder which sent the crew to sleep.

Me: Maybe it was a weird sex game that went horribly wrong.

Cally finds the dead pilot, and then, when she’s sure she’s safe, she holsters her gun.

Sue: What a clart on! What kind of holster uses velcro? If there’s a gunfight, that velcro will get her killed, you mark my words.

The crew find a vital clue on the Ortega‘s flight deck: a series of numbers have been scrawled in blood.

Avon: Five four one two four. Whatever that might mean.

Blake: Could be anything. Call sign, transmission frequency, navigation index, anything.

Sue: Maybe it’s the date? I still don’t know when Blake’s 7 is supposed to be set.

Mission to DestinyOne of the Ortega‘s crew members, Sara, wakes up and screams the place down.

Sue: Auditions for Doctor Who are in the studio next door, pet.

When the rest of the Ortega‘s crew wakes up, everyone convenes in the ship’s games room. They all look as if they’ve been date raped.

Sue: Miserable bunch, aren’t they. They could give Blake’s crew a run for their money when it comes to seething resentment and barely disguised hatred for one another.

Me: Do you recognise anyone in this room?

Sue: They all look vaguely familiar. Are they Play School presenters?

I pause the DVD and point at John Leeson.

Me: Well that’s K9 for a start.

Sue: Like I’m going to recognise him! He looks nothing like K9. Is this what the actor did when K9 couldn’t appear in Doctor Who because the floors wouldn’t support him, he did some Blake’s 7 to keep himself busy?

Sue would rather spend some quality time with the regulars.

Mission to DestinySue: You’ve got six characters and a grumpy computer to deal with, so the last thing this show needs is another six characters! What was Terry thinking? And their collars are ridiculous. Are they a travelling band of court jesters?

No, they’re racing home to the planet Destiny with a cure for a nasty fungal infection that will wipe out the planet in a couple of months.

Sue: Blake should ask them to join his crew. They don’t like the Federation very much, and they are definitely mardy enough. It could be Blake’s 12, that way he would have a few in reserve, just in case anyone buggered off or died.

Blake offers to take a precious neutrotope to Destiny – it will take the Liberator four days to make the trip, as opposed to five months in the crippled Ortega. Avon and Cally agree to stay with the Ortega‘s crew until Blake returns.

Sue: Why don’t they take them all home at the same time? There’s plenty of room on the Liberator. No furniture, but plenty of room.

Cally: We must help these people.

Avon: Must we? Personally, I don’t care if their whole planet turns into a mushroom.

Sue: Avon gets all the best lines. They should have given him his own series.

Cally heads to the ship’s stores to find some laser transfer linkage, whatever the hell that is.

Mission to DestinySue: Cally is painfully thin. She needs some mince and dumplings inside her.

Cally explores the stores with a very large torch.

Sue: It’s a shame their guns don’t light up. After all, their guns do look like giant light filaments.

Cally opens a cupboard, which results in a man rolling off the top of it onto the floor.

Me: That’s Stuart Fell.

Sue: Of course it is. Who else could it be? I was thinking about him only the other day. And before you ask, yes, Stuart fell very well.

Avon calls everyone to the ship’s drawing-room.

Sue: It’s turned into Midsomer Murders in Space. I don’t like it.

Avon: I know – we all know – that one of you is the murderer.

Dr Kendall: In the meantime, you will all resume your normal duties, and anything that you see or hear that seems unusual, report to me at once. Thank you.

Sue: And whatever you do, try not to get killed!

However, not everyone shares Avon’s suspicions.

Mission to DestinyGrovane: There could be somebody else on the ship, somebody we don’t know about, a stowaway!

Sue: Yeah, it could be the alien catheter cock monster out for revenge! Anything’s possible. And probably better than this.

Meanwhile, Blake is racing to Destiny with some life-saving anti-fungal cream.

Sue: I don’t understand why they didn’t all get on the Liberator and go there together. There are only so many board games you can play before boredom kicks in.

A meteorite storm is blocking the Liberator‘s path, but going around it will add several days to their journey.

Vila: Let’s go round.

Sue: Oh **** off, Vila.

A member of the Ortega‘s crew, a man named Sonheim, kills some time by flirting with Cally.

Sue: He’s the worst actor to appear in Blake’s 7 so far, and I’m counting that shit Ewok with the wild staring eyes. He’s dreadful.

Back on the flight deck, Avon is jumping to conclusions.

Cally: So who do you think it is?

Avon: Mandrian.

Sue: Which one is Mandrian again? I can’t keep up. They need name badges. Either that or just say “the one with the beard” or “the one with the lazy eye” – that’s the only way I’m going to keep up.

Mission to DestinyMeanwhile, the Liberator is flying through a meteorite storm.

Sue: Asteroids would have been very popular in pubs right about now, so that makes sense.

The Liberator makes it out of the meteorite storm just as its force wall runs out of power.

Sue: They sold that scene with face acting, a piece of string, and no special effects. I don’t know whether to applaud or boo.

I can tell that Sue’s attention is beginning to wander when she fixates on Avon’s clothes again.

Sue: There are typewriter keys glued to his tunic. What’s that all about?

Me: Maybe you press them and they heat up his vest. I don’t know.

Sue: They are driving me mad. I just want to go up to him and press his buttons.

Me: Yes, I bet you do.

Avon finally solves the case.

Avon: Right from the start, we thought that those were numbers. They are not, they are letters.

Cally and Sue: Letters?

Avon: Rafford was dying. It’s difficult to be neat under those circumstances. Let’s start with the one and the two.

Avon connects the dots to form a word: SARA.

Sue: So the Dot-to-Dot puzzle was a massive clue all along!

Mission to DestinySara holds everyone at gunpoint.

Sue: It’s either a gun or a torch. It’s difficult to tell.

Meanwhile, Blake suddenly realises that he’s left the precious neutrotope on the Ortega.

Sue: You should have checked before you left, you moron! It’s the first thing I tell my students when they take video equipment out of the building: always check the box before you leave! Oh, that makes me so angry…

At least Sue finally knows who Sara reminds her of; it’s been bugging her for ages.

Sue: I’ve got it! She’s Leslie Ash before Leslie Ash turned into a fish.

Avon punches Sara in the face. Sue is shocked and appalled.

Avon: I really rather enjoyed that.

And that line tips her over the edge.

Sue: Please tell me that didn’t happen.

She boos loudly at the screen.

Blake returns with the Liberator, which is just as well because another ship is on its way to blow the Ortega to pieces.

Sue: Hang on a minute. Did they have to go back through the asteroids again? How could they do that without their force whatsit? If they went round the asteroids, that means Avon has been sitting around for days. Terry Nation doesn’t understand time, does he?

Mission to DestinySeconds before Blake can teleport everyone to the Liberator, Sara tears off her bracelet and throws it across the room.

Me: That’s another one they’ve lost. The rate they’re going, they won’t have any bracelets left soon.

The episode concludes with Blake taking everyone back to Destiny.

Sue: WHY DIDN’T THEY DO THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE? ARGH!

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue yawns, and I don’t think the Sono Vapour is to blame.

Sue: What a boring place to set a story – a square space ship. So dull. Avon was the best thing in it by a mile, but I’m not sure about him becoming a space detective. It doesn’t suit him at all. And punching women in the face? He can **** right off. If he does that again I’ll have to switch to Team Blake. Apart from that, what can I say? It was pointless. And where the hell are Travis and Servalan?

3/10

Next Time:

Back
Next

Seek - Locate - Destroy

Good Greif…

Seek - Locate - DestroyForget what the opening voice-over says, according to Sue, this episode begins on the planet ICI.

Sue: This gave Ridley Scott the idea to film Blade Runner in Middlesbrough.

Before I can argue with her, a security robot trundles into view. Sue pulls a face at it.

Me: It could have been a lot worse, it could have been Metal Mickey.

Sue: It could have been a lot better, it could have been Dusty Bin.

The security robot opens fire on some electrical wiring which is flapping harmlessly in the wind.

Sue: Are you sure it’s a good idea to fire a weapon like that in a chemical plant? What does the robot do when it sees a crisp packet? Go nuclear?

Blake contacts the Liberator.

Blake: I’m down and safe.

Sue: Blake always goes down first. If Blake was really in charge, he’d make Gan go down first. I think Blake has a death wish.

The Liberator‘s crew prepares to join Blake on Centero.

Sue: They’re wearing colour-coordinated Millets anoraks. That’s nice.

Me: I’d like an anorak like that. I don’t think the outfits have dated that much.

Sue: That’s why I don’t let you buy your own clothes, Neil.

Vila teleports to Blake’s location.

Seek - Locate - DestroySue: It must be really difficult to infiltrate a secret base when the teleport effect has its own theme music. Don’t tell me the robot didn’t hear those trumpets.

Vila doesn’t really want to participate in this mission.

Sue: Vila is basically the Ian Beale of Blake’s 7. I know I’m supposed to empathise with him, but I just want to punch him in the face.

The security robot returns for another sweep, just as Vila attempts to break into a TOP SECURITY area.

Blake: Vila, take cover!

Sue: Where? Behind this ****ing ladder?

Vila eventually hacks his way into the compound.

Sue: Does this scene really warrant the Love Theme from Blake’s 7? Are Vila and Blake an item? That would make sense, actually.

Vila and Blake disable two Federation guards using the ancient martial art known as ‘panto’. Meanwhile, Avon, Cally and Gan, armed to the teeth with explosives, prepare to teleport down to the planet.

Avon: A fraction out and you could put us down in the middle of the security barracks.

Jenna: Don’t tempt me.

Sue: There isn’t a lot of love in Blake’s 7. It’s one big bitch-fest. And what does Blake carry around in those little bum bags on his belt? Extra strong mints? And why are they running around this place anyway? Have we missed an episode? What are they trying to do? How is this going to clear Blake’s name?

Me: This is basically what they do now: they land on Federation planets and they blow stuff up.

Seek - Locate - DestroySue: Oh, so they’re terrorists?

Me: Terrorists or freedom fighters, it’s up to you. Remember what was going on in 1978 when the BBC made Blake’s 7.

Sue: Oh right. I see. So Blake is a militant trade unionist.

Me: I’m talking about the IRA.

Sue: Only if the IRA were Welsh. So what does the shit robot represent?

Me: The weak pound.

Blake’s crew steal a Federation cipher machine.

Sue: So this is what Blake does now – he breaks into secret bases and he nicks stuff. Is it supposed to be Ocean’s 7 in Space?

Cally is assaulted by a Federation trooper with an enormous moustache.

Sue: What a terrible fight. What Blake’s 7 really needs right now is Stuart Fell.

Cally loses her bracelet before she can teleport back to the Liberator with the rest of the gang. Sue doesn’t understand why Cally’s bracelet doesn’t teleport back to the ship without her, but she’s silly like that.

Sue: I don’t believe this. They haven’t noticed that Cally is missing yet. They hate each other so much, they don’t realise that they’ve lost a crew member. That really is shocking.

Me: She wasn’t even wearing the red anorak.

Blake takes charge of the situation.

Sue: Why is Blake the boss? Did they ever vote on that? I don’t understand why Avon isn’t the leader; I know who I’d rather follow. I like Blake – he means well – but he’s a bit suicidal.

Seek - Locate - DestroyMeanwhile, on a space station somewhere…

Sue: Is it Servalan?

Me: Yes, love. Yes, it is.

Sue: She’s gorgeous and she isn’t wearing a bra.

Supreme Commander Servalan discusses Blake’s crusade with two men named Bercol and Rontane. The latter is played by Peter Miles.

Sue: He’s a bad guy. He’s always the bad guy. He was in Doctor Who and he was definitely the bad guy.

Me: Thank you. That’s what I wanted to know.

Servalan: I am aware of the danger should Blake become a legend. But let us keep this matter in its correct perspective.

Sue: She talks like Margaret Thatcher. Is that who Servalan is supposed to represent, a sexy Margaret Thatcher?

Me: Servalan isn’t in charge of the Federation, she’s in charge of the Federation’s security services.

Sue: Oh, so she’s a sexy M.

Servalan promises to put her best man on the job.

Rontane: May we know the officer’s name?

Servalan: Yes, you may. Space Commander Travis.

Sue: I was wondering when he was going to show up. Is this why you convinced our Kenny to call his dog Travis, because Travis chases the cats?

Seek - Locate - DestroyIt’s true. I did suggest that Sue’s younger brother name his dog Travis, and I didn’t mention Blake’s 7 once. I told him to name the dog after Travis Perkins, the building suppliers. Like that was less sad somehow.

Sue: So, if Servalan is a sexy M, Travis must be a sexy James Bond. Actually, that doesn’t work, does it. Maybe he’s a really ugly James Bond. Anyway, I like her big chair, even if it is a bit mucky round the back.

Blake and his crew have buggered off, speed standard by six, leaving Cally to her fate.

Sue: Unbelievable. Captain Kirk would never leave Scotty or Spock behind like that. And not only that, we’re back to Blake’s bloody 5 again. What a disaster.

Jenna gives Blake a hard time for feeling guilty about Cally’s death.

Sue: She never liked Cally anyway, in the sense that she liked her even less than the other people she doesn’t really like on this ship. It’s a bit bleak, this.

Servalan’s space station reminds Sue of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, if 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s special effects were made by Blue Peter, that is.

Sue: You can actually see a coat hanger sticking out of the top. Unbelievable.

A Federation officer named Rai questions Servalan’s decision to employ Travis.

Servalan: Travis is an advocate of total war. He carries out his orders with meticulous thoroughness.

Sue: They are really bigging Travis up. If he turns out to be completely useless after all this hype, I won’t be happy.

Seek - Locate - DestroyTravis finally makes his big entrance, and yes, he really is an ugly James Bond.

Sue: It’s Darth Vader meets the Phantom of the Opera meets the Borg.

Travis is given his marching orders: he must search for, find and kill Blake.

Sue: It’s For Your Eye Only.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Avon has used the cipher machine they stole on Centero to hack into the Federation’s battle computers. The crew will have to take it in turns to monitor the transmissions, because asking your large supercomputer to do it for you would be fruitless. And then Avon intercepts a transmission that mentions Space Commander Travis.

Blake: Travis! I thought he was dead. I was sure I’d killed him.

Sue: What a brilliant line. Terry just knocked it out of the park. It’s a huge coincidence, but I’m going to go with it.

After a quick Martini, Travis begins his investigations on Centero. He can’t understand why Blake led Federation personnel out of the cipher room before he blew it up.

Technician: I suppose they thought it was safer with us out of the way.

Travis: No. No. There’s something missing. I’m missing something.

Sue: Yes, an eye.

Seek - Locate - DestroyThe technician receives a report that something has been found under the rubble. He acknowledges this news by holding a communicator up to his throat.

Sue: Do the technicians on the ICI planet have throat cancer? Is the power plant radioactive or something?

Travis, who Sue believes is dressed as an evil, kinky Superman, extracts Cally from the rubble and reports back to Servalan.

Sue: His peripheral vision must be terrible. Why didn’t they give him a bigger hole? I’ve seen pin-hole cameras with bigger holes than that.

To compensate for this, Travis shows off his massive ring.

Sue: I bet that catches when he does up his flies.

It turns out that Blake and Travis have previous.

Sue: That was nicely done, the way they cut between Blake and Travis like that. They are really trying to build this up, even though this rivalry has turned up completely out of the blue. Sherlock needs Moriarty, the Doctor needs the Master, and Blake needs this guy. Yes, we get it. But would it have killed them to mention his name in the first episode? During Blake’s trial, perhaps? Story arc, my arse!

Blake tells his crew about his quarrel with Travis during a coffee break on the Liberator.

Seek - Locate - DestroySue: Did Blake shoot him in the eye? I want to see the flashback where Blake shoots him in the eye.

Back in the good old days, when Blake was public enemy number one, Travis ambushed and killed many of Blake’s friends.

Blake: Travis was already there. He’d been hiding in that basement for more than two days.

Sue: Flashback, please.

Blake: I saw Travis. And I fired. I saw him fall. I was sure I’d killed him.

Sue: We may as well be watching Jackanory.

Cally is placed in the hands of the Federation’s Interrogation Division.

Sue: If she’s was a proper telepath, she might be able to do something useful here. But she’s just a glorified ventriloquist at the end of the day.

Blake decides to return to Centero to save Cally, even though it’s obviously a trap.

Blake: Zen, immediate course change. Direct route to Centero speed standard by six.

Sue: Why not make it standard by seven? If you really cared about Cally, you’d go speed standard by eight!

Zen: Liberator is turning onto new course heading, now.

Sue: Even the computer hates them. There’s no respect. Blake needs to take everyone on a team building weekend after this.

Seek - Locate - DestroyTravis lies in wait on Centero, and aside from pointing out some horrendous and completely unnecessary chromakey, Sue soaks up the details of the trap that has been set for Blake.

Travis: Which leaves just one chance factor: exactly where they’ll teleport down. The odds are against them being able to zero in on the interrogation room.

Sue: He’s a little on the camp side but still very intense. I’m not sure about him yet.

Travis taunts Cally and then he incapacitates her so she can’t cry out to Blake when he arrives.

Travis: Now this won’t hurt.

It definitely hurts.

Sue: Cally will use her ventriloquism to guide Blake in. She’s finally found a use for her naff superpower.

Travis stalks the security compound with a stern look on his face.

Sue: Travis is thinking to himself: we need better architects. Our planets are complete shit holes.

Seek - Locate - DestroyWhen Travis returns to the interrogation room, Cally has already been freed by Blake.

Blake: I got here first.

Sue: They should have monitored the room for trumpets.

Cally turns the tables on Travis.

Sue: Tell him it won’t hurt and then poke his other eye out.

Blake decides to let Travis live.

Sue: Big mistake. Shoot his other hand off at least!

Sue gasps when Blake shoots off Travis’s robotic hand instead. And then Blake and Cally teleport away seconds before some Federation troops arrive.

Travis: Don’t stand there, you idiots! Launch the interceptors!

Sue: Travis sounds like he’s about to burst into tears. He’s a big baby.

Back on the Liberator, Blake fondles Travis’s tiny gun.

Seek - Locate - DestroySue: Well, you know what they say…

The episode concludes with Travis vowing to hunt Blake down.

Sue: Given what I’ve seen so far, I won’t be holding my breath.

Cue credits.

Sue: Hang on a minute. How did Blake get through all those security measures? Did Cally do something clever, and I missed it, or did they do the one thing that Travis said they definitely couldn’t do? I’m confused.

Me: Blake arrived there before they put Cally in the interrogation room. He hid there. You know, like Travis did to him in the flashback we never saw.

Sue: Well that wasn’t very clear. Hang on. So Blake was in the room the whole time Travis was in there with Cally? Travis needs to get that eye seen to. He can’t see shit.

The Score:

Sue: Well, that was better than the last one. Still not very good, though. It was just one big set up because they forgot to do it earlier. But at least it’s going somewhere. I think. But it needs to start bucking its ideas up. Oh, and Avon did sod all again.

5/10

Next Time:

Back
Next

The Web

Saymon says…

The WebSue: We’ve landed on the planet of The Prisoner balloons, and a Yeti is running riot.

This is what I’ve done to Sue. Whenever she sees a mysterious alien web these days, she automatically thinks it’s a Yeti. Not a giant space spider – a Yeti. Not that there are any giant space spiders in this story, but you know what I mean.

Sue: Center Parcs has really let itself go in whatever the hell year this is supposed to be.

Inside a domed habitat, a disembodied voice is repeating the same phrase over and over again. Sue can’t make out the words because the music is too loud. But if Sue’s brain can’t make out three simple words, it goes into meltdown when she finally claps eyes on the source of this half-whispered mantra.

Sue: What the hell is THAT?

Words can’t describe it, but Sue has a bloody go anyway.

Sue: It’s an alien catheter cock monster!

My wife looks disgusted. I’m laughing like a drain. It’s a defence mechanism; I haven’t seen this episode for 36 years and seeing it now brings back floods of memories, none of them pleasant.

The WebSue: That was really disturbing. And this is even worse!

Yes, Blake is reclining in bed with his shirt open. Sue laments his absent six-pack as he strolls half-naked onto the Liberator‘s flight deck.

Sue: Blake wants Jenna to see his chest. Is he trying to laugh her into bed?

Meanwhile, Cally is touring the Liberator‘s rather spacious interior.

Sue: There are a lot of empty rooms on this ship. The aliens who designed it didn’t think it through. Why would you have a massive room like that for one single panel? The ship must be dragging lots of unnecessary weight. It can’t be very fuel-efficient.

Vila bumps into Cally in a corridor.

Vila: Cally, what do you think of the outfit?

Sue: You look like a medieval butcher.

Cally caves Vila’s head in.

Sue: Nice hand-held camera there. That was nicely done. And Vila has been asking for that for a while.

Cally finds Avon tinkering with the Liberator‘s flight systems.

Sue: Avon has decided to dress as a bad guy. Everybody else has gone for a Merry Man look, but not him. He’s dressed as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Cally puts her finger to her temple and then she asks Avon where the ship’s forward detector links are located.

Sue: She’s the only telepath I know who extracts information from people BY ASKING THEM!

The WebAccording to Sue, you can cut the sexual tension between Avon and Cally in this scene with a laser saw.

Sue: She doesn’t have to be a telepath to know what Avon is thinking right now. For heaven’s sake, get a room!

But Cally has other things on her mind, like sabotaging the ship.

Sue: Blake should have vetted his crew better.

Me: His crew is made up of thieves and murderers, and he’s a convicted child molester, so I’m not exactly sure how a vetting process would work.

Gan is resting in his room when he is called to the flight deck.

Sue: Does no one ever wear pyjamas on this bloody ship?

Me: Just be grateful that he didn’t get his baps out.

Blake and Avon confront Cally, who has burnt out the ship’s detector links.

Avon: Look at the burns on her hand.

Sue: Wow. That is very realistic. Too realistic for this time slot. This is a very disturbing episode and we’re only ten minutes in. The direction is interesting, too. I like the POV shots a lot.

And then – and this completely ruins the mood – we pay another visit to the alien catheter cock monster.

Sue: I don’t know how they did it, but that is stupid and scary at the same time. I don’t want to look at it but I can’t take my eyes off it. And by it, I mean IT! Look, Neil!

I can’t. It’s 1978 again and I’m about to wet the bed.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator…

Sue: Is Zen made from copper? Does he ever get verdigris? I bet Zen would look nice with some verdigris.

Thanks to Cally’s handiwork, the Liberator is flying blind.

The WebZen: Position is unconfirmed.

Sue: Why doesn’t somebody just look out of a window?

The Liberator is ensnared in a giant space web.

Sue: Is it the Great Intelligence? Are monsters from Doctor Who allowed to appear in Blake’s 7? Or is that against the rules?

Me: I think Terry Nation wanted the Daleks to appear in an episode but the BBC vetoed it.

Sue: He would have pulled out one of his old scripts, changed all the names, and hoped no one noticed.

Avon demonstrates the ship’s automatic repair systems to Gan.

Gan: That is fantastic!

Sue: It’s Gantastic! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

And then this happens:

Avon: There’s always a market for technology like this.

Gan: I don’t think Blake would agree to that.

Avon: There will come a time when he won’t be making the decisions.

Avon smiles. Sue laughs.

Sue: The cheeky ****er. I love him.

The WebBack on the flight deck, Jenna is giving Blake one of her funny looks.

Blake: Jenna? What’s wrong?

Sue: Your flies are undone.

And then the alien catheter cock monster – Saymon to his friends – uses Jenna as a conduit to drop a very confusing bombshell:

Saymon: We have examined your ship most carefully through our daughter Cally.

Sue: Eh? What? Pardon?

Blake tries to fire his way out of the web with the ship’s neutron blasters, but Vila forgets to raise the neutron flare shield. The idiot!

Sue: This is the best bit. I love how they still don’t know how to work the ship yet. They haven’t got a clue. Four months they’ve had to work it out. Four months.

The Liberator doesn’t make much headway.

Blake: How much distance have we covered?

Zen: One hundred spatials.

The WebSue: How long is a spatial? Is it an inch? A mile? What?

Me: I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s ‘spatial’ or ‘spacial’.

Sue: I think I’ve finally worked out why Avon hates Blake so much. It’s because Blake won’t stop calling him “Avin” and it’s getting on his tits.

Blake prepares to teleport to the co-ordinates given to him by the alien catheter cock monster, but if Sue thinks this creature is the weirdest thing about this episode then she’s in for a bit of a shock.

Sue: Oh… My… God.

Sue is momentarily lost for words as the Decimas wreak havoc on Center Parcs.

Sue: Shit Ewoks. That’s what they are. They’re shit Ewoks.

Me: That’s a tautology if ever I heard one.

Sue: Look at that one with the wild staring eyes! Wow. Either he really loves his job or he’s high on ketamine.

And then Sue hits a brick wall.

The WebSue: I thought Blake’s 7 was going to be easy. I thought it was going to be this gritty, adult space drama. But it’s shit. Utter shit! Even Doctor Who would have thought twice about this. How many months will it take us to get through Blake’s 7? I’m having second thoughts.

Blake teleports down to the planet.

Sue: He looks like he’s going fishing in that anorak. At least Millets is still going in the future.

A Decima throws a spear at Blake. It grazes our hero’s hand.

Sue: Actually, that was really good. Basically, the make-up department are saying, if you want gory, messed-up hands, that’s fine. Not a problem. Bring it on. Anything else, forget it.

A Decima pleads with a very confused Blake.

Decima: Help us! Help us please!

Sue: What the ****? You just tried to kill him!

A door in the habitat opens and a humanoid dressed in tin foil and see-thru plastic – so Sue immediately spots his bright red underpants – kills the little fella with a shock stick.

Sue: I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Blake is introduced to two humanoids – Novara and Geela – who, according to Sue, look like they are waiting for Steve Strange to turn up so they can form a band. Geela tends to Blake’s wound, which looks really nasty. In fact it’s so nasty, I have to turn away.

The WebSue: You can look now, Neil. They cured it with some bacon. Ha! Cured bacon.

For some inexplicable reason, Sue falls for Novara’s charms.

Sue: Is he the final crew member? I like him. He can stay. This is what Paul McGann will look like when he goes grey.

Blake watches helplessly as a Decima cries its little heart out.

Sue: Aww. I feel sorry for it. Sorry and a little bit nauseous.

I’m wiping tears away too, because I’m laughing my head off.

Geela: It’s almost as if they had emotions.

Sue: Almost? It’s crying its ****ing eyes out! I’m not worried, though. Blake will save them.

Me: I don’t want to give too much away, but one of those little critters is the last crew member. You have to guess which one. They call him Weepy, and he gets into all sorts of funny scrapes. Put the cushion down, Sue. I’m joking.

Blake would love to stop and chat but several Federation pursuit ships are closing in on the Liberator.

Zen: If they maintain present course and speed they will pass at a range not exceeding two million spacials.

Sue: That’s about a yard, I think.

Novara and Geela tell Blake that they created the Decimas.

Sue: They must be really embarrassed about that. I bet you can’t take them anywhere.

And then, suddenly and unexpectedly, and for approximately two and a half minutes, Sue engages with the plot.

Sue: It’s a fascinating moral dilemma, I think, but I don’t really give a shit. And Blake is hogging all the plots. Yes, his name in the title of the programme but Avon doesn’t get a look in. Blake loves it when he’s the centre of attention.

Blake meets with Saymon..

The WebMe: Gareth Thomas isn’t acting here. That look of horror and disbelief on his face is completely genuine. This was his reaction when he saw the Saymon prop for the first time.

Sue: It’s just a man sticking his head through a hole in a wall. His arms, legs – and his ‘you know what’ – are made from pipe cleaners. Actually, I can’t listen to this any more. I can’t take it seriously.

Avon teleports down to the planet with the power cells Saymon needs to destroy the web (and the Decimas).

Saymon: If the Decimas reach him, he’ll be in danger. Those power cells must be protected.

Blake: I don’t give a damn about your power cells. There’s a friend of mine out there.

Sue: Aww, Blake thinks Avon is his friend. How adorable. Poor Blake.

Avon strolls towards the domed habitat.

Sue: What’s the point of these orange balls? The last time I saw this many inflatable balls, I was at a Muse concert.

Blake catches up with Avon.

Avon: What’s going on?

Blake: Let’s get under cover first.

The WebSue: Or we could just squat next to this tree. Good grief. I’m losing what little patience I have left, Neil.

Blake buries the power cells in the undergrowth. And then he throws away the box that they came in.

Sue: Why not put the cells back in the box and bury that instead? What if a shit Ewok accidentally steps on them? You idiot, Blake.

It’s all academic anyway, because the cells are immediately discovered by Novara.

Sue: Oh well, that killed two minutes, didn’t it, Terry.

And then the Decimas go batshit mental and all hell breaks loose.

Sue: Did you put something in my tea, Neil?

The revolt is as violent as it is relentless.

Sue: Vicious little bastards, aren’t they. They make the Ewoks look like cuddly teddy bears.

Me: Er…

Sue: And that noise! That noise is giving me a headache. Make it stop! Please!

Me: Utini!

The WebThe revolt culminates in a scene where the Decimas play football with their parents’ rotting heads. I’m not making this up. Sue is horrified, appalled, and a little bit sick.

Sue: This is definitely the most messed-up piece of shit you’ve ever made me watch, Neil. When we divorce, this is definitely Exhibit A.

Me: I’m sorry. I must have blocked it out. I definitely saw it in 1978, though. It traumatised me. In fact, I didn’t sleep for weeks. It’s all coming back to me now. In fact, I think I may need some counselling.

Sue: Not on your salary, you don’t.

The episode concludes with Blake and Avon pontificating about all the weird shit they’ve just been put through.

Sue: They should all go back to bed and pretend it was just a dream. That’s what I’m going to do.

Cue credits. Thank God.

The Score:

Sue: It was too noisy, too gory, and too stupid for words. They should be ashamed of themselves. I don’t know what else to say.

1/10

Sue: And that’s only because Avon was in it. A bit.

Next Time:

Back
Next

Time Squad

Where’s Gan gan?

Nicol joined us for this episode because she read the first blog entry and she said, and I quote, “Blake’s 7 sounds really interesting.” Just how wrong can one person be? Let’s find out…

Time SquadSue: Do you notice anything funny about that logo, Nicol?

Nicol: Yes, I know, they ripped off Star Trek. I read the blog.

Sue: There’s no apostrophe, either.

Nicol: I know. It’s shocking.

Sue: Surely an angry school teacher wrote to Points of View. Have you got that as a DVD extra, Neil?

The episode begins with Jenna giving Blake a driving lesson.

Sue: Is she “at one with the ship” again, or has she actually read the manual? Either way, it’s nice to see a woman in charge of all the technical stuff while the men stand around looking useless. I like that.

Blake decides it’s time they stopped hiding.

Blake: Very soon now the Federation ships will know exactly where we are. Or at least where we’ve been.

Vila: I don’t follow you.

Avon: Oh, but you do! And that’s the problem.

Sue: Avon is brilliant. He wants to rip Blake’s throat out. I can sympathise with Blake but I’m definitely Team Avon.

Me: Tense, isn’t it.

Nicol: Why do they hate each other? And why do they look like they’ve walked off a rubbish tip? All except her. She looks like she’s walked off one of those Top of the Pops repeats you make us watch every week.

Blake sets course for Suarian Major. The Federation have built a vast transceiver complex there and Blake wants to knock it out.

Sue: It looks like the ICI plant at Middlesbrough.

Time SquadThe Liberator cruises through space. Honest. It really does.

Sue: Did Ken Morse do the special effects?

Their voyage is interrupted when Zen identifies a mysterious projectile in their path.

Nicol: Is Zen in the engine room or something?

Sue: No, Zen is the ship’s computer.

Me: Think of him as a grumpy Siri.

The projectile is transmitting a distress signal; this makes Jenna suspicious.

Jenna: Putting out a false distress signal. It’s a trick used by space pirates.

Sue: Oh no, not the ****ing Space Pirates! Quick! Run! (pause) Did you see what I did there? I just made a joke about a bad Doctor Who story. You must be so proud.

Nicol rolls her eyes. And then we’re treated to a glorious model shot of the Liberator.

Sue: Why didn’t they use that model before? That was really good.

Nicol: They could have flipped it over and had it going the other way if they were worried about repeating the shot. Anything would have been better than zooming into a still photograph.

Vila doesn’t want anything to do with this mysterious projectile.

Me: Some people say I look like Vila.

Sue: You look nothing like him! You act like him but you don’t look like him.

Me: Hey, wait a minute…

Nicol: They’re probably referring to your receding hairline and they’re just trying to be polite.

Zen breaks down. I know how he feels..

Nicol: This is what happens when you ask Siri for directions and you don’t live in America.

Jenna and Blake decide to board this mysterious projectile anyway.

Sue: The hint of pink on the bracelets matches Jenna’s top. If only Colin Baker’s coat had been as subtle as Jenna’s blouse, it might have worked.

Blake: Put us across.

Time SquadSue: Blake desperately wants to say “Beam us down” but he can’t in case they get done for copyright.

Jenna and Blake teleport over to the projectile.

Sue: Oh no! They’ve lost their legs in a horrific transporter accident!

Me: No they haven’t. Although you’re right: the way they framed that special effect makes no sense whatsoever.

Sue: I hate the Ready Brek effect. It looks cheap and nasty. Why don’t they just repeat the wibbly-wobbly effect instead? It’s much better.

The projectile is packed with cryogenically frozen humanoids.

Sue: This is exactly like that episode of Star Trek that you put me through not that long ago.

Yes, I convinced her to watch ‘Space Seed’ before she saw Star Trek Into Darkness. She didn’t even thank me.

Sue: At least Star Trek was made in colour; Blake’s 7 is made in brown.

The teleport isn’t working, and with the projectile’s oxygen rapidly running out, Avon is forced to retrieve Blake and Jenna with a risky manual manoeuvre.

Sue: Christ, this is boring.

I turn to gauge Nicol’s reaction and I’m saddened when I see her face bathed in the light of a mobile phone.

Time SquadSue: They’re just killing time. This is tedious. Even Paul Darrow can’t save this scene.

The Liberator swallows the projectile whole.

Sue: And now they’re ripping off James Bond as well.

After what feels like an eternity, the projectile is safely stowed away in the Liberator‘s hold.

Sue: What a clart on. I hope they don’t do that every week. And why is Avon wearing an apron? And a really filthy apron at that.

Nicol: Tabards are obviously very fashionable in the future. What year is this, Neil?

Sue: He doesn’t know, Nicol. He’s ****ing useless.

Me: It’s in the third century of the second calendar, actually.

Sue: Well that clears that up.

Our heroes examine the capsule. I’m fed up with calling it a bloody projectile, even if the script isn’t.

Sue: It looks all right. It actually looks like it’s made from metal and it’s been floating in space for ages. I’m impressed.

While the humanoids are left to defrost, Blake, Avon and Vila prepare to teleport to Suarian Major.

Sue: Vila is in charge of the picnic, I see.

Me: They seem to be missing quite a few bracelets already, and it’s only the fourth episode.

Time SquadSue: Nice try, Neil, but you are not looking at the bracelets. You are staring at Jenna’s arse.

Nicol: Mother!

Sue: You can’t miss it! Look!

Saurian Major is, to quote Sue, a bit of a shit hole.

Sue: If this is Saurian Major, I’d hate to see Saurian Minor. And I definitely recognise this quarry from Doctor Who. I feel like I’m having a Doctor Who flashback.

Me: They’re probably shooting an episode of Doctor Who on the other side of that hill.

Sue: They should have pooled their resources and saved some money. They could have shared the lights and the catering. By the way, have they taken all the blue out of the image? Is that why it looks like this, or is there a fault with the camera? The white balance is completely ****ed.

Nicol thinks she’s identified Suarian Major’s biggest threat.

Nicol: Rattlesnakes. They are surrounded by rattlesnakes.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Jenna is chillaxing with Gan. It doesn’t take long before Jenna’s hair becomes the hot topic of conversation.

Sue: When I worked as a hairdresser, people actually asked for hair like hers.

Nicol: They asked for a Jenna from Blake’s 7?

Time SquadSue: No, they asked for a Farrah Fawcett. In fact, Jenna looks like Farrah Fawcett if Farah Fawcett was hard up for cash and she was forced to do panto.

Gan tells Jenna why he was sent to Cygnus Alpha.

Gan: I killed a security guard. They said it was murder. But he had a gun. I was unarmed. You see, he killed my woman.

Nicol: “My woman!” Is he a Neanderthal?

Gan bows his head in shame and grief.

Sue: Ooh, he’s got something stuck to his head. Is he wearing hair plugs?

Jenna checks on their guests, but one of them has thawed out and is now missing.

Sue: Dudley Simpson went to Spain for his holidays and he came back obsessed with maracas. Or is it castanets?

Nicol: It’s the rattlesnakes. The rattlesnakes have got on board the ship.

One of these frozen men has strange markings on his face.

Sue: I’ve seen those veins before. I never forget a vein.

Time SquadMe: If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that was Bob Peck.

Nicol: This is rubbish. I thought Blake’s 7 was going to be a hard-hitting drama that wasn’t afraid to take risks – that’s what it sounded like on the blog – but it’s just like all the other nonsense you’ve made us watch.

Sue: Terry Nation has burnt himself out. The first two episodes were actually very good, Nicol. This one is crap.

Jenna is attacked. She escapes with a broken arm, which Gan cures with a handy hi-tech healing device.

Sue: Oh look, just like Star Trek. What a surprise.

Meanwhile, on Saurian Major…

Sue: Blake’s on fire!

He really isn’t.

Time SquadSue: It’s a masterclass in how not to frame your subject. The direction is appalling.

Blake is stalked by a figure dressed in red leather.

Sue: Who’s he?

He turns out to be a she.

Sue: Is it Servalan?

She kicks Blake down a small incline.

Nicol: I’ve seen more realistic dives at St James’ Park.

Blake is overpowered and interrogated.

Cally: Who are you?

Sue: She said that without moving her lips.

Cally: Will you answer my question? Who are you?

Nicol: She did it again.

Time SquadSue: Either the director is on crack or she’s telepathic.

Blake grabs the telepath and he throws her to the ground.

Blake: You may be telepathic but you certainly can’t read minds or you never would have fallen for that.

Sue: At least she doesn’t have to learn her lines. And what kind of telepath can’t read minds, anyway? That’s rubbish!

Cally: Cally, my name is Cally.

Sue and Nicol make involuntary “Aww” noises.

Sue: Now I know she’s one of the goodies. We wouldn’t have named one of the wild cats after her if she wasn’t a goodie.

Nicol: So why haven’t we got a cat called Gan?

Sue: Gan probably gets killed. I bet that’s the reason.

Me: We don’t have a cat named Gan because Gan is a stupid name for a cat.

Nicol: And Gallifrey isn’t?

Me: If we had a cat named Gan, you’d keep asking me “Where’s Gan gan?” and I don’t think I could cope with that.

Sue: Well, now that Cally has arrived, I make that Blake’s 6. If you count Zen, which I’m supposed to, according to Neil.

Time SquadCally tells Blake that the planet’s resistance force has been completely wiped out.

Cally: The security forces kept hunting us, but we knew the hills and jungles too well.

Sue: Jungles? Is she having a laugh? The only greenery I’ve seen on this planet is that ****ing bush. There it is. Over there.

Back on the Liberator, Gan has mysteriously disappeared.

Sue: Where’s Gan gan?

Me: See!

Jenna searches the capsule for her missing crew mate.

Sue: Gan couldn’t possibly fit in there. Is she mad?

Jenna is attacked again but this time she’s come prepared and she takes out her assailant with her gun. Oh, and Gan was in the capsule all along.

Sue: I’m sorry but that is ridiculous.

Gan can’t kill anyone because he has a limiter implanted in his head.

Time SquadSue: When did that happen? Who put it there? Did the aliens put it in there? Eh? What?

Nicol: Does this spaceship have anything to do with the planet the other gang are on?

Me: No.

Nicol: Oh.

Blake, Avon, Vila and Cally infiltrate the Federation call centre.

Sue: I’ve definitely seen this location in Doctor Who. A Jon Pertwee story, I think.

‘The Hand of Fear’, actually. But I didn’t know this at the time because I didn’t do any research. I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve let you all down.

Our heroes arrive at a locked door with a Federation logo stamped on it.

Sue: It’s the Star Trek triangle again.

Me: That’s the Federation’s logo.

Sue: Why would you put the bad guys’ logo on your good guys’ logo? What’s that all about? That’s stupid.

Vila breaks into the room and Avon begins to sabotage the paraneutronic generator inside. He says it will take him five minutes.

Avon: I know. Make it two.

Sue: That’s definitely a Star Trek joke. We should have played Star Trek bingo.

Another visitor has thawed out. I think he’s been to the same tailor as Zardoz. Sue thinks he looks like a Mexican bandit. Either way, he attacks Jenna.

Time SquadSue: A rubbish fight with some badly choreographed gymnastics. HOUSE! I win.

Gan comes to the rescue. Sort of. Sue still believes that Gan’s limiter has been placed in his head by the aliens, because the alternative doesn’t really make any sense.

Sue: He’s been threatening to tear people’s arms out ever since we met him, so this has to be a recent development. And if you can’t kill, does that stop you from maiming? Can’t he just shoot the bugger in the leg?

Gan collapses in a heap.

Sue: It’s a bit shit, this.

Jenna finds the tools she needs to disconnect the capsule from the Liberator‘s power source.

Nicol: She’s got a complete collection of sonic screwdrivers there. She’s got more sonics than you have, Neil. And you’ve got loads.

Avon triggers the reactor on Saurian Major.

Sue: If only they could rip off Star Trek‘s special effects as well. That explosion was pitiful.

The crew are teleported back to the Liberator in the nick of time.

Sue: They did that last week. It’s boring already.

Time SquadJust when we think it’s all over, Jenna is attacked by another space bandit.

Sue: Is it just me or is he threatening her with some chopsticks?

When Blake rushes into hold, he accidentally pushes the bandit into the ship’s power supply, killing him instantly.

Sue: What a load of shit.

The crew decide to fling the capsule/projectile/whatever back into space, just to be on the safe side..

Avon: A single cell from those genetic banks can be incubated into fully grown adult in one point six minutes.

Vila: We could be up to our armpits in homicidal maniacs within the hour.

Sue: Just to be clear: you are a sarcastic git like Vila, but you don’t look anything like him.

Me: I’ll take that as a compliment.

Sue: Vila’s got more hair.

The episode ends with a debate about the number of crew members Blake has. It’s art imitating life. Anyway, Blake wants to include Zen.

Time SquadAvon: You’re not counting that machine as a member of the crew!

Sue: I’m with Avon. I don’t think you can count Zen, either. He isn’t real. That would be like counting your mobile phone as one of your closest friends.

Me: Try telling that to Nicol.

Cue credits.

Nicol: I liked the theme music. Everything else was dreadful. I think I’ll leave you to it from now on.

The Score:

Sue: That wasn’t very good. They should have picked up Cally in the first five minutes and skipped the rest. And why didn’t they just blow up the call centre from orbit? Are you seriously telling me that they don’t have any missiles on that ship? If I ever see that ship firing any missiles, I’ll be very pissed off.

3/10

Sue: Terry ****ing Nation.

I try to lighten the mood.

Me: So, who’s your favourite character so far?

Sue: Avon.

No hesitation.

Me: And who’s your least favourite character?

Sue: Anyone who isn’t Avon.

Next Time:

Back
Next

Cygnus Alpha

Blessed be thy name…

Cygnus AlphaSue: Terry Nation again? OK, now I’m worried. I bet he can’t keep it up.

On the penal planet Cygnus Alpha, a woman stares longingly at the night sky.

Sue: Is it Servalan?

Me: No, it isn’t Servalan. Stop jumping the gun.

Meanwhile, the prison ship London is limping bravely on.

Sue: Has Blake really been following this ship for four months? He must really love Vila. And Vila is a dick!

Artix tells Leylan that their remaining prisoners have been drugged up to the eyeballs to keep them docile.

Leylan: All a bit late in the day.

Sue: Understatement of the ****ing century! His annual appraisal is going to be hilarious.

When Leylan files his report, we are treated to a “previously on Blake’s 7″ recap.

Sue: Oh, this is nice of them. How thoughtful.

Leylan: Three prisoners escaped in a spacecraft of unknown origin. Prisoners Blake, Stannis, and Avon. The London is again under authorized control and proceeding to destination. Message ends.

Cygnus AlphaSue: What kind of report was that? He left out all the juicy bits. Like the bit where he was a terrible captain and it was his fault that he couldn’t control his crew. I’d look for another job if I were you, mate.

Meanwhile, on the spacecraft of unknown origin…

Sue: I like the comfy sofas at the front. This ship looks like it was built by DFS. Cream and brown – it doesn’t get more seventies than that.

Blake discovers the ship’s armoury. Or maybe it’s the ship’s hairdressing salon.

Sue: I’m sorry, love, I don’t care what you say, they are definitely curling tongs.

Blake: Ow. That one’s hot.

Sue: Told you.

The guns are hot because they operate with a single function isomorphic response, or as Blake puts it:

Blake: It’ll only let us have one gun each.

Sue: He says as he hands two guns to Jenna. Brilliant.

Avon: I must say, this technology has an organic feel about it.

Sue: Just like Babylon 5. Even the chairs look the same. They give great back support, but I bet they’re not very comfortable, though, especially on long-haul flights. Blake’s 7, Babylon 5. Even the titles are similar.

Me: And all the episodes were written by one person.

Sue looks crestfallen.

Me: I’m joking. Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Babylon 5.

Cygnus AlphaJenna presses a button on the dashboard and the ship accelerates to a tremendous speed.

Sue: Are you quite sure this is a space ship and not a floating hairdressing salon? They appear to have engaged the blow dryers.

The ship cruises into orbit above Cygnus Alpha.

Sue: Well, it’s definitely got a bit of poke. What’s it like at parallel parking?

Suddenly, a booming voice welcomes the new crew. It’s the ship’s computer.

Zen: Zen. Welcome, Roj Blake.

Sue: It’s Roger. Only his friends call him Roj.

Zen: Please state speed and course.

Sue: A ship that can fly itself. That’s perfect. That’s the best sat-nav ever. This is what you want from a space ship. Who wants to spend four months reading the manual, even if you had four months to read the manual, which this lot had.

The ship is given a name.

Avon: The Liberator?

Jenna: It got that from me. It was something I was thinking.

Sue: It could have been a lot worse; it could have rhymed with liberator.

Cygnus AlphaZen isn’t the most forthcoming computer in the world, and when Blake and Avon enquire about the ship’s teleportation facilities, he’s less than helpful.

Zen: Wisdom must be gathered, it cannot be given.

Sue: It reminds me of that talking computer from that other science fiction thing.

Me: HAL from 2001?

Sue: No. The other one.

Me: TIM from The Tomorrow People?

She’s been watching the reboot; the one where TIM is an overhead projector.

Sue: No, the other one. Red Dwarf. It reminds me of Red Dwarf.

I give up.

The London deposits its prisoners on Cygnus Alpha.

Sue: I don’t get this at all. Why travel for eight months just to dump the prisoners here? Just dump them on the Moon! It must cost a fortune to go to all this trouble. There had better be a good reason for it.

Vila is threatened by a prisoner named Arco, but Gan intervenes with a threat of his own.

Cygnus AlphaSue: Gan enjoys violence. He smiles when he’s thinking about it. What is he in for, again? No, please don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. It’s probably something horrific involving a family pet.

Gan, Vila, Arco, and another prisoner named Selman, discuss their predicament.

Sue: Right. There’s four of them, and they all have lines, so they must be important. Add these four to the two he’s already got and you’ve got Blake’s 6. We’re almost there.

Yes, that’s right. Sue didn’t include Zen. Even though we named a hedgehog after him. And here’s another thing I wasn’t expecting: Sue really hates Vila.

Sue: He’s funny, I suppose. But is he always this much of a dick?

Blake decides to test the Liberator‘s teleport system.

Sue: It’s not as good as Star Trek. It’s more Ready Brek than Star Trek. But it will save them a lot of faffing about. I certainly wouldn’t want to land the Liberator. That would be a massive pain in the arse.

Blake is pursued by monks.

Sue: I think this would have scared me if I’d seen it when I was young. Did this bit scare you, Neil?

Me: I can’t remember this episode at all.

Sue: Well, after the last one, your mum probably put her foot down and you watched Coronation Street instead. Maybe you had one week on, one week off?

Cygnus AlphaAvon tries to teleport Blake back to the ship but fails miserably. Jenna presses the correct button and Blake returns to the Liberator in the nick of time.

Sue: Does the teleport effect have its own theme tune? That’s nice.

Meanwhile, the prisoners on Cygnus are trudging towards a large foreboding structure in the distance.

Gan: What do you think it is?

Vila: The architectural style is early maniac.

Sue: Ha! That was a brilliant line.

Phew. Finally.

Sue: Vila is still a dick, though.

A woman named Kara welcomes the prisoners to Cygnus Alpha. She does this by snogging Gan’s face off.

Sue: Do they all get a snog? That would be my first question.

Me: It’s the best warm-up to a full body cavity search I’ve ever seen.

Avon prepares to send Blake back to the planet’s surface.

Sue: Paul Darrow looks like he should be playing keyboards with Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army. Paul Darrow would have been a great in a New Wave band. He’s got that look.

Me: Eh?

Cygnus AlphaSue: Don’t laugh, but the best gig I’ve been to – and I’ve seen Queen, Led Zep and Genesis – was Gary Numan at Newcastle City Hall in 1979. I’m not joking.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, Blake teleports back to Cygnus Alpha with a big bag of bracelets.

Sue: He still hasn’t tested his so-called gun yet. He’s going to look very silly when he fires it and it barely heats up enough to curl his hair. At least Jenna will get some use out of it.

And then we meet Vargas.

Sue: He looks like Brian Blessed.

Vargas: His blessings are upon you. Speak and he will hear you.

Sue: Bloody hell. It is Brian Blessed. That’s mental. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Brian Blessed turns up.

Me: You like Brian Blessed, don’t you?

Sue: What kind of stupid question is that? Now shut up. I want to listen to Brian Blessed.

Vargas is the High Priest of Cygnus Alpha.

Sue: Their god has given them the gift of Trebor mints.

Meanwhile, Avon and Jenna are flirting on the Liberator.

Sue: Is this where the love triangle begins? The sexual tension on that ship must have been unbearable for the last four months.

Blake explores the church of Vargas.

Cygnus AlphaSue: Why is 1970s science fiction always medieval? I know it’s easier to light, but it’s really, really lazy. And boring.

The newly arrived prisoners have all succumbed to the Curse of Cygnus.

Gan: To survive we have to be treated with a drug every day for the rest of our lives. If we leave here, we die.

Sue: It’s a con! Any idiot can see that. Brian Blessed is HAVING A LAUGH!

Gan is in a great deal of pain.

Sue: Judging by his face, and the sound of people groaning behind him, the Curse of Cygnus definitely involves projectile diarrhoea.

Jenna changes into something more comfortable, and less smelly, probably.

Sue: Four months and that’s the best she could do? That doesn’t give me much hope for the rest of the wardrobe.

Avon decides to see if the ship has anything in his size.

Cygnus AlphaJenna: There’s another room you should see while you’re down there. At the far end. You might find it interesting.

Sue: It’s the ship’s sex dungeon.

Vargas captures Blake . He taunts him by breaking his precious teleport bracelets.

Sue: Is this why it’s called Blake’s 7? Because he only has 8 bracelets left?

Vargas is descended from the convicts who were originally sent to the penal colony.

Sue: Cygnus Alpha is basically Australia, but less right-wing.

Vargas tells Blake his life story.

Sue: This is great. Decent actors going at each other in a BBC studio. You can’t take your eyes off them. I’m enjoying this, even if our speakers are buckling when Brian lets rip.

Vargas threatens Blake with torture.

Sue: Oh look, they’ve got a sex dungeon down here as well.

Meanwhile, Avon has hit the jackpot: the Liberator’s jewel cache.

Avon: You could buy anything with this. Anything at all.

Cygnus AlphaSue: You can’t buy justice, Avon.

And then Avon drops his bombshell. He suggests to Jenna that they take off in the ship and leave Blake to it. He’ll only spend all that money on being virtuous. But Sue expected that. What she didn’t expect was Jenna agreeing to Avon’s plan if Blake doesn’t get his skates on.

Sue: The dynamic between the crew is very interesting. You can’t trust any of them.

Blake is tossed into a cell with the rest of the prisoners. Arco attacks him for refusing to cooperate with Vargas.

Sue: Four ****ing months it’s taken him to come here and rescue you. And this is the thanks he gets? I wouldn’t let him into my gang now. He’s blown it.

Gan calms things down and Blake gives the prisoners an ultimatum:

Blake: The choice is very simple. You can either fight or you can die.

Sue: Vila won’t fight. He’s a dick.

Vargas accidentally fires Blake’s curling tongs. It almost brings a supporting wall down.

Cygnus AlphaSue: OK, fair enough. That was pretty good. I’ll give them that. Just don’t stick it in your hair by mistake.

Sue tuts when Blake decides to wait until the last possible moment to save Gan, who is pretending to be sacrificed by Vargas. There is no reason for this, other than it’s a bit more exciting. A huge fight in a medieval castle ensues.

Sue: (singing) Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding trough the glen…

It’s our second prison revolt in as many episodes, but Sue is too busy counting the participants to notice.

Sue: 4…5…6… has he got to 7 yet? I think he has, you know. It’s time to go!

And then something truly shocking happens.

Sue: Vila! Yes!

Vila Restal saved the day. Who’d have thunk it?

Sue: That was really well done. I didn’t expect that because Vila was such a –

Me: Yes, Sue. We know.

Blake escapes from Vargas and his monks. But then he decides to go back for his gun.

Sue: Just leave it! You’ve got a whole rack of them back on the ship! And you’ve only got eight bracelets, so you can only use eight guns, remember!

Cygnus AlphaVargas teleports to the Liberator, which he intends to steal so he can set up an intergalactic cult. Unfortunately for him, he steps back into the teleport area and Blake sends him to an explosive death in the cold vacuum of space.

Sue: Ha! That was brilliant. Very Monty Python. OK, it’s time for a quick head count… Right, I don’t know about you, but I make that Blake’s 4.

Me: What about Zen?

Sue: What about it?

The Score:

Sue: That was all right. It wasn’t as good as the last two episodes, and in normal circumstances I would probably give it a 6. I’m sick of pretend-medieval-sci-fi. It’s so lazy. But Brian Blessed was in it, and if that isn’t worth an extra point, I don’t know what is.

7/10

Next Time:

Back
Next

Space Fall

Avon calling…

Space FallYou’ll be pleased to know that Sue can almost sing the theme tune now (she still struggles with the ending), but you’ll be less pleased to know that she thinks the title sequence looks a bit, well, cheap.

Sue: Does Terry Nation write every episode?

Me: No.

Sue: So this is the second-part of a two-parter. Is that it?

The episode begins with the prison ship, London, engaging its hyperdrive, which leaves a thick plume of smoke in its wake.

Sue: Its rear-end has gone. They should pull into a space garage before it’s too late.

I tell her that Blake’s 7 didn’t have a big budget.

Sue: You don’t say.

I tell her that Blake’s 7 had the same budget as an average episode of Softly, Softly, a programme she remembers fondly, even though it wasn’t as good as Z-Cars.

Sue: The BBC can be their own worst enemy, sometimes.

With the London on auto-pilot, the crew turn their attention to more important matters.

Space FallSue: He’s playing Sudoku, and he’s trimming his ear hair. Nice.

There then follows an exchange between the ship’s captain, Leylan, and his first officer, Raiker, that makes Sue almost spill her tea:

Leylan: There’s a female prisoner on our manifest.

Raiker: I’ve noticed that, sir.

Leylan: Yes… well… er, be discreet.

Sue: Bloody hell! In other words, when you rape her, don’t make a big song and dance about it. Unbelievable.

Raiker introduces himself to the prisoners.

Raiker: I’m Sub-commander Raiker, and I think there are a few things you should know.

Sue: One: I’m a serial rapist. Actually, he looks like a thin Brian Tilsley from Coronation Street.

Me: I’m saying nothing.

Raiker informs the prisoners that their journey to Cygnus Alpha will take eight months.

Sue: They’ll get piles if they have to sit like that for eight months. That’s a bit grim.

Raiker: Questions?

Sue: Yes, what happens if you need a wee?

Much to Sue’s relief – and theirs – the prisoners are shown to their living quarters. All except Blake, that is.

Sue: Facing the wrong way on a space ship isn’t that severe a punishment, is it? Is it supposed to annoy you that you can’t watch the in-flight movie without getting a crick in your neck?

Space FallRaiker shows Blake who’s in charge.

Raiker: Something of a comedown for a leader of men, isn’t it? Molesting kids?

Sue: They’re still doing the child abuse sub-plot. No wonder Blake’s 7 went out in January. This is incredibly depressing.

According to Sue, you can cut the sexual tension in this scene with a knife.

Sue: I think Blake is in more danger of something discreet happening to him than Jenna is.

Raiker informs Jenna that the prison ship doesn’t cater for female prisoners.

Sue: Why? Don’t women commit crimes in the future? I’m mildly annoyed by that.

Raiker tries his luck with Jenna, but the smuggler quickly puts the sub-commander in his place.

Sue: Thank God for that. For a moment there, I thought Jenna was a bit of a floozy. You know, like our cat. I hope she gets to kick him where it hurts, later.

Vila introduces Blake to Avon.

Sue: I know him. That’s Paul Darrow. Ooh, I’m really looking forward to this.

Paul Darrow doesn’t disappoint.

Sue: I still think Paul Darrow would have been a great Doctor. Scary, but great.

Blake begins to formulate an escape plan.

Sue: Aren’t they bothered that the bloke who’s offering to lead them is a convicted kiddie fiddler?

Space FallOn the London’s bridge, a man named Artix – who Sue describes as a cross between Eric Idle and Richard O’Sullivan – notices something strange on the scanner. The crew can’t work out what it is.

Raiker: I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Sue: I have. When we got a Binatone game system. It was nothing like real badminton.

Blake convinces Avon to work with him.

Sue: They look like they’re sitting in a barber shop, waiting to get their hair cut.

Blake persuades Avon to rally to his cause because the alternative is even worse.

Blake: A private deal with the ship’s crew to fake the running log? You’ve had four months to think about that. And it didn’t take you that long to work out that they would have to kill you afterwards to keep you quiet.

Sue: Hang on a minute. They’ve been living on this ship for four months? In the same clothes? The ship must stink to high heaven. I wonder how many of them have copped off with each other.

The ship is suddenly rocked by space debris.

Crew Member: Section Four. The outer hull has been punctured astern.

Sue: He doesn’t sound that upset. He made it sound like they’d just ran out of milk.

Blake uses this distraction to assemble his gang together.

Space FallAvon: You’ve got an army of five, Blake.

Sue: Blake’s 5. We’re finally getting somewhere. What are the names of the two new members?

Me: Gan and Nova.

Sue: That sounds a bit Geordie to me. I’m Gan and Nova the toon, pet.

Blake’s gang has all the bases covered:

Sue: There’s a smuggler, a thief, a computer expert, a strong man, a camp man, and a convicted kiddie fiddler. What could possibly go wrong?

Avon breaks into the ship’s computer room.

Sue: Paul Darrow is very easy on the eye. There’s something about him… I can’t quite put my finger on it but I can’t take my eyes off him.

Me: Stop drooling, love. Thanks.

Meanwhile, back in the prisoners’ quarters, a guard is handed today’s Sudoku challenge. And that’s when Sue notices that something is terribly amiss.

Sue: Hang on a minute. Where’s Dennis Waterman gone? He couldn’t stop shouting his mouth off in the last one, so where is he now?

Space FallWhen Vila backs out of Blake’s plan to disable the ship, Nova volunteers to take his place.

Sue: I like Nova. Vila is a bit of a dick.

Nova is killed shortly thereafter.

Sue: What? They can’t do that! We’re back to Blake’s 4 again. Bloody hell.

Me: I’m relieved. He cried like a baby.

Sue: I’d like to see how you’d react if you were drowning in shaving foam, Neil. And it can be arranged, you know. Poor Nova. I’ll miss him.

Avon sets to work on the ship’s computer.

Sue: Look at the size of his sonic, Neil. I suppose I should make an ‘Avon calling’ joke here, just to get it out of the way. No, on second thoughts, I won’t. You’d have to be pretty desperate to make a lame joke like that. Forget I said anything.

Avon is sidetracked by a “realistic but shit” fight, so Gan gently persuades a guard to open the doors instead.

Sue: Gan is basically Big John, isn’t he? If Robin Hood was a paedo, I mean.

Space FallThe fight in the computer room has spiralled out of control.

Sue: He’s put his finger in Avon’s mouth! Who fights like that? What kind of sick future is this?

Meanwhile, Blake gets into a gunfight.

Sue: Is it really wise to fire guns in a space ship? It’s already got holes in it.

And then Gan mispronounces Vila’s name.

Sue: He’s had four months to get that right. They obviously haven’t copped off in the shower yet. Is there a shower? Please tell me there’s a shower.

Gan and Vila head for the armoury, but in an act of unbelievable stupidity, Vila drops his gun when Gan orders the guards to drop theirs. It’s a mess, frankly.

Sue: Oh, come off it! I told you Vila was a dick.

The rebellion is quashed, leaving Blake, Jenna and Avon locked in the computer room, their options running out. Raiker executes a prisoner to force Blake’s hand.

Sue: What an absolute ****. I’m shocked by that.

Avon implores Blake to sacrifice the prisoners.

Sue: I’m even more shocked by that. I didn’t realise that Avon was such a git. I still like him, though. But I like Blake, too. It’s complicated. Which one does Jenna go for? Does it turn into a messy love triangle? I bet it does.

Blake ignores Avon’s pleas and they surrender. Raiker is told the good news.

Space FallSue: I bet he shoots another prisoner anyway. He’s that type of ****.

Raiker shoots another prisoner anyway.

Sue: I told you! What did I tell you? If you want to guess what’s going to happen in Blake’s 7, just think of the bleakest thing possible. It’s as easy as that.

The prisoners are rounded up and Raiker gives Jenna one of his looks.

Sue: This is relentless. After all that murdering, it’s time for a quick rape before dinner. Jesus.

Avon taunts Blake for failing to see their hijack through.

Sue: I think I’m going to enjoy Blake’s 7 a lot. I already love Avon. He’s very funny. Very dry.

But it isn’t over yet: the London has found a derelict ship floating in space.

Sue: This must be important because it’s in the title sequence. I’m guessing that Blake and his gang steal it, and they run away in it. That makes sense, because, let’s face it, the ship they’re on now is rubbish.

Space FallLeylan wants to salvage this mysterious alien ship so he can pocket the reward.

Sue: Rapists, murderers and now scrap dealers. Is there anything these people won’t do to avoid their real jobs?

The London docks with the mysterious ship.

Sue: Nice bit of six-inch ducting, there.

Leylan sends two of his men into the ship to investigate.

Sue: Seriously, though, where is Dennis Waterman?

Me: This is the only thing I remember from 1978. This tunnel.

Sue: It’s a very nice tunnel. Considering the budget they had to work with, this isn’t bad at all.

Me: This would have been up against Coronation Street, and I know my mum watched Coronation Street, and we didn’t have a second telly, so she must have let me watch Blake’s 7 as a special treat.

Sue: What a lovely mum. Although I bet she was shocked when she found out that you wanted to watch a programme about criminals, child molesters and rapists.

Leylan loses radio contact with his men. So he sends another man in after them.

Space FallSue: What an idiot. I was beginning to feel sorry for him, but he’s a terrible captain. They should send the rapist in. I can’t stand him.

Raiker has a much better idea: send the prisoners in. They choose Blake, Avon and Jenna for this dangerous mission, and it appears that you can have your child molesting charges against you dropped if you agree to salvage a space ship on your way to prison. Who knew?

Our heroes walk onto the bridge of this strange, new ship.

Sue: That looks pretty good.

Jenna: Beautiful!

Sue: Don’t push it, love.

But something’s wrong…

Sue: It’s an automatic defence system, silly. Is everyone completely thick?

Blake, Jenna and Avon are hypnotised by strange visions.

Space FallSue: What the hell are we watching now? It looks like a bloody snuff film.

Blake breaks free of the illusion, which sends Avon flying backwards over a couch, but Sue is too wrapped up in the drama to notice or care.

Sue: It’s good, this.

Blake asks Jenna if she can pilot the ship.

Sue: Are they leaving Vila and Gan behind? Are we back to Blake’s 2 again? They’ve taken three steps forward and three steps back again.

Blake finds Raiker heading down the docking tunnel towards them. A shot rings out.

Sue: If this was Doctor Who, that would have been the cliffhanger.

But Blake isn’t dead; he’s just bruised his shoulder (we think). Raiker is sucked out into space.

Sue: On a piece of string. I’m not very happy about that. I wanted him to suffer.

Sue proceeds to tell me all the ways Raiker should have died. None of them are very pretty.

Space FallThe episode ends with Blake revealing the next stage of his plan.

Blake: Follow the London to Cygnus Alpha. Then we can free the rest of the prisoners.

Sue: Yay! … Wait a minute. What are they going to do for the next four months while they’re following them?

The Score:

Sue: That was even better than the last one. I like it because it doesn’t feel rushed. I’m very impressed. This is much better than Doctor Who. It’s more psychological, and I feel like I’m really involved with the characters. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

8/10

Sue: Can we watch the next one now?

Me: No.

Next Time:

Back
Next

The Way Back

Underground car parks, child abuse and torture. It must be Blake’s 7.

It’s 6pm on Monday 2nd January 1978 and Wings are Number One with ‘Mull of Kintyre’. Sorry, wrong blog. It’s 6pm on Thursday 2nd January 2014 and I haven’t got a clue who’s Number One. What I do know is this: we will watch an episode of Blake’s 7, Sue will comment on it, I will note her comments down using my own unique version of shorthand, and then I’ll write them up for this blog. If we get into a heated discussion about anything, I will pause the DVD so we don’t miss anything vitally important. Or really silly.

But first things first…

Me: What can you tell us about Blake’s 7, Sue?

Sue: Well, let’s see. I can name all the characters for a start. There’s Blake, Avon, Jenna, Cally –

Me: I covered the cats in the introduction. What else can you tell us about Blake’s 7?

Sue: I know that it’s set in space with a bunch of people in a space ship, or maybe it’s a space station? I’m expecting it to be like Red Dwarf, only not as funny.

I don’t dare tell her that it’s just like Red Dwarf only much, much funnier.

Me: Why didn’t you watch it when it was on television?

Sue: I would have been 17 in 1978 and I played badminton on Mondays. Not that I would have watched it anyway; all that spacey stuff wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Me: What do you expect Blake’s 7 to be like?

Sue: I want it to be like Firefly, with really fit blokes and a decent plot. Actually, just the fit blokes will do.

Me: Are you ready to make a start?

Sue: I do have one question before we begin: have any of the cast been questioned by Operation Yewtree?

Me: No.

Sue: OK, let’s do this.

I press Play.

The Way BackSue: Der-der-DERRR-DE-DERRR!

Me: That sounds nothing like the theme to Blake’s 7, but nice try.

Sue: It sounds like the sort of music that Michael Bublé would walk out on stage to. It also reminds me of the theme to Dynasty.

Me: Do you notice anything odd about the logo?

Sue: Yes, that triangle is a blatant Star Trek rip-off. Even I know that.

I pause the DVD.

Me: Anything else?

She stares at the screen for ages.

Sue: The apostrophe is missing!

She can scarcely believe her eyes.

Sue: The apostrophe is missing! How shit is that?

I press Play again. And then this inevitably happens:

The Way BackSue: Oh no. Terry ****ing Nation! Not a good start!

Me: Actually, the programme’s official title is Terry Nation’s Blake’s 7.

Sue reaches for a cushion. I gently remind her that she’s promised not to belt me around the face for the duration of this blog and she backs down. Eventually.

Sue: You’ll pay for this later. And it won’t involve a cushion.

Blake’s 7 begins in a futuristic city.

Sue: This man walking down this corridor reminds me of Martin Shaw from The Professionals. I used to have a crush on Martin Shaw.

So far, so good.

Sue: I didn’t know that Blake’s first name was Roger! You kept that quiet.

It takes a while for Sue to work out where she is.

Sue: Is this a space station?

Me: No.

Sue: An alien planet?

Me: No.

The Way BackSue: A really big space ship?

Me: It’s Earth.

Sue: How was I supposed to know that! They should have put a caption on the screen. What year is this?

Me: I don’t know.

Sue: What do you mean, you don’t know? Why are you here again? For God’s sake, Neil.

A couple named Ravella and Dal Richie take Blake to a hatchway that leads to the outside world.

Sue: I’m guessing that these two are rebelling against something or other, I just don’t know what yet. Maybe they don’t like living like the Amish.

Me: The what?

Sue: The Amish. They look Amish. Spacey Amish.

The rebels lead Blake through an underground complex.

Sue: It looks like the campus basement at the university where I work. You know, the place where they keep all the bins. It’s not very glamorous.

Blake leaves the domed city behind.

The Way BackMe: This is the only scene I remember watching in 1978 when this episode was first broadcast; this bit with the big dome in the background. The rest is just a blur.

Sue: It’s pretty good, actually. No wonder you remember it. I’ve got to say, though, this isn’t what I expected at all. This is more like Edge of Darkness than Doctor Who. Were you excited about Blake’s 7 when it came out?

Me: Big time. I probably didn’t sleep the night before.

Sue: You didn’t sleep last night, either.

Me: That’s completely different.

Sue: So what brought Blake’s 7 on, then? Were they trying to capitalise on the success of Doctor Who, or was it Star Wars? People were sci-fi crazy in the seventies.

Me: Star Wars wasn’t released in the UK when they began making Blake’s 7. We’ll cover the exact moment they saw it later in the series. It’s difficult to miss.

Ravella forces Blake to question the status quo on Earth.

Ravella: Doesn’t it bother you that you spend your life in a state of drug-induced tranquility?

Sue: Not really. Oh sorry, she was talking to Roger.

Blake is taken to Bran Foster, the rebels’ leader. Blake is told that he isn’t the person he thought he was, and, in a previous life, he was a rebel too.

Sue: Flappy hands!

Me: What?

Sue: Rewind that bit where Blake runs down that tunnel. Look at his hands!

She’s right. They do flap a bit.

Sue: I like this. It reminds me of The Prisoner. I thought this programme would be lots of people shooting laser beams at each other in corridors, but this is very psychological. The direction is interesting, too. Extreme close-ups!

The Way BackFoster gathers the rebels together for a quick pep talk.

Sue: Just look at these losers. I’d have second thoughts about joining this shower. Their leader is rubbish. He isn’t very passionate. If I were Blake, I wouldn’t follow him to the shops.

Blake wanders off and bumps into some Federation guards coming the other way.

Sue: They’re looking for the James Bond film that’s shooting on the set next door.

The Federation guards murder the rebels in cold blood.

Sue: Their guns are pathetic. Yes, they’re doing the job, but they look like dud fireworks. You know, the ones that don’t go off properly when you light them and you can’t believe that you’ve paid a fiver to watch that. Rubbish!

Rubbish guns or not, it’s a massacre.

Sue: It would have been so much better if you’d heard them being killed off-screen. You didn’t need to see it. What time did Blake’s 7 go out? Was it after The Nine O’Clock News?

Me: The first episode went out at 6pm. The rest went out at 7:15pm.

Sue: You are having a laugh! That was horrific. No wonder you lot grew up so damaged and depraved.

A stunned Blake returns to the city, but Federation guards are already waiting for him.

The Way BackSue: At least the guy who’s playing Blake is pretty good. That’s a relief. It’s nothing like Doctor Who, though. I thought this would be more like Doctor Who. It’s a lot grittier than I expected. It’s like Torchwood but quite good. Hey, was that a hand-held camera I just saw? I’m impressed.

Blake’s case is discussed by the powers that be.

Sue: I recognise these sofas. These sofas were in Doctor Who. I remember liking them.

Me: Really? I can’t remember. I can’t remember. I can’t remember.

Sue: First you don’t know when this is set, and now you don’t know if they are the same sofas from Doctor Who or not. Can I watch this with someone who knows stuff about Blake’s 7 instead? What’s John Williams doing for the next six months?

It may be cheap and functional, but Sue likes the minimalistic look of future Earth.

Sue: I’m really glad they didn’t go overboard making it look all weird and spacey. If anything, they’ve toned everything down a bit. Even the make-up looks normal. It’s aged quite well, this.

Federation Arbiter General Ven Glynd wants Blake dealt with.

The Way BackSue: Barry Manilow isn’t happy about this at all.

Just in case we’ve forgotten that we’re in the future, the doors in this city make funny whooshing noises when somebody opens and closes them. And they have to open and close them. The Federation haven’t invented automatic doors yet, they’ve just invented the noise they make.

Sue: Those doors are farcical. They’re not fooling anyone. And it was going so well.

Having said that, Sue is a fan of the overall soundscape.

Sue: It’s very peaceful in the future. I wouldn’t mind living there. You know, this doesn’t even sound like Doctor Who.

Me: That’s strange because Dudley Simpson did the music.

Sue: Yes, but you can barely hear it. It’s as if he couldn’t be arsed. It’s deathly quiet.

Blake’s lawyer, Varon, arrives at Blake’s cell to discuss the state’s case against him.

Sue: That table could do with a beer mat under its leg. Look at the wobble on that!

Blake wants to plead guilty, but he hasn’t heard the charges yet.

Varon: Assault on a minor, attempting to corrupt minors –

Sue: Not miners again! It’s always the ****ing miners.

Me: Not miners – minors. Kids!

I rewind this, frankly, pivotal scene.

Varon: I’ve had the opportunity of talking to the children – that is, the prosecution witnesses – and they do seem very certain of their facts.

The Way BackSue: ****ING HELL. This is unbelievable. You wouldn’t even hint at something like that at 6pm nowadays. This is Operation Yewtree! In space!

Blake can’t believe it either.

Blake: I’ve got to hand it to you. You’ve done a BRILLIANT JOB!

Sue: He’s giving Tom Baker a run for his money, here. He isn’t afraid to go for it when he has to. That’s good.

A court convenes to hear Blake’s case.

Sue: You can tell that this is just a TV studio. The cyc curtain is casting some serious shadows across the back of that set.

Blake’s shady past (the one he can’t remember) is dredged up again.

Sue: It’s very convoluted, this. They should have just started with Blake in charge of the rebels. All this ‘he can’t remember he was a rebel’ nonsense is a bit long-winded. Is he a good guy or not? Stop pissing about.

Blake is flanked by Federation guards.

Sue: They must be sweating buckets in those helmets. And what does the green perspex do? Does it do something important or is it just for show?

A woman presides over the courtroom.

The Way BackSue: Is that Servalan?

There was a cat who belonged to the farmer next door, which we named Servalan. She was a right bitch (the cat, not the farmer). But she died. At least we think she died…

Me: No, she isn’t Servalan. In fact, she’s about as far removed from Servalan as it’s possible to get.

Blake offers no defence.

Sue: No defence is a terrible defence, mate. You know, Roger’s lawyer should be doing better. You’d think he’d do a lot better that this, what with him looking like Spock.

Justice is served in some perspex boxes.

Sue: It’s Deal or No Deal meets Judge Judy. Any minute now, the banker will offer Blake 15 years in prison, with time off for good behaviour. Deal, you fool! Deal!

Two flickering balls determine Blake’s fate.

Sue: A Tom Baker episode did exactly the same thing. Don’t ask me what it was called, but it’s exactly the same.

Blake is found guilty.

Sue: The computer says No.

Blake’s crimes are displayed on the courtroom’s cyc curtain.

Sue: I can’t see what’s Number One. I bet it’s something horrible like rape. I can’t believe that they got away with this.

Blake is taken to some holding cells, where an old woman is screaming her head off.

Sue: Well, this is cheerful. Where’s K9 when you need him? Or a razor?

The Way BackBlake is placed in a cell with Jenna Stannis.

Sue: Is that Samantha Fox?

A convict named Vila Restal steals Blake’s watch.

Sue: It’s the vicar on EastEnders!

Blimey, that was quick.

Vila: I steal things. Compulsive, I’m afraid. I’ve had my head adjusted by some of the best in the business. But it just won’t stay adjusted.

Sue: So, one of our heroes is a raving klepto, and another is a convicted child molester. That’s lovely.

Vila introduces Blake to Jenna, a smuggler with form.

Sue: The cats are coming thick and fast now. She’s very pretty. Just like our cat. Did you fancy Jenna when you were a boy?

Me: I don’t think so. I was only nine.

Sue: Do you fancy her now? I bet you wouldn’t turn her down if she offered to smuggle –

Me: OK, let’s leave it there.

Sue decides to keep score.

The Way BackSue: This is basically Blake’s 2 right now. He’ll have to get his skates on if he wants to get his numbers up before the end of the episode.

Blake’s lawyer celebrates losing his latest case with a shag.

Sue: I can’t believe that Terry Nation wrote this. It’s proper, adult drama, this. No one ever shagged in Doctor Who. Well, not on-screen anyway.

Varon decides to investigate Blake’s case a little further.

Sue: In your own time, chick. Does he wait for all his clients to be sent down before he starts doing his bloody job?

The Federation’s computer records are controlled by man waving an enormous Sony Walkman in the air. Sue calls him “the moody Eric Bristow”.

Sue: That Walkman was years ahead of its time in 1978. They actually got that bit right.

Me: And yet so horribly wrong.

Varon suspects that the children have had the abuse implanted in their heads.

Sue: Why didn’t they just put the memory in Blake’s head? He’d think he was guilty and then he wouldn’t put up a fight. That would have saved a lot of time, and that way they could have spared the kids. This is just wrong.

Varon uncovers enough evidence to bring the administration down.

The Way BackSue: I like the way that Varon wasn’t in on the conspiracy and he just did his job. Badly, I might add, but at least he’s making up for it now. Why haven’t we got a cat called Varon? I like Varon.

Varon overhears Ven Glynd scheming behind closed doors.

Sue: So these doors make futuristic whooshing noises when they open and close, but they offer no privacy at all. What’s that all about?

Blake, Vila and Jenna are escorted from their holding cell.

Sue: The other members of the seven aren’t saying very much. In fact, they aren’t saying anything at all.

Varon and his girlfriend discover the bodies of the rebels in the underground car park outside.

Sue: They didn’t even bury them. They should have cremated them at the very least. That’s lazy and horrible.

Blake boards a ship bound for Cygnus Alpha. According to Sue (and only Sue), the prison ship is under the thrall of a young Dennis Waterman.

Sue: I could be so good for you. Treat you like you want me to.

Guard: (to Blake) You can start with a couple of hours confinement. Seat eleven, confinement!

Sue: But what if Blake needs to go for a wee during the flight?

The Way BackIt turns out that a creepy blonde man named Dev Tarrant set the whole thing up, and he has Varon and his girlfriend murdered in cold blood.

Sue: We’ll never call one of our cats Tarrant. What a massive ****! I hope he gets his comeuppance soon. There was no need for that.

The episode ends with Blake watching the Earth recede from view; a bit like my hair. Blake vows to return; I wish my hair would do that. Cue credits.

Sue: DER-DER-DER-DERRRRR-DER-DERRR.

Me: That’s better.

Sue: That’s the best thing Terry Nation has ever done. Which isn’t saying very much, but still.

And then my wife stuns me.

Sue: What I find interesting is that Blake is banished from his home planet, just like the Doctor was banished from his home planet. And he said he would get back one day, too. Yes, one day. One day…

Good Lord, what have I done?

The Score:

Me: So what are you going to give that out of ten?

Sue: Oh, no! Do I have to mark the episodes as well? I hate marking them; I get enough of that at work. Why don’t we do it differently this time? Why don’t you score the episodes instead? What would you give it?

Me: No one cares what I think. Come on, Sue. Think of the graphs.

Sue: Can I mark the episodes out of seven?

Me: No.

Sue: Oh, I don’t know… What am I supposed to compare it to? Breaking Bad or 1970s Doctor Who? Because it’s not as good as Breaking Bad.

Me: Let’s go with the latter.

Sue: It was all right, I suppose. I enjoyed it. It was very bleak, and definitely not for kids, and it was a bit slow to get going, but I liked the premise and the acting was more than OK. The direction wasn’t bad, either. As long as Blake returns to Earth and clears his name, I’ll be happy.

7/10

Me: You did that on purpose, didn’t you?

Sue: Yes.

Next Time:

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