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Adventures with the Wife and Blake»Archive for June 2014

Archive for June 2014

Terminal

End of the line…

First things first: Sue already knows that there are 52 episodes of Blake’s 7. I did consider telling her that there were only three series before we started this blog, so I could text her during ‘Terminal’ with the good news (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain later), but I thought better of it – not only would it have been cruel, I probably would have ended up with a serious injury. However, I did tell her that this episode could have been the last one, but wasn’t. Obviously.

Oh, and she can sing the theme tune perfectly now, which is nice.

Sue: Terry Nation! Long time no see.

Me: This is the last time you’ll ever have to sit through a Terry Nation story, Sue. I promise. It’s the end of an era.

Sue: I’m not sure how I feel about that. Just as I was beginning to like him.

TerminalAvon is holding his hands over his face…

Sue: Are they playing Hide and Seek? Are they really that bored?

Meanwhile, Dayna and Cally are playing Space Monopoly in the teleport room. So yes, they really are that bored.

Cally: My game in nine thousand seven hundred and twenty-one moves.

Sue: How long have they been playing for? Six months?

Tarrant wants to know why Avon altered the Liberator‘s course without telling anybody.

Sue: Avon has turned into Blake. This is exactly the sort of thing that Blake would do. He should know better.

Avon has received a secret message.

Sue: It has to be Servalan. She’s poking Avon.

Me: When did you last use Facebook, Sue? The 18th Century?

Avon is so tired, he can’t even be bothered to come up with a decent quip to hurl at Tarrant.

Sue: I bet Terry’s the one who’s tired. He must have been up against a deadline.

TerminalTarrant butts heads with Avon like he’s never butted heads with Avon before.

Avon: Nothing and nobody is going to stop it, you least of all. Now get out of my way, and stay out of my way.

Sue: Ooh, this just went up a notch. I’m not sure whose side I’m on any more. Avon is acting like a right twat. He’s acting like Blake.

Thanks to Avon, the Liberator ends up flying through some liquid particles. According to Zen, the damage to the ship is superficial, but then we cut to what looks like acid eating through the hull.

Sue: Either Vila has just been sick or Zen is faulty and they’re all ****ed.

The Liberator arrives at its final destination: Terminal.

Sue: It looks like a giant egg. I hope there isn’t a giant space chicken in this episode. I wouldn’t put it past them.

Avon is determined to teleport to Terminal alone.

Sue: Is he expecting to take part in a jousting competition? Because those gloves are ridiculous if he isn’t.

Avon: I have recorded a full explanation of everything I am doing. Zen will not issue it until you are in flight. It’s very detailed. The only thing missing is the end.

Sue: Blake did this once, I’m sure of it. And Avon called Blake an idiot when he did it to him, so what’s he playing at?

TerminalAvon: Understand this: anyone who does follow me, I’ll kill them.

Sue: Eh? Has Avon been taken over by aliens? Why is he doing this? Has Terry forgotten who he’s writing for? This is a really Blakey thing to do.

Avon isn’t that impressed with Terminal.

Avon: If this is an example of a man-made planet, they should go back to the drawing board and start again.

Sue: I bet it’s gorgeous on a sunny day. It reminds me of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s the weather that’s crap, not the location. Why would you create an artificial planet with bad weather, anyway? It doesn’t make sense…

A rhythmic heartbeat follows Avon’s every move.

Sue: It’s the Sound of Drums. Avon has been summoned to this planet by the Time Lords.

Me: Are you sure you don’t write fan fiction in your spare time, Sue?

Avon retrieves a spherical device from a spherical device dispenser.

Sue: It’s an egg timer. There are lots of egg references in this episode, Neil. Should I be worried? The heartbeat belongs to a giant chicken, doesn’t it?

The spherical device speaks to Avon. And no, it isn’t a Toclafane, Sue.

Sphere: You will follow the indicated route. You are warned that the slightest deviation from this course could result in considerable danger.

Sue: I bet Blake’s 7 fans drive around the countryside with this voice programmed into their Sat Navs. I know I would.

TerminalAvon isn’t alone on Terminal…

Sue: Oh no! It’s Jimmy ****ing Savile. There was a time when that would have been funny, but not any more. Now I just feel sick.

An alien enzyme is attacking the Liberator.

Sue: Why hasn’t Zen noticed this yet? The place is falling to bits.

Me: It reminds me of that hotel we stayed in when we went to Amsterdam.

Sue: I’ve told you before, Neil, there was nothing wrong with that hotel. You were tripping your bollocks off.

Avon is steered towards a man-made structure at the top of a hill.

Sue: Either this planet is powered by solar panels or this is a prop from a game show. Which box contains the special cash prize? Choose now!

A hatchway opens and Avon finds himself in an underground complex.

Sue: The direction is really good. It’s very atmospheric. The heartbeat is beginning to freak me out a bit. I just hope it doesn’t turn into clucking.

TerminalTwo Savile clones are torn to pieces by apes. It’s strangely cathartic, actually.

Sue: And it was going so well… And why do these apes like to eat clothing so much? What’s that all about? Have they got a fabric fetish?

Avon discovers a teleport bracelet.

Sue: Is that an old one…? Wait a minute… Nah, surely not…

Me: Go on, Sue…

Sue: Is he looking for Blake?

Sue’s suspicions are confirmed when Avon stumbles across Blake’s medical records.

Sue: Well, I didn’t see that coming. I’m shocked. However, I bet you anything that Blake isn’t here. Not really. This is a trap. And I bet I know who’s behind it as well, for ****’s sake.

Avon is subdued with a tranquilliser dart.

Sue: Avon must really love Blake if he’s come all this way for him. He wouldn’t go to this trouble for Jenna.

Back on the Liberator, things are going from bad to worse.

Sue: It’s a bit sad, this. It’s as if Zen is dying, the poor thing.

If only Avon hadn’t taken Orac’s key with him.

Sue: This is what happens when there’s no trust. This is very sad.

TerminalTarrant and Cally, who have followed Avon to Terminal against his wishes, are attacked by gorillas in the mist.

Sue: I could do without this scene, thank you very much. Why do they always have to ruin everything with a shit fight or a shit monster? It’s even worse when you get both at the same time.

Cally enters the hatchway, leaving Tarrant to his fate.

Sue: Tarrant is going to die. They won’t need a spare any more if they’ve found Blake.

Tarrant makes it to the hatchway before it closes on him.

Tarrant: From here on, it’s downhill all the way.

Sue: It had better not be!

Avon has been rendered unconscious and wrapped in cling film (“Just the way I like him.”). In the blink of an eye, he wakes up in a completely different room.

Sue: That was a strange edit. They should have inserted a cutaway between those two scenes. Unless the cutaway involved those bloody apes, in which case I understand why they went with the jump cut.

Avon searches for Blake.

Sue: I’m telling you now: Blake won’t be in this episode. It’ll be Servalan instead. It’s obvious.

Avon finds a bearded man lying on a table.

Sue: They’ve hired a double and stuck a beard on him. That isn’t Blake.

TerminalBlake: Well, you certainly took your time finding me.

Sue: Oh my God! It’s him! It’s really him! I don’t believe it… Wow… So is Blake in the next series? I’m not sure how I feel about that…

Blake tells Avon that a rescue attempt is out of the question.

Sue: Why didn’t he ask Avon to come for him in three months time, when he could get off the table? Do they come back for him at the end of the next series? Is that it?

Avon is knocked unconscious and wrapped in cling film again. Or is he/was he?

Sue: OK, this is very confusing… Unless Avon dreamt that and Blake wasn’t really there. Am I close?

Avon meets the brains behind the operation.

Sue: NOOOOOOOO!

Avon isn’t surprised to find Servalan on Terminal. In fact, he seems to relish it.

Sue: There’s definitely chemistry between them, and you could easily imagine them as a couple, but it is slightly ludicrous, don’t you think?

Back on the Liberator, Vila and Dayna can’t move for vomit.

TerminalSue: It’ll take more than Jif to clean up this mess. It looks like an explosion in a pizza factory.

Zen admits defeat.

Zen: I have failed you. I am sorry.

Sue: This is ridiculously sad. Why am I so sad, Neil? It’s just a stupid machine, but this is easily the saddest moment in Blake’s 7 so far.

Me: What about Gan?

Sue: Who?

Servalan offers to exchange Blake for the Liberator, but Avon’s having none of it and he instructs Vila to make a run for it instead.

Avon: Take the Liberator out of here, maximum speed. Go and keep going!

Sue: But he can’t! Oh no, this is going to end badly. I can feel it.

Tarrant and Cally are captured by Servalan’s Savile clones, which forces Avon’s hand.

Sue: She’s going to inherit a disintegrating space ship. This is brilliant – Servalan is going to die!

TerminalAccording to Servalan, Blake is dead.

Servalan: He died from his wounds on the planet Jevron more than a year ago.

Sue: ****.

Avon has been tricked.

Sue: What a cow. Avon looks like he’s lost the plot. Oh, I could throttle her myself.

But Servalan has one more bombshell left to drop: the apes on the planet’s surface aren’t what humanity evolved from – they are what humanity are destined to become.

Sue: As long as we don’t end up looking like Jimmy Savile, I’m OK with that.

Me: I’m just surprised that Terminal didn’t look like a giant Statue of ****ing Liberty. Seriously, Terry ****ing Nation! There, I said it so you don’t have to.

Servalan bids Avon farewell.

Servalan: We won’t meet again. Goodbye.

Sue: Give him a kiss!

Vila hands the ship over, but before he leaves, he persuades Servalan’s lackey to let him take Orac with him.

Vila: It’s just a pile of junk, really, but it means a lot to me. I built it. It’s a sculpture.

Sue: Clever Vila. I’ve always liked Vila.

Vila teleports to Terminal.

TerminalSue: Hang on a minute… How did that woman know how to work the teleport? She’s strolled onto the ship and suddenly she’s a ****ing expert on how to use a teleport? Oh well, what the hell. Who cares?

Servalan has the one thing she’s always wanted: the Liberator.

Sue: Why hasn’t she commented on the mess they left behind? Does she think that Vila staged a dirty protest when he knew she was coming?

Servalan: MAXIMUM POWER!

Sue: That’s hilarious. She’s completely ****ed!

When the Liberator begins to break apart, Servalan makes a run for the teleport.

Sue: Oh no. She’s going to get away! STOP HER!

The Liberator explodes.

Sue: Oh well, I’m sure they’ll get a new one. It’s Zen I feel sorry for. And Avon’s rock collection, of course; he’ll have to start all over again. And I bet that bitch got away, too.

Tarrant has the last word:

TerminalTarrant: Let’s see if we can’t find a way off this planet. There’s a lot to do.

One by one, the crew exit stage right. Avon is the last to leave.

Sue: I don’t know why he’s smiling. That was all his fault!

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: That was ****ing brilliant.

10/10

Sue: OK, so the monkeys and the Jimmy Savile impersonators should knock a couple of marks off, but sod it, that was excellent.

And breathe…

Sue: Was that really going to be the last episode? You can sort of tell, I suppose, what with Blake coming back and them blowing up the ship and everything. So what changed their minds?

Me: Well, believe it or not, the Head of BBC Television, Bill Cotton, was watching this episode at home when it was broadcast, and he was so impressed by what he saw, he telephoned the BBC and told them to make an announcement that the series would return the following year. Everyone who was involved with the programme thought it was all over – and then the continuity announcer told them otherwise. Mad, eh?

Sue: Fabulous. That would never happen today, which is a bit sad. actually. And who can blame him? It was a fantastic episode and they had to make more. They could have ended it there, I suppose, but you’d always wonder what happened to them.

Ask Sue!

If you’d like to ask Sue a question about Series 3 (or her hopes for Series 4) now’s your chance. The best question will receive a signed copy of our book. Please send them to us via our Contact Form. Deadline for your questions: Tuesday 1st July. Cheers.

Coming Soon…

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Death-Watch

It’s never easy…

Death-WatchThe action begins on a space liner…

Sue: I like the set – it’s massive. Oh, he looks familiar… Eh? What’s happened to Tarrant’s perm?

I pause the DVD while Sue tries to come up with a good reason for Tarrant’s catastrophic hair failure. They include: Tarrant in a flashback, Tarrant in a flash forward and Tarrant working under cover (but still using his real surname).

Sue: It could be his brother. But they wouldn’t do that because they pulled that trick with Cally not so long ago. They wouldn’t be that stupid.

I press Play.

Sue: Has Avon got a twin? I could live with that…

There’s a lot for Sue to process during this episode’s cold opening: Tarrant has a double, there’s an assassination attempt, an act of war, Stuart Fell falls over, and we’re treated to some barely comprehensible chat about a Summons to Justification.

Sue: I haven’t got a clue what’s going on, Neil, but it’s very good. I even like Tarrant’s hair – it really suits him.

Sadly, she can’t say the same about Avon’s latest trip to the Liberator‘s wardrobe.

Death-WatchSue: You can tell that this was made in the 1980s – look at the size of Avon’s shoulder pads! Oh no, I don’t like this look at all. It looks like he’s trying to hide a tiny pair of wings.

Vila manages to convince the crew that if they don’t take a relaxing break soon, everything will go tits up.

Sue: I thought Cally was in charge of Health and Wellbeing on the ship?

Tarrant requests some information from Zen, but not before he checks with Avon first.

Sue: He’s finally showing Avon the respect he deserves. There’s hope for Tarrant yet.

The long and short of it is that Vila wants to visit a war zone.

Sue: Who flies to a war zone for a ****ing holiday? That’s why Thomas Cook don’t offer package tours to Syria, you numpties.

Cally and Dayna are just as confused as Sue (which reassures her slightly), and then the penny finally drops.

Tarrant: Two men fight for the honor of independent planetary systems of maybe twenty million people each.

Sue: Right, I get it now. It’s The Hunger Games.

Death-WatchFunnily enough, Channel 4 are broadcasting The Hunger Games as we watch this episode. Serendipity and all that.

Sue: This is basically their version of the World Cup, isn’t it? And where did all the booze and nibbles come from? Did they stop off at the shops on the way there? They should show the Liberator with a planet’s flag tied to the back of it.

After a very amusing exchange, in which Avon basically tells Orac to shut the **** up, the computer agrees to stream a viscast to the Liberator‘s view screen.

Presenter: “Space, the final frontier” as it was once called…

Sue: First they rip off the logo and now this…

The viscast previews a selection of artificial arenas where two contestants will fight each other to the death.

Sue: That looks like a links golf course… Hey, this really is a lot like The Hunger Games, you know. Or I should say, The Hunger Games is a lot like this. Even the hatches they have to walk through look exactly the same. And this bit with the media reporting the event is very similar, too. Did Chris Boucher take legal action?

Sue loves it when the presenter gets into pissing contest with the show’s director via the studio’s talkback system.

Sue: This is what I have to put up with at work. I really like this episode. It’s funny and it’s smart, especially when you consider when it was made.

Death-WatchDeeta Tarrant, First Champion of the United Planets of Teal, shares a ride with his friend, Max.

Sue: If this is Tarrant’s clone, or brother, or whatever the hell he is, and he has to fight in this arena thingy, then his friend must be Woody Harrelson.

Me: It’s Jo Grant’s husband, actually. Although the last time you saw him he had long hair and was Welsh.

Sue: This is why I’ll never be a fan. I wouldn’t have got that in a million years.

Deeta Tarrant’s opponent has mysteriously turned up out of the blue to represent the Vandor Confederacy.

Sue: I bet it’s Travis. He hasn’t been in an episode for ages.

Me: That’s because he’s dead.

Sue: Yeah, of course he is, Neil.

The contest is overseen by two partisan arbiters and one neutral arbiter.

Sue: OH NO! **** off! I don’t believe it! So Servalan’s an X-Factor judge on her days off now, is she? I bet she’s the Sharon.

The presenter’s commentary is beginning to get on Avon’s nerves.

Avon: All this breathless solemnity is beginning to irritate me.

Me: It could be worse, Avon. You could be listening to Clive Tyldesley.

Death-WatchWhen the viscast features footage of the contestants, the Liberator‘s crew are knocked for six.

Vila: I know him, don’t I?

Me: Welcome to my life, Susan.

Tarrant recognises his brother immediately.

Sue: Well, that clears that up. I’ll tell you what, though: the actor who plays Tarrant is much better than I thought he was. His performance is subtly different; I think the other Tarrant is supposed to be older and wiser – he’s not as cocky. It’s a massive coincidence, but what the hell…

Deeta Tarrant’s opposite number isn’t Travis, after all.

Sue: He looks like an accountant. Is he really the best fighter the other planet’s got to offer? They must be shitting themselves.

Deeta is fitted with an implant that lets Max see and feel Deeta’s thoughts and actions.

Sue: Even The Hunger Games didn’t go this far. Actually, this reminds me of a short film produced by my students this year.

Me: Are your students closet Blake’s 7 fans?

Sue: I doubt it. There are some similarities, though. It’s about a reality show where you can see what the contestant sees, and it all goes horribly wrong. It’s very good:

Me: Chris Boucher should take legal action.

Del Tarrant meets Max.

Sue: Tarrant should swap places with his brother. That way they could kill the crap Tarrant and then they could replace him with a slightly better Tarrant. That’s what I would do.

Avon decides to visits a “sick friend”.

Sue: Ha! Brilliant. I should have guessed that he meant Servalan.

It’s a flirt-fest.

Sue: They should get a room.

Me: They’ve already got a room, Sue. OK, it looks like a freezer section in the back of a supermarket, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Avon has correctly surmised that Servalan plans to disrupt the contest with an unexpected rule violation. However, the President assures Avon that she doesn’t pose a threat to him.

Servalan: I don’t think of you as an enemy, Avon. I think of you as a future friend.

Sue: He keeps ignoring her friend requests on Facebook. He’s playing hard to get.

Not hard enough it seems, because Avon and Servalan are suddenly snogging each other’s faces off. Sue laughs and gasps at the same time.

Sue: Cally will be furious!

Death-WatchStill cradling Servalan in his arms, Avon contacts his girlfriend Cally back on the ship.

Avon: I’m ready to come up now.

Sue: Yes, I bet you are!

Sue completely fails to notice the most exciting part of this scene: Avon is walking backwards when he teleports!

Sue: I worry about you sometimes, Neil.

Deeta Tarrant is all ready for combat in a shiny, silver space suit. Max asks Deeta how he feels.

Sue: Like Gary Glitter about to open for The Sweet.

Sue has a bad feeling about this.

Sue: Tarrant is going to die. The good Tarrant, I mean. They’re going to kill the wrong Tarrant. I like this Tarrant. This isn’t fair, Neil.

The contest is about to begin…

Sue: What happens if they shoot each other straight away? All this hype and build-up for what? Ten seconds of action?

Me: At least the England football team managed to drag it out for three hours.

The arbiters each place a disc on their foreheads: green for Teal (or should that be teal for Teal?) and blue for Vandor.

Sue: So what does Servalan do? Does she place a different coloured disc over each eye? Does she get to see it in 3D?

Death-WatchAfter an extremely tense build-up (Sue’s already biting her nails), the contestants finally step into the arena. Where will they find themselves? An exotic beach? An alien planet? A jungle, perhaps? What do you think?

Sue: It could be worse, I suppose. It could be a quarry. And it does look like a level from Call of Duty, so there is that.

If the location is disappointing, the direction more than makes up for it.

Sue: The camera work is great. The direction has been pretty good so far but it just went up a notch.

Me: You hated Gerald Blake’s direction last time.

Sue: I don’t care. This is excellent. Ooh, POV shots as well… very nice.

If only Vinni posed more of a threat.

Sue: He doesn’t strike me as a Vinni. He’s more like a Malcolm or a Keith. Tarrant should be able to take him, no bother.

To prove this point, Tarrant successfully sneaks up on Vinni, only he can’t bring himself to shoot his opponent in the back.

Sue: Idiot.

Tarrant pays the ultimate price when Vinni draws his gun with preternatural speed.

Sue: What the…? How the hell did that happen?

You can hear a pin drop as Deeta tumbles to his death in slow motion. After what seems like an eternity, Sue utters a single word:

Sue: Wow.

Death-WatchDeeta Tarrant is dying and Del feels every agonising second. Sue’s bottom lip is quivering a little bit; slightly more than Del Tarrant’s, actually.

Sue: **** me.

Me: Are you surprised?

Sue: I’m surprised the director could afford a crane. Look at this shot – it’s amazing!

Avon is determined to know how Servalan violated the rules. Orac suggests that Vinni must be an android.

Sue: Ah-ha! So that explains why he looked so normal – he was supposed to look like that. That’s clever. It was the only thing still bugging me. Excellent.

Avon has something special planned for Del Tarrant.

Sue: Give him a break, Avon. His brother just died. You only thought your girlfriend was dead and you were upset for years. Avon can be incredibly insensitive sometimes.

Tarrant agrees to challenge Vinni to a duel; it’s the only way they can stave off an intergalactic war.

Sue: They won’t kill two Tarrants, will they? I don’t think I could handle that.

Me: I thought you wanted Tarrant to die?

Death-WatchSue: Shut up, Neil.

Me: Do you need another tissue?

Sue: I’m warning you, Neil…

Dayna interrupts Vinni’s post-match medical and gives Servalan a fright.

Sue: Shoot her in the face! Damn it. At least there’s a good reason for sparing Servalan’s life this week, but the crew need to be more ruthless. They need to start shooting people in the back.

Thanks to Avon and Orac cheating the system, Tarrant gains the advantage over Vinni in the arena, which takes the form of an observation gallery of a deep space liner.

Sue: It’s a level from Unreal Tournament.

Trust me, Sue was unbeatable at Unreal Tournament in the early 2000s.

Sue: HEADSHOT! Come on, what are you waiting for?

Once again, Tarrant refuses to shoot Vinni in the back.

Sue: IDIOT!

Death-WatchIt’s a close run thing but Vinni is eventually vapourised.

Sue: Bloody hell, that was tense. I haven’t got any nails left, you bastard.

Avon convinces Max to re-stage the contest again without any interference from Servalan. And then Tarrant does a runner before he finds himself back in the arena.

Cue credits.

Sue: Brilliant.

The Score:

Sue: It took a while for me to get to grips on what was going on, but once I did… Well, I just can’t fault it. Even Servalan didn’t do my head in. A fabulous script, years ahead of its time; great performances; brilliant direction… I don’t know what else to say… And I’ve completely changed my mind about Tarrant.

10/10

Ask Sue!

If you’d like to ask Sue a question about Series 3 (or her hopes for Series 4) now’s your chance. The best question will receive a signed copy of our book. Please send them via our Contact Form. Deadline for your questions: Monday 30th June. Cheers.

PLUS: If you happen to be in London on Wednesday 16th July you might be interested in a FREE event where you can meet some real authors – and me – talking about Doctor Who books at Blackwell’s, Charing Cross Road. Tickets are limited so you’ll have to get your skates on.

Next Time:

Warning: Glen’s video trailer includes MASSIVE SPOILERS for the next episode:

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Moloch

Doran is a moron…

MolochSue: Ben Steed. Why does that name ring a bell?

Me: He wrote The Harvest of Kairos. You know, the story you refused to give any marks to the other week. You must remember it.

Sue: I’m still trying to forget it.

I neck a glass of single malt whisky (a Father’s Day present from Nicol).

Sue: The Liberator looks like it’s just been through a space ship version of a car wash.

Vila: We’ve been following Servalan for twenty-seven days…

Sue: Eh? What?

Yes, our intrepid heroes are currently chasing Servalan’s giant space crocodile.

Sue: That’s a turn-up for the books. I thought they were supposed to run away from her? That’s how this show is supposed to work. What’s changed?

Avon thinks his arch-nemesis is heading for the planet Calcos.

MolochTarrant: What would Servalan want with a penal colony?

Sue: I could think of a few things…

Me: Penal colony, Sue. Penal.

Sue: Oh. Sorry.

Servalan’s ship approaches the so-called Outer Darkness, but Avon is determined to follow her. When Vila protests, the crew turn on him.

Sue: Vila is the only person who’s making any sense. It’s the annoying way he does it that rubs people up the wrong way.

Servalan’s ship suddenly disappears from view.

Sue: Did they run out of special effects, or did the vision mixer fall asleep in the middle of a wipe?

The Liberator ends up bouncing off an invisible planet, which results in Vila performing a spectacular cartwheel.

Sue: (laughing) Excellent. I’ll give him 9.5 for that, the daft sod.

MolochOn the planet Sardos, two women have noticed the Liberator‘s near miss.

Sue: I’m guessing that Poola is a futuristic version of Paula, and Chesil is their version of Shazza. I’m also guessing that this is one for the dads.

I knock back another whisky, resisting the urge to wolf whistle at Chesil as she walks away from us in her skin-tight trouser suit.

Sue: Steady on, Neil.

Sardos is surrounded by an energy field that makes it impossible to both see or penetrate the planet. Not that it stopped Servalan from landing there.

Dayna: We should have killed her when we had the chance.

Sue: Which chance is she talking about? There’s been so many.

The Federation control Sardos, and they aren’t very happy with Poola’s decision not to report a strange object bouncing off the stratosphere. A mysterious voice seals her fate.

Moloch: Give her to your men.

Sue: Dear me. I don’t like the sound of that.

MolochServalan has arrived on the planet at the request of Section Leader Grose.

Sue: Is she Tony Blair to his John Prescott?

Me: Yes, he does look a bit like John Prescott.

Sue: And she’s committed loads of war crimes.

When Poola is handed over to Grose’s men, she is referred to as a “present”. I pour another double and brace myself.

Sue: And I thought The Harvest of Whatsit was sexist bollocks. I almost don’t know what to say. ****ing hell, Neil.

Chesil (aka Katy Perry) is violently assaulted when she tries to intervene.

Sue: Can I have a whisky?

Tarrant decides to hitch a ride on a transport ship that’s heading for Sardos, but he has to take Vila with him because he’s the only member of the crew who knows how to open a door.

Sue: I’d rather ask Dayna to blow the door open than take Vila with me. Vila will get Tarrant killed… On second thoughts, he should definitely take Vila with him.

Vila and Tarrant teleport to the transport ship, where a party is already in full-swing.

Sue: Are pirates singing behind that door? If they know any songs from The Pirates of Penzance, Tarrant won’t be able to resist.

MolochVila and Tarrant have teleported on opposite sides of a bulkhead door and it’s up to Vila to find a way through it.

Sue: So Vila’s found the ship’s glory hole. Now what?

Vila is interrupted by one of the ship’s passengers and Tarrant is forced to open the door himself.

Sue: We’d better make ourselves comfortable, we could be here a while.

Tarrant’s progress with a laser cutter is agonisingly slow, but the director is happy to stick with it anyway. And then John Prescott slaps a woman’s arse.

Sue: Am I allowed to give minus scores?

Me: It didn’t stop you when we watched Doctor Who.

Sue: How low can I go?

Servalan discusses the whereabouts of her battle fleet over cheese and coffee.

Sue: At least she arrived there dressed for dinner.

Me: She’s always dressed for dinner.

MolochServalan gives Grose a good dressing down.

Servalan: Section Leader, after your court martial, I shall give you an hour to get your personal effects together.

Sue: That was one hell of an annual appraisal. Nice canapés, though.

Grose isn’t perturbed by this reprimand and he wants Servalan to see something.

Grose: This is no ordinary planet.

Sue: It’s a rapist’s paradise.

On the planet’s surface, a group of men are singing while they march.

Prisoners: (singing) It’s great to be free! It’s great to free!

Sue: (singing) If you’re a man on this planet, it’s great to be free!

Vila has befriended a convict named Doran.

Doran: When they dragged me into that prison cell, they said, “Look at the sun! Look at the sun! Because as long as you live, you’ll never see the sun again.” And I haven’t. In fifteen years, I’ve never seen the sun.

MolochSue: He’s talking about Page 3, you know.

Doran: Or a woman.

Sue: I ****ing knew it. This is horrible, Neil. I never thought I’d see Terry Scott like this. June won’t like it.

Me: That isn’t Terry Scott, but never mind.

Vila loves his new mate and he doesn’t like it when Tarrant tries to break them up.

Sue: This episode just went back into positive score territory because Tarrant fell over. If they kill him off, I’ll give this episode 11 out of 10.

Tarrant pulls a gun on his so-called colleague…

Sue: He just stepped over the line. I’m sorry, but you can’t do that. What a ****.

Avon wants to teleport Vila and Tarrant back to the Liberator before things get out of hand.

Sue: Paul Darrow is trying to make this sound really exciting, even though it clearly isn’t.

When Tarrant attempts to contact the Liberator, a man armed with an impressive-looking weapon appears behind him.

Sue: Is that a rocket launcher? For God’s sake, FIRE!

MolochTarrant is shot. I punch the air.

Me: 11 out of 10! There you go! You can’t go back on your word, Sue. 11 out of 10! Unbelievable!

Sue: EH? WHAT?

Me: You just got your wish. Tarrant’s dead.

I demolish another whisky.

Avon: Tarrant is not as important as the Liberator.

Sue: Yes, but even so, that was still a bit of a shock. I sort of knew they were going to kill him – they were setting it up nicely for him to die – but the way they actually did it was –

Me: Tarrant isn’t dead, Sue.

Sue: I know that, stupid. I’m getting my own back. You must think that I was born yesterday, you dick.

The man who shot Tarrant retrieves a card from a machine, which he then flaps around in the air.

Sue: Has he taken a Polaroid selfie next to the corpse to prove to his Facebook friends that he killed the mighty Tarrant?

Grose is still threatening to show Servalan something interesting.

Grose: You want to see something extraordinary? Very well then, Madame President – something extraordinary.

Sue: It’s his pornography collection. It really is extraordinary.

MolochDoran opens up to his new friend, Vila.

Doran: My problem was always women.

Vila: You like them?

Doran: No.

Sue: Right. So one of the so-called good guys is a rapist. Wow. Unless the Federation have made him think he’s a rapist when he isn’t actually a rapist. You know what the Federation are like.

Me: Nah, I’m pretty sure he’s a rapist, Sue.

Grose demonstrates a very special machine to Servalan.

Sue: It’s a 3D printer. So what?

The machine can replicate anything. Even Earl Grey Tea.

Sue: Just think, if they had a bigger box, they could stick the Liberator in it and make hundreds of copies.

Servalan has walked into a trap. Grose only wanted her ship so he could transform it into a fleet of giant space crocodiles.

Sue: Oh, I was so close. Do you know something, Neil? This is getting interesting…

When Servalan demands to know how Grose plans to operate his new fleet, he places a mouse in the replicator.

Sue: They’re going to pilot their ships with mice?

But the mice don’t work.

MolochSue: That’s a shame. I would have paid good money to watch mice shooting at the Liberator. That would have been brilliant.

Grose introduces Servalan to Colonel Astrid.

Sue: What the hell is that? It looks like a troll doll in a nappy. Urgh, make it go away!

It looks like Servalan’s time is finally up.

Moloch: Give her to your men.

Sue: I think I’m going to be sick.

I don’t think it’s the whisky.

Servalan: You will suffer for this, Grose.

Sue: Has there ever been a more aptly named character in a TV show? I’m actually on Servalan’s side this week. Sort of. I want Avon to swoop in and save her.

Doran has a “present” for Vila.

MolochDoran: I promised you a woman.

Servalan has been chained up in a tent.

Doran: Go on!

Sue: Terry Scott is channelling Blakey from On the Buses now. What the hell am I watching, Neil?

Servalan persuades Vila to join her. No, not like that.

Dayna and Avon teleport to Sardos and it doesn’t take them very long to find the replicator.

Sue: Wouldn’t it be funny if Avon opened the box and he found Tarrant’s decapitated head in there.

Avon finds an apple instead, which he eats enthusiastically. Meanwhile, Servalan and Vila are still searching for a way off the planet.

Sue: If this planet generates its own light, you’d think they’d turn it up a bit. I can’t see a thing.

They stumble upon a rapist building a fire. Vila tries to surprise him but he makes a right pig’s ear of it. Sue can’t help but laugh when Servalan rolls her eyes and intervenes.

MolochSue: Why use a heavy rock when there’s a gun right there? She’ll break a nail.

Servalan ends up shooting the guard anyway.

Me: Who was that, Sue?

Sue: That was Stuart Fell, Neil. Not his best fall, I must say. He should have done a cartwheel. He could have shown Vila how it’s done.

Avon and Dayna find the man in tank.

Sue: That would have ****ed me up if I’d seen that as a kid. It’s horrific – and shit at the same time. Didn’t it traumatise you, Neil?

I sink another whisky and shake my head.

The people of Sardos decided to predict what their race would look like in two million years time. It dawns on Avon that this machine could bring their prediction to life.

Sue: Why would anybody want to do that? What would be the point? Idiots.

Grose’s men take Avon and Dayna prisoner.

Sue: This is what happens when you don’t watch the ****ing door. How long have they been doing this sort of thing? Rule Number One: watch the ****ing door!

Servalan blasts several rapists to death with her sidearm, before grabbing two pilots and escaping in a space ship. It’s just a shame that this happens off-screen and it’s left to Tarrant to summarise the events.

Sue: I knew he wasn’t dead. I just don’t understand why.

The sadistic Grose decides to torture Avon, beginning with his injured wrist.

MolochSue: Paul Darrow’s startled sigh just then suggests to me that the bad guy wasn’t grabbing his wrist.

Doran bumps into Katy Perry.

Sue: Oh no. Please, God, no.

Me: They offered this part to Arthur Mullard, you know.

Sue: Please don’t. I feel queasy enough as it is.

Doran misses Vila terribly.

Sue: You know, this would be sweet if he wasn’t a serial rapist. But he is a serial rapist, so I’m finding it hard to give a ****.

But there’s a method to Ben Steed’s madness: the convicted rapist and murderer decides to trust the Katy Perry look-a-like with the tight-fitting trouser suit and revealing cleavage. You know, instead of just raping and killing her. Can you see what he did there?

Sue: Need more whisky.

Tarrant, Vila, Doran and Katy Perry join forces to storm the computer room. A tense stand-off ensues.

Sue: It’s turned into Reservoir Dogs. But with demented rapists instead of bank robbers.

Doran starts shooting the place up.

Sue: Yay for the convicted rapist!

Doran is killed a few seconds later, along with Katy Perry.

Sue: I can’t believe they didn’t get their own spin-off.

MolochMoloch finally reveals himself.

Sue: Oh my God. It’s a hairy Dalek!

Moloch is basically a Muppet with delusions of grandeur.

Sue: I told you it was a bloody stupid idea.

And then she roars with laughter and points at the screen.

Sue: Look at the bracelet dangling from its wrist! How ridiculous is that? He should have put it round his waist!

So what does Moloch want? I’ll give you three guesses…

Moloch: The Liberator. A perfect vehicle through which to express myself. Servalan was merely the bait to bring you here.

Sue: Did you catch any of that?

Me: I think he said, “Swerverling was merely the babe to bring you here.”

Tarrant tells Moloch that Cally will never teleport him to their ship.

Moloch: She will… She will… She will… She will…

MolochSue: He’ll take her over. The episode has almost finished and Cally hasn’t been taken over yet. There’s still time.

Moloch impersonates Tarrant’s voice and she promptly teleports him up.

Sue: To be fair to Cally, Tarrant’s voice is unique; no one sounds like Tarrant.

Me: I reckon Matt Berry could get pretty close, but he was only a small child when they made this and his voice wouldn’t have broken yet.

Avon has a brainwave.

Sue: They should copy hundreds of bracelets before they leave. It’ll give Lesley Judd a nice break.

Me: Lesley was killed in the war.

Sue: Oh yeah. The war.

Moloch dies as soon as he leaves his life-support system, which just goes to show that in two million years time, humanity will be as thick as two short planks.

Sue: It looks like one of Buffy’s old toys, the one she used to chew the life out of. You know, the one that looked like a chicken. Well, there it is, Neil. There it ****ing is.

Zen detects three alien spacecraft in a hostile formation, so the crew rush to the flight deck, leaving Moloch on the floor, all tattered and torn.

MolochSue: Don’t zoom into it! We don’t want to see it again. It’s rubbish!

Servalan’s ships are bearing down on the Liberator.

Dayna: Do we fight?

Avon: Certainly not. We run.

Cue credits.

Sue: Finally, things are back to normal again. This is what they should have been doing in the first place. Just think, Neil, if they’d been running away at the start, none of that would have happened.

The Score:

Sue: That was really bad but it wasn’t that bad. I liked the idea behind it, but it was ruined by a thoroughly pointless appearance from Servalan, that ridiculous cuddly toy and the horrendous sexism. Did we really have to root for a rapist? Ben Steed has some serious problems. But Paul Darrow was really good in it, so I’ll have to give it some marks for that.

3/10

I’ll repeat what I said last week: Sue’s high scores are really beginning to worry me…

Next Time:

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Ultraworld

A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Bowel…

UltraworldAvon is barking orders at the crew.

Sue: Finally! Avon is finally acting like he’s in charge. It should be like this every week. They should call him sir. Especially Tarrant.

The Liberator has detected a mysterious object floating in space. Again.

Avon: All right, let’s see what this mysterious lump of nothing looks like.

Sue: Cut to Vila.

We cut to Ultraworld instead.

Sue: Oh look, it’s the Sontarans.

It is, in fact, an artificial planet.

Sue: Blake’s 7 has definitely turned into Star Trek. They just drift through space bumping into things.

The crew decide to keep their distance.

UltraworldSue: They don’t usually care about the danger; they usually rush in like a bull in a china shop. This isn’t like them at all. Maybe they’re learning from their mistakes. And we should keep our eyes on Cally. She’s bound to be taken over any minute now.

And then they all go to bed.

Sue: What? Don’t they do shifts? Shouldn’t they pull into a space lay-by if they fancy a quick snooze?

Cally is left alone on the flight deck. Either Zen has decided to throw an impromptu disco or Cally is hallucinating.

Sue: Surprise, surprise: Cally is being taken over again. That is quick, even for her; it’s got be a new record.

Cally balls up her fists and places them in front of her eyes, but when she lowers them again…

Sue: Oh, I expected her to have glowing eyes or at least some weird coloured contact lenses put in. That was a bit lazy.

Dayna seems to be perpetually annoyed with Vila. No wonder Sue likes her so much.

UltraworldSue: Vila must have tried it on with Dayna at some point. It’s written all over her face. And Vila is really annoying in this story. Come on, Neil, admit it: you wouldn’t want Vila on your team. Actually, you’d be the Vila on your team. Forget I said anything.

Cally has been taken to Ultraworld against her will, but Avon isn’t in a hurry to mount a rescue operation, even though Cally is his girlfriend. She is, you know. Sue says so.

Sue: Avon doesn’t suit brown very much. Nice jumbo corduroy, though. And Tarrant doesn’t look that great, either; his costume seems to be based on a mankini.

Tarrant is itching to visit Ultraworld.

Avon: You really believe in taking risks, don’t you?

Tarrant: Calculated ones.

Avon: Calculated on what? Your fingers?

Sue (laughing) I’ve noticed that it doesn’t matter who’s writing the script, Avon always gets the best lines. Either Paul Darrow writes them himself or everybody just gets Avon. No one gets Vila, though. We’ve glimpsed his hidden depths but nobody can be bothered to explore them. It’s a shame, really.

Ultraworldvon, Tarrant and Dayna teleport to Ultraworld, which Avon believes is a giant computer. It isn’t long before our heroes stumble across three humanoid men.

Sue: It’s the Blue Man Group.

Me: Which one is Tobias Funke?

They are the Ultras.

Me: If Nicol was here, she’d tell us that the Ultra nearest to us looks like Richard O’Brien from The Crystal Maze, so I’ll have to do it for her.

Sue: I like their clothes. It’s a very imaginative design. The make-up is a bit dodgy, though. It’s a good job this isn’t in HD.

There then follows an amazing scene where Vila tries – and fails – to school Orac in the art of comedy. And Sue loves every single moment of it.

Orac: Do you have another riddle for me to analyse?

Vila: You’d only spoil it.

Sue: That was very funny. They bounce off each other really well. I’m not sure what that scene has to do with anything but it was fun to watch.

Avon uses his teleport bracelet to contact Vila.

UltraworldSue: Avon is making a shadow puppet of a dove on that wall. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for what he’s doing with his hands.

When Tarrant investigates the Ultras’ control room, he ends up placing a round peg in a round hole. Clever Tarrant.

Sue: What possessed Tarrant to do that? That could have set off the planet’s auto-destruct system for all he knew. It could have done anything!

A man appears on a monitor – Sue reckons he’s a bored accountant – and Tarrant questions him. When the Ultras return, Tarrant hides.

Sue: I hope they don’t check their browser history.

Tarrant confronts the Ultras when he discovers that they have siphoned off Cally’s personality for their own needs, but Tarrant cannot resist the power of the core. Whatever that is. Luckily for him, Dayna sends in one of her explosive drones to blow everybody up.

Sue: Fabulous.

Me: I’d like to know how she hid that bomb in her trouser suit. Actually, it doesn’t bear thinking about…

Avon is keeping watch over Cally when he is attacked by one of Ultraworld’s menial workers.

Sue: Taken down by a bald, middle-aged accountant. Bloody hell, Avon, what are you playing at?

Tarrant has finally worked out the plot.

UltraworldTarrant: Ever seen a lizard suck a bird’s egg dry? Well, that’s what they were doing to Cally’s brain. Draining her memory and personality and transferring them to the memory store.

Sue: If they try that with Tarrant, they won’t get any personality out of him, no matter how hard they squeeze.

The Ultras want to put the Liberator in their museum.

Sue: Everybody wants that bloody ship. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, anyway; they’d spend the rest of their lives dealing with Servalan if they ever got their hands on it. I don’t think she’s in this story, by the way. Good, isn’t it?

Vila is panicking on the Liberator but Orac offers little comfort.

Vila: Oh, shut up you arrogant pile of junk.

Sue: The “Wahaaaaaaa” noise Orac makes when they turn him off always make me laugh. He sounds like a bee falling off a tall building.

Me: Eh?

Tarrant uses a map to determine their location on Ultraworld.

Tarrant: That’s where we are. Here.

UltraworldSue: There’s a Starbucks down on the left. Come on!

When Dayna inadvertently disturbs a menial, he looks straight through her before going about his business.

Sue: They remind me of the Borg, except for the fact that they look like chartered surveyors. If I’m honest with you, the Borg were a bit scarier.

The Ultras want to suck Avon dry.

Avon: First of all you have to make me sleep. I tend to suffer from insomnia.

Ultra 2: You will sleep.

Sue: Make him watch Doctor Who from the beginning. That’ll do it.

Me: They could always make him watch this.

Sue: Don’t you like this story, Neil? I’m rather enjoying it.

Avon: I will not sleep!

Me: I know how he feels. If I wasn’t keeping notes, I’d be out like a light.

UltraworldSue: Maybe I should take over the blog since you seem to be the one struggling with Blake’s 7. Come on, Neil. It’s all right, this.

Dayna and Tarrant find themselves in a room with a conveyor belt.

Sue: Meanwhile, in Ultraworld’s cake factory…

Dayna: They’re feeding something.

Tarrant: But what?

Sue: Cakes.

Not only is Ultraworld alive, this is the place where they feed the dead accountants to it. Tarrant hears a strange, throbbing sound…

Sue: Whatever it is, I think it’s got indigestion.

Tarrant and Dayna search for the planet’s core.

Sue: Are they in the bowels of the planet? And by bowels, I really do mean bowels.

And there it is: a huge ever growing pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the Ultraworld.

UltraworldSue: Are you sure it isn’t a giant colostomy bag?

The Ultras monitor Tarrant and Dayna’s every move. Ultra 1 demands a large pointy stick so he can point out their position on a map.

Sue: You’re sitting right in front of the screen. Use your bloody finger!

It turns out that the large pointy thing can set off explosions in Ultraworld’s tunnels. And it’s great for PowerPoint presentations, too.

Sue: This episode reminds me of Doctor Who.

Me: The giant pulsating brain?

Sue: No, the endless corridors. There’s lots of running up and down for no apparent reason this week. I quite like it, though. It’s just like old times.

Vila is still worried about Avon.

Sue: Why didn’t Vila contact Tarrant when Avon lost contact with him? What has he been waiting for? I’m sorry, Neil, but Vila is completely hopeless. I feel sorry for the actor who plays him.

Tarrant instructs Vila to stand by the teleport.

Sue: Why don’t they just get Orac to do that? He’s more reliable than Vila – and Orac is shit!

Dayna and Tarrant are captured by the Ultras, which leads to a scene that almost makes this adventure worthwhile…

UltraworldSue: The dirty bastards!

Yes, the Ultras want to watch Tarrant and Dayna, you know… do it.

Sue: I know the aliens are blue, but this is taking it to extremes. Is this really happening, Neil?

Ultra 1: We have collected a great deal of information about Earth and its dominant species, with one important omission. We intend to rectify that deficiency.

Me: They’ve collected a great deal of information about Earth but they’ve never downloaded a single porn film. I find that very hard to believe.

Sue: I notice that Tarrant isn’t arguing about this plan of theirs very much. I bet he can’t believe his luck.

Me: I just hope they win a crystal at the end of this challenge.

Ultra 1: Has the bonding ceremony begun?

Sue: Tarrant is always asked that when he’s in bed with a woman.

A camera records their every move.

Sue: The dirty perverts. This is going straight on Ultraworld’s Intranet.

Sue doesn’t understand why the Ultras couldn’t extract the information they needed from Cally.

ultraworld19Sue: Unless Cally is a virgin, of course. And we all know that’s bollocks. And if they are really that desperate to watch people having sex, why didn’t they get their army of bald accountants to put on an orgy for them? It doesn’t make sense.

Tarrant: How’s that, darling? More comfortable?

Dayna: Oh yes. Much better. Thank you, darling.

Sue: But if you ever put it there again, I’ll kill you.

Dayna removes a small object from her mouth.

Sue: She’s picking Tarrant’s pubic hair out of her teeth.

It turns out that Dayna really has been hiding explosive devices in her cavities after all…

Me: I don’t think that was the sort of bang they were expecting.

Sue: At least the earth moved for Tarrant.

As the Liberator is dragged towards Ultraworld, Vila is desperately reciting limericks.

Vila: There was a young man from… from…

Orac: From where? Think.

UltraworldSue: Nantucket!

Cally is about to be fed to the core when Dayna and Tarrant intervene.

Sue: This is officially the worst fight I’ve seen in Blake’s 7. He’s in his fifties! Come on, Tarrant, you can take him!

The pulsating brain/bowel is showing signs of strain.

Sue: When that thing finally goes off, it’s going to spray shit everywhere. It probably ate an accountant who was past his sell-by date.

Tarrant retrieves Avon’s and Cally’s personalities, which have been stored in a couple of jars.

Sue: They should return them to the wrong bodies. That would be fun. They could leave them like that for an episode. It would be interesting. It would be especially interesting to see if they still fancied each other.

Sue is disappointed when the script raises this tantalising possibility and then fails to do anything with it.

Sue: What a waste. They had a new and exciting episode right there and they threw it away.

The core begins to collapse.

UltraworldSue: I’ve heard of acid reflux but this is ridiculous.

The Ultras don’t understand what is causing the core to fail, but they suspect that it must be emanating from the Liberator.

Sue: It’s Vila. Vila is going to save the day because the giant bowel hasn’t got a sense of humour. Genius.

Tarrant kills two Ultras in cold blood.

Sue: How weird was that? Tarrant looked really sad after he killed them, like it was the first time he’d ever killed anyone. Maybe Tarrant isn’t as hard as likes to think he is.

Me: I didn’t hear Dayna complaining.

The Liberator attempts to break free of its display cabinet.

Sue: It’s going to snap in two! You have to take the pins out first!

The ship miraculously breaks free.

Tarrant: Brace yourselves!

Sue: At least they are trying to match the wobbling set with the wobbling model. It’s just a dinky toy, isn’t it? It’s pretty good, though. For its time.

UltraworldThe core explodes and the last remaining Ultra falls to pieces.

Sue: You know, that really wasn’t that bad.

The episode concludes with Vila taking credit for their escape. Avon gives him a backhanded compliment and everybody laughs. Especially Sue.

Sue: That was a lovely scene at the end. You know, I really enjoyed that.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: It was a bit daft, but it was exciting and quite funny, too. I liked the location they used, and the sets were all right. And Servalan wasn’t in it, which is always nice. Yeah, that was fun. Why are you looking at me like that?

8/10

Sue’s scores are officially beginning to worry me.

Next Time:

We’ll be updating on Wednesday and Friday next week. Until then, I’ll leave you with this:

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Sarcophagus

Putting the Fun in Funeral…

SarcophagusMe: This episode was written by a woman.

Sue: Good. It’s a shame that they couldn’t be arsed to centre her credit, though. Look at the state of it.

Me: Tanith Lee was a prolific feminist science fiction author in the 1970s and 80s.

Sue: What are her books like?

Me: I don’t know. I’ve only ever pretended to be a feminist.

Sue: You twat, Neil.

We’re less than a minute into the episode when Nicol decides to join us.

Nicol: What the hell are you watching?

The opening is quite hard to explain, but Sue has a go anyway:

SarcophagusSue: It’s basically Eyes Wide Shut meets The Wicker Man, Nicol. Oh, and this woman can extinguish burning torches with her hand. Apart from that, I haven’t a bloody clue.

We witness a strange ceremony that features a magic act, a musician and a martial arts expert.

Sue: It’s Britain’s Got Talent… It’s Britain’s Got Talent on a space ship.

Nicol: I’m pressing my buzzer. This is ridiculous.

Me: Prime-time BBC1, Nicol. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it and I was there.

Sue: It reminds me of The Prisoner. That was ****ing mental as well.

Me: Great Tangerine Dream soundtrack, though.

Nicol decides that she’s had enough and leaves.

Sue: Did BBC2’s viewing figures go through the roof when this went out?

When the ceremony is complete, and the participants are preparing to leave, a mysterious figure in black gatecrashes the party.

Sue: The auditions are over, mate. You’ll have to try out for The X Factor next door. Sorry.

SarcophagusThis man is banished and then a vessel is launched into space.

Sue: Right, I’m guessing that was a wake and they’ve shot a dead body into space, but the only reason I know that is because of the episode’s title. Because if I’m honest, Neil, I didn’t really follow that. I’m sure it will make sense eventually, though.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator…

Sue: Cally’s bedroom looks like a prison cell. No wonder she’s so miserable. Just think, if she found a red bulb, she could have the full traffic light.

Avon pays Cally a visit.

Sue: Avon is looking very smart this week. It looks like he’s had a bath and ironed his clothes. Yes, he’s definitely making a special effort for Cally.

Avon comforts the telepath, who is still mourning for Auron. Cue the inevitable shipping.

Sue: This isn’t the first time that Avon’s been in Cally’s bedroom, if you know what I mean. I hope they end up together at the end. Now that Anna is out of the way, it should be plain sailing.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator‘s flight deck, Vila hopes to beat Avon in a quick game of Space Triangles.

SarcophagusSue: I don’t like Vila’s tracksuit. He looks like a chav this week. It’s the sort of thing Jimmy Saville wore at the height of his crimes.

Thanks to an audacious move by Avon, Vila loses the game.

Vila: It was your fault. You put me off.

Dayna: With pleasure. On the first planet we come to.

Sue: I really like Dayna. Even when she’s nasty, she’s nice.

The crew detect a ship drifting aimlessly through space. A bit like them, then.

Zen: Primary analysis suggests the design is eccentric and may be decorative rather than functional.

Avon: What about manpower?

Sue: Manpower? I thought you said this was written by a feminist, Neil?

Tarrant can’t wait to explore the mysterious space craft.

Avon: In other words, you’re bored.

Sue: They literally have nothing to do. Why don’t they pretend to search for Blake or Jenna, or something like that. Why are they still together? What is the point of them any more? They need a mission. Isn’t there a Star Two they could look for?

Avon: Something else to chase?

Sue: It’s better than sitting around doing nothing, chick.

SarcophagusAvon, Vila and Cally teleport to the derelict ship, which is covered in dust, cobwebs and party streamers.

Cally: This isn’t a ship, it’s a tomb. They, whoever they are or were, sealed their dead up inside and set it adrift in space.

Sue: It must have cost them a fortune. The performers they hired for the funeral can’t have been cheap, either.

Me: You should see the invoice for James Doohan’s funeral.

The Liberator detects an energy build-up inside the tomb.

Avon: We may have tripped a few wires.

Sue: You’ve activated the security tinsel! Quick! Get out of there!

Cally teleports back to the Liberator, but Vila and Avon are mysteriously left behind. Zen estimates that the alien ship will explode in 30 seconds, so Cally volunteers to go back for them. Tarrant argues the toss with her for at least 20 seconds.

Sue: ARGH! Stop yakking and move! Anyone would think that Tarrant wanted Avon to die. Oh, he makes me so angry.

Cally rescues her friends in the nick of time. She also steals a ring from the desiccated corpse on the ship, which really surprised Sue, and then, when she falls asleep later, Cally has a vision.

SarcophagusSue: Is it Cally’s twin sister again? No, wait, she can’t be Zelda because Zelda’s dead. Perhaps Cally was a triplet? Or maybe her sister is a ghost… I don’t know. It’s very confusing.

Avon and Tarrant lock horns on the flight deck.

Avon: Shut up, Tarrant.

Tarrant: Did you say something to me?

Avon: I said, shut up. I apologize for not realising you are deaf.

Sue: This is brilliant. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for absolutely ages. Take him down, Avon.

Tarrant stands his ground.

Tarrant: When you found me on the Liberator, it was quite a blow. And every time you look at me, it hits you harder, doesn’t it? I’m faster than you and I’m sharper. As far as it goes, I’ve made a success of my life.

Sue: Don’t make me laugh! Who the **** does he think he is?

Avon: You talk too much.

Sue: He talks, full stop.

Me: I think Avon’s patience has run out.

Sue: I don’t know why he had any patience with him in the first place. Just teleport Tarrant into space when he’s asleep. Who would miss him?

SarcophagusThere now follows a short musical interlude…

Sue: Bloody hell. It really is The Wicker Man in space.

Me: It’s late-80s Tangerine Dream meets Joan Baez.

Sue: I’ve never seen or anything quite like it.

Me Prime-time BBC1, Sue. Prime-time BBC1.

Sue: Do you know what? I think I like it. It’s different.

The crew recovered a strange object from the tomb – Sue thinks it could be a speaker dock for an alien iPod – and Tarrant asks Orac to analyse it.

Orac: I have already informed you that this structure is of an unfamiliar type. My deductions are necessarily limited by the facts available and the rationality of possible theories.

Sue: I remember when Orac could predict the future.

Me: They should consult Avon’s rock.

A drinks tray starts flying around the room.

Sue: Either the gravity is failing or they need an exorcist.

Orac is damaged, the artefact crumbles to dust and Zen has a nervous breakdown. In short: it’s all go on the Liberator.

Zen: (pitch and tone varying wildly) Inboard … inboard sensors indicate there is an intruder aboard.

SarcophagusSue: This is proper scary. I don’t like hearing Zen like this. It’s freaking me out. This definitely isn’t for kids.

It looks like Cally has been taken over by an alien. Same shit, different day.

Sue: I’d be suspicious if Cally wasn’t taken over by an alien, it happens that often.

A vision calls out to her.

Alien: Cally, you’ve been so long alone. Cut off from your people. You’ve been homesick for your own world, your own kind, haven’t you?

Sue: I detect a lesbian subtext.

Me: Yeah, but you detect a lesbian subtext in every story, Sue.

Vila performs a magic act for an invisible audience.

Me: I think I’ve got it now. The crew are possessed by the ghosts of the contestants on Britain’s Got Talent. Yes, that’s definitely it.

Dayna’s lyre starts playing itself.

Vila: Eh?

Sue: That was a B-flat, actually.

Vila and Dayna are inexplicably dressed as a court jester and a… erm…

SarcophagusSue: ****ing hell, Neil. I’m just going to go with this and hope for the best. Thank God Nicol isn’t here to see this.

A hand appears on Vila’s shoulder.

Sue: That better not be Servalan’s hand!

Luckily for Sue, it’s Cally in a ginger wig.

Sue: She suits it. It’s a big improvement on her curly perm. She’s gone a bit heavy on the fake tan, but you can’t have everything.

Tarrant tries to work out the plot.

Tarrant: It’s used her as a blueprint to make itself a brand new physical shape, only the whole thing sounds crazy!

Sue: You can’t really argue with that. This is the strangest episode of Blake’s 7 I’ve seen, which is saying something.

Tarrant races to the flight deck in a red onesie and matching cape.

Sue: Just when you thought Tarrant couldn’t be any more ridiculous. Oh my God.

SarcophagusWhen Tarrant confronts the alien on the flight deck, she shows him a life where he’ll have to dress as a pillock and look after her doves for the rest of his life.

Sue: Face it, Tarrant, you’re never going to get a better offer than that.

And then the alien raises her hand and Tarrant writhes in agony on the floor.

Sue: Nah, sorry. I don’t feel any sympathy for him. Hurt him some more, pet. Keep going until he’s dead.

Dayna comes to the rescue.

Sue: The direction is excellent this week. Just look at that silhouette of Dayna as she walks onto the flight deck. That’s wonderful.

Me: This episode was directed by a woman.

Sue: That explains that, then. You know, this almost makes up for that sexist crap I had to endure the other week. Well, almost.

The alien wants to know where Avon is hiding.

SarcophagusAlien: Remember my mental link with Cally. Naturally I know who is here and who isn’t, particularly if it’s Avon.

Sue: She said ‘particularly’. That settles it: Avon and Cally are lovers. Told you so.

Avon saunters onto the flight deck.

Sue: Avon will figure it out. He’s Avon.

The alien tempts Avon.

Alien: You know that I wouldn’t wish to make a slave of you, don’t you? Not you.

Sue: Well, not that kind of slave, anyway.

Avon cajoles the alien into killing him, and it’s at this point that Cally intervenes and breaks the alien’s mental link.

Sue: Cally’s love for Avon will save them both. Aww, this is so sweet.

The flight deck is rocked by explosions.

Sue: This looks fabulous but the ship is completely ****ed. That could be their next mission: repairing the ship.

SarcophagusAvon advances on the alien.

Avon: You look so beautiful when you’re angry.

They kiss. Sue gasps.

Avon pinches the alien’s ring. Sue gasps some more.

Sue: Naughty.

The alien is begging Avon for it.

Sue: My precious!

The alien wants to live.

Alien: Don’t send me back into the dark, Avon!

Sue: Oh just give it to her and teleport her somewhere nice. It’s sad, this. And Avon is so handsome in this scene, it’s ridiculous.

Just as she says this, we cut to Avon dressed as the man in black who was late for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions. It’s symbolic, innit?

SarcophagusSue: Oh dear. I spoke too soon. The look on Paul Darrow’s face says it all.

Me: It’s a look that says, “Get my agent on the phone!”

Sue: Please don’t tell me that this convinces Paul Darrow to leave the series.

The alien slowly transforms into a corpse before fading away to nothing.

Sue: That was nicely done. And it was very, very sad. At least Cally and Avon can make their relationship public now. No more sneaking around. Go on, Avon, find Cally and give her a big cuddle. She could do with one right about now.

Zen: All systems have been restored to maximum capacity. The Liberator is now fully operational.

Sue: That’s a relief. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was worried about Zen when he broke down earlier.

Me: What about Orac?

Sue: **** Orac.

SarcophagusAvon and Cally exchange a meaningful look.

Sue: Saucy.

Avon: Zen, let’s get out of here.

Sue: They don’t know where they’re going, but they’re gonna shag like rabbits all the way there.

Cue credits.

The Score:

9/10

Sue: I didn’t think I was going to like that one, but once it got going, it was really good. It was a bit too weird for me – I could have done without that silly dressing-up nonsense – but Paul Darrow was amazing, and it very atmospheric and different. Yeah, I enjoyed that one a lot. And I’ll tell you something else: the woman who plays Cally is a really good actress. Yeah, just let the women take over Blake’s 7 from now on. You can’t go wrong.

Next Time:

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Rumours of Death

We Don’t Need No Federation…

Rumours of DeathAvon is languishing in a prison cell.

Sue: Is this a flashback?

A Federation lackey pays Avon a visit.

Sue: Oh look, Gary is in this episode. And that door could do with some WD-40.

Avon: Your name wouldn’t be Shrinker, by any chance, would it?

Shrinker: You’ve heard of me?

Avon: I knew if I held out, you would show up eventually.

Sue: I get it now. Avon wanted to be arrested so he could find his ex-girlfriend’s killer. That’s clever. And Avon really suits his stubble, even if he does look like a hungover mechanic.

Shrinker removes something from his pocket.

Shrinker: Do you know what this is?

Sue: It looks like a pen. Does he want Avon’s autograph?

Rumours of DeathWhen Tarrant and Dayna teleported into the cell to rescue Avon, Sue actually cheered.

Shrinker: (incredulous) You’re Blake’s people…

Sue: Avon won’t like that! This is what happens when you don’t change the name of the programme. Even the bad guys don’t know who they’re fighting any more.

Avon was tortured for five days but he never gave them his real name.

Sue: And no one working there picked up on the fact that he looks like one of the universe’s most wanted criminals? That doesn’t seem very likely – Avon’s famous!

Dayna aims her gun at Shrinker’s head.

Avon: No! Don’t kill him. I waited for him!

Sue: What a brilliant way to start the episode. Absolutely brilliant.

Avon takes Shrinker back to the Liberator.

Shrinker: What are you going to do with me?

Dayna: He’s going to kill you.

Sue: The irony is that Anna probably isn’t even dead. That will be the twist, I bet.

The crew give Shrinker a taste of his own medicine.

Rumours of DeathSue: Tarrant enjoyed that a bit too much. He loves a bit of bullying before lunch. I bet he was a prefect at school.

Meanwhile, on planet Earth…

Sue: Nice house. I don’t know what it’s doing in a Sci-Fi show, but it’s very nice.

A woman named Sula doesn’t agree.

Sula: A grotesque anachronism, like its owner. We could have built two cities for what it cost to reconstruct that absurdity.

Sue: That’s one way of getting around the ridiculous location, I suppose.

Sula turns out to be a rebel who has married her way to the top so she can strike at the Federation from within.

Sue: So is she the female version of Blake? She’s doing a much better job of overthrowing the Federation than Blake ever did. Blake only ever wanted to marry his cousin, and how would that have helped?

The house and its grounds are continually monitored by Section Leader Forres and Major Grenlee.

Rumours of DeathSue: They look like they should be playing jazz in those uniforms. And this one’s eyebrows need a good plucking.

Sue doesn’t recognise the actor playing Forres.

Me: It’s David Haig.

Sue: You say that like it supposed to mean something.

Me: He’s been in loads of things. It’s David bloody Haig!

While it’s true that David Haig has been in loads of things – and written loads of things – he’ll always be Steve Fleming to me:

Sue: I like the way that David whatever-his-name-is would rather be at home with his feet up than dealing with this shit. It’s a very smart and cynical script.

Back on the Liberator, Avon is preparing to teleport somewhere with Shrinker.

Sue: They haven’t even tied him up. I bet he does a runner as soon as they land.

Vila: Concentrate. He’s more dangerous than he looks.

Sue: Yeah, you tell him, Vila.

Am I living in a parallel universe all of a sudden?

Rumours of DeathAvon and Shrinker teleport to a cave with no exit. When Avon flicks a switch, a wall is illuminated with a portrait of a woman.

Sue: Who’s that supposed to be? Did Avon paint that himself? Has Avon gone mad?

Avon has a flashback. A flashback to Anna Grant.

Sue: I knew it! She isn’t really dead! At least they didn’t drag that out too much. Ooh, this is really interesting now.

This flashback takes place from Avon’s point of view. In bed.

Sue: Just think. Avon is completely naked in this scene.

Sue sighs.

And then I sigh, only louder.

Sue: I’m not being funny or anything, but Avon could do a lot better than her.

Back on Earth, the President is preparing for a very special dinner party.

Sue: Oh no! I knew they were in Servalan’s house, but I thought she was flying around in her giant space crocodile, so I didn’t think she’d actually be in this episode. She turns up in Blake’s 7 far too much. They should use her more sparingly. Having said that, at least she looks like she belongs here. It’s basically The West Wing meets Downton Abbey now. With space ships.

Everything is going well until we reach the episode’s inevitable “shit fight scene” where Sula’s men make short work of the Federation’s security forces. The final salvo more than makes up for it, though.

Sue: She just shot a Federation trooper in the arse!

Rumours of DeathBack in his cave, Avon extracts the truth from Shrinker.

Shrinker: Bartholomew was running you!

Sue: What a brilliant scene. Although it is a bit of a coincidence that Avon finds out about this on the very same day that it’s all kicking off with Anna and Servalan back on Earth. But what the hell. It’s great.

This episode reminds Sue of something else.

Sue: It’s just like 24. You’ve got Avon doing a Jack Bauer to extract the information he needs from the bad bugger; you’ve got terrorists running around trying to kill the President; you’ve got someone who’s not really dead turning up out of the blue; and you’ve got these two morons monitoring the whole thing in CTU. If CTU was equipped with an antique fireplace, that is.

I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Avon leaves Shrinker with a stark choice: suicide or starvation. (And we’re betting that Shrinker loves his food.)

Avon: It’s a better deal than you gave any of your victims.

Sue: Good for you, Avon.

Me: Bit cruel, though, don’t you think?

Sue: He should suffer for his crimes.

Me: Remind me never to torture any of your ex-boyfriends to death.

Rumours of DeathSula’s right-hand man pretends to be a Federation trooper when Major Grenlee contacts him on the radio he confiscated earlier.

Grenlee (voice over): At the double, Squad Leader. Out.

Sula: Perfect. Get to your positions! And good luck.

Sue: She said that before the other guy could switch his radio off. The bloke on the other end should be saying, “Hang on… Who are you with? Who said that? Is that a terrorist?”

Sula’s army advance on the stately home.

Sue: Blake never even tried to pull something like this off. She should join the crew – they might actually get something done for a change, although Cally won’t be very happy if Avon’s ex moves in with them.

Forres and Grenlee cheer as the rebels approach, unaware of the chaos to come.

Sue: Typical CTU. This always happens. It’s quite funny, though.

A battle rages for control of Servalan’s house.

Rumours of DeathSue: How do they know who’s who? Most of them will be killed by friendly fire. They all look the same to me!

Grenlee and Forres are shot, which takes Sue completely by surprise.

Sue: Oh no! They killed The Likely Lads! That’s a bit grim. I really liked them.

The rebels make a beeline for Servalan’s office.

Me: This scene reminds me of that bit in Babylon 5 where the resistance turn up to arrest the insane President.

Sue: Really? It reminds me of The Shining.

To be fair, they are breaking down Servalan’s door with an axe. And when Servalan is finally captured, she’s given a smack.

Sue: Not showing it makes it seem even worse.

Avon wants to interrogate Servalan, even if it means blowing the top of her head off.

Sue: Wouldn’t it be great if he actually did it, instead of just talking about it.

Orac persuades Avon to postpone his suicide mission until dusk.

Dayna: Why not full dark?

Sue: It’s easier to film at dusk.

Sula discusses her next move with her right-hand man, Hob.

Hob: We didn’t fight to put you behind that desk, Sula.

Sue: So is her name Anna or Sula? Maybe she isn’t Anna after all. She could be Anna’s twin sister. This is Blake’s 7 we’re talking about.

Rumours of DeathSula has been keeping herself busy.

Sula: It was my planning that got us here. Without me, you and your men would still be skulking around the wastelands.

Sue: We should have watched Sula’s 7 instead. She’s organised a rebellion. All Avon’s done is collect a few rocks. She’s brilliant.

Avon has another flashback to a postcoital Anna Grant.

Sue: Is he looking at her through her fallopian tube?

And then Avon imagines Anna imprisoned in a prison cell.

Sue: I bet Anna turns out to be Bartholomew. And I bet Avon has to kill her at the end. Please tell me that doesn’t happen, Neil. That would be awful.

I shrug my shoulders.

Sue: Whatever happens, this will be a game-changer for Avon. He’s agonised over this for years. He must be at breaking point. He’ll never be the same again.

When Tarrant helps the gang take out some guards, he takes a bow.

Rumours of DeathSue: **** off, Tarrant. He still thinks he’s in a matinée performance of The Pirates of Penzance.

Avon and Tarrant storm the surveillance room, guns drawn, ready for anything.

Sue: It’s just like The Professionals, but without any of the sexual tension between the leads.

Grenlee is on his last legs.

Tarrant: Yes, Major, you’re dying, but that’s what you’re paid for.

Sue: Tarrant, you utter ****. Great line, though.

Servalan has been chained to a wall in the cellar. Avon offers to let her go if she agrees to cooperate with them, but Tarrant thinks the mighty have fallen too far.

Tarrant: I’m talking about the President of the Terran Federation, Ruler of the High Council, Lord of the Inner and Outer Worlds, High Admiral of the Galactic Fleets, Lord General of the Six Armies, and Defender of the Earth.

Sue: You forgot ‘Winner of last year’s intergalactic Come Dine With Me‘.

Rumours of DeathAnd then it’s time for one of Blake’s 7’s most famous – and enigmatic – moments.

Avon: Have you murdered your way to the wall of an underground room?

Servalan: It’s an old wall, Avon, it waits. I hope you don’t die before you reach it.

Sue: What a fabulous line.

I’ll ask Sue about this exchange later. I don’t want to interrupt the episode with a debate about metaphorical brickwork. Now is not the time.

Avon jerks Servalan to her feet.

Sue: I think she enjoyed that.

You can cut the sexual tension between Avon and Servalan with a laser probe.

Sue: **** off, Tarrant. You’re just a gooseberry with a perm.

Sula chooses this moment to check on her prisoner.

Sue: Oh no. It’s all going to kick-off now.

Rumours of DeathAvon: Hello, Anna.

Sula recognises Avon’s voice.

Sue: She didn’t even have to look. Obviously.

Avon can barely look at her.

Sula: I suppose there’s someone else, is that it? Is there someone else, Avon?

Avon: No, no, there’s no one else.

Sue: Unless you count Cally, of course. Are they including friends with benefits?

Avon wants to know who hid her when the Federation came a-knocking.

Sula: My husband. I didn’t love him, he knew that. There was only you.

Me: So Avon was a home wrecker after all.

Sue: Shut up, Neil. This is really good.

Rumours of DeathAnd then everything goes tits up and Avon shoots his beloved – and treacherous – ex-girlfriend in cold blood.

Sue: Damn it! I hate it when I’m right.

Avon cradles the dying Anna/Sula/Bart in his arms.

Sue: (singing) We have all the time in the world…

Avon frees Servalan from her bonds.

Sue: He should have shot her in the head. Avon’s just killed the one true love of his life. Murdering Servalan would have taken the edge off.

Vila makes a drunken error and teleports everyone back to the ship before Avon is ready to leave.

Sue: Vila, you dick!

Normal service has been resumed!

Servalan gains the upper-hand, but just as she’s about to send Avon back to the Liberator with a hole in his head, she’s distracted and Avon escapes unharmed.

Sue: It’s almost as if she wanted him to get away. I’m telling you, Neil, it was the way he pulled her up that wall.

Rumours of Avon’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Rumours of DeathAvon: Well, slightly exaggerated, anyway.

Cue credits.

Sue: Aww. Part of him died. This will probably send him over the edge. He can’t be the same man after this; I bet he loses it completely. Oh look, the episode was directed by a woman. What a surprise.

The Score:

10/10

I didn’t even have to beg.

Sue: I can’t fault it. It was very exciting, the direction was great and the script was excellent. OK, I could see the twists coming a mile off, but it didn’t matter. It just made the inevitable tragedy seem even more inevitable and tragic. And what a fantastic performance from Paul Darrow. I can’t wait to see what he does with Avon next.

Phew!

Me: So, anyway, that bit with the wall…

Sue: What about it? Besides the lovely brickwork, I mean. Made with London bricks, I think, but don’t quote me on that.

We watch the scene again.

Sue: I think it means you shouldn’t torture yourself to death before you die. Everybody is chained to their own wall in the end, so enjoy yourself before you get there, or you’ll be dead inside before you die. Something like that. Basically: chill the **** out.

Me: I asked our readers on Twitter to share their wall theories with us and –

Sue: Does it really matter, Neil? I’ve already given the episode 10 out of 10. We can stop now.

Me: But Gareth Roberts says the wall represents utter defeat and –

Sue: If you don’t turn this DVD off right now, you’ll be the one chained to a ****ing wall.

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