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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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63 comments

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 8:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    A fictional broadcast reality,
    Assurance of seeing a fatality.
    Death-Watch is sublime,
    Years ahead of its time,
    In describing the format’s banality.

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 2:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Clever!

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 8:57 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Licence

    “He doesnโ€™t strike me as a Vinni. Heโ€™s more like a Malcolm or a Keith.”

    A Trevor surely? The first thing I think whenever I see Paul Mark Elliot in anything is Robert Bathurst confronting his character Trevor in Joking Apart.

  • June 24, 2014 9:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    Wow, 10/10! Nice. I had never seen this at all until my recent rewatch. As it started I thought “okay, yeah, seen this scenario before, whatever” but it did turn out to be quite good. Once again we have the Tegan Rule where a good actor in an annoying role shines when put in the spotlight. We’ll see this rule in effect at least once more next season.

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
    jsd

    This is another of those episodes that made me wish Chris Boucher could have written all of Series 3. Great stuff. It feels like an entirely different (better made, excellently written, Proper Drama) series when he’s in charge.

    • Visit site
      June 24, 2014 9:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      If only the BBC could have relaxed their strict rules on script writers to allow Chris to do that. He was only allowed to write two scripts per season – madness really and it must have been quite frustrating for him at the time considering the rubbish submitted by Ben Steed.

      • Visit site
        June 24, 2014 10:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
        NICK GRIFFITHS

        How was it he was able to write three in season three and four in season two? Desperate need for a script?

        I remember dismissing this a a Dual retread but on a rewatch I found it much more entertaining and deeper then I originally gave it credit for. Not big on this convention of the same sex siblings of the 7 are played by the same person. I assume it is a budget reason and thankfully they don’t go down the evil twin route

        • Visit site
          June 25, 2014 11:59 amPosted 3 years ago
          Robert Dick

          IIRC Chris always said the ‘only two episodes from script editors’ rule was introduced at the time of Series D. He then chose to write the first and last episodes, for two reasons – those were episodes that would have shopping lists so why not deal with them himself, and they were the epsiodes least likely to be dropped from repeat runs and so miss out on repeat fees… Canny man, Chris.

          Other things he’s said about this episode…

          He’d been told Pacey was bored/unhappy so said “I’ll write him an episode with lots to do. He can play two parts”.

          He *hates* the “I’m ready to come up now” gag. When he appeared at the Edinburgh Doctor Who local group, that scene was played during the interviews and the room cheered at that bit. Chris said ” I HATE that. I didn’t write a kiss there. I didn’t want a kiss there. And if I knew they’d put a kiss there, I’d’ve written a different closing line.”

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    I really wasn’t sure if Sue would take to this one or not. It’s the kind of script that would work well as a short story in Chris Boucher’s Kaldor City universe; undoubtedly very clever, topical long before it was fashionable, and it focuses on the people most immediately affected by the knife-edge scenario, the self-aware of which can all see how artificial, shallow and engineered it is, or treat it as just a job. The snag, if one sees it as that (and Sue clearly didn’t), is that aside from the fight it’s inherently not very televisual, as the entire setup is geared towards actually stopping more ‘exciting’ things from happening.

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rob

    One of my fave B7 eppys – so good that i watched it twice last week before Sue’s review. Agree with all of Sue’s thoughts especially regarding how this script is years ahead of its time – one of Boucher’s finest hours (though he tops this one in 14 episodes time).

    Delighted also that Sue is beginning to appreciate how good an actor Steven Pacey was in this series, brilliant casting by the producer’s assistant who apparently took a shine to him and urged David Maloney to hire him on the spot.
    Really not quite sure how the production team managed to stretch the budget to include that stunning crane shot but it was worth every penny and it’s one of B7’s most iconic moments.

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jackie Leaf

    “He keeps ignoring her friend requests on Facebook. He’s playing hard to get.”

    That comment nearly made me snort my tea up my nose. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good one Sue!

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    Sue I so agree with your rating of this episode. It is so cleverly paced and until I watched it again recently I’d forgotten how good it was. I do get irritated with both Tarrants for their scruples. I mean why choose a career as a hired gun if you won’t shoot someone in the back! Avon of course is a complete bastard who wouldn’t think twice which could be why I like him so much. I think Paul Darrow must have royally pissed off the wardrobe designer for her to dress him as some Gregor Samsa insect man. But it is a really good episode and I hadn’t connected it with the hunger games. Neil I’d love to come to London – I could listen to you all day- but I’ll be looking after twin grandchildren. They are nearly as cute as your cats and twice the trouble.

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 1:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      I have wondered if various wardrobe people made knocked-back passes at Paul Darrow and this was their woman (or man?) scorned revenge.

      Because it’s just plain weird how he’ll have a costume apparently made personally for him by angels one week and the next look a complete laughing stock. I mean, this jacket….there are no words….someone actually designed and sewed and brought it to Paul and said, here try it on for size…no, it has to be a revenge thing

      • Visit site
        June 25, 2014 11:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        Nicholas Rocker designed the costume… and Paul has a few interesting things to say about his designs for the next season!

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:20 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    And on a related note, Ian Levine and Phillip Morris are at it again. Odd that two of the biggest names in Who fandom are re-enacting Blake’s 7 instead, in a spectator-sport ‘contest’ about which people are crying foul or demanding different participants.

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 12:58 amPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      Of course to be scrupulously fair, in Who fandom there’s no such thing as a ‘neutral arbiter’.

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Katie C

    Just fantastic, I enjoyed this episode so much more than I did first time around. Even my daughter enjoyed it although she was in hysterics over Deeta’s wig. Genius!

  • June 24, 2014 9:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Alex Wilcock

    I still think this one should be called They Killed Tarrant’s Perm.

    I love Sue’s observation about Avon’s wings. All in black? Clearly he’s fallen and had them confiscated. No wonder he looks crabby all the time.

    Speaking of which…

    You should get that nice Mr Darrow to re-record this song, as it turns out they were first.

    Vila suggests Orac be redesigned as an empty space. What? Gan?

    “But I fear scrupulous fairness is one of my small, personal obsessions.”

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 9:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mark Mark

    So you wade through many crap & forgettable episodes, and then this. I’m with Sue – WOW ! Amazing. That scene in which Deeta gets shot in the face from his pov was pretty graphic for a kids’ show. Excellent stuff – let’s hope this season’s finale is as good as Star One…

    • Visit site
      June 24, 2014 9:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      ‘Blake’s 7’ was never a ‘kids’ show – it was produced by the drama department and shown after 7pm. Dr Who on the other hand was produced by the ‘kids’ department. Tiny detail but worth mentioning ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Visit site
        June 24, 2014 10:47 pmPosted 3 years ago
        David Embery

        Erm, Doctor Who was made by the Drama department as well. A tiny correction worth mentioning

        • Visit site
          June 24, 2014 11:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
          NICK GRIFFITHS

          In fact the Children’s department threw a icky fit at the Doctor Who production for a scene involving scissors. Doctor Who started out intended as a children’s show but was made as a drama by the drama department.

        • Visit site
          June 25, 2014 3:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Rob

          I stand corrected ๐Ÿ™‚ Fair to say though that ‘Blake’s 7’ was aimed at a more mature audience than Dr Who which went out an hour or two earlier.

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 10:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Interesting as I’ve never made my mind up about this episode. I agree about Stephen Pacey though, he pulls off the older brother really well, surprisingly understated. There’s bits about the plot I don’t like though, mainly the central premise that two sides will agree to settle some kind of territorial conflict by a duel. When in human history has a nation built up military capability then thought actually lets have a bout of fisticuffs, Queensbury rules, winner gets the oil fields. It doesn’t happen and I don’t think it ever will. That and the crew accidentally stumbling on Servalan’s scheme while holiday. Stretching it a bit, I think.

    It seems unlikely that Servalan would be chosen as neutral arbiter. It’d be like making Tony Blair a middle East peace envoy.

    Oh yes , and Servalan / Avon smooching, annoying but I can’t blame Boucher, it was Darrow and Pierce’s idea while filming.

    For years I could remember the crew putting discs on their heads (right down to the close up of Vila) and being able to see through other people’s eyes, but I thought it was in Mission To Destiny. Only 30 episodes apart!

    I suppose I think it’s an interesting episode but not one I get overenthusiastic about. Next episode, though…

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 11:26 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Geoff

    The thing here is that at Tarrant was written a bit all over the place in series three. They clearly wanted a counter point to Avon and in that counterpoint a character who would challenge Avons dominance as Blake had done in S1&2. The trouble is they just made him an unlikeable posh bully for the most part.

    However dodgy writing/character development shouldn’t be confused with poor acting and Steven Pacey is a very good actor (Paul Darrow speaks very highly of him in “you’re him aren’t you” for example). So it’s no surprise he made a good job of the older, calmer, less to prove Deeta Tarrant.

    I think in S4 he’s more likeable and consistent as they turned him into more of a dashing traditional male lead which of course counterbalances the anti hero Avon very nicely. Just a shame they didn’t figure out that approach sooner. I hope this comment isn’t considered a spoiler, I’ve tried to stick to broad observation and avoid any plot referenced!

  • Visit site
    June 24, 2014 11:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Geoff

    By the way MASSIVE spoiler in the Next Time trailer! Steer well clear if you want to be surprised! A great finale and still provides some shock/wow factor even when you’ve seen it before! If you haven’t seen it then avoid the trailer or the urge to read about it on line, save yourself for the ep, it’s worth it (dodgy fashions aside obviously but that goes for all B7 eps!)

    • Visit site
      June 26, 2014 6:42 amPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      I am about half-way through Terminal and have to stop, its too much. Why weren’t all the episodes as good as this. Its really traumatizing.

  • Visit site
    June 25, 2014 12:54 amPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Allen

    I’m relieved that Sue liked this one, I was worried that the double helping of Tarrant might put her off.

    I don’t think even “our” Tarrant is that objectionable in this one. And it’s good to see the trend of stories focusing on individual crew members continuing.

    I particularly like the way the crew interact with each other in this story, they feel much more like real people. Maybe not 3D characters but at least 2D.

    Dayna’s scene with Servalan is particularly good, along with Villa’s reaction to Deeta’s death.

    And even Servalan gets to do something that the President of the Terran Federation might be conceivably be expected to do, rather than trying to be Travis in a dress (what a horrible thought).

    “This is why Iโ€™ll never be a fan. I wouldnโ€™t have got that in a million years”

    I’m *supposed* to be a fan and I’ve missed that for 30 years.

    With all this talk of litigation, maybe Bertrand Tavernier should sue Chris Boucher? His 1980 film, also called “Death Watch” did feature a character who “has undergone an experimental surgical procedure which implants cameras and transmitters behind his eyes, so that everything he sees is relayed back to NTV”.

    With this one getting 10/10 I shall be very disappointed if we don’t see the first 11/10 next time round!

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 11:32 amPosted 3 years ago
      Supersynths

      “I’m *supposed* to be a fan and I’ve missed that for 30 years.”

      You spotted David ‘ life force dying, life force dying, LIFE FORCE DYING!!!’ Sibley though did you?

      ‘Spot-a-Who Actor’ is a great TV game for the whole family! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Visit site
    June 25, 2014 1:00 amPosted 3 years ago
    dpc

    When B7 cooked, it was a feast.

    Death-watch is an all-time favorite… very gritty yet very true to B7’s roots. Series 3 often copped Trek and now Voucher mocks it with the “final frontier” line.

    A shame Day a couldn’t kill Servalan, but the plot is so beautifully structured – which only helps matters.

    10/10 with ease

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 1:01 amPosted 3 years ago
      dpc

      Oops. “Boucher”, not “Voucher”. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Visit site
        June 25, 2014 8:06 amPosted 3 years ago
        Licence

        This episode is a Wowcher! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Visit site
          June 25, 2014 2:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Anniew

          Favourited!

  • Visit site
    June 25, 2014 10:46 amPosted 3 years ago
    Nick

    This episode was one of my all-time favourites. In fact, if it was possible to compile a cut down series of all 4 seasons, showing only the best 6 or 7 episodes from each season, this one would be a definite inclusion! As would the next one, natch…

    A clever idea with the viewers experiencing the combatants’ emotions, POVs etc., much re-used in films and TV series since.

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 6:26 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      Totally agree ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve always picked the best 7 or 6 episodes from each season when I’ve had a re-watch or recommended episodes to newbies. This is the first time in many years that I’ve watched the entire series with Wife & Blake. Interesting to see it all again warts and all.

      • Visit site
        June 27, 2014 2:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Licence

        Wasn’t there a repeat run of S3 with 6/7 selected episodes? Was Deathwatch included? I seem to remember seeing Aftermath, Powerplay, Rumours, Sarcophagus, City and Terminal more than once (before the VHS releases came along) but it might be that I watched those with mates who had video recorders.

        • Visit site
          June 27, 2014 2:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Smile

          There were 8 episodes repeated in the summer of 1981. They were:

          Aftermath
          Power Play
          City At The Edge Of The World
          Rumours Of Death
          Sarcophagus
          Ultraworld
          Death-Watch
          Terminal

          • Visit site
            June 28, 2014 12:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Licence

            I’d have replaced Ultraworld with Children of Auron but otherwise all good choices.

  • Visit site
    June 25, 2014 10:56 amPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    It was pretty good…don’t know about 10/10 but what a great idea to be able to tune into the brain of the contestants. Yet again Blake’s 7 years ahead.

    (Too bad also must anticipate fashion horrors of the 80s with that Avon get-up).

    Now suppose that could be real, would it catch on, or do you need to have a crowd around you, even if its just the crowd on TV?

    Like, would any of you go for that idea? Sitting alone at home or with your pals? Motogp filming now is so amazing you practically feel you’re on the bike…what would it be to actually be in Mark Marquez’ or Valentino Rossi’s head?

    But Avon and Servalan….no way…is this just to make clear that he definitely isnt shagging Cally after all the cosiness of last time? How not a complete slut now, Avon, you bad boy.

    “Avon is walking backwards when he teleports” I dont get it, cant you teleport on the move?

    • Visit site
      June 25, 2014 11:29 amPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      It’s a remark on the complexity of the effects shot – Avon is CSOed into the picture, so they had to match his movements to the previous scene, hide the fact that it *is* CSO, keep the teleport ‘outline’ effect matched around Paul Darrow while they time the fade propely, and then keep it going convincingly for a couple more seconds afterwards, all while Paul Darrow is moving rather than standing still. Most of this would have been performed by the vision mixer in real time.

      When film buffs claim that the best special effects are the ones you don’t notice as complex effects, this is exactly the kind of thing that they mean.

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        June 25, 2014 1:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        Thanks!

        “CSO” ? what’s that. But I grasp the rest, amazing what these momentary things take. Often when I watch Motogp, my friend and I are really amazed at how the action swings from angle to angle, from overhead down to the very track beneath the wheels, from rider to rider and so seamless: how do they do it?
        Not to mention these unbelievable super slow motion shots that have eye-aching clarity and show these madmen even getting their elbow down…what technology catching what people can do.

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          June 25, 2014 1:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Smile

          CSO, standing for Colour Separation Overlay, and also known as Chromakey, is when an image from one camera is superimposed over an image from another. So an actor might be recorded across a blue or yellow background in the studio on one camera, and the image overlaid onto a painted backdrop or a set being recorded by a different camera, where the latter is keyed not to show the yellow or blue, so the actor appears to be standing in front of the backdrop. That was normally the technique how an actor in B7 would seem to be somewhere when they shown appearing or disappearing from there.

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            June 25, 2014 4:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            Wow thanks, very nice explanation.

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            June 25, 2014 4:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            “It waits”…like the wall, Annie?

        • June 25, 2014 1:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Neil Perryman (Author)

          You clearly haven’t read my book. Shame on you.

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            June 25, 2014 2:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Anniew

            Reading one thing. Remembering – a different ball game. Altzeimers is an old problem. It waits. I’ve even forgotten how to spell it.

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    June 25, 2014 11:18 amPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    A deadly death duel was arranged one dark and gloomy day
    The fate of a whole galaxy decided by the play
    But the sick Supreme Commander had an evil plan to win
    She’d declare the contest null and let the Federation in.

    Yippie yi aaaay
    Yippie yi ohhhh
    Blakes 7 in the sky

    Now throughout the Federation the Tarrant name was feared.
    Tarrants came in many guises (I heard of one who had a beard)
    Today a rather cool one was the hero of high noon
    Though his scruples and his wig soon resulted in his doom.

    But Avon helped by Orac, deduced Servalan’s fell plan
    And realised that Vinnie was too fast to be a man
    The curly headed Tarrant put his misery aside
    And shot the android dead with a telepathic guide

    The galaxy is safe thanks to Avon and his crew
    Although clad in shoulder donuts he still knew what to do.
    Yet unbeknown he’s headed for a confrontation tricky
    When Cally sniffs it out at last: he’s snogged his sick friend silly.

    Yippie yi aaaay
    Yippie yi ohhh
    Zen take us to the sky.

    It’s not a happy little group that’s riding out in space.
    Cally’s in a dreadful sulk and Villa’s off his face
    Dayna’s mad she’s failed again to kill old Servalan
    And no matter how he scrubs, our Ave can still smell Max’s hand.

    But Tarrant is emerging as the happiest of the seven
    Even though he’s mourning Deeta who we hope is up in heaven.
    The episode has given him real acting things to do
    But best of all he knows at last he’s made a fan of Sue.

    Yippie yi aaaay
    Yippie yi ohhhh
    Del Tarrant riding high

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      June 25, 2014 1:06 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Annie on a roll!!

      “shoulder doughnuts”, double lol

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        June 25, 2014 11:40 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Katie c

        Yes love the shoulder doughnuts and “Avon can still smell Max’s hand”!
        I cannot compete Annie…

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          June 26, 2014 4:59 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Anniew

          Glad you liked the line about Max’s hand! Avon is so OCD about it – it has always made me laugh. In fact increasingly throughout season 3 and 4 there is a weird hand thing going on with Avon that defies psychoanalysis! He seems to disassociate himself from the left one. Any guesses why – apart from missing Blake .

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            June 26, 2014 11:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Katie c

            You mean his right hand doesn’t know what his left hand is doing maybe? Thanks, I’ll have to watch out for that!

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    June 25, 2014 2:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Tarrant is enforcing the no-snipe rule.

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    June 25, 2014 2:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    Amazing I am just watching Frozen and one of the red-uniformed bad guy henchmen that goes to kill Elsa is the spit of Vinni. It’s his expression.

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    June 25, 2014 6:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Richard Lyth

    The only problem I have with this episode is that there’s really no reason for Tarrant and his brother to be played by the same actor. No case of mistaken identity, no hint of Tarrant having to undergo the contest in his brother’s place, it’s all just a ruse to give the actor more screen time. Admittedly it’s his best performance so far, but it still feels a bit unnecessary.

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      June 25, 2014 7:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      The reason i suspect being down to cost cutting budgetary reasons. not having to hire another actor probably helped pay for that glorious crane shot and the earlier sequence of having Avon teleport as he walked away. I imagine it was quite a tricky shot to pull off back in the day.

  • June 25, 2014 10:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mat Dolphin

    Vinny turns up years later in Spaced, as an art fanatic.

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    June 25, 2014 10:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
    John Williams

    “Tarrant in a flash forward” – I’ve just laughed so loudly at that, that I’ve alarmed a bar full of Glaswegians.

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    June 26, 2014 1:16 amPosted 3 years ago
    Amethyst

    I’m going to miss Avon as I know him after this wonderful episode. He starts to change into S.4 Avon in Terminal.

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      June 26, 2014 2:21 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      So theres an Avon 3? Don’t think I can cope. How can this one be explained away. I was able to imagine that Avon took such a crack on the head when being ejected from Liberator during the big war that he came out a totally different person, wrapped around every female in sight instead of icily glaring at them and shutting himself in his bedroom. Now a further incarnation?

      Wow Terminal was ace. Be interesting to see what Sue makes of the Jimmy Saviles tho.

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    June 26, 2014 2:18 amPosted 3 years ago
    Doloho

    I LOVED when Avon walked backwards into the teleport. And it wasn’t because of how complex the special effect was… it’s entirely about how super-cool it made Avon look. (Even cooler than usual.)

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    June 28, 2014 12:51 amPosted 3 years ago
    The Grouchybeast

    So, so, so happy that Sue gave this a ten! I dared to dream, but I was worried the extra Tarrant might put her off. On the other hand, it’s some of the best Tarrant characterisation of S3, and does show off Stephen Pacey’s acting to better advantage.

    I also hoped that she’d appreciate what an extraordinarily well put-together episode this is. Probably the best episode of B7 in terms of the sustained quality, plotting and use of the characters. All the crew get character appropriate things to do, and even Servalan turns up in the context of doing her job as President of the Federation. Plus some great minions, some politics, and even some science fiction using previously established technology instead of inventing some random Mcguffin that never appears again! It’s my favourite episode of the whole show — some other episodes have parts I like more than Deathwatch, but none I like as much overall.

    10/10 for the review!

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    June 28, 2014 12:47 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Licence

    The only thing that bugs me in this episode is the re-use of the starliner set from the episode opening as the randomly picked location for real Tarrant’s duel. Obviously a money saving decision but it grates nonetheless.

    Otherwise a ten for me too.

    Love the Max character too. Like Dr Bellfriar in Killer it’s good to see a ‘nice’ character in what is usually a ‘nasty’ universe.

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    July 14, 2014 12:31 amPosted 3 years ago
    Robin Brown

    A much underrated episode. Little touches like the chat between the presenter and gallery are so often missing from B7. But when it gets it right it’s so good.

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