Eye to eye stand winners and losers…
This episode begins on a planet where a figure carved out of rock forms a very striking centrepiece.
Sue: It’s the sort of statue that you’d see outside a football stadium. Is it a goal celebration?
Me: No, it’s Yohan Cabaye tearing up his Newcastle United contract.
An old lady named Giroc has been summoned to this monument.
Sue: The Sisters of Karn have really let themselves go.
Giroc joins a younger woman named Sinofar, who has materialised out of thin air.
Sue: It must be freezing on this planet.
Me: Because her face is blue?
Sue: I’m not talking about her face. Neil. Stop pretending that you can’t see them.
Me: Yeah… I definitely remember this episode.
Sue: I bet you bloody do! She may as well have not got dressed.
There’s plenty of exposition in this scene and Sue tries to keep up.
Sue: OK, so the old woman is the Keeper. Are you sure this isn’t football related?
Meanwhile, on the flight deck of a Federation pursuit ship…
Sue: Oh good, it’s Travie.
Me: Travie? He’s a bad ass Space Commander, not a bloody dog!
The ship is piloted by two Mutoids.
Sue: Lady Gaga must have seen this episode. She wore a hat like that once, although I think it was made out of bacon.
Travis has pursued Blake across several galaxies.
Sue: It’s nice of him to hold the microphone like that. It saves the crew having to struggle with a boom in such a cramped set.
Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Jenna scans the alien planet below.
Sue: I like her space dress. Ooh, and that was a lovely focus pull. Who directed this?
Me: You tell me.
Sue: Is it Douglas Camfield?
She shoots, she scores. However, given that Douglas Camfield is the only Doctor Who director she can remember the name of, and there’s a photograph of him hanging in our kitchen, I guessed this would happen.
Me: Well done. OK, so if this is Douglas Camfield that means something else is different about this episode. Have you spotted it yet?
Sue: Yes, this one is quite good.
Me: No, something else. Come on, it’s obvious.
Sue: It’s the music. The music is different. This isn’t Dudley.
Me: And why is that?
Sue: Because Douglas hated Dudley’s guts. Something to do with a champagne bottle, wasn’t it?
Vila accuses Avon of being a machine, which Avon takes as a compliment.
Sue: Either Avon wants to shag Vila or he wants to kill him; he can’t make his mind up.
On the Federation pursuit ship, the Mutoid pilot recharges her plasma supply.
Mutoid: Opponents of Mutoid modification call us vampires.
Sue: Space vampires? Really? Brilliant.
She isn’t being sarcastic. Honest.
Sue: I’m well into this. Even the model shots look good. And I’m sorry, Dudley, I really am, but this music is a huge improvement. It’s really atmospheric instead of parp-parp-parp-maracas.
Blake, Jenna and Gan, oblivious to the threat posed by Travis, decide to explore the alien planet.
Sue: This place is obviously made from polystyrene in a pokey studio in Television Centre, but Douglas is getting away with it. I’ve seen a lot worse. There’s wind and everything. It’s nicely lit, too. It’s a shame they didn’t use film, though. This is when you need film, not when you’re standing in an empty room.
Gan spies Federation ships in the sky above them.
Sue: Classic Camfield three-shot. Lovely.
Sinofar also strikes a pose.
Sue: Her dress looks like it’s been painted on.
Me: She’s Isla Blair.
Sue: From the Generation Game?
Me: No, Isla Blair from the Royal Shakespeare Company. She’s married to Julian Glover.
Sue: That name rings a bell.
Me: He’s the randy old priest who gets his knackers out on Game of Thrones.
Sue: Oh yes. Well done him.
Vila sounds the alarm on the Liberator, and Avon nearly skids off the set.
Sue: That was brilliant.
I pause the DVD.
Me: Have you forgiven Avon for punching a woman in the face yet?
Sue: He’s on probation.
Me: Some Blake’s 7 fans think you were a bit sexist for complaining about Avon smacking a woman in the face. Double-standards and all that.
Sue: They can **** off.
Me: They claim that Avon was well within his rights because Sara was trying to kill him.
Sue: She was unarmed when he punched her, so that’s completely wrong for a start. Look, he’s a bad lad. I get it. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, especially when there’s no need for it and he really enjoyed it. I love the way Avon runs, though, so can we just get on with it, please?
The Federation are closing in…
Blake: Maximum speed and range?
Jenna: Standard by four, about eight million spacials.
Sue: That’s about half a mile. Seriously though, this is excellent. It’s Das Boot in Space.
While the Liberator is bombarded by plasma bolts, Blake uses state of the art technology to work out his tactics.
Sue: I’m sure they’ve nicked that from Match of the Day. Are you absolutely sure this isn’t about football?
Avon isn’t convinced by Blake’s plan of attack.
Blake: Have you got any better ideas?
A violent explosion throws Blake into Avon’s arms.
Sue: (as Avon) We could have a cuddle while we wait to die, if you like.
Me: Stop that, please.
Blake prepares to ram Travis’s ship. And then everything grinds to a halt. Sue thinks there’s something wrong with the DVD, but when she realises that it’s all part of the plot, she gives me the thumbs up. In slo-mo of course.
Sue: I don’t think ramming the ship is a such a good idea. The Liberator‘s pointy bits will snap off.
When the two ships are a million spatials apart (about an inch), Blake and Travis begin screaming in agony.
Sue: OK, it’s gone a bit mad, now. I don’t have a clue what’s going on any more, but it’s going on for ages.
When normality is resumed – Sue says she could have made a cup of tea in the time it took – Giroc’s voice echoes through both ships.
Giroc: Your ship is tethered, held in a stasis beam, it cannot break free. Only your life support systems will function normally, the rest will remain in our control, until we have completed our task.
Sue: I didn’t understand a word of that. Did she forget to put her teeth in?
Blake and Travis find themselves on the alien planet with Sinofar and Giroc.
Sue: Oh, I see. The old woman is Yoda and the woman with practically nothing on is Q from Star Trek. I get it now.
Travis tells his hosts why he hates Blake.
Travis: This man is an enemy of the state and a fugitive.
Sue: You left out child molester. If you really want them to be on your side, start with child molester.
Travis’s response excites Giroc.
Sue: Are there only two woman left on this planet?
Sue: If I were Blake, I’d be saying “I don’t fancy yours much, Travis” at this point.
Giroc: Tell us, what is your dispute?
Travis: I have told you. This man is an enemy of the Federation, tried and convicted.
Sue: Just say it. He’s on the sex offender register.
Giroc appears on the Liberator‘s scanner to explain the offside rule to the rest of the crew.
Sue: She’s definitely got a William Hartnell vibe going on here.
Blake and Travis will fight each other to the death, but a friend will be sent to keep them company, which means Jenna also vanishes from the flight deck.
Sue: Thank God they didn’t send Vila. Blake would be dead in seconds.
Blake finds himself in a forest.
Sue: This looks great, but I bet it would look even better in widescreen.
Burn the heretic!
Sue: This is basically the The Hunger Games of its day. But with space vampires and magic wizards.
Giroc sends Blake into a tizzy.
Sue: That’s the best directed mind-**** I’ve ever seen. That was brilliant. Douglas was wasted on television.
Blake’s remaining crew monitor events from the comfort of the Liberator‘s coffee lounge.
Sue: I’m surprised Gan hasn’t got a tub of popcorn on his lap.
And then something terrible happens.
Sue: Oh no! Bad chromakey.
It appears that Douglas had to cobble together some pick-ups in the studio.
Sue: Either the episode was running short or something went horribly wrong on location. Poor Douglas. Oh well, he’s only human. What he did film looks great.
Blake sharpens some branches with his knife.
Sue: They’ll come in handy against the space vampire. Good thinking, Blake.
When night falls, Blake and Jenna hide in a tree.
Sue: Blake and Jenna sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Me: Stop it. Just stop it.
Me: Stop shipping.
Sue: Shipping? What the **** are you talking about?
I explain the basic concept of shipping to her.
Sue: Is it called shipping because they have sex on space ships?
Me: Yes, that’s exactly why they call it shipping. Now please stop it.
Meanwhile, Travis and a Mutoid are also sitting in a tree, but there no sexual tension. Instead, Travis passes the time by tormenting his companion.
Travis: I know who you were. Your name was Keyeira.
Sue: You were named after an exotic orange flavoured drink from the 20th century. It’s a very silly name.
Blake is attacked by a bat. Yes, a bat!
Sue: Oh dear. Douglas was definitely having a bad day. It can happen to anyone.
Avon is bored senseless and decides to go to bed.
Avon: Blake is sitting up in a tree, Travis is sitting up in another tree. Unless they’re planning to throw nuts at one another, I don’t see much of a fight developing before it gets light.
Sue: OK, I forgive him.
Morning arrives and the second half kicks off.
Sue: So, is Blake a vampire now? What are the chances of that? He gets turned into a vampire on a planet with a vampire on it, but he isn’t bitten by the vampire, he’s bitten by a random bat. That’s just bad luck. And speaking of bad luck, here’s some more bad chroma. It probably rained. That must be it. It looks like it’s been raining. Poor Douglas.
Blake climbs another tree.
Sue: Yes, they are definitely losing light in this scene. What a shame. They should put the floodlights on.
Jenna is abducted by the Mutoid so Travis can use her as bait. The Mutoid wants to snack on Jenna, but Travis won’t allow it.
Sue: She doesn’t get any sexual gratification when she drinks blood. It’s all done mechanically. That’s a bit shit; I wouldn’t want to be a space vampire.
Travis draws Blake out.
Travis: I have your friend. Your friend will die, Blake, unless you give yourself up.
Sue: Has the actor who plays Travis been in anything else?
Me: Loads of stuff.
Eat your heart out, Toby Hadoke.
Sue: He’s really good. I like him a lot. Wouldn’t it be great if Travis had a change of heart and joined Blake’s crew? He’d fit right in.
Travis springs his trap, but the hungry Mutoid makes a right pig’s ear of it and Travis and Blake end up fighting to the death.
Me: This sounds like Tangerine Dream.
Sue: Everything sounds like Tangerine Dream to you.
I’m serious. Listen to the soundtrack to ‘Duel’:
And then listen to this snippet from Tangerine Dream’s seminal 1973 album, Atem:
Me: It’s uncanny.
Sue couldn’t care less; she’s enjoying the testosterone-fuelled fight too much. Blake finally gets the upper hand but he refuses to kill his nemesis in cold blood.
Sue: That act of kindness will set Blake and Jenna free. It’s a bit obvious, but they did it quite well.
Sue is quite right: Sinofar sets Blake free, accepting that his encounter with Travis was a score draw.
Sue: Perhaps Blake should drop kick the old woman in the face before he leaves. You know, just to be “edgy”. She did try to get him killed after all. And she’s armed with a big stick, so he could call it self defence. No?
The Liberator breaks orbit.
Sue: I wish we could see the ship go VROOOOOOOOM! like they do on Star Trek. Never mind.
The episode concludes with Travis continuing his hunt for Blake.
Travis: He made one fatal error. He should have killed me.
Sue: That’s twice now. I think Blake has a soft spot for Travie.
Me: STOP IT!
Sue: That was more like it! Why can’t they all be like that? Just let Douglas Camfield direct every episode; it isn’t rocket science. What I really liked about this episode was that you learnt quite a bit about Travis and Blake as characters. It’s a good set-up for the future. It looked great too, although I’ll have to knock a mark off for the bad chroma. And even though the script was a bit clunky at times, I really, really enjoyed it.