Place your bets now…
I wanted Sue’s brother to watch this episode with us.
Gary: I don’t even know what Blake’s 7 is, Neil. And after what happened last time with Doctor Who, I think I’ll give it a miss, thanks.
Sue: Oh go on, Gary. You might enjoy it. And if we’re really lucky, we’ll see a man with a pert bum in tight leather trousers. Honest.
Gary: No thanks, I’m off to the Bingo.
Oh well. Maybe next time.
Sue: So is this episode set in a Gentlemen’s Club in Soho? What time do the strippers come on?
There’s a lot for Sue to take in, although the name ‘Robert Holmes’ in the titles cushions the jolt.
Sue: So we’ve got an elderly Patrick Troughton, Travis in a cowboy hat, and 1940s gangsters. It’s different, I’ll give it that.
Blake, Cally and Jenna prepare to teleport to Freedom City, where the grass isn’t green and the girls ain’t pretty.
Sue: Cally is dressed as a Princess Leia this week; Jenna looks like she’s going to a funeral.
Our heroes are searching for a cyber surgeon named Docholli; he’s the only person alive who knows where Star One is.
Sue: If Star One isn’t in this episode, Neil, I won’t be happy. Has anybody asked Orac where Star One is?
Me: I already told you: nobody knows where Star One is. No one at all!
Sue: That’s a bit silly. What if it breaks down? Where do you send the plumbers?
Freedom City’s floor show is about to start. I brace myself.
Sue: Oh look, it’s Bette Davies meets Fanny Craddock on Britain’s Got Talent. I love her glamorous walking stick. I would definitely put her through to the live finals.
The Croupier introduces the main event: a game of skill against the undisputed Speed Chess champion, ZE KLUTE!
Croupier: Ze Klute challenges all comers!
Sue: But he’s only twelve!
Meanwhile, Servalan is auditioning for a part in Eyes Wide Shut.
Sue: She’s got a lovely figure but she could do with a space bra. And she’s sitting on the Liberator‘s sofa. What are the chances of that?
Servalan is accompanied by a man named Jarriere, or, if you happen to be Sue, Leo Sayer meets Pinocchio. And then Krantor turns up…
Sue: Have you spiked my drink again, Neil?
Krantor runs Freedom City.
Sue: This is what Liberace would have looked like if he’d supported Newcastle United.
Krantor: They come to Freedom City because we are outside the Federation.
Sue: Is Freedom City like Sun City?
Me: Well, it isn’t a Queen-free zone, if that’s what you mean.
While Krantor and Servalan hatch their nefarious plans, I can’t help but notice that Sue’s jaw is still resting on the floor.
Sue: The set is so tacky, I can’t take my eyes off it. It reminds of The Generation Game. This scene will be repeated in a minute, but Brucie will play Liberace’s part and a grandmother from Rotherham will play Servalan. Just you wait and see.
When Servalan leaves, Krantor reveals his plans to his assistant, Toise.
Sue: No, this isn’t camp at all.
Me: It’s probably the campest thing ever broadcast on British television. Gambit makes Are You Being Served? look like Threads.
Sue: What is he wearing on his head?
Me: That’s K9.
Sue: Did they melt him down or something?
Me: No, it’s John Leeson. The actor who played K9.
Sue: Oh, thank God for that.
Back on the Liberator, Avon convinces Vila that robbing a casino would be a bit of a laugh, even though it’s their turn to sit around doing nothing in the teleport room all day.
Sue: That’s not like Avon at all. That’s completely out of character. Avon would never be that stupid. Would he?
Orac says he can shrink himself down to the size of an iPod.
Vila: Talk is cheap.
Avon: It means he doesn’t believe you, and neither, as a matter of fact, do I.
Sue: Join the club, love!
Orac shrinks to an eighth of his normal size.
Sue: That is ridiculous. However, I’ll go along with it because a) he’s easier to dust and b) they can take Orac on missions now, so he can be a proper member of the crew for a change.
Me: And you can stick a pair of headphones in him and listen to Michael Bublé.
Travis is drowning his sorrows in The Rink.
Sue: My mum and dad met in a ballroom called The Rink. He spotted her at a table, walked over and said “Are you dancing?” When she stood up and said “Yes!”, he said “Good, I can have your seat then.”
Blake, Jenna and Cally are hanging around Paradise City’s nightclub scene.
Sue: What’s with all the Christmas tinsel? Did they film this episode during the office party, because that would explain a lot.
Me: It does look like a post-apocalyptic school disco.
Sue: I’ll tell you what, though: Cally suits this sexy new look of hers. She’s turning into a right space babe.
Meanwhile, back in the casino, Ze Klute faces a new challenger.
Sue: Oh look, they’ve dragged Bill Oddie off the set of The Goodies.
Thrylce – yes, that’s his name – plays a mean game of chess.
Sue: I’ve just realised what this episode reminds me of.
Sue: No, The Hunger Games. OK, so it’s chess instead of running around a jungle shooting baboons with arrows – this is the BBC we’re talking about – but the costumes are very similar. They dress like pampered idiots in the Hunger Games as well.
Ze Klute beats Thrylce easily.
Sue: I’ve just remembered why chess isn’t an Olympic sport. I don’t care how fast you ****ing play it, it’s still chess.
When Thrylce loses, he pays the ultimate price: death by electrocution, which means he vanishes in a puff of smoke, obviously.
Sue: Have they hired Paul Daniels to do their executions for them? Because that looked like a magic trick to me.
Jarriere and Servalan discuss her plan to stitch Krantor up like a kipper.
Sue: They are simply summarising the plot. I’m waiting for Servalan to pull out a wall chart.
Krantor can’t be all bad because he own a cat. Oh, wait…
Sue: That cat does not want to be there. He’s clutching it so hard, he must have bruised the poor thing. I’d call the RSPCA if the poor thing wasn’t already dead.
Me: Actually, I think Aubrey passed away quite recently.
When Travis describes Servalan’s companion as a “powder puff”, Sue raises her eyebrows.
Sue: That’s a bit harsh. And besides, Leo Sayer is the least camp thing in this. And that’s saying something.
Servalan and Travis have a very complicated relationship.
Sue: OK, I’m confused. Are Servalan and Travis working together or not? I can’t keep up. I’m sure they were shagging each other the other day. And where the hell is Blake? Has he got the week off?
Blake, Jenna and Cally finally make it to the bar.
Sue: Robert Holmes has definitely seen Star Wars, but instead of a bar filled with weird aliens, they’ve filled it with men who are dressed for a night in a sex dungeon. Now I know why you asked Gary to watch this with us. It all makes sense now.
She’s nodding towards Krantor’s leather-clad assassin, Cevedic, who is asking the barkeeper, Chenie, for the whereabouts of Kline/Docholli. Look, it’s complicated.
Chenie: I swear I don’t know where Kline is.
Cally: She was lying, Blake.
Sue: So Cally’s a mind-reader now. You know, I get the impression that Robert Holmes didn’t watch a lot of Blake’s 7 before he wrote this episode.
Vila takes on the Big Wheel.
Sue: Oh dear. I was expecting a massive wheel on a wall, with flashing lights and fancy controls. But no. It’s just a tatty roulette wheel that’s seen better days. That is very disappointing. And cheap.
Chenie helps Docholli escape from Freedom City.
Sue: There’s a strong Western vibe to this; it feels like we’re watching a cheap, ultra-camp version of Firefly. The surgeon is basically a geriatric Han Solo. Or Indiana Jones’ dad. I really like him. He’s definitely the best thing in this episode. I bet they kill him.
There’s a lovely moment when Denis Carey can’t get his coat on. Here, take a look:
Sue: He’s such a pro, he just got on with it.
Me: It must have been five minutes to ten when they shot that scene.
Back in the bar, Jenna and Cally are causing a scene.
Sue: Are they pissed?
Cally: You slut!
Jenna: Ten-credit touch!
Sue: Because this is Blake’s 7, I thought that fight was real for a second. I wouldn’t put anything past Blake’s 7; it always feels like it could kick off between them.
The fight is, of course, a distraction, which Blake uses to sneak into the back of the bar.
Sue: Is Cally smashing Jenna’s head against the wall outside? The sound effects are terrible!
Servalan and Jarriere meet for cocktails and a quick recap.
Sue: Leo Sayer’s job is to sit there and have the plot explained to him. And thank God, because the plot is all over the place and it needs explaining. But everything has ground to a halt again. And who the **** is this guy anyway?
Vila is on a winning streak, but he wants to win more.
Sue: It’s not exactly Casino Royale.
Me: Actually, this does reminds me of Casino Royale, just not the one you’re thinking of.
Servalan has planted a bomb in Travis’ arm.
Sue: I almost feel sorry for Travis. He’s so inconsistent, it feels like we meet a completely new version of Travis every two or three episodes. And this is the nice, misunderstood Travis.
Travis: My arm! What have you done to my arm?
Sue: There’ll be hell to pay if Servalan’s interfered with his wanking hand.
Travis searches for the only man who can fix his arm: Docholli.
Sue: You should probably get that eye seen to while you’re at it.
Meanwhile, Blake, Jenna and Cally have retreated to the wedding reception from hell.
Sue: The irritating tinkly background music hasn’t gone away, even though they’ve left the bar. That’s weird. And really annoying.
Travis encounters Krantor’s leather-clad henchman, so he shoots him.
Sue: Aww, wasn’t it nice of the bad guy to tell Travis everything he needed to know before he died. That was so helpful. Thanks for that.
Blake finds Docholli hiding in the loading bay.
Docholli: What do you want from me?
Blake: One piece of information: the location of Star One.
Docholli: Then you’re going to be disappointed.
Back at the casino, Vila – with a little help from mini-Orac – has conquered the Big Wheel. However, as he waits for his winnings, he agrees to gamble everything on a game of Speed Chess against Ze Klute. This development takes Avon by surprise.
Sue: Forget Star One, I’d rather watch these two having stupid adventures together any day of the week.
Croupier: Les jeux sont fait!
Sue: The problem is, everyone is trying to out-camp each other. The director has lost control of the actors.
Docholli removes Travis’ robotic arm.
Blake: It’s all right, it’s not primed.
Sue: They’ve disarmed him.
Me: Very good, Sue.
Sue: He isn’t armed.
Me: Stop it, Sue.
Sue: He’s ‘armless.
Me: I hate you.
Travis snatches his appendage back.
Sue: Club Blake over the head with your arm! Go on, Travis, sink even lower!
Travis expects Blake to kill him. He’s wrong, of course.
Blake: Our quarrel is with the Federation, not with you.
Sue: But he tries to kill you every other week. What does he have to do? Does he have to murder one of your friends? Oh wait, he’s already done that. KILL HIM!
With Orac’s help, Vila manages to eek out a draw against Ze Klute.
Sue: Orac can’t be that good if he can’t beat a twelve year-old boy at chess.
Me: He isn’t a boy, he’s Deep Roy!
Sue: What, the porn star?
Avon and Vila rush back to the Liberator with their ill-gotten gains.
Sue: Avon pretending to be innocent is very funny. I’ve never seen this side of Avon before. I think I like it.
Sue: I could have watched a whole episode of Avon and Vila messing about together. The rest of it got on my nerves. Too much talking and not enough action. The incidental music was horrendous, and once the shock of the costumes wore off, there wasn’t much else going on. Oh, and Blake has a soft spot for Travis. There, I’ve said it. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. He obviously likes being stalked by him. It must turn him on. Either that or he’s got a death wish.
Sue: That was mental. I enjoyed bits of it, but there was way too much exposition. I mean, what did Blake actually do in that episode? I expected a lot more from Robert Holmes. It just didn’t feel like Blake’s 7 to me. God knows what Gary would have made of that. And now I bet we have to visit another person who doesn’t know where Star bloody One is. I’m right, aren’t I?
Before we go, a little housekeeping. I’ve decided that running two separate Twitter accounts for both the Wife in Space and Wife and the Blake has become a pointless and confusing waste of time. So I’m retiring the @wifeandblake account in a couple of days. If you don’t follow @wifeinspace already, you should subscribe to that account to keep up with any site updates (and the odd kitten photo). The Facebook pages will remain separate for now. Thanks.
Warning: Glen’s trailers may include minor spoilers for the next episode.