Flat as a pancake…

HorizonMe: The official Blake’s 7 fan club is called Horizon.

Sue: They must really like this one, then.

The episode begins with Vila and Jenna’s faces superimposed over some stars.

Sue: Eh? What was that in aid of? Is Vila dreaming this episode?

Our intrepid heroes are falling apart.

Cally: Your headaches are from the same source as Vila’s stomach cramps and Avon’s back pains: over-stress.

Sue: I’m not convinced. Avon probably put his back out during a visit to the ship’s sex dungeon.

The crew need a holiday.

Sue: The crew need a decent plan of action. That’s what they need.

Vila: I’m going blind staring at these detectors.

Sue: They should set up a table tennis table and a dartboard in one of the empty rooms on the ship. And then they should programme Zen and Orac to monitor the detectors. Take some time off. Chill out. Relax. I don’t see the problem.

As the crew contemplate a week somewhere nice, a Federation freighter appears on their detectors.

Sue: They say there’s no rest for the wicked, and they are terrorists, so there you go.

The freighter is heading for a planet codenamed Horizon.

HorizonBlake: Population?

Zen: Negative information.

Blake: Is there any information on Horizon?

Zen: Negative.

Sue: No wonder Blake has a headache. Here’s a tip for you: ASK ORAC! You know, the computer that can see into the future and is supposed to be the answer to everything. He’s worth a million credits, for ****’s sake.

Blake wants to follow the freighter to Horizon.

Blake: That freighter’s gone to Horizon for some good reason.

Avon: Which is more than you can say for us.

Sue: Brilliant!

Meanwhile, Orac is teaching Gan a thing or two.

Me: What do you think Orac is teaching Gan?

Sue: Anger management, probably. Actually, it could be anything. Knitting, cooking, cleaning. Where do you want me to start?

A visibly exasperated Jenna (who, according to Sue, looks like Maid Marion crossed with Olivia Newton-John this week) detects something in their path.

HorizonSue: Is that ship blowing smoke rings at them?

It’s a magnetic barrier and the Liberator flies straight through it.

Sue: Oh no. Gan is making his sex face again.

The magnetic bombardment exacerbates Vila’s stomach condition.

Sue: Vila is suffering from chronic IBS. He’s showing all the classic signs.

Me: What are you looking at me for?

Cally treats Vila with a special medicinal compound.

Cally: One-third adrenalin, two-thirds soma.

Sue: One-third Gaviscon, two-thirds Buscopan is what he really needs. Actually, what Vila really needs is a poo.

Blake and Avon bicker over their next move.

Sue: They can’t go on like this. This has to come to a head sooner or later. There will be tears before bedtime, you mark my words.

Blake wants to investigate Horizon.

Blake: What are the surface conditions?

Zen: Detectors indicate that surface conditions are tolerable.

Sue: Yes, but does he need a coat? Come on Zen, be more specific, you useless piece of shit.

HorizonJenna and Blake have a good bitch about Avon before they teleport to Horizon. Blake expects Avon to run away with the Liberator in his absence. What he doesn’t expect is Avon walking in on him when he says this.

Sue: Awkward.

Blake and Jenna teleport down to the planet.

Sue: The first thing they should now say is: “Did he hear me? Do you think he heard me? What if he heard me?” But they don’t even acknowledge it. That isn’t very realistic.

Horizon isn’t very hospitable.

Sue: They’ve arrived on another shit hole. What a surprise.

The ruler of Horizon is a man named Ro.

Sue: It’s the Asian Rowan Atkinson.

She didn’t even know that his name was Ro.

Sue: I had a red velvet jacket like that, although mine wasn’t as nice as his. His jacket is nicely tailored and mine was probably made out of velour.

Blake and Jenna are attacked by natives welding blowpipes.

Sue: Ooh! Right in the bum. Nasty.

Meanwhile, Vila is knocking back a glass of green on the Liberator.

HorizonSue: You should never mix drugs with alcohol, and that’s definitely crème de menthe. He plays a good drunk, though. Something tells me the actor has had a lot of practice.

Me: We’ve watched 16 and a half episodes of Blake’s 7 and you still don’t know the actors’ names.

Sue: Well, there’s Paul Darrow and Gareth somebody. And… And… No, I don’t. Sorry.

When Cally offers to teleport to Horizon to check on Blake and Jenna, Gan guilt-trips Vila into going instead.

Gan: You wouldn’t want to send Cally in your place, would you?

Sue: Eh? How is sending a pissed Vila better than the only person on the ship who knows how to look after herself. How sexist is that?

Either way, Avon is sitting this one out.

Avon: I am not expendable, I’m not stupid, and I’m not going.

Sue: I love it.

When Gan and Vila teleport to Horizon, Vila quickly gets into trouble.

Sue: Avon teleported Vila into that puddle on purpose. He couldn’t resist it.

Vila is taken out with a dart from a blowpipe. His backwards fall has to be seen to be believed:

Sue: OK, I get it. Vila’s funny.

And then, for a significant portion of the episode, Sue says nothing at all.

Sue: I’m trying to follow the plot. It’s quite interesting, but I know what’s going to happen. This guy will come good, Blake and his crew will have a nice holiday on this planet, and everyone will laugh down the camera lens at the end. You’ll see.

HorizonWhen Ro interrogates Blake, he discovers that an old friend on the same prison ship as Blake.

Sue: What are the chances of that. Did we ever meet him?

Me: No.

Sue: It must have happened during those missing months we never saw.

Ro is visited by two Kommissars from the Federation. They don’t appear to notice that Ro’s prisoner is the most wanted man in the galaxy.

Sue: Blake can’t be that famous, then. Which is strange because Vila made a big deal out of that at the beginning of the episode. Maybe Blake is a Z-list celebrity. Maybe everybody’s talking about Avon instead.

Blake’s crew are sent into Horizon’s mines.

Sue: Great. A story set in a mine. Just what I wanted.

Blake immediately takes control of the miners’ rations.

Sue: Blake always has to be the boss. He’s a raving egomaniac. He’d be completely useless on Survivor. They always vote the know-it-all out first.

Cally teleports to Horizon. She is captured within seconds.

HorizonSue: They are completely hopeless. They may as well teleport themselves straight into a prison cell.

The next time we see Vila and Blake, they are both topless.

Me: There you go, Sue: some eye-candy for you to feast on.

Sue: Don’t make me laugh! If I want to look at a pale, out-of-shape mess, I can stare at you. Oh look! Blake’s got moobs.

When Cally fails to answer his calls, Avon makes his move.

Avon: I think it’s time to leave.

Sue: No! You can’t do that! No!

Cally is interrogated by Ro. She tells him that the Kommissar killed his father.

Sue: What’s really funny about this is he thinks she’s got these amazing telepathic powers, when in actual fact she just read this stuff off a piece of paper before she left. That sums up Cally in a nutshell.

The Kommissars discuss Ro’s ability to control Horizon.

Me: The assistant Kommissar was Elisabeth Sladen’s husband.

HorizonSue: I didn’t know that Elisabeth Sladen married Ridley Scott.

Kommissar: Blake and his crew are the most sought after criminals in the galaxy.

Sue: Ah, so he did know about Blake, after all. If only I still cared. This is really slow, Neil.

Alone on the Liberator, Avon has an important decision to make.

Sue: Avon won’t go. He’d get bored if he didn’t have someone to take the piss out of. Orac wouldn’t be half as much fun as Vila or Gan. There’s so much more to work with.

She pretends that it’s a foregone conclusion, but she still bites her nails while Avon considers his options.

Sue: Look, just call the show Avon and be done with it. I’ll be honest with you, Neil. If it wasn’t for Avon I’d probably struggle with Blake’s 7. I think he’s great.

Me: Really? I never would have guessed.

With Federation pursuit ships heading their way, Avon decides to do the decent thing.

Sue: I knew he wouldn’t leave. But it was fun to see him think about it.

Avon teleports to Horizon.

HorizonSue: Sometimes, Avon is the spitting-double of Pete Beale from EastEnders. The original, I mean. It’s uncanny.

Avon makes short work of the Federation’s security measures.

Sue: I thought he was going to blow the tip of his gun after he shot that guard. He’s so cool, he doesn’t even bother with camouflage. He’s dressed as a giant bicycle reflector.

Avon almost shoots a half-naked Blake in the head. The expression on Avon’s face says it all.

Sue: He can’t take his eyes off Blake’s moobs.

Me: All right, Treacle.

Our heroes teleport back to the Liberator.

Sue: Breathe in, Blake. Breathe in.

Back on Horizon, Ro’s lover urges him to do the right thing.

Sue: She looks like his twin sister. That’s really weird.

Me: They say you’re attracted to people who look like you.

Sue: God, I hope not. That would mean I look like you.

Ro changes into a ceremonial dress and helmet and then, with a little help from Blake, he shoots the Kommissar with his blowpipe.

HorizonSue: At least he’s got a nice chest.

Ro tells Blake that he’s welcome on Horizon any time.

Sue: Why would he ever go back there? It’s a dump!

The Federation’s pursuit ships are about to arrive.

Sue: Finally! Some action!

Blake holds firm and the enemy ships are destroyed by the planet’s magnetic barrier.

Sue: Well, that was an anti-climax. Thanks for that.

Vila: I’ll tell you this, though: it beats work.

Sue: Really? That was bloody hard work if you ask me.

Cue credits, which Sue doesn’t read. Sigh.

The Score:

Sue: That was boring. It started well, and the scenes with Avon were great, but I knew what was going to happen; there were no surprises. And the guest actors didn’t do it for me. They were so dull. No, I didn’t like that one at all. I’m really sorry, Blake’s 7 fans, but ‘Horizon’ is shit.


Next Time:

Warning: Glen’s trailer includes a MASSIVE SPOILER for the next episode.




  • Visit site
    March 14, 2014 7:38 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I was just thinking this morning “I wonder what Sue will make of the unexplained shots of Vila and Jenna with stars superimposed?” I wasn’t expecting the answer so quickly.

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    March 14, 2014 7:59 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I’m with Sue, this is almost unwatchably slow. Watching the entire crew get captured the exact same way is just excruciating. Things pick up a bit after this, luckily…

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      March 16, 2014 1:19 pmPosted 4 years ago

      “Things pick up a bit after this”. That’s what they said about “Deliverance”…

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    March 14, 2014 8:05 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Jonathan Baldwin

    I have absolutely no memory of this episode, even though I saw it at the time, again when the VHS came out, then when the DVD came out, and then two days ago.

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    March 14, 2014 8:09 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    Season Two is dull, dull, dull after four episodes in – only Avon and Miwk’s ‘Maximum Power!’ are keeping me on the blog.

    And likewise, I have no memory of this despite doing a boxset splurge back in 2007. I must have nodded off over more than I realised.

  • March 14, 2014 8:28 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Jenna (who, according to Sue, looks like Maid Marion crossed with Olivia Newton-John this week)

    Ooh. That alone makes me want to re-watch this.

    It’s quite interesting, but I know what’s going to happen.

    I thought so too, to be honest. I actually thought this was cruising for a high rating, and yet I don’t blame Sue — there are some interesting ideas here that feel as though there’s something a bit hollow at the center. Also, while I don’t think it’s racist, you never know these days.

    If I want to look at a pale, out-of-shape mess, I can stare at you.

    I guess if she’s watching Blake’s 7 with you, you’ve got to expect a little abuse back.

    What’s really funny about this is he thinks she’s got these amazing telepathic powers, when in actual fact she just read this stuff off a piece of paper before she left.

    The best telepathy is the kind you don’t really have. …or wait, hmmm…

    If it wasn’t for Avon I’d probably struggle with Blake’s 7.

    That’s how we all feel. Except, I guess for the women who adore Vila.

    I remember when I watched this that I quite liked Ro, for some reason…

    It’s the Asian Rowan Atkinson.

    …well, maybe, but surely there was another reason…

    At least he’s got a nice chest.

    …that might have been it.

    Why DO they call the fan club Horizon? Maybe they couldn’t agree on what “Deliverance” or “Redemption” meant. 🙂

  • Visit site
    March 14, 2014 8:29 pmPosted 4 years ago

    There was more than one Pete Beale?

    • March 14, 2014 8:31 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      Yes, his grandson.

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        March 14, 2014 11:02 pmPosted 4 years ago

        Had me confused I thought you were talking about a recast, not the sordid fruit of the loins of Ian, the Bealemeister

        • Visit site
          March 16, 2014 1:21 pmPosted 4 years ago

          Amusingly, the young Peter Beale has been recast about seven times. Travis fans have it easy.

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    March 14, 2014 8:41 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I really like this episode. I like Ro and the Cally/Avon UST.

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    March 14, 2014 10:16 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    No Glenn, Horizon hardly needs kittens to distract one from it.

    I think what winds me up most about this episode isn’t that it’s so shallow, slow, predictably linear or has ‘that’ll do’ oozing from every pore; it’s that I always feel like it’s talking down to me, whether it’s the Liberator crew all immediately falling for exactly the same trap, Avon taking out the defenses single-handedly in just as few seconds, or the number of patronizing voices given an airing – yes, the Kommisars are condescending towards Ro like the Raj were towards their Indian subjects, but they don’t have to do it to us.

    It’s like Allen Prior got the brief, thought ‘only the Doctor Who viewers will be watching this and they’re all eight years old’, and set himself a challenge to cram as many Mister-Men words in the script as he possibly could, and characterisation to match (Bad. Drunk. Girl. Man child). It’s odd that so many well-regarded episodes share a brevity in the titling department, particularly in season four; Horizon has three syllables and that’s two more than the dialogue usually manages. You can join in at home too with some more appropriate short words; ‘bored’, ‘dull’, ‘yawn’, and that quintessential one-syllable description, ‘shite’.

  • March 14, 2014 10:40 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Diane Gies

    I’m sorry Sue – and others – didn’t enjoy Horizon, I’ve always had a soft spot for it.

    Why was the official fan club originally named ‘Horizon’? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘horizon’ is a line bounding an observers views of the earth and sea, or the earth and sky. But figuratively speaking, it is the limits of one’s thoughts and/or interests. It was also the name of one the fan club founders’ favourite episodes so it seemed to be a good name for a Blake’s 7 appreciation society/fan club.

    Our original aims were to ‘broaden the Horizons’ (see what we did there?) of B7 fandom by spreading the word, convert the unconverted & bring isolated fans together, both with the club’s newsletters and also organising meeting groups in London and later regional groups in other parts of the country.

    And 34 years later, here we still are, doing just that, just online (at http://www.blakes7online.com or http://www.horizon.org.uk) instead of on paper. And I still love reading about the experiences of people coming across the series for the first time – stick with it Sue.

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      March 14, 2014 11:16 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      Oh, the name makes perfect sense. Shame that, from the episode plot’s POV, it also means an infinite unwavering straight line with no deviations whatsoever. 🙂

      • Visit site
        March 16, 2014 1:40 pmPosted 4 years ago

        Touché! Horizon itself though has been a brilliant source of information on the series and beyond, and also a great convocation of fans with all their insight on many diverging interests. The theatre reports and other doings of “our” cast and crew have been vital in widening my, and others’, interests into obscure corners of literature and drama in general. There’s a lot of fun to be plundered from the Horizon (society) back catalogue, if not from the episode!

  • Visit site
    March 14, 2014 10:45 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Mat Dolphin

    Deserves a 5 at least. Yes it’s an average episode but there’s lots to enjoy… The mystery of Horizon, The point where it almost looks like future episodes will just star Avon, Zen and Orac, an interesting location, and the Federation reps are interesting.

  • Visit site
    March 15, 2014 3:26 amPosted 4 years ago
    Chris Allen

    “Avon almost shoots a half-naked Blake in the head. The expression on Avon’s face says it all.”

    One or two YouTube videos have made good use of that for a bit of Blake/Avon slash fun.

    I watched this again today. It’s actually better than I thought it was. A reasonable if not exceptional episode.

    Things start to pick up speed soon though.

  • Visit site
    March 15, 2014 8:54 amPosted 4 years ago

    Well this was easily the gayest episode yet : Blake & Vila with their shirts off ? Hardly hunks of the month. Clearly there isn’t a gym on the Liberator…maybe they eat a lot of cakes that aren’t shown on screen. At least Ro was a bit more promising…

    Anyway, I have to ask two fundamental questions here :
    1. Why the fuck do the first members of the crew to teleport down to a new planet never take guns with them ?! Dur !!! And
    2. Having watched the recent Horizon (see what I did there ?!) about taking men to Mars, when you’re in space, there is no gravity, so how come Blake and his crew aren’t floating all over the Liberator rather than walking around casually. Ha, I bet no-one ever thought of that before lol !

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      March 15, 2014 10:27 amPosted 4 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      Seatbelts. Well why not? Even the TARDIS has those.

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      March 15, 2014 10:50 amPosted 4 years ago
      John Miller

      No. I think it was Star Trek(and I may be wrong here), that explained that in the future technology would allow spaceships to have artificial gravity. After a certain point, all the larger spaceships have it as a matter of course. Sci-Fi shows set in the 21st Century tend to have no artificial gravity. Star Trek(again) had the 22nd Century series Enterprise have some ships have artificial gravity, while others did not. Either way, by the time of Blake’s 7(and remember this isn’t Terran technology, it’s the Liberator) artificial gravity on spaceships is taken for granted,

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        March 15, 2014 12:09 pmPosted 4 years ago
        Marky Mark

        Thank you, John – very well explained.

        I float corrected 😉

  • Visit site
    March 15, 2014 10:27 amPosted 4 years ago

    Things that save this episode for me include William Squire’s menacing performance as the Federation ‘lackey’ and Avon summing up his chances of survival with Orac. That said, it is very slow (Mad Men Season 1 pace) but I actually prefer that and any episode that includes the ‘human’ face of the Federation. Horizon is no where near Blake’s 7, it’s a bit of a Dr Who Frontios effort that doesn’t quite work in places – I would give it a generous 6/10.

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    March 15, 2014 10:46 amPosted 4 years ago
    Richard Lyth

    Great, now I’ll never be able to look at Avon without thinking of Pete Beale! Thanks a lot, Sue!

    I didn’t think this episode was all that bad, just painfully average. If it wasn’t for the writing credit I’d have thought Terry Nation wrote it, especially with the whole “crew gets captured and forced to work as slave labour” storyline that he uses in several Doctor Who episodes, though I guess it’s a common pulp adventure trope really.

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    March 15, 2014 12:11 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Marky Mark

    …can I also add that as well as loving Sue’s catty comments, Glen’s trailers are brilliant, too. Thanks to you all for the entertainment ! 🙂

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    March 15, 2014 2:47 pmPosted 4 years ago

    It definitely has things going for it with the mystery built up aroud the planet and the (not exactly subtle) parallels with the British Empire, and the fact that it looks good, but it is a bit dull. Not as bad as Sue’s score , but not very exciting basically.
    What I don’t get is how the entire crew seem to suddenly start suffering fatigue symptoms on the same day. Annoying as it’s not essential to the plot.
    For some reason this was the first episode I watched when I started rewatching B7 in the 90s. Not the best start (other than it’s a nice, straightforward reintroduction to the characters, with everyone behaving exactly according to type) but I kept with it. Things are about to pick up.

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    March 15, 2014 7:25 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I’ve a soft spot for this as it was the first B7 VHS I got. A stall on Pitsea market used to sell new VHS tapes (often still sealed) very cheap but tended to get their stock in a very random order.

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    March 15, 2014 8:18 pmPosted 4 years ago

    More noble bloody savages. It seems like every other Blake(‘)s 7 and Doctor Who from the 1970s is fixated with Rudyard Kipling knock-offs.

    Oh and mines…bloody mines…

    • Visit site
      March 16, 2014 1:57 pmPosted 4 years ago

      Not to mention all the regressed/perverted religions and cults – odd stuff for the “future”. Though we still have those in the real world – in fact we’re getting new ones recognised even now, like Scientology in Britain.

      • Visit site
        March 16, 2014 5:04 pmPosted 4 years ago
        John Miller

        Well, going by that, to say nothing of the hairstyles, I think you have definitively proved that Blake’s 7 is actually set in the early 70’s! I bow down to this revelation of yours.

  • Visit site
    March 16, 2014 1:46 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I quite like this one, I like the way the Federation guy manipulates Ro and is so smug about it. Makes it much more satisfying when he gets blowpiped to death at the end. There’s a nice parallel between the Federation and Colonial Empire going on in this one, and of course once again it follows the established pattern of a lot of the first two series stories: the crew blunder about getting into trouble then in the last 10 minutes Avon sighs, straps his gun on, goes down and acts double hard, rescuing them all and then makes a quip or two at the end. What’s not to like (assuming you actually like Blakes 7)?

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    March 17, 2014 10:38 amPosted 4 years ago
    Robin Brown

    Funny thing with the titles – I always thought of them as very evocative (looking back they’re… not but the power of nostalgia and all that, eh?). And I started buying B7 VHS tapes in the early 90s with some rather shonky but very atmospheric covers. Imagine my dismay when I fired up the video and dross like Horizon played out over what seemed like three hours.

    Incidentally, (not sure if this counts as a spoiler), there’s a later Robert Holmes script that challenges Horizon for its seeming ability to bend time in a similar manner.

  • Visit site
    March 18, 2014 3:39 pmPosted 4 years ago
    The Grouchybeast

    Allan Prior is not the paciest, most exciting writer on Blakes. But! I enjoy all the episodes that have a bit of background info on the politics and structure of the Federation, so I like Horizon for that.

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 4:27 amPosted 4 years ago

    One thing that did totally puzzle me: didnt Blake say they desperately need a place for a base? they never find one do they. Yet Ro said to come back anytime, and he totally had control of the place. So why not take him at his word?
    Just good manners? dont want to outstay your welcome? Revolutionaries with etiquette.
    Surely they could have a little corner?

  • Visit site
    July 28, 2014 9:07 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Didn’t the actor who played Ro commit suicide?

    • Visit site
      August 27, 2014 5:10 pmPosted 4 years ago

      Yes, he did. His mother was a famous writer, it seems, lived one of these 1960s upper-class hippie lives that always sound so nice, challenging the establishment just enough and always having some old family cottage to fall back on, that kind of thing.
      But why he did it, silence. No idea.

      • Visit site
        August 27, 2014 5:50 pmPosted 4 years ago

        I recall, seeing him on a BBC4 docu about University Challenge and it mentioned him being “spotted” and going on to the acting career. They did cover the end of his life, think it was (as usual) depression.

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