Squeaky Bum Time…
Sue: I never thought I’d say this, but the theme tune is probably my favourite part of the programme now.
She likes it so much, she insists on singing along to it whenever we sit down to watch an episode. She always loses it towards the end – she’s at least two octaves too high – but she’s getting closer each time.
Sue: Ooh, Robert Holmes wrote this one. The odds of this episode being any good just shot through the roof.
Avon and Vila teleport to an alien planet with their backs to the camera.
Sue: How very odd. You’d never catch Captain Kirk doing that.
They find themselves on desolate, windswept beach.
Sue: They’ve teleported to Seal Sands.
A Q-Base looms out of the fog.
Sue: It’s definitely Seal Sands.
You have to live in our neck of the woods to get that reference. Sorry about that. Google it.
Avon and Vila sprint across the beach.
Sue: At least Blake and Avon have something in common: they both run like girls.
The Liberator‘s crew detect an ancient spacecraft heading their way.
Sue: Haven’t they done this plot before? Mysterious ships like this are always bad news. Just shoot it out of the sky.
The Q-Base launches a space craft to intercept the derelict ship.
Sue: Good use of stock footage, there. I actually believed that.
It’s what’s residing inside the Q-Base that she can’t get her head around.
Sue: Why is the planet infested with leather cockroaches, Neil?
Sue doesn’t recognise Ronald Lacey as the Federation technician Tynus.
Me: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember?
Me: You must remember. Played a Nazi. Burnt his hand. Face melted off at the end. That really funny bit with the coat hanger. Toht.
Sue: Don’t you tut at me. He looks like my first boyfriend, if that’s any help.
Avon and Vila have infiltrated the Q-Base, but before they go any further, Avon instructs Vila to don a protective cape.
Vila: What do you call this, then?
Sue: It’s the sort of thing you wear when you visit Niagara Falls. The only thing missing is a nice leather fisherman’s hat.
Tynus and Avon are old friends.
Tynus: Kerr Avon! How the devil did you get here?
Sue: Curly Avon? Was that his nickname at school?
Me: Kerr Avon. That’s his name, remember?
Sue: Not really, no.
I remind her that the crew have forenames and surnames. Except for Cally, Zen, and Orac. She can’t understand why Jenna and Vila use their forenames while Blake and Avon strut around using their surnames.
Sue: It must be an ego thing.
But, as you might expect, it’s June Hudson’s costumes that dominate the discussion.
Sue: The sound department must have had a nightmare with all this creaking leather on set. No wonder the actors are trying to stand as still as possible when they deliver their lines. And can you imagine going to the toilet in that?
When Tynus leaves the office, his cape smacks against the door frame with a loud, leathery slap.
Sue: There had better be a good reason for wearing that.
Me: I think it’s supposed to protect you against something.
Sue: The only thing it would protect you against is having sex with another human being. It’s impossible to look attractive in that. Even Avon looks ridiculous in it, and he’s been known to dress as a lobster.
Vila: I always knew you had a friend. I used to say to people, “I bet Avon’s got a friend, somewhere in the galaxy”.
Avon: And you were right. That must be a novel experience for you.
Sue: It really is a shame about the stupid costumes, because the script is really good. You’ve got Robert Holmes writing for Avon and Vila. You can’t go wrong with a combination like that.
Avon took the rap for Tynus when the Federation arrested him for fraud.
Sue: That’s the thing about Avon – he’s loyal. Even if he hated your guts, he’d stand by you if he thought he owed you. And that’s why Blake isn’t lying dead on an alien planet somewhere.
A doctor named Bellfriar puts the landing bay under quarantine after he receives an anonymous tip-off from Blake.
Sue: I’m sorry, Neil, but this is ridiculous. You can’t hear what they’re saying for the squeaking and creaking. It’s really off-putting.
Avon and Vila have come to the Q-Base to steal a special crystal.
Avon: Without that crystal we’ll never break the Federation pulse code. We need to read their messages if we’re to stay ahead of Servalan.
Sue: We’ve got this shit-hot computer that’s worth a million credits, but, would you believe it, it’s completely useless when it comes to breaking codes. We can’t even take it back to the shop.
Me: Maybe Orac needs the special crystal to crack the code?
Sue: **** off! He can’t be that good if he needs a plug-in.
Speaking of plug-ins…
Sue: I don’t understand why Orac doesn’t have a simple on/off switch. The dongle they have to slot into it to make him work isn’t very practical. They’re bound to lose it one day.
Blake informs Jenna that he’s wants to teleport to the Q-Base on Fosforon, just in case.
Sue: There’s no sexual chemistry between Blake and Jenna at all. I’m surprised by that.
Me: I’m relieved. Your shipping is bad enough as it is.
The derelict space ship lands on Fosforon.
Sue: Either this planet is hosting a Formula 1 race, or the costume designer is taking the piss.
Me: June Hudson modelled these costumes on the Michelin Men on purpose.
Sue: That doesn’t make it any better! The only way those costumes would make any sense is if the suits were filled with oxygen and that way… oh, who am I kidding? They are ****ing ridiculous!
The Michelin Men search the ship while Bellfriar observes their progress on a monitor back in his lab.
Sue: This reminds me of Aliens. Any minute now the monitor will go black and somebody will scream their head off. It’s way ahead of its time, this.
Tynus shows Avon and Vila the Q-Base’s A-line converter.
Sue: Just when I thought these costumes couldn’t get any worse, they put goggles on them. I bet the actors were straight on the phone to their agents when they turned up for work that morning.
Back in Tynus’s office, Vila helps himself to a refreshing drink.
Sue: That drinking fountain must be important. That’s the second time the director has lingered on that drinking fountain.
A decayed corpse is taken from the derelict ship to a quarantined laboratory for a post-mortem.
Me: You won’t believe this, but the guy doing the autopsy directed Tomb of the Cybermen.
Sue: Really? I didn’t like that very much, did I?
Me: Don’t you remember all the insults and death threats we received that week? Oh how we laughed.
Sue: At least the Blake’s 7 fans don’t overreact.
Me: Yes, well. Anyway…
Sue: He’s a much better actor than he is a director. I bet this turns into The Thing.
Me: It might turn into the dog from The Thing.
When Morris Barry turns his back, the corpse wakes up and attacks him.
Sue: This is for Tomb of the Cybermen, you bastard!
The corpse falls silent again.
Sue: So it’s basically a Space Mummy. They had Space Mummies on Doctor Who, didn’t they. Our shelves are littered with the bloody things. I mean, how many Space Mummies from Doctor Who do you actually need, Neil?
Avon is mentally preparing himself to sabotage the A-line converter.
Vila: Nerves getting a little frayed?
Avon: There are a quarter of a million volts running through that converter. I make one false move, I’ll be so crisped up what’s left of me won’t fit into a sandwich.
Sue: Brilliant. Robert Holmes was born to write for Avon. This is great fun.
Avon and Vila discuss Blake’s altruistic nature.
Avon: Blake takes risks to help other people. Sometimes people he doesn’t even know. One day that great big bleeding heart of his will get us all killed.
Vila: Unless somebody ditches him first.
Sue: They keep hinting that Avon is going to turn against Blake. It’s been bubbling away ever since they met. It has to come to a head soon. But Avon’s loyal, you see. I don’t think he’ll do it.
Bellfriar and Blake discuss Morris Barry’s fate, but once again the relentless squeaking and creaking proves to be very distracting.
Sue: Did June Hudson think they were making a silent film?
Two technicians have died under mysterious circumstances.
Sue: It’s really good, this. It’s proper scary.
Avon and Vila head for the A-line converter while the rest of the base are preoccupied with a fire.
Sue: You have got to be joking. The fire brigade are dressed as fried eggs! Were they on their way back from a Fun Run?
Just in case you don’t know what she’s talking about, watch this:
Sue: That trooper isn’t dying from smoke inhalation, he’s collapsed because he’s laughing too much and he can’t carry on with the scene.
Bellfriar has a deadly virus on his hands.
Blake: It must be airborne.
Sue: The disease is spreading through the drinking fountains. That must be it!
The virus attacks your memories.
Me: What’s Avon’s first name, Sue?
Me: I’m calling a doctor.
Vila finds a message that Tynus has sent to the Federation.
Vila: Listen to this: “Servalan, Federation HQ, Urgent. Liberator in orbit, Fosforon. Detaining ten hours. Make speed. Tynus, Q-Base.”
Avon is furious.
Sue: Avon is going to kill the two-timing bastard. Excellent.
Blake suspects that the virus could be a form of germ warfare.
Sue: It’s a bloody good job that flatulence isn’t the first symptom of the virus, because this lot sound like they’re farting every time they move.
Blake offers a possible solution to the outbreak.
Blake: On board the Liberator, I have the most advanced computer ever designed.
Sue: We never use it because it’s a pain in the arse, but we’ve definitely got one.
Panic sweeps through the base. Tynus, who has enough on his plate with the A-line B-plot, is informed about the situation via a comlink.
Voice: The men are falling like flies!
Me: They look like they’re auditioning for Tiswas when they croak it!
Avon retrieves the crystal, but he is interrupted by the treacherous Tynus. With a little help from Vila, Avon punches his old friend in the face.
Sue: Take that, Ian! You bastard!
Sue: My first boyfriend.
Tynus stumbles into the A-line converter, which means he’ll be so crisped up what’s left of him won’t fit into a sandwich.
Me: It’ll be a bloody big sandwich.
Bellfriar has come up with an antidote to the virus, but as he transmits the formula to the Liberator, something terrible happens.
Bellfriar: I’ve forgotten how to read!
Sue: What a brilliant twist.
Me: It reminds me of Pontypool.
Sue: Does it? I’ve never been there.
Bellfriar’s hands erupt in blisters and he dies.
Sue: Oh no. I really liked him. This is very bleak.
Blake wants to put a plague warning around the planet.
Avon: Listen, Blake, Servalan is on her way here. She lands on Fosforon, she gets the plague, she’s off our backs for good. You cannot put out a warning.
Blake ignores Avon and does the decent thing.
Sue: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m on Blake’s side this week.
Sue: I really enjoyed that. And I’m and not just saying that; I’m sure liking this episode has pissed somebody off somewhere. Whatever. Anyway, I’ll have to knock some marks off for the ridiculously impractical costumes, and the direction wasn’t that great, either. However, the performances were very entertaining and the script was excellent. But of course it was. Robert Holmes wrote it. And Avon was front and centre this week, which is exactly where I like him. Yes, I’ll give that episode two Michelin stars.
We’re taking a short mid-series break until Friday April 4th.
Warning: Glen’s trailers may include minor spoilers for the next episode.