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.

KillerThey 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.

KillerMe: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember?

Sue: No.

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.

KillerBut, 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.

KillerAvon: 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.

KillerMe: 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?

KillerMe: 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.

KillerAvon: 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?

KillerSue: Er…

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.

KillerVoice: 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!

Me: Ian?

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.

Sue: What?

Me: Nothing.

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.

KillerBellfriar’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.

Cue credits.

The Score:

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.


Next Time:

We’re taking a short mid-series break until Friday April 4th.

Warning: Glen’s trailers may include minor spoilers for the next episode.




  • Visit site
    March 25, 2014 12:28 pmPosted 4 years ago
    The Grouchybeast

    I knew Sue would like this one 🙂 Lots of action, Cally and Jenna basically aren’t in it, Blake has temporarily turned into The Doctor, and Robert Holmes is writing plenty of Avon/Vila.

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      March 25, 2014 1:01 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      The one time Holmes doesn’t do that, it turns into one of the least-remembered episodes.

      • March 25, 2014 6:43 pmPosted 4 years ago

        Are you talking about S4E3? If so, I think you’re right — I had to look it up to remember that it might be what you had in mind.

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          March 26, 2014 11:30 pmPosted 4 years ago

          I think you’re right; S4E3. Hurry up S4!

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      March 25, 2014 1:07 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      It’s pretty obvious what Robert Holmes thinks of Blake – when he’s written as a conventional ‘hero’ with any degree of competence, he becomes the least-interesting male member of the crew, so Holmes either gives him a humanitarian dilemma to chew on or cuts away to his preferred double-act.

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    March 25, 2014 12:32 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    I saw dead ringers for both Andy Murray and Simon Callow in this. Pretty sure neither was the real deal.

    Reading Richard Molesworth’s biography of Robert Holmes – available from Telos and all good bookshops – the writer and former script-editor wasn’t in a great place at this time. Head of serials considered him a spent force and he was wanted as script editor of Blakes 7, but never interviewed. His biopic on the man who started the modern newspaper empire was also stillborn.

    Also of note is Holmes’ trademark splitting of two narratives that come together at the story’s climax. Something that he would still be doing as late as The Caves of Androzani in 1984.

  • March 25, 2014 12:59 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Alex Wilcock

    Sue: Why is the planet infested with leather cockroaches, Neil?

    I love June Hudson’s design work, so I’ve never understood why this one’s so ugly. Perhaps she took her lead from the script and thought, ‘Disease = insects,’ or ‘Aliens regard humanity as in need of pest control’ (which is what the central idea boils down to)? Or, as this is her last work for Blake’s 7, maybe she’d been sacked and thought, ‘I’ll get the ****ers’.

    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.

    Spot on.

    Paul Daneman’s the best thing in it for me – good performance, reassuringly competent character, and then “Oh my God… I’ve forgotten how to read.” There aren’t many moments from Doctor Who or Blake’s 7 that were scary when I was a boy and still send a chill up me now I’m grown up and cynical, but that’s horrifying.

    I still don’t think this one’s a patch on Trial, though… Is Sue on creak? [I’ll get me coat]

    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.

    I wonder if there’ll come a point where Blake crosses the line into so fanatical he doesn’t care how many millions die…?

    Oh, and following the startling but apparently true comment on Weapon that that’s the first time we hear Servalan’s name (from two people: the one who wants to insult her gets it wrong; the one who wants to butter her up gets it right), this is the first story where any of the Seven start calling her by name. Shows how she’s becoming more important than the whole Federation, now everyone’s talking about her rather than it.

    • March 25, 2014 6:46 pmPosted 4 years ago

      It just seems silly to have a designer like June Hudson making hazmat suits. Of COURSE she’s going to make wildly eccentric things out of inexpensive materials. That’s what she does.

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    March 25, 2014 12:59 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    I was half-hoping after trial Sue wouldn’t like this one either, just so we could go “Bob? Not you too Bob!”

    I’d have got Morris Barry for The Dominators though:

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    March 25, 2014 1:13 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Vila’s got the right idea on Glen’s trailer for next week.

    (Just for the purposes of clarification Neil; is it considered a blog ‘spoiler’ to offer up a statement like “*************”? Not that that’s a terribly contentious opinion.)

    • March 25, 2014 1:18 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      Yes, it’s a spoiler. There’s no need to talk about ****** until next week.

  • Visit site
    March 25, 2014 2:42 pmPosted 4 years ago

    i was hoping that Sue would love this one – ‘Killer’ is B7’s most chilling concept. I loved the idea that there was an advanced and unseen alien intelligence that had been monitoring Earth and then deciding that they don’t want us anywhere in space 🙂 Brilliant make-up on the human corpse and such a terrific performance from Paul Daneman and Ronald Lacey. It’s a real pity that Bob Holmes only wrote a small handful of B7 scripts.

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    March 25, 2014 2:49 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Rather enjoyable episode, but I deplore the lack of women on the base. It doesn’t even make sense within that world, as we have seen the Federation has a completely gender-integrated society. Jenna and Cally being nothing better than glorified phone operators irks me too. Or that Jenna, the superlative pilot, knows less about spacecraft than Blake the accountant.

    • Visit site
      March 25, 2014 6:46 pmPosted 4 years ago

      Blake was an engineer…

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        March 26, 2014 4:03 pmPosted 4 years ago

        Probably explains why he’s so boring…

        No offence to engineers, but apart from Isambard Kingdom Brunel, can you name any charismatic engineers?

        • Visit site
          March 27, 2014 8:10 pmPosted 4 years ago

          Casey Jones?

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            March 28, 2014 10:49 amPosted 4 years ago
            Nick Mays

            I said “charismatic”… 😉

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    March 25, 2014 6:35 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Richard Lyth

    I really liked the Avon/Vila storyline, but Blake’s subplot wasn’t nearly as good. One big shock with the mummy coming to life, but then it all peters out after that. Should have had the mummy killing a few more people at least.

    It’s a pity Neil didn’t tell Sue that Colin Farrell was in this episode, she could have spent the whole episode trying to spot him before Neil revealed it was just a different actor with the same name. Of course she might have worked out that he would have been about three years old when they made this, but you never know…

  • March 25, 2014 6:50 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I’d remembered this as being incredible and terrifying, but when I watched it again, it was only very good. I think I was conflating it with some other horrifying moments later on. Still, I’m psyched that Sue enjoyed it — 8/10 seems quite fair to me, and I’m glad she’s still a Holmes fan.

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    March 25, 2014 7:59 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Sally M

    Robert Holmes B7 episodes were always all about Avon, Vila and the guest characters he got to create himself (which, let’s be fair, were some of the best). And the guest actors in this one were all three superb.

    The costumes… umm yes, Killer really was SOMETHING. I love the fact that on a budget of pretty much nothing June Hudson was ready and able to try anything she could think of in leather (Avon and leather – a match made in heaven) but Killer and Pressure Point were the worst…

  • Visit site
    March 25, 2014 8:15 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Chris Allen

    I like the idea of Blake being an accountant, I can just see him “sailing the wide accountan-cy” in the The Crimson Permanent Assurance building, bringing terror to large corporations.

    “June Hudson modelled these costumes on the Michelin Men on purpose”

    Indeed. There’s a nice interview with June on the S2 DVD where she explains that it would have cost about £1000 to make those costumes from scratch, so she made a quick call to Michelin to get something that was ready made.

    I bet the guys wearing those costumes were tired at the end of the day.

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    March 25, 2014 10:14 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Jason Highfield

    “June Hudson modelled these costumes on the Michelin Men on purpose.”. I throught these costumes were the actual Michelin Men outfits, with different helmets.

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    March 25, 2014 10:41 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    It’s never satisfactorily explained how Blake, Avon and Vila, with Vila looking particularly at risk at one point, manage to dodge the dreaded lurgi – even a ‘pure luck’ would have done – but the rest of the episode is strong and gripping enough that it doesn’t occur to you until long past it’s over.

    • Visit site
      March 25, 2014 11:04 pmPosted 4 years ago

      I don’t think it’s occured to me until just now

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    March 25, 2014 10:59 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Good, much happier this time! You can’t really beat Bob Holmes, I’m currently recording Bergerac everday just to watch the occasional Holmes episode (and wiping them after the opening credits if they aren’t by him). I’ve seen him criticised for sidelining female characters but I think it’s more the case that he didn’t think Cally or Jenna were very interesting, he certainly didn’t sideline Servalan later on. I think he was pretty much the only writer to spot the potential of pairing Avon and Vila for an episode.

    A good creepy episode and I like the fact that the aliens are unseen and mysterious, I thought B7 alien episodes worked better like this. I think the disease plot was a bit ambitious, it inevitably comes down to about five extras running around and falling over, but it just about works. I think I prefer the Avon subplot, particularly the moment where Vila stumbles on the message, although you have suspend quite a lot of disbelief to allow for the fact that they seem to be using something akin to a fax in the 3rd Century, Second Calendar.

    Years ago a mate and me compiled a video of ridiculous moments from B7 (a lengthy work, obviously), you’ll have no problem guessing which aspect of this episode featured heavily.

    • March 25, 2014 11:13 pmPosted 4 years ago

      I do love that aliens on B7 are often inscrutable (non-humanoid, absent), transcendent (all but moved on to a higher plane, Kosh-style), or us (human diaspora with weird cultural traditions or regressions). If, by some wild chance, a sentient alien threat were to appear, I’d imagine that it would seem jarringly out of place, and hence rather exciting, as opposed to just the Daleks showing up again, let’s say.

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        March 27, 2014 2:03 amPosted 4 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Sue was half-right. Er Avon.

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    March 26, 2014 7:47 pmPosted 4 years ago

    This episode gave me worst persistent nightmares I have ever had!
    (I was 8)

    Glad Sue liked it.

  • Visit site
    March 26, 2014 10:48 pmPosted 4 years ago

    I like this episode and Robert Holmes B7 episodes are good but they’re not a patch on his Doctor Who work. Equally I think Chris Boucher seems much more at home on B7 than he ever did on Who. I’d loved to have seem Eric Saward write for B7. Right up his street I shoukd think. Lytton and Avon ate pretty much the same guy.

    • March 27, 2014 12:05 amPosted 4 years ago

      Lytton and Avon ate pretty much the same guy.

      Oh, don’t YOU start shipping too!

    • Visit site
      March 28, 2014 7:03 pmPosted 4 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      You might have a good point there. Eric Saward was always more comfortable writing war stories, concentrating on support characters and wanting to be Robert Homes (see Revelation Of The Daleks). If B7 is akin to Graham Williams-era Doctor Who without the wit (and it can be written well that way), then it might have been right up Saward’s alley.

      • Visit site
        March 29, 2014 2:42 pmPosted 4 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Eric Saward certainly couldn’t have been as ill-suited to B7 audio writing as Barry Letts was. The Sevenfold Crown. Oh dear.

  • Visit site
    March 28, 2014 5:59 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Just watched the episode and noticed something for the first time.

    When Avon and Vila break into Q Base there is a scene where some Federation troopers leave a lift and then Avon and Vila enter and use the same lift (just after six minutes in).

    The lift is the same as the service lift at my old office where you have an inner door mounted to the lift (which moves up and down with the lift) and an outer door mounted to the wall on each floor.

    Both have to be closed for the lift to work and yet no-one on Q Base opens or closes the outer door.

  • Visit site
    March 28, 2014 6:37 pmPosted 4 years ago

    The London appears to have caught up with the Liberator in the model shot at 49 minutes.

    Never noticed that before… must be because I’m watching it on my new big TV for the first time.

  • March 31, 2014 11:43 amPosted 4 years ago
    Neil Perryman (Author)

    I’ve had to extend our mid-series break due to real life nonsense getting in the way. Our next update will appear on Friday April 4th. Sorry!

  • Visit site
    April 1, 2014 10:37 amPosted 4 years ago

    It’s always interesting to see what Holmes gives the characters to do. As someone said up thread, Blake basically becomes The Doctor and the ladies are sidelined because, lets be honest, they’re very poorly sketched characters.

    Oh, I loved the Seal Sands reference too. I drive through it the other day and, frankly, it would not surprise me a great deal to see Darrow strolling around Tioxode.

    • April 1, 2014 5:23 pmPosted 4 years ago

      lets be honest, they’re very poorly sketched characters.

      People keep saying this, but I don’t see how that’s any excuse at all. The reason they’re “poorly sketched” is because writers keep failing to fill in the sketches. There’s nothing at all wrong with the characters themselves. Jenna’s a pilot and a smuggler (IIRC), an attractive woman who’s tougher than people expect her to be. Cally’s a telepath and a commando who’s good in a sickbay or a firefight. There’s no reason at all they couldn’t have been developed based on these fairly interesting backgrounds, but they just weren’t. I think if we’re being honest, they were sidelined because everyone just decided to focus on the king, the wizard, and the fool. It’s a damn shame, but fortunately the balance gets a little better starting in season 3.

      • Visit site
        April 2, 2014 12:15 amPosted 4 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        And then shat on afterwards again.

      • Visit site
        April 3, 2014 4:33 pmPosted 4 years ago

        I agree, I don’t think Jenna and Cally lack in original concept more than other characters, say Blake or Vila or Gan (Avon’s a bit special). Frankly, none of them are marvels of complexity and psychological authenticity, but all that matters in an action series is that characters BE active, do stuff, say things. Whether that’s going to be interesting depends in the first line on the writing.

        • Visit site
          April 3, 2014 5:35 pmPosted 4 years ago
          Nick Mays

          Without getting into spoiler territory, Jenna gets a much better story “offscreen” as related by **** at the every last episode of S4.

          I always felt that Jenna and Cally – and Gan for all that – were wasted as characters.

          In these days of showrunners and story arcs and audience expectations, they’d all be given much better parts of a fairer division of the stories. Dare I say it though, back in the 70s and 80s, the girls were the eye candy and ciphers rather than the do-ers. And Servalan was originally scripted to be a man.

          • Visit site
            April 4, 2014 9:20 amPosted 4 years ago
            Dave Sanders

            Servalan becoming a woman I think we can put down to Pennant Roberts, if his track record is anything to go by. He wasn’t great with action scenes but he did know how to cast well.

      • Visit site
        April 13, 2014 10:03 pmPosted 4 years ago

        We never see any evidence of any of these traits though and – to be honest – it’s down to the actors to do something with them as in virtually every case they’re poorly sketched. Darrow is really the only one who really runs with it. Gareth Thomas phones in virtually every performance, Sally Knyvette just doesn’t work in B7 and while Jan Chappell is great in Sarcophagus she doesn’t really get anything to do either. Vila is a good foil to Avon so it’s no surprise most writers try to construct their episodes around him. To be honest I’m not sure it is a damn shame – i think it’s a blessing. The better idea would have been to cut three or four of the main cast from the start.

        • Visit site
          April 13, 2014 11:30 pmPosted 4 years ago

          They already cut the main cast down from seven to five, jettisoning Arco and Selris or whoever the other two regulars were going to be!

      • Visit site
        May 13, 2014 2:53 pmPosted 4 years ago

        I really really agree with this. essentially the only one with an interesting story was Avon. the slow reveal of Avon’s Wounded Heart was brilliant. So why couldnt Blake have been given a story too? Then maybe Gareth Thomas would have had something to commit to, because actually, I think he was miscast. He never has the passion or the psychotic look a true revolutionary should have. You cannot, or I cannot, imagine Blake ‘wading through the blood of millions” as Avon has it. He’s at first nice and then bossy. When he goes on about returning power to the honest man…I just dont believe it, but when Avon says wealth is all that counts, I really do. Don’t Blake’s pronouncements seem kind of lame?
        Yet sometimes, there are moments with him and Avon where you see what he could have brought to the role.
        Why is he a revolutionary? What got him started in the first place? How did his thought develop? You dont wake up one morning to find you are Robespierre.
        and Jenna. Why is an elite Alpha grade female a smuggler? What’s that all about? How did Vila end up a pickpocket? Raised in the Delta service grades, a tough upbringing…at least Vila is fleshed out a bit.
        They had all those brilliant characters and they basically chose to focus on the pretty one. I love the show to death and the focus on the pretty one makes me happy, but I can’t avoid this criticism. it could have been so much more.
        You know what, I would like to see Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant rewrite it. In my view, The Office is the greatest TV show ever ever made. I see something new every time, just like Shakespeare. It’s breath-taking. The maturity of the Christmas specials, developing Brent so you came to care about him and root for him even….it was just great stuff. And all the other characters are so real too, even ones like Chris Finch. They could do such a great job.

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          May 13, 2014 5:45 pmPosted 4 years ago

          Interesting points, but I wouldn’t let Gervais and Merchant anywhere near B7, because they’d just send it up. (That’s not to say that The Office and Extras weren’t great, well-written series in their own context).

          If and when the long-awaited B7 reboot happens, you can be sure all the charcters will have much more depth and back story, and they will all be a more broadly racial, gender and sexual orientation demographic.

          Travis and Blake will have been lovers at some point in the past, and you can be sure that whatever Blake is framed for, it won’t be child molesting – FAR too close to comfort for the BBC with the 1970s in mind.

          The Survivors reboot wasn’t bad, but it tried too hard and will always suffer in comparisson to the original. But these days the characters from Survivors and B7 would be seen as far too white and middle class.

          I’m not saying it shouldn’t be ‘upgraded’ to use a Cybver-phrase, nor is it any bad thing to have a broader racial mix of characters, but change for box ticking’s sake is unnecessary. Keep the dynamic, just give them all more depth!

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          May 13, 2014 6:49 pmPosted 4 years ago
          Richard Lyth

          Gervais and Merchant doing Blakes 7 would be…interesting. “I’d like to think I’m a revolutionary first, a terrorist second…probably an entertainer third.” But their version of Doctor Who in Extras was full of all the old 80s cliches, so I suspect science-fiction is not something they’re really into.

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            June 3, 2014 3:38 pmPosted 4 years ago

            I suppose I am not even thinking of the sci-fi aspect…I hardly even see this as sci-fi not like Star Trek or Dr Who. I see it more as a political drama that just happens to be set in space because its the future but mankind hasnt changed.
            Thats why I always get taken by surprise by giant ants and stuff.
            I just see the characters and their interactions…and nobody is as good at that as Gervais and Merchant. Their details are so good. David Brent, the great anti-sexist..whose so-called best friend is Chris Finch…the best friend who only goes out with him for a ‘Wednesday night razz’ never on Friday or Saturday and who is seeing two girls tomorrow but doesnt ask David along..and the way Finch starts really ill-treating him after he’s fired and no need to be halfway nice anymore….Neil who seems to be such a nice guy, but who knows Chris Finch well, because he ‘steals all my jokes”…all those sexist racist jokes are from Neil….its just full of this brilliant detail, stuff I didnt pick up on til the 4th or 5th watch some of it.
            I’d love to see them do this for Blake and Avon and the others.

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            June 3, 2014 3:51 pmPosted 4 years ago

            I really hate to rain on your parade Fiona, but although The Office is good, there are far better writers than Mr Smuggy Gervais. And The Office is a comedy, a satire, a piss take, it doesn’t aspire to be more than that.

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        August 13, 2014 4:02 pmPosted 4 years ago

        I dont agree. I think that it’s true, the characters here arent developed enough, but in Season three, the others have become a backdrop for Avon who is overwhelming the rest. They all seem to have the same timbre, somehow. Even the men and women both: they sound alike. And there is this forced quality to their speech, like they dont believe it…its just acting. So when Belkov or Bayban shows up, he blows them all away.
        There is no intensity really except maybe Avon and Vila. In 3 and 4, that is. Just Avon, going mad all by himself.

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    May 10, 2014 5:46 pmPosted 4 years ago

    The best lie in that one was where Avon threatened his ‘friend’ Tynus with turning him into the Federation if he doesn’t help, and Vila says: “Nice. When Avon holds out the hand of friendship, watch his other hand. That’s the one with the hammer”.
    Now could that make Avon sound more cool?
    And when he says: “Blake takes risks for other people”, he says ‘other people’ with such limitless scorn…has anyone noticed that Avon often looks like an owl?

    As to the names, it’s a class thing. Blake and Avon (and presumably Gan) are from the elite Alpha grades and as such, receive the address of gentlemen, by surname alone. Jenna is a girl so she doesn’t get called “Stannis” and Vila is from the Delta service grades, so he is never ‘Restal”. Cally has no surname, being an alien: doubtless there are no class distinctions on Auron.
    Interesting that while they are going about liberating people they practice public school forms of address and class oppression on board. Just look how posh Blake is and Avon is a close second. Vila, on the other hand, is a stone chav, in fact a stoned chav when he can get Cally to cough up some ‘soma and adrenalin’. He even wears a hoodie and he looks like a little car thief who loves to do E. He’s a babe, though. And he looks like fun. I can well see Vila in Ibiza, doing magic tricks on the street and picking the pockets of passed out ravers. Getting some girl to take him back, some girl who will ask who he is in the morning.
    Actually, Vila is nearly as much of a babe as Avon.

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      May 10, 2014 6:22 pmPosted 4 years ago

      Damn good reasoning! You know, I often used to wonder why Vila was addressed by his first name and the other guys by their surnames, but this makes sense now. Ditto Jenna.

      After all, in the Downton-Abbey/Upstairs Downstairs servant heirachy, footmen are referred to by their first names, a are maids, but valets, butlers, ladies’ maids etc have a higher status and so are referred to by their surnames.

      And all this goes back to feudal times when Lords would address each other by the familial titles, i.e. “Essex”, “Gloucester” etc.

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        May 13, 2014 2:59 pmPosted 4 years ago

        Absolutely. Feudal is what it is.
        BTW, do you think Vila is just Baldrick to Avon’s Blackadder? I can hear him say “I have a cunning plan”. It’s the same voice!
        And Avon treats him nearly as badly…
        See there’s something else that needed fleshing out, Avon’s meanness to Vila. It’s so un-called for and it’s so vicious. Look when they got gripped by those Arabic sheik bounty hunters and had these explosive collars put on them and Vila brilliantly figured how to get Blake’s removed and then Avon just absolutely orders him to take off his! Just orders him! Alpha elite to Delta Service grade…yes feudal all right.

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          June 3, 2014 8:39 pmPosted 4 years ago

          I think the bit when Avon orders Villa to remove his collar is motivated by the fact that he (Avon) is freaking out about the collar and very near breaking point but unable to admit it so he turns it all on Villa who has the skills to take it off him. If you look closely Avon’s actually shaking. It’s not about Alphas and Deltas.

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            June 4, 2014 7:27 amPosted 4 years ago

            will look again! Still, you got to admit, he sure snaps at Vila a lot. And calls him some truly rotten names…love the way Vila lets it slide, like he’s born to be Avon’s safety valve. And he will give as good as he gets sometimes.
            “He agrees with me! It makes it all seem worthwhile…”
            I just watched a great fanvid called You Got A Friend In Me about those two and was surprised to see how often they were together.

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            June 4, 2014 7:37 amPosted 4 years ago

            yeah, he’s not exactly shaking, but he looks like he’s repressing shakes. There’s a muscle twitching in his cheek…now, see what I mean about Rumours…..

            He’s capable of a really subtle thing like that..he’s a really good and I reckon under-rated actor.

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            June 4, 2014 7:51 amPosted 4 years ago

            You know I just rewatched some parts of Bounty…its really good all that Blake stuff. And I didnt actually notice the first time that President Sarkoff’s daughter had a thing for Blake. She gave him this cutesy little “Bye Blake….” and Jenna stepped in front of Blake and gave her a hands-off-my-man look. And then Cally said “I have a feeling she didnt mean all of us” (to visit their planet again) and Blake got all embarrassed and snappy.
            Wish they’d done more with Blake and Jenna!

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        May 13, 2014 5:34 pmPosted 4 years ago

        As far as I can see (I’m not completely sure which names are first and which last names in some instances), the naming “policy” in B7 reflects 1970s sexism and makes no sense within this particular fictional world.

        If only upper-class men get to be addressed by their surnames, this makes surname use the privilege of the elite.

        If at the same time NO women (regardless of class) are addressed by their surnames, this automatically means women (regardless of class) “rate” lower than men!

        This doesn’t make sense within this fictional world where, despite the stark imbalance of male and female casting, we DO see the occasional woman high up in the hierarchy. We had female politicians, lawyer, doctors, scientists, techs, even guerrilla leaders. Clearly women aren’t barred from education and political life. If anything, indications are that the Federation, if not every world within it, is egalitarian regarding gender. That is, this is how the writers of the show generally see it… except things like this stupid naming policy betray their own sexism.

        (Of course, this is far from being the worst instance of sexism in the show… unfortunately…)

  • May 23, 2014 8:46 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Or should I thank BD rather than Gazza? socialeum

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    June 3, 2014 5:56 pmPosted 4 years ago

    Going to disagree with you with all my heart, Nick. It is far more than a comedy.

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    August 18, 2014 2:54 pmPosted 4 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Across the dark infinite borders,
    Dark feelings are harboured toward us.
    And ethics get murky
    When faced with the lurgy;
    Avon’s last outburst could have floored us.

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