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Orac

The Box of Delights…

OracA very sweaty Gan walks through a door on the Liberator.

Sue: I’d leave it ten minutes if I were you.

Gan is feeling unwell.

Sue: It’s probably the space curry he had last night. And is it just me or is Gan always ill?

Avon is summoned to a private meeting with Blake.

Sue: Oh no, Avon is wearing his circus costume again. This is not a good start.

Blake tells Avon about their most recent adventure.

Sue: Yes, he knows. He was there.

Blake’s recap includes clips from the last episode.

Sue: Does Zen film all their adventures for them?

Blake also tells Avon about Orac.

Sue: They didn’t have the iPlayer back in the 1970s, so I can see why it’s taking them five minutes to get everyone who didn’t see the last episode up to speed, but you’d never get that today. They didn’t have a recap at the beginning of Series 2 of House of Cards and it took three episodes for me to remember what the hell was going on.

OracJenna isn’t feeling well, either.

Sue: She’s far too young to be getting hot flushes, so it has to be the space curry.

Blake and Avon watch a replay of Ensor’s ship exploding in Deliverance.

Zen: The explosion registered one point three. Disturbance peaked at one one five.

Sue: The weirdest thing, which they haven’t mentioned yet, is that you can see smoke rising up. In space.

Cally – who Sue now regards as the Liberator‘s resident doctor – discovers that Avon, Vila, Gan and Jenna are all suffering from radiation sickness.

Sue: I’m glad.

Me: That’s a bit heartless.

Sue: They said the planet was radioactive – Zen made a big deal out of it last week – so I’m glad they followed up on that. I don’t want them to die. Well, not all of them anyway.

The Liberator heads to the planet Aristo in the hope that Ensor’s father possesses some space drugs. Vila throws up.

Sue: The Liberator must reek of vomit and diarrhoea this week. I hope the furniture is stain resistant.

OracOn Aristo, an old man is tending to his fish.

Sue: I hope he isn’t Orac. You can’t have a geriatric terrorist on top of everything else.

It’s Ensor Snr. and he’s not feeling very well.

Sue: Do you think Terry was suffering from IBS when he wrote this. Everybody is sick. I can imagine Terry writing this episode on the toilet.

Sue fails to notice Professor Yaffle in Ensor’s lab, mainly because she’s too busy staring at an old man’s naked chest.

Sue: He’s basically a decrepit Tony Stark, and he needs someone to jump-start him.

Ensor communicates with an unseen “colleague”, but Sue isn’t listening to him. She’s listening the background hum.

Sue: I suppose he needs a bee to pollinate his plants, but that would get on my tits if I had to work there. I’d want to swat it.

The voice belongs to Orac.

Sue: He sounds like he could be dishy. When do I get to meet him?

Servalan and Travis have arrived on Aristo to steal Orac.

OracSue: I can’t help it, but whenever I see Servalan, I always think of Marc Almond.

Avon is familiar with Ensor’s research.

Avon: He engineered and developed a lot of radical new concepts in computer technology, so that even the most advanced computers are based on his work.

Sue: He’s Bill Jobs.

Me: Yes, Sue. That’s exactly who he is.

Avon and Gan are saving their energy by reclining on the Liberator‘s deck chairs.

Sue: Where are they anyway? Is this the Liberator‘s spa room?

The planet Aristo has seen better days.

Zen: The level of the oceans is constantly rising and they now virtually cover all traces of the cities built by early civilizations.

Sue: A bit like southern England right now.

Zen: Life is evolving in the oceans. An amphibian species have begun to develop.

Sue: I bet it’s full of Sea Devils.

Back in the teleport room, Sue notices that the crew are running low on bracelets.

Sue: Lesley Judd should knock up some replacements.

OracYes, we watched Blue Peter‘s ‘Make Your Own Blake’s 7 Bracelet’ extra on the Series 1 DVD before we started this episode. Sue thought the piece was charming, and Lesley was a consummate professional when it came to handling sticky-backed plastic and silver foil, but she also thought the relationship between the two programmes was a little odd to say the least.

Sue: I don’t see how the BBC can target a show about a convicted child molester turned terrorist to children. Or maybe that’s just me. What’s next? Peter Purves shows you how to make a sawn-off shotgun from The Sweeney out of a washing-up bottle?

Blake and Cally teleport to the surface of Aristo.

Sue: They made a right mess of the Ready Brek effect. You’d think they’d be getting better at that, not worse.

Blake and Cally run straight into a force field.

Blake: It’s a force barrier. The question is are we on the outside unable to get in or….

Cally: On the inside unable to get out.

Sue: It’s a bit like Under the Dome, only less shit.

Travis and Servalan are deep underground.

Sue: I hope Servalan has stocked up on Vanish, because she’ll need it when she gets out of here. But why is she here in the first place? Why didn’t she just send Travis to sort this out with an army of space vampires. You wouldn’t see M chaperoning James Bond like this. Travis must be even more incompetent than I thought.

OracTravis explores a gap in a rockfall while Servalan waits nervously for him to return.

Sue: (singing) And now I’m all alone in bedsit land…

Servalan is groped by a lizard. Travis shoots it in the face.

Sue: Servalan had a little wobble, there. I’m surprised by that. First, Travis has a heart, and now Servalan shows her vulnerable side. What an odd scene.

Servalan crawls over the rocks, but the next time we see her she’s…

Sue: Completely spotless. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, Blake and Cally are twiddling their thumbs on a beach when they are suddenly confronted by…

Sue: An Angry Bird.

The flying object instructs Blake and Cally to follow it, but not before it has demonstrated its firepower.

Sue: So far, Blake’s 7 has predicted Walkmen and Attack Drones. That’s not bad, actually.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator…

Sue: Avon is projecting liquid out of every orifice right now. At least he’ll never wear that silly costume again. He’ll never get the smell out.

A groaning noise is coming from behind the empty bracelet dispenser.

Sue: Gan just evacuated his bowels again. This is bleak.

OracBack on Aristo, Blake and Cally step into a transporter, although it does take them five minutes to find the entrance.

Sue: This is just padding. The script must be under-running for them to piss about like this. JUST GET IN THE BLOODY THING!

Me: It’s a portaloo, for christsake, not the monolith from 2001!

Travis and Servalan avoid more lizards in the tunnels.

Sue: That one looked really good, actually. When they don’t move and the camera doesn’t dwell on them, and you can barely make them out, the monsters aren’t that bad.

Blake and Cally meet Ensor.

Sue: The water in that fish tank is filthy. He needs a filter. What kind of computer genius doesn’t invent a filter for his fish.

Cally tells Ensor that his son is dead.

Cally: I’m sorry. He tried desperately to reach you. He did everything he possibly could.

Sue: (as Cally) Including trying to blow my head off.

Ensor gives Blake his supply of anti-raditation drugs.

OracEnsor: Can’t stand them, myself. Filthy things, drugs.

Sue: That’s why he’s growing space ganja: for medicinal purposes.

And then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – Orac arrives. On a trolley.

Sue: So Orac is a massive Raspberry Pi. Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

Ensor bigs up his box of flashing lights.

Ensor: Orac has access to the sum total of all the knowledge of all the known worlds.

Blake: You mean it can draw information from any other computer without a direct link?

Sue: So it’s got wireless. Big deal. And if Orac is a computer, what does ORAC stand for?

Me: Orac doesn’t stand for anything. But you can stand things on Orac.

Travis and Servalan are still navigating Aristo’s tunnels.

Sue: If Servalan had any sense, she would have killed the son and brought the power cells directly to the old man, just like Blake has. She could have rang the door bell, walked it, and took it. Job done. She made this far too complicated for herself.

Travis blasts his way into Ensor’s base. Blake goes to investigate while Cally and Ensor beat a hasty retreat with Orac.

Sue: Orac is basically Wikipedia in a box.

Cally: Can you help me carry this?

Sue: (as Ensor) Yes, love. I’m having a massive heart attack but I’ll help you carry this massive box. Why the **** not.

OracFor the record, Sue didn’t notice anything unusual during the infamous “missing Travis” scene. But as soon as we finished this episode, we watched the extra feature where Vere Lorrimer and Stephen Greif explain just what the hell happened.

Sue: I thought the whole episode was badly directed, so I didn’t notice. Sorry.

Avon drags Vila out of his sickbed/deck chair. Vila smacks his head on a door. This gets the biggest laugh of the series so far.

Sue: That was brilliant. Poor Vila.

Avon snaps at Vila, when he really should be snapping at the person responsible for continuity, because an unconscious Gan keeps moving around the set.

And then Vila’s foot teleports into a puddle.

Sue: Avon and Vila make a great double act. I can actually see the point of Vila, now.

Ensor warns Cally about the lizards in the caves, but he doesn’t think they will harm them.

Sue: Yeah, but they will want to hump your leg. Just go with it and try not to shoot them in the face. It puts them off their stride.

Ensor drops dead. It was probably carrying that heavy box that did it.

Cally: Just a little longer and we might have saved you.

OracSue: Come and see what you could have won.

Blake and Cally leave Ensor’s corpse behind.

Sue: That’s right, let the giant lizards eat him. That’s nice.

Me: They have to save Avon, remember.

Sue: OK. Fair enough. Run!

Blake and Cally reach the surface, but Travis and Servalan are waiting for them.

Me: When I was eight years old, this was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. And I’d seen Star Wars.

Sue: You were very easily pleased back then. Actually, nothing much has changed.

Me: I definitely knew that this was the final episode of the series, and that meant that anything could happen. I have incredibly vivid memories of this episode. Especially this bit.

Avon shoots Travis’s hand off.

Blake: Good shot, Avon.

Avon: I was aiming for his head.

Sue: That’s the best line in Blake’s 7 so far.

Travis’s hand is left in tatters. Again.

Sue: It’s back to space traffic for you, Travis. They’ll probably replace your hand with a large ‘Children Crossing’ sign.

Back on the Liberator, the crew prepare to switch Orac on.

Sue: Zen won’t be very happy about this. He’s seething with jealousy in the background.

Orac is even more unhelpful than Zen on a bad day, and after an exasperating conversation that goes round in circles, Avon throws Orac’s key away.

OracSue: That’s 100 million credits down the drain. Well done. Still, it was worth it to see Avon smile.

But Orac has predicted that the Liberator will be destroyed.

Sue: What’s Orac basing this on?

Me: The scripts for Series 2.

The crew watch helplessly as the Liberator appears to explode on their scanner screen. Sue yawns.

Cue credits.

Sue: Oh, sorry, was that it?

The Score:

Sue: That didn’t do anything for me. Some of the performances were nice, and Avon was brilliant as usual, but what was it about? Terry just banged that out. Yet more filler.

5/10

Me: Are you mad? That was the season finale!

Sue: You try telling Terry that. I mean, what actually happened? They found another unhelpful computer, they let Travis off with a warning, and they got some half-arsed premonition about something they’ll definitely avoid next time. So what?

Next Time:

This weekend, we’ll take a look back at Series 1 and I’ll publish the results next Tuesday. If you want to ask Sue a question, you’ve got until Saturday morning to do so. Just don’t ask her which member of the crew she would like to see die first. We’ve had lots of those. The best question will win a signed book and postcard. Thanks.

Series 2 will then begin on Friday 28th February, so there’s plenty of time to catch up with the series if you want or need to.

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116 comments

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nick Mays

    “Sue: I don’t see how the BBC can target a show about a convicted child molester turned terrorist to children. Or maybe that’s just me. What’s next? Peter Purves shows you how to make a sawn-off shotgun from The Sweeney out of a washing-up bottle?”

    Absolutely BRILLIANT! 🙂

    Oh and by the way Sue, I’ve been meaning to say this all series – Blake may be a “convicted child molester” but – crucial point – HE WAS FRAMED! Give the guy a break!

    Anyway, the worst is over – things really do pick up in Series 2 and Terry doesn’t write so many episodes!

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 12:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Dick

      >Oh and by the way Sue, I’ve been meaning to say this all series – Blake may be a “convicted child molester” but – crucial point – HE WAS FRAMED!

      That’s why she says “convicted child molester”, not just “child molester”.

  • February 18, 2014 12:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Limb

    At the time I remember there was much debate at school the next day as to whether the ship had actually blown up at the end.

    The early VHS releases of compilation episodes means this is one I know pretty well – yet never noticed the “missing Travis” scene! Will have to go back and rewatch…

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:26 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Thomas Bush

    Orac (the episode) just kind of sputters along, like a Vauxhall Vectra. Brave heart, Sue! Series 2 is where the show really gets good. You won’t have Terry F. Nation to kick around much longer.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    You’d never get that sort of recap today because you’d have more than two reusable model shots for a start. Just wait till we get to Aftermath.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 12:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Thomas Bush

      Keep an eye out for recycled sets, props and costumes. Hand-me-downs from Doctor Who’s storage room.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 5:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Mippy

        Somebody actualy turns up wearing the Seal of Rassilon at one point!

        • Visit site
          February 18, 2014 6:03 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Nick Mays

          And Toos’ ornate hat from Robots of Death makes an apearance in Series 2 of Grange Hill (1979) when they are putting on a production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat…

          • Visit site
            February 18, 2014 8:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            It’s also fun watching Blakes 7 stuff show up in Dr Who…

          • Visit site
            February 18, 2014 10:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Mikhaila

            I swear Orac was originally a prop in Destiny of The Daleks too.

            [URL=http://s796.photobucket.com/user/Mippy01/media/images_zps32370f97.jpeg.html][IMG]http://i796.photobucket.com/albums/yy243/Mippy01/images_zps32370f97.jpeg[/IMG][/URL]

          • Visit site
            February 19, 2014 8:05 amPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            Nah, the cube in Destiny of the Daleks is a different prop – may have been inspired by Orac though. Probably made by the same prop builder!

          • Visit site
            February 21, 2014 9:05 amPosted 3 years ago
            Robert Dick

            I look handsome, I look smart.
            I am a walking work of art.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:33 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Oh and Sea Devils? Hur hur hurrrr.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
    John Williams

    I had a similar experience to Neil with this episode all those years ago, particularly the omnibus repeat version that was shown during the Christmas holidays in 1978. I’m still fond of both episodes, but my word they look pedestrian now. Revisiting Series 1 after all these years has been a shock to the system – it’s so painfully obvious that the scripts weren’t up to snuff after the first few episodes and there’s more padding than at the local upholsterers. Terrible direction most of the time as well, but no more than the average episodes of The Onedin Line or Who Pays the Ferryman? – it was par for the course back then.

    But despite all that, the blog has been hugely enjoyable. Are you going to show Sue the excellent Series 1 documentary by Kevin Davies?

    • February 18, 2014 12:38 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      Yes. That’s the plan. Probably tomorrow.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 12:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        I don’t recall *anyone* in 1978 understanding for sure whether the Liberator was destroyed or not at the end – even watching it on VHS in 2005 it was hard to figure out.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 12:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Dick

      > Are you going to show Sue the excellent Series 1 documentary by Kevin Davies?

      I seem to recall these didn’t confine themeselves to the relevant season – future cast members pop up and things are discussed in passing from later seasons. I’d not do them until after the full run.

      • February 18, 2014 1:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Neil Perryman (Author)

        Shit. I’ll have to watch it through to check for spoilers. Thank God it’s a good documentary.

        • Visit site
          February 18, 2014 1:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
          John Williams

          Good point. I started to show Shirley the season 2 trailer before remembering that it would have a big spoiler that I’m trying to keep as a surprise for her. If the documentaries do the same then I’ll have to save them until later.

          • Visit site
            February 18, 2014 6:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
            John Williams

            Actually I’ve just had a quick glance and I don’t think there are many spoilers. Most of the significant plot and cast matters are discussed at the start of the second series documentary.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 12:47 pmPosted 3 years ago
    John Williams

    I thought the end was intended to be ambiguous but that might be reaching a bit. Either way, it was pretty unusual to have a cliffhanger ending at the end of a series run for most dramas at the time, and I think Blake’s 7 pioneered what is now an over-familiar way of ending a season.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 12:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Dick

      > I think Blake’s 7 pioneered what is now an over-familiar way of ending a season.

      And did it *the day before* Soap aired a huge cliffhanger ending to its own season one. Gary Russell once told me it was the first American TV show to do a big end of season cliffhanger. Gary Russell says a lot of things though.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 1:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
        John Williams

        Robert! Yes – I was racking my brains trying to remember which US show did an early series cliffhanger – of course it was the mighty Soap.

        • February 18, 2014 1:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Neil Perryman (Author)

          Confused? You will be.

          • Visit site
            February 18, 2014 2:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
            John Williams

            I recently bought and watched those old VHS compilations of the first series of Blake’s 7. I never thought I’d say it, but they were much more enjoyable than watching the whole thing. The best episodes from the series are included, things zip along at a nice pace and, although they are a bit incoherent at times, it’s not as if the full episodes are particularly coherent in the first place.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 1:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Michael Bater

    Sue,

    How dare you have a go at space clothes!

    Everyone knows that Space Clothes have nano coating, that keeps Servalan looking sexy & William Shatner’s gut from spilling & toupée from falling off!

    • February 19, 2014 9:51 amPosted 3 years ago
      Michelle

      I *need* me some Space Clothes.

      In fact, how about a whole space wardrobe?

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 1:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
    John Miller

    Best line comes from Neil. Though non-consecutive, it had to be written like that deliberately.

    Sue: Orac is basically Wikipedia in a box.

    Orac is even more unhelpful than Zen on a bad day, and after an exasperating conversation that goes round in circles….

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 8:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Sally M

      It does sum up Orac’s role in the whole series, doesn’t it?

      • February 18, 2014 8:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
        encyclops

        He’s an oracle. He’s supposed to be cryptic at best and catastrophically unhelpful at worst. That’s where stories come from.

        • Visit site
          February 19, 2014 1:39 amPosted 3 years ago
          Raymond

          Oh dear – penny just dropped as to where the name ‘Orac’ probably came from … (orac le)
          Paint me dense.

          • February 19, 2014 6:45 pmPosted 3 years ago
            encyclops

            Terry Nation would probably be ecstatic that it took you this long. 😉

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 1:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mark Nickol

    Haivng finished series 1 yesterday, like you, I have to say that I am left feeling a little disappointed. Unlike Sue, I LOVE Terry Nation’s Doctor Who stories, and I thought that this series got off to a cracking start.
    But then there seemed to be some pretty pointless episodes in which not a lot happened (most of them, in fact) that didn’t really move the whole story on at all.
    I think things only really pick up when Servalan is in an episode – indeed, I loved Seek, Locate, Destroy, her first appearance.
    Low point has to be the catheter cock monster episode (WTF ?!).
    And now I understand from my fan friends that Blake fucks off and we don’t see him again until the very end of the last series. So why isn’t it then called Avon’s 6 (assuming he takes charge) ? Or do they replace Blake with another to make it 7 ?! It doesn’t bode well for the quality of series’ 2 scripts if Gareth Thomas didn’t want to do any more…unless he hated making series 1….

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 2:09 pmPosted 3 years ago
      John Miller

      Blake doesn’t leave just yet. And yes there are replacements aplenty. But if you’ve never seen it, it’s best to watch along without knowing who comes/goes and when.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 4:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
      The Grouchybeast

      > It doesn’t bode well for the quality of series’ 2 scripts if Gareth
      > Thomas didn’t want to do any more…unless he hated making series 1….

      He was invited to join the RSC. Can’t really blame him for not wanting to miss that chance.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 8:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        IIRC didn’t the BBC announcer (at the end of Terminal?) mention “Gareth Thomas is appearing at the RSC” or similar?

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 10:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
      wyngatecarpenter

      “It doesn’t bode well for the quality of series’ 2 scripts if Gareth Thomas didn’t want to do any more”

      He’s implied in interviews that the scripts didn’t get any better and the character didn’t develop but I think he’s completely wrong. Season 2 is much better and Blake’s character becomes more ambiguous. Give it a chance!

    • Visit site
      February 19, 2014 8:05 amPosted 3 years ago
      Shan

      Does Sue read these comments? I thought that she might, which is why I thought we weren’t meant to be discussing spoilers, especially like that one.

      Can someone please clarify the policy?

      • February 19, 2014 8:21 amPosted 3 years ago
        Neil Perryman (Author)

        Sue doesn’t read the comments.

        • Visit site
          February 22, 2014 10:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
          AST

          Neither do I.

          • Visit site
            February 23, 2014 2:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            And yet here you are…

            Post-modernist iroinic comment? Douglas Adams re-hash? 😉

          • Visit site
            February 24, 2014 3:43 amPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            “I don’t watch B7 and nor does my wife”.

    • Visit site
      February 21, 2014 1:29 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Dick

      >But then there seemed to be some pretty pointless episodes in which not a lot happened (most of them, in fact) that didn’t really move the whole story on at all.

      You have to take each episode on its own merit, LOTS of them aren’t about the Blake v Federation fight – there are lots of episodes about what the 7 run into / get caught up in on their travels. Series two, I’d say, is the one most focused on the on-going fight.

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 3:35 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Nick Kirby

    Having not seen Blake’s 7 since childhood on the BBC, I’m confused about the reference to the missing Travis scene. Can someone explain, please?

  • February 18, 2014 3:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jason

    Can someone explain to me the missing Travis thing? I missed that completely.

    I thought it was a decent finale, and I’m liking what I’ve seen of series 2 so far.

    Sue: So Orac is a massive Raspberry Pi. Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

    Hahahaha!

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 4:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
      John Williams

      Stephen Greif did the location shoot for the episode, then he badly injured his Achilles tendon playing squash and wasn’t available for the studio recording. The director handled this by shooting Travis from the neck down or through fish tanks and foliage. Greif came back after his operation to record the dialogue for the scene.

      The injury also caused Grief to miss out on a role in “Out”. Bryan Marshall took over the role and then went on to a big role in “The Long Good Friday”. I asked Greif about “Out” once and he was still cheesed off about it. He apparently tried to persuade Jim Goddard the director to let him play the part on crutches. “Piss off Stephen – that’s insane” came the reply.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 4:06 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Nick Mays

        It wasn’t all bad for him though – he still had ‘Citizen Smith’ AND he got out of B7 Series 2.

        Ooops! Spoilers Sweetie! 😉

        ‘Arry Fenning: “‘Allo Trotsky!”

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 4:09 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Nick Mays

        Of course, they could have done what the director did in ‘Stasis Leak’ in Red Dwarf when Clair Grogan wasn’t booked for a final studio scene as the newly married Mrs Lister… They could have got a different actor to play Travis wearing a big hat!

        Pub Quiz question that: How many actresses have played Kochanski in Red Dwarf?

  • Visit site
    February 18, 2014 4:21 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Harriet

    Alec Guinness invented a white fabric which couldn’t get dirty back in 1951 (The Man in the White Suit). It fell apart eventually, but they’ve had centuries to perfect the technique.

  • February 18, 2014 4:51 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jerry Gatebox

    Blake: Good shot, Avon.

    Avon: I was aiming for his head.

    This line is so good, it was reused nearly word-for-word in Firefly.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 5:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Dick

      >This line is so good, it was reused nearly word-for-word in Firefly.

      And was a reuse in B7 itself.

      • Visit site
        February 18, 2014 5:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Harriet

        The Magnificent Seven via Chris Boucher, wasn’t it?

        • Visit site
          February 18, 2014 6:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
          John Williams

          Yes – it’s a James Coburn line in The Magnificent Seven: “I was aiming for the horse”. Paul Darrow was a big fan of Westerns, so I think he cooked that up with Chris Boucher.

          • Visit site
            February 18, 2014 8:51 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Marionette

            How exactly did Avon manage to hit his hand anyway? As far as I can tell he was behind him at the time.

      • Visit site
        February 19, 2014 3:25 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Rob

        Farscape used it too word for word a season or two before introducing a clone of Servalan 🙂

  • February 18, 2014 5:35 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    Sue: So Orac is a massive Raspberry Pi. Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

    Brilliant. And now I know what I want a Raspberry Pi for!

    Sue: So it’s got wireless. Big deal.

    It was at the time. Wasn’t it?

    I love this episode. It helps that I’m anticipating Orac’s role in the series, but I really enjoy pretty much everything that happens in it, except maybe some of the scenes of radiation sickness. Season 1 has had some brilliant stuff here and there, but this is where it really gets rolling for me.

    • Visit site
      February 18, 2014 8:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      Wireless that can operate instantly over interstellar distances would still be a big deal now.

  • February 18, 2014 5:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    Sue: I can’t help it, but whenever I see Servalan, I always think of Marc Almond.

    That just makes me love Servalan AND Marc Almond all the more.

    It’s tempting to want Servalan to be unflappably badass all the time, but I rather like when we see her vulnerable side. It’s plausible to me. She’s most comfortable in a cushy office, and in THAT setting she’s unflappable and unstoppable, plotting and scheming her way to anything she wants. But field work isn’t so much her thing, and I can buy that she’d want to stay as far away from caves and lizards as possible most of the time. It’s only when she wants something badly enough that she doesn’t trust anyone to get the job done without her there that she makes a personal appearance in a circumstance where the environmental hazards outstrip the people problems.

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    February 18, 2014 6:33 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Ratbag

    Are the Kevin Davies docos actually available anywhere then? I was hugely disappointed that they never appeared on the box sets they were made for…

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      July 28, 2014 5:14 amPosted 2 years ago
      David

      They are on youtube. search for B7 101, B7 201 and B7 301.

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    February 18, 2014 6:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Richard Lyth

    I thought this was one of the better episodes of the season personally, Servalan and Travis always make it more enjoyable, though Orac is rather unimpressive at the moment. I can understand Sue not rating it very highly, if you don’t know about Orac’s future with the show it all seems like a big shaggy-dog story at the moment. Still, plenty to look forward to in season 2 – episodes by Chris Boucher and Robert Holmes, can’t wait!

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    February 18, 2014 7:57 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sally M

    Avon and Vila make a great double act. This has been noticed by fans, oh yes…

    Orac is a rather brilliant character in its own right from here on in 🙂

    Tell Sue one more Terry Nation (Redemption, which I happen to love) and then we get to the REALLY good stuff in Series 2…

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    February 18, 2014 9:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Season 1 goes out with a bang! You have to wade through 50 minutes of tedium first though. Its strange watching this now as you can’t imagine a modern TV series petering out in the way that Season 1 seems to. Bits are ok, but it doesn’t feel like there’s enough there to fill an episode. My reaction to Blake and Cally entering the capsule is similar to Sue’s,and that’s every time I watch it. It fact that scene gets more annoying every time I watch it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but it really stretches credibility that a small bad of desperate rebels waging a guerilla war don’t kill their two biggest enemies, including the Supreme Commander, when they get the chance, on a deserted beach on a distant planet. What kind of guerillas are they exactly?

    I remember bits of this episode from 1978, particularly the Liberator blowing up. I was certain at the time that the Liberator had actually blown up and that was the end of Blakes 7.

    There seems to be an ancient Greek theme to this episode. Orac is an oracle, Aristo is Aristotle with some letters at the end missing and …that’s about as far as that theme goes. Typical Terry Nation!

    Anyway, Season 2 on the way, much better – even the Terry Nation episodes are better than most of Season 1

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    February 19, 2014 2:10 amPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Allen

    Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think this episode is a 5/10. I’d go for 7.

    I think it moves at a reasonable pace given the era it was made.

    Love the Man in the White Suit explanation (and it makes perfect sense too).

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      February 19, 2014 3:27 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      I agree. I always thought that Orac was one of the better offerings from Season 1. I think that Sue might be a bit more generous when it comes to Redemption which is such a joy on many levels.

      • February 19, 2014 6:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
        encyclops

        I’ll probably say this again on Friday, but one of the things I think is actually kind of brilliant about “Redemption” is how early in the series it happens, and how it’s kind of just no big deal that this mystery is revealed. They just deal with it and move on, and guess what? It turns out that it doesn’t really ruin anything to have dealt with it.

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    February 19, 2014 12:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    Somewhat similar to how the Daleks improved when written by David Whittaker, Blakes 7 improves when someone other than Terry Nation writes Blakes 7.

    This man became a multi-millionaire and a cultural legend, how exactly?

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      February 19, 2014 1:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
      John Miller

      He must be clever. He managed to take credit(in both senses) for the works of Cusick, Whittaker, Boucher, Spooner, Camfield, Holmes etc. and become a multimillionaire.

      Could YOU become a multimillionaire and cultural icon by jotting down a few lines about corridors and hairstyles on a few scraps of paper?

      He even managed to convince Trivial Pursuit that he’d created Doctor Who.

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        February 19, 2014 8:27 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        Genesis of the Daleks didn’t have that much input from Holmes, bizarrely.

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        February 20, 2014 12:54 amPosted 3 years ago
        Rob

        To be fair to Terry Nation, it was the BBC’s fault for not giving due credit to Cusick or any of the other designers who did brilliant work on Dr Who and B7 and you could argue that without Nation, Dr Who would have died within a few weeks of going on air.
        That said, I do much prefer the Boucher scripts 😉

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      February 19, 2014 1:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Nick Mays

      Apparently he ripped off Anthony Coburn’s script for the second Dr Who story, which became ‘The Daleks’, according to Coburn’s son who has the original script.

      I used to idolise Terry Nation when I was a kid. How the scales have fallen from my eyes…

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        February 19, 2014 3:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
        John Williams

        Hang on – just because Stefan Coburn says something doesn’t make it true.

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          February 19, 2014 3:54 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Nick Mays

          Of course not. Note the word “apparently”.

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          February 20, 2014 10:41 amPosted 3 years ago
          Sean Alexander

          And given that Steff Coburn tried to claim retrospective rights to the BBC’s copyright of the Police Box ‘device’, some 50 years too late, he would appear to have a track record in trying to pass off anything potentially litigious in the name of his late father.

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            February 20, 2014 10:59 amPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            To be fair, so did the Metropolitan Police! The court case is online and makes very interesting reading.

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            February 21, 2014 12:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Sean Alexander

            To be fair the Metropolitan police did design and build all police boxes up until the 1960s. Would you deny Ray Cusick’s design legacy of the Daleks to the same ignominious airbrushing?

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            February 21, 2014 1:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            Er… no Sean. I think Ray Cisick was brilliant.

            El Tel famously didn’t give a shit about the design of the Daleks until the royalties started rolling in…

      • February 19, 2014 4:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Adam Whitehead

        The Masters of Luxor? I read the script book when they released it in the 1990s and the similarities to The Daleks are fairly superficial (a post-apocalyptic world and metallic enemies).

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          February 20, 2014 10:43 amPosted 3 years ago
          Sean Alexander

          A post-apocalyptic world and metal monsters?

          That sounds about as much as Terry Nation manages before buggering off on his annual holiday…

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            February 20, 2014 11:12 amPosted 3 years ago
            Nick Mays

            Not that I feel a burning need to justify myself, but just to clarify my position on Terry Nation…

            Yes, when I was a kid, I idolised him for creating the Daleks, because yes, they ensured Dr Who’s future and yes, I loved the Daleks! When a I was a bit older, I came to appreciate the wider body of Nation’s work – I enjoyed Survivors very much and some of the various ITC series episodes he wrote.

            However, as a writer myself (admittedly not a TV/Radio writer) I can see, very clearly in fact, how Terry re-hashed ideas over and over. But that’s not unique to him – Douglas Adams, fine writer though he was, used to do exactly the same thing!

            Another clear trait of Terry’s writing was his inability to sustain an interesting idea into coherent, ongoing plots and story arcs. If Series 1 of Survivors and Series 1 of Blakes 7 had been 6, 7 or even 8 parts long (and carefully script edited), I think they’d have been a lot tighter and consequently more able to engage the viewer for the long haul.

            Anyway, Nation made a lot of money out his initial ideas – Daleks Blake’s 7, Survivors – and good luck to him. If it wasn’t for his original creations (or derivative creations if you want to snidey about it) then there wouldn’t have been anything for better writers to pick up, run with and turn into something better and far more enduring that we still enjoy today.

            So for the record, I DO like Nation’s first two Dalek stories and later ‘Genesis’, I like the first 3 and the last 2 episodes of Blakes 7 and I like the first 3 and last 2 episodes of Series 1 of Survivors. See a pattern emerging here?

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            February 21, 2014 7:04 amPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            With over 10 million viewers every week, I don’t think B7 had any problem ensuring viewers were engaged “for the long haul”. Lots of shows now can’t manage four seasons – some can’t even manage a second season.

            If the worst shows we had on TV now were equal to “The Persuaders!”, we’d be in clover. I don’t think modern modern writers are up to it – can you prove me wrong?

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      February 19, 2014 9:45 pmPosted 3 years ago
      wyngatecarpenter

      “Blakes 7 improves when someone other than Terry Nation writes Blakes 7.”

      I wouldn’t go quite that far! Jim Follett?

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        February 20, 2014 11:21 amPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        The missing qualifier at the end of the statement is “…rather than shit Star Trek”.

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          February 21, 2014 7:05 amPosted 3 years ago
          Frankymole

          There’s not really any other kind of ‘Star Trek’.

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            February 21, 2014 8:16 amPosted 3 years ago
            John Miller

            ^Tonight Matthew I’m going to be Larry Miles.

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            February 22, 2014 3:51 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Dave Sanders

            Quick, colour the page blue. That’ll drive Lawrence off.

    • February 25, 2014 1:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Beth

      He also did his best to claim credit for MacGyver, although his total contribution to that show was three of the standalone intro scenes (“Opening gambits”) — a total of about 15 minutes of finished film.

      On the bright side, I’ve heard that this was the project that lured him from the UK to Hollywood, which took him away from B7, which meant he stopped writing scripts for B7, for which we may be truly grateful!

      On reflection, it seems that Terry Nation’s most successful fictional creation was himself as an important creative force.

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        February 25, 2014 3:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        And Survivors and The Persuaders!, of course.

  • February 19, 2014 1:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Doc Whom

    ***Sue: Avon and Vila make a great double act. I can actually see the point of Vila, now.***

    Sue hits the camera bang on the Zarbi there. That is literally the point of Vila, to be a foil for Avon. They understand each other completely – they know that they both put survival above politics. That means they’re no threat to each other so they’re free to banter with Avon putting Vila down and Vila getting in some very apposite digs at Avon’s motives.

    Almost the only time you really hear Avon speaking honestly is when he and Vila are on their own together because neither of them have any illusions about each other or any facade to maintain with each other. Note how Avon is only really rude to Vila when he has an audience. Viz their chat in Tynus’s office in “Killer”.

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      February 19, 2014 5:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Harriet

      they both put survival above politics. That means they’re no threat to each other

      Orbit suggests otherwise…

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      February 19, 2014 5:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Harriet

      Come to think of it, almost the first thing Vila says about Avon, in Spacefall, is “The cold-hearted, murdering – let’s kill him now before he can do it.” I often wonder if Orbit is meant to remind us of that scene.

      • February 21, 2014 8:35 amPosted 3 years ago
        John Callaghan

        I see Vila as the wry commentator on the show as a whole, actually. Everyone’s parading around being macho. Meanwhile, Vila will roll his eyes and make a joke about pointless it all is, with a bottle in hand. Orac isn’t too different – they could have become the B7 Stadtler and Waldorf!

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    February 20, 2014 7:41 amPosted 3 years ago
    Rassilon

    Avon’s very protective of Vila (In his own way) City at the end of the world,

    Avon “…we can find a pilot anywhere, but a talented thief is rare.”
    Tarrent “You despise him.” Avon: “Right, but at least I’m consistent about it.”

    I hadn’t thought of it again till now, but the recent review of Breakdown when Avon asks Vila :”Why do you stay with Blake” is the closest Avon can get to asking outright for Vila to come with him just prior to teleporting off the ship.

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    February 20, 2014 10:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
    DPC

    It’s not padding, it’s realism! 😀

    Seriously – yeah, B7 is an acquired taste and series 1, for all its strengths, isn’t exactly consistent. Especially when it’s one writer and one script editor having to fix up more and more with each passing story (pardon my borrowing the IBS comment, hehe…)

    I hoe Sue hangs in there because there are indeed better stories coming up, and delayed gratification will indeed pay off.

    I still love a lot of the costuming, though- Robin Hood/renaissance meets the 1970s. It’s not always a flop, but I’ve always appreciated June Hudson’s works… that and, if we were a free society where individuals could wear what they want, forget the half-hanging trousers and hats worn backwards (the confirmists’ way to be nonconformist), give me 17th century garb any day… or even disco, which is far more classy than the hats, hoodies, or the incredibly pants design of malfunctioning belts on pants…

    • Visit site
      February 21, 2014 7:00 amPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      Luckily, June Hudson only does about half of Season B, then we get a good designer in for the latter half. June Hudson – the Terry F***ing Nation of SF costuming!

      • February 21, 2014 7:46 amPosted 3 years ago
        encyclops

        I met June Hudson at Gally last year and she was absolutely lovely — the sweetest person there (with some very stiff competition for that title) and, if the presentation she gave was any proof, a superb designer with a genius for making cheap material look fantastic. Sure, I happen to like Tom Baker’s original costume better than what he wore in Season 18 but it wasn’t Hudson’s idea to change it and she kept it as close as possible given the assignment. Some of the designs she did for Blake’s 7 were (wonderfully) OTT but she gave very convincing accounts of her approach and I have no quarrel with the results.

        I’d vehemently disagree that later seasons improved the outfits. By season 4 we’re getting into some awfully drab stuff. And I can’t think of any respect in which comparing June Hudson to Terry Nation is appropriate, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even USE Nation’s “middle name.”

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          February 21, 2014 7:57 amPosted 3 years ago
          Nick Mays

          Didn’t June Hudson say in an interview somewhere that dear old JN-T wanted her to “lose the scarf” for Tom Baker’s Season 18 outfit, but she gamely got a maroon one made all the same?

          The scarf is, of course, pointedly unravelled in Peter Davison’s first story ‘Castrovalva’, as well as the Doc’s waistcoat being ripped apart. I always viewed this as a very “in plain sight” rejection of Tom Baker and all that went before by Messrs Bidmead and Nathan-Turner.

          Or maybe it was just shit scripting? 😉

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            February 21, 2014 8:15 amPosted 3 years ago
            John Miller

            Wasn’t it just to show that it was a new era? That doesn’t mean that the whole Tom Baker era was a dream, or changed by the Last great Time War, or swallowed up by the Cracks in Time, or…

            And it never felt “Right” seeing Peter Davison in the Season 18 outfit. Because that’s NOT the outfit we associate with the Fourth Doctor.So it never felt like a “proper” passing of the torch, like seeing Tom Baker in the velvet was, or Colin Baker in the cricket gear was.

            But, Blake’s 7 outfits? It’s really only things like the Space Rats that stand out as stupid. Funny that.

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    February 21, 2014 12:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mark Nickol

    Thank you, people, for putting me straight about Gareth Thomas – I am now looking forward to series 2 in the expectation that it improves….!

    Loving this new series, Neil, and throughly enjoyed the Wife in Space book too – v funny

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    February 22, 2014 1:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rob

    I’ve found myself jumping ahead of the brilliant Wife & Blakey with sneaky late night Blake’s 7 double bills – I’m up to ‘Trial’ already! Season 2 is far, far better and very enjoyable. Can’t wait to read what Sue makes of it all 🙂

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      February 23, 2014 3:38 amPosted 3 years ago
      Sally M

      Season 2 is the best, for my money…

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        February 23, 2014 12:20 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Inclined to agree, though season 4, for all its faults, is the most focused out of all of them. Season 3 veers off into Trek territory more often, with… ‘variable’ results.

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          February 23, 2014 12:25 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Dave Sanders

          It doesn’t get more TOS than the breathtakingly silly Ultraworld. Call the episode ‘what is this Earth thing you call taking the piss’ if you like, but Doctor Who didn’t get away with it in Creature From The Pit, and neither does this.

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          February 23, 2014 2:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Nick Mays

          I remember in late 1978/early 1979 when Series 2 of B7 was previewed on TV. I thought at the time “Oh, that’s back is it? Well, I’ll give it a go…” I wasn’t over-enthusiastic about it as Season 1 had been so patchy.

          However, Season 2 was a very pleasant surprise and I think, aside from the odd duff epsiode here and there, it got better and better! (In fact, dare I say it, it was much better when **** was absent for Season 3 and 4!) 🙂

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          February 24, 2014 2:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
          rob

          I do think that ‘second block’ of Season 4 contains some of the finest B7 episodes with some great production values. Sand, Gold, Orbit & Blake are all terrific but I think the first 5 or 6 episodes got the series cancelled sadly.

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            February 24, 2014 10:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Mat Dolphin

            Agree with you there, Rob. Those are all fantastic episodes. At least it goes out on a high…

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            February 25, 2014 6:02 amPosted 3 years ago
            Shan

            Well, I think we were lucky all things considered. After all, the show had been cancelled after Season 3 and was uncancelled in one of the most unlikely circumstances in television history (if a certain person hadn’t been watching TV at the time, it would have been lights out after Terminal).

            Also, I think the ending of Season 4 catapulted the show into legendary status. One less or one more season probably wouldn’t have as I can’t for the life of me see how they could have topped what ended up happening.

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            July 28, 2014 5:25 amPosted 2 years ago
            David

            The first 5 or 6 episodes of season 4 are bad because of last minute script rewriting due to the fact Jan Chappel refused to return.

  • February 25, 2014 9:33 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Glen Allen

    Blake and Cally leave Ensor’s corpse behind.

    Sue: That’s right, let the giant lizards eat him. That’s nice.

    I actually laughed out loud at that. Not LOL’d but laughed out loud!

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    March 5, 2014 1:31 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    Sue: I…Why didn’t she just send Travis to sort this out with an army of space vampires.

    Their mission was supposed to be top secret and off the record. It would be hard enough covering up the the loss of a FED ship and two officials, let alone a few mutoids.

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    March 5, 2014 1:39 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    O.R.A.C.

    Over-Righteous ‘Attitude’ Contraption

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    March 5, 2014 1:44 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    ‘Sue: That’s right, let the giant lizards eat him. That’s nice.

    Me: They have to save Avon, remember.

    Sue: OK. Fair enough. Run!’

    Beautiful!

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    March 5, 2014 1:46 amPosted 3 years ago
    Graeme

    ‘Sue: It’s back to space traffic for you, Travis. They’ll probably replace your hand with a large ‘Children Crossing’ sign.’

    Brilliant!

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    May 13, 2014 5:34 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Fiona

    “they’ll probably replace your hand with a large Children Crossing sign”.

    Please please somebody make such a picture.

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    July 28, 2014 5:28 amPosted 2 years ago
    David

    Surprised no one has mentioned how Travis was able to shot around a corner.

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      July 28, 2014 4:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      I noticed it though!

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