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Power

This Woman’s Work…

Sue bloody loves the Scorpio.

Sue: It’s a spaceship that looks like it means business. It wouldn’t snap in half if an asteroid slammed into it for a start. I mean, look at it – it’s fantastic!

She’s actually watching the CGI animation that precedes the menu screen on the Series 4 DVDs.

Sue: It’s hardly dated at all…

I bring her back down to earth with a bump.

Sue: Well, it just proves that they should remake Blake’s 7 today. I don’t know why they haven’t got round to it yet. What are they waiting for?

PowerThe new title sequence, on the other hand, still fails to impress.

Sue: What does FAC mean?

Me: It means Peter Saville designed the title sequence. Look, Sue, it’s your favourite writer.

Sue: Ben Steed… That name rings a… Oh, ****.

The episode begins with Vila, Tarrant and Dayna staring at a locked door while Avon is chased by hairy bikers armed with crossbows.

Sue: Shit. He’s out of ammo and he only fired one shot. Are you sure their guns aren’t supplied by Hewlett-Packard?

Me: It’s your favourite genre: medieval sci-fi. You love medieval sci-fi, Sue.

Sue: ****.

Me: Are you sure you don’t want a whisky? I’ve got plenty.

Just a reminder before we get into this: minus scores are available to Sue. (I sense a protest on the horizon.)

Dorian’s apartment is connected to Scorpio‘s landing bay.

Sue: So Dorian was a bit like John Travolta, then.

Me: What?

Sue: John Travolta built a runway next to his house as well. It’s basically the same thing. Oh, and they both worship supernatural alien beings, of course.

PowerWhen Avon is captured, his teleport bracelet is removed and destroyed.

Sue: They’ve gone digital. Well, the straps have gone digital, which is something, I suppose.

Avon is taken to the leader of the Hommiks.

Sue: Are they supposed to be Saxons?

Me: I think they might be Saxon’s road crew.

The Hommiks’ chief has, to quote Avon, a fetching way with women.

Gunn-Sar: Well, don’t just stand there, woman! Bring meat!

Sue: Here we go again. OK, I’ve changed my mind. Pass me that bottle; I won’t need a glass.

Me: Stop staring at Gunn-Sar’s moobs, Sue.

Sue: Like I have a ****ing choice!

Avon tells the chief that he was looking for crystals on the planet’s surface.

Sue: He wants to start his rock collection again. He can’t let it go.

PowerGunn-Sar doesn’t trust Avon.

Gunn-Sar: You smell like a man.

Sue: Old Spice or Brut? What do you reckon, Neil?

Me: Hai Karate. Obviously.

Vila is still trying open the door that leads to the Scorpio‘s landing bay when he’s interrupted by a pretty lady in a dress. – Damn it, the Steedism is catching! – She’s a Seska named Pella.

Sue: Vila always pulls when he’s on the job.

Me: When he gets his big tool out, the women always come running. I just don’t get it.

Gunn-Sar is still interrogating Avon, but Sue only has eyes for the chief’s wife, Nina.

Sue: Is that Germaine Greer?

Me: I very much doubt it.

When Gunn-Sar threatens to smash Germaine’s face in, calling her a ‘snivelling sack of offal’ in the process, Sue sighs loudly.

Sue: Germaine would have kicked him in the balls.

Avon challenges Gunn-Sar to a fight.

PowerSue: Is it just me or has Avon lost the plot? It’s almost as if he doesn’t give a shit any more. He hasn’t been the same since the series came back. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he’s acting a bit weird.

Pella tells Vila that Dorian used to say a code word every 48 hours to stop a nuclear compression charge from destroying the base.

Sue: There’s a lot to do on that base. Feed the supernatural entity, say a keyword every 48 hours… Hang on a minute… this is ****ing Lost!

Avon and Gunn-Sar prepare to fight to the death. Gunn-Sar makes a right pig’s ear out the opening declaration, which amuses Sue and Avon no end.

Sue: This is very funny. It is supposed to be a comedy, isn’t it?

When Avon is told to choose a weapon, he chooses a neutron blaster.

Sue: He’s going to do a Han Solo.

Me: What?

Sue: He’s going to shoot the other guy with the sword.

Me: Oh, you mean Indiana Jones.

Sue: Do I? I thought you lot were always banging on about Han Solo shooting first? Now I feel silly.

Even though Gunn-Sar attacks Avon before he’s had a chance to ready himself, he still can’t finish the job.

PowerSue: How has he survived this long? He’s ****ing hopeless.

After a half-arsed fight, which bores Sue senseless, Avon is knocked unconscious and held by the Hommiks.

Sue: Sounds painful.

Vila, meanwhile, is still worried about his imminent death.

Vila: Have you ever seen a nuclear compression charge go off? Everything gets sucked in. It’s like a mini-black hole. Looks good. From a distance.

Sue: Vila’s really good in this episode. He’s getting the best lines and he’s actually doing his job for a change. And now they’re talking about a bloody hatch. I’m telling you – this is Lost.

The Seska are rounded up by the Hommiks. Bags are placed over their heads and metal collars are clamped around their necks.

Sue: You can’t call something sexist just because it features sexist characters and situations, but I think I’ll make an exception for Ben Steed. He’s obsessed. He clearly has some deep-rooted problems with women, which reminds me: Where the hell is Glynis Barber? They mentioned her at the beginning, and then nothing. Did they forget to tell Ben Steed that Soo existed?

Me: Please don’t call her Soo, Sue.

Pella and Avon end up in a cell together. Pella offers to heal Avon’s injuries with some magical ointment.

PowerSue: I bet Avon points to his groin injury. I wouldn’t put anything past Ben Steed.

Avon and Seska escape, only to find Nina happily working for the Hommiks.

Sue: That’s definitely Germaine Greer.

Me: The resemblance is uncanny. It’s as if the casting is intentional.

Sue: So the Seska are feminists, but all Germaine needs is a proper man to set her straight. Is that it? It is, isn’t it?

Nina isn’t a Seska – she’s a Woman (hear her roar).

Sue: Right, let me get this straight: now she’s a real woman, she can be a man’s slave. That is ****ing it, isn’t it?

Avon is forced to put Pella in her place. Hang on… Did I just write that?

Sue: Avon likes a little pain. She’ll have to do better than that. This is an average Saturday night for Avon.

Despite Pella’s best efforts, Avon keeps coming back for more.

PowerAvon: You see, Pella, it’s your strength, and however you use it, a man’s will always be greater. Unfair, perhaps, but biologically unavoidable.

Sue: Avon obviously hasn’t met you, Neil.

They snog.

Sue is momentarily lost for words.

Me: It’s the same reason women don’t play five sets at Wimbledon. Ouch! That ****ing hurt!

And then Sue goes off on one.

Sue: There’s no excuse for this. It’s the eighties! I just can’t accept that… Oh, the chief is doing some needlework… OK, now I’m really confused.

Nina and Gunn-Sar are happily married; all the wife-beating was just for show.

Sue: I think they really love each other. He’s just pretending to be a macho dickhead, because he’s as soft as shit. Hmm… I think I may have jumped to a massive conclusion about this episode. In fact, Vila – who’s a man (sort of) – is the weakest character by far, in a way. So what does that say about the men, eh?

Avon kills his Hommik captor with a crossbow arrow, right in the middle of a conversation.

Sue: I know Avon’s gone a bit crazy over the last couple of episodes, but what the hell did he do that for?

It was Pella who pulled the trigger. With the power of her mind.

Sue: She’s got the Force.

I swear to God, despite all evidence to the contrary, Sue has seen Star Wars.

Pella drops a keyboard on Avon’s head.

Sue: Ooh, slow motion!

Me: That’s just Paul Darrow acting, love.

Sue: I shouldn’t laugh, but that was hilarious.

PowerGunn-Sar is relaxing at home when he’s interrupted by more unwelcome visitors.

Sue: Their version of pool looks really difficult.

Dayna challenges Gunn-Sar to a duel.

Pella: The black woman must win.

Sue: As opposed to the white woman standing next to her, you mean? Oh wait, there isn’t one. What the ****?

As Dayna and Gunn-Sar fight, the Hommiks’ encourage their leader to get stuck in.

Hommiks: Get in there, Gunn-Sar! Kick her head in, Gunn-Sar!

Sue: They sound like Chas and Dave. One of them just said, “Gertcha!” I’m sure of it.

With the help of the Seskas’ telekinesis, Dayna kills Gunn-Sar before he can kill her. Nina mourns for her dead husband, at which point Sue makes the most inappropriate comment imaginable:

Sue: Germaine Greer’s costume would make for one hell of a cosplay outfit. You know, if it ever came to it.

Me: How the hell do you know about cosplay?

Nina wants to leave this old world behind so she can start a new one.

Sue: A world where men and women are equal, and you don’t have to melt your metallic bra or write a book to prove it.

Back at the Xenon base, time is running out…

Sue: Forget all that. Where the hell is Glynis Barber?

The Seskas arrive, offering help. There are only two of them left.

Pella: Last week we were five. This morning, three. And now we are two.

Me: As much as five? That’s practically a city in Blake’s 7.

PowerSue: One of them will join the crew. They need someone who can do things with their mind to replace Cally. They could take both of them, I suppose, but that would mean no Glynis Barber, so one of them will have to die. At least we’ll have some equality on the ship: three men, three women and a computer. Perfect.

Avon returns to the base just in time to alert everyone that Pella wants to steal Scorpio from under their noses.

Sue: In that case, the other one will have to join the crew.

Pella threatens to kill Dayna if Avon doesn’t cooperate.

Avon: That’s an interesting choice of hostage.

Sue: That means she fancies Avon; she’s jealous of Dayna because she’s a threat, just in case you didn’t get that, Neil.

Pella shoots her fellow Seska and escapes in the ship.

Sue: I bet you anything that Soolin is on the ship. She’s been there all the time. She’ll sort it out.

Orac tracks the Scorpio as it leaves the Xenon base. Orac has even hacked into the ship’s computer, Slave.

Sue: This definitely reminds me of Thunderbirds, what with the secret base and everything.

Me: And the computer that sounds like Parker.

Sue: If Parker was a Brummie.

PowerWith a little help from Orac, Avon successfully teleports to the ship.

Sue: I don’t know if I like the new effect or not. It’s a lot more Star Trek than the last one. Plus it looks like sparkly tumble dryer.

Avon shoots Seska dead.

Sue: No remorse whatsoever. Avon’s a lot colder this season, if that’s possible.

Avon delivers Ben Steed’s message to the masses:

Avon: You can have war between races, war between cultures, war between planets. But once you have war between the sexes, you eventually run out of people.

Sue: Is Ben Steed trying to say that we should work together as equals, do you think? Smash the glass ceiling and create a new utopia where we don’t follow prescribed gender roles. If you want to do needlework, do needlework, man!

Me: I think he’s telling the feminists to get back in the kitchen where they belong. But what do I know? I’m a Hommik.

Dayna and Tarrant teleport to the Scorpio.

Sue: Can they only teleport two people at a time? It will be interesting when they have to escape in the nick of time and there’s five of them stuck on a planet.

They are immediately followed by Vila and Soolin.

Sue: About bloody time! Where the hell has she been hiding? And, more importantly, who’s going back for Orac?

Me: Orac stays at home and answers the phone.

Sue: It’s a shame he can’t hoover and dust while they’re out doing whatever it is they’re going to do this season.

PowerSoolin has the skills to pay the bills.

Sue: So she’s the ship’s gunslinger?

Me: Looks like it.

Sue: But we’ve already got one of those. Her name’s Dayna. And you can put your tongue back in now, Neil.

Me: Oh, so you can lust after Avon every bloody week but I can’t… erm… never mind.

Sue: Let’s not fall out over it. Hasn’t Ben Steed taught us anything?

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: I enjoyed that… Why are you looking at me like that?

Me: But… but…

Sue: I’m no expert, but you could read that as a feminist text, if you squinted at it really, really hard.

Me: Are you taking the piss?

Sue: No. It’s definitely more complicated that it first appears. I think. And it was very funny and quite exciting – especially the idea of the base about to explode at any moment. Even Vila was pretty good in that one. Yes, I enjoyed it, although the whisky probably helped.

7/10

Yes, that’s a SEVEN. If you don’t like the answer, you shouldn’t have asked the question.

Sue: I should watch it again to work out what it was really trying to say, but we both know that’s never going to happen, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Next Time:

There’s only one update this week. We’ll be back next Tuesday. Until then…

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81 comments

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    Perhaps Soo(Lin)’s virtual absence from Power is for reasons similar to Nyssa spending most of Kinda in the TARDIS; that is a contract length issue.

    Or perhaps I’m just a clueless Hommik…

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Marky Mark

    Ok, it’s official – Ben Steed is definitely a misogynist ! I can’t believe Sue gave this 7/10. How much whisky did she drink ?

    And what the f**k is cosplay ?!

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:18 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Katie c

    OMG Sue, a seven? Pass me the whisky!

    I love the way they all teleported over to the ship at the end – without bracelets! Telekinesis I suppose..

    • Visit site
      July 15, 2014 9:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Ade Jacobs

      But they were teleporting from the dock on Xenon base to the dock on Scorpio, so no bracelets would be required.

      • Visit site
        July 15, 2014 10:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Katie c

        ???Why not? Anyway the ship was in space…

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    Oh Sue. I do love you. You’re so funny and honest.

  • July 15, 2014 9:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Allen

    ” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but he’s acting a bit weird.”

    Emphasis on “acting”. Avon is definitely a bit more mannered and theatrical in Season 4.

    Or, as Avon would put it.

    Avon is DEFINITELY a bit more mannered and…. THEATRICAL in… Season FOUR!!!

    “Hasn’t Ben Steed taught us anything?”

    Avoid stories written by Ben Steed?

    • Visit site
      July 15, 2014 11:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
      DPC

      Nobody else could sell the theatrics better than Paul Darrow. Not even Brian Blessed… and, yes, I like their style of acting…

      • Visit site
        July 16, 2014 1:47 amPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        Colin Baker teasingly said to Paul Darrow on their DVD commentary for Dr Who’s “Timelash”: “Do you think that style of acting will ever come back?”, and PD replied “as far as I’m concerned, it never went away!”.

        • Visit site
          July 16, 2014 11:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
          DPC

          LOL, awesome! 😀

          Thanks for mentioning that!

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:39 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    I’m squinting …no, I still can’t see the feminist message. It’s possibly the least feminist thing I’ve ever seen on TV other than the Nora Clavicle’s Ladies Crime Club episode of Batman, and that doesn’t count because it’s Batman (60s version) Ben Steed’s theme seems to consistently be that women gain an unfair advantage over men through using some special power or technology when really they just want to be put in their place by a real man. Pella is an evil feminist, attempting to subvert the natural order, and suffers the consequences.
    Ignoring any of that, Steed’s episodes are still unsatisfying with a hotchpotch of sci-fi concepts chucked in but no real tension eg the base is about to be blown up but most of the time no-one’s paying any attention.
    -7 would be closer.

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:40 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Darrow-watch: “Ooh Pella it hurts”

    • Visit site
      July 15, 2014 9:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
      wyngatecarpenter

      Or was it “ooh it hurts Pella” ???

      • Visit site
        July 15, 2014 10:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Anniew

        There is no way his dialogue with Pella could have been acted naturalistically without making him seem as wimpey as Villa. At least his mannered delivery means he stays the alpha ham.

        • Visit site
          July 16, 2014 8:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
          wyngatecarpenter

          No need to worry about that, there’s no doubt about him being the alpha ham!

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 9:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Ade Jacobs

    A seven?? Really. Power is my least favourite episode of the entire run. Blimey, does that mean I have to watch it again in protest!!

  • July 15, 2014 9:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Philip Ayres

    yay! Sue liked it.

    Easily the best of Ben Steed’s episodes.

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 10:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    For a prospect tremendously risky,
    Our Sue sounds remarkably frisky.
    As long as there exists
    A war with the sexists,
    You eventually run out of whiskey.

    • Visit site
      July 15, 2014 10:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      That’s the more ‘positive’ version. The other would have ended ‘you eventually run out of cushions’. Which would you rather?

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 10:18 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    The long-haired moobed Hommik would also play a similarly regional alien on Doctor Who in Timelash. Though on this occasion we are at least spared his moobs.

    • Visit site
      July 17, 2014 11:54 amPosted 3 years ago
      Robert

      That’s the mighty Dicken Ashworth, of Alan Partridge fame; long before Steve Coogan was so known.

  • July 15, 2014 10:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    Sue never disappoints. By which I mean her opinions are never boring, and even when I disagree with them, I always see her side of it, at least a little bit.

    I totally see her side of this one. If any of these episodes are complex enough, however unintentionally, to merit a reading almost certainly counter to what Steed intended, it’s this one. I hate medieval sci-fi and the mistreatment of women as much as anyone, and yet I can’t deny I enjoy “Power” too.

    Do I think it’s feminist? Probably not, but I’m not all that interested in being the one to make that call — I’d take Sue’s word for it before mine. I do think the text and the subtext are at surprising odds. There’s the weird male bonding between Gun-Sar and Avon (“smell like a man,” indeed), the surprising nature of the relationship between Gun-Sar and Nina, the obsession once again with technology as the real enemy — it is at the very least fascinating and more full of ideas than many B7 episodes, even if many of those ideas are just a tad looney-tunes.

    The most uncomfortable part of it for me is the return of what we’ll decorously call the Unrequested Kiss, which Steed may have debuted on this show but he wasn’t the first to have Avon do it. When I was a kid I found this uncomfortable because I was a kid and was embarrassed to be caught watching a show with kissing in it, and now I find it uncomfortable because it is at best an iffy thing for a hero to do, even if that hero is Avon and is already a murderer many times over (is it worse that he kisses Pella or worse that he shoots her? exercise for the reader, show your work).

    I could go on, but for now I’ll just say I think the score reinforces my position on Steed: he may not be right, but he’s always entertaining.

    • Visit site
      July 15, 2014 10:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      I might be prepared to give Ben Steed the benefit of the doubt with Power and admit that *everyone* is horribly written and unlikeable.

      • July 15, 2014 11:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
        encyclops

        Oh, I don’t know if Nina is unlikeable, though whether she’s horribly written depends on your taste.

        But I think there’s something to note here, which is that if Pella seems ruthless and a bit smug, the desperation and dignity that underlie these attitudes are played straight. She’s not some castrating bitch, nor is she a simpering coward. And on the other side, there’s Gun-Sar, a comically inadequate orator and ultimately a rather needy husband. Compare him to Jarvik, the ostensible noble genius brute.

        Now, if you were to tell me that these elements were heavily reworked for the screen, that the layers I’m seeing are properly credited to the actors and the director, I’d believe you — I have no investment in giving Ben Steed props for these things. But I do think they’re there, in what made it to the screen, and they’re part of why I find this so watchable.

        • Visit site
          July 16, 2014 12:42 amPosted 3 years ago
          Dave Sanders

          But that desperation in no way comes across to me, since Pella had nothing to lose and a lot more sympathy to gain by saying “We’ll free the Scorpio if you take us somewhere safe where we can make a fresh start.” Instead, nope; it’s *bam*, instant evil as soon as her powers give her the upper hand. Not even ‘evil because she’s been conditioned by the environment to fear and distrust men’; the way it’s played is more like ‘evil because manipulative and reasons’ from the way it suddenly transpires she’s been pulling the strings with Dorian for so long, again for no obvious apparent easy or extra gain. This is the other real problem with Ben Steed’s scripts; the innate sexism is just a side effect of how everything at its core boils down to some unpleasant form of us-versus-them, with damn near everyone involved at the forefront coming across like they’re entitled to some form of ‘victory’, instead of knowing when it’s in their own self-interest to show a bit of dignity instead.

        • Visit site
          July 16, 2014 3:44 pmPosted 3 years ago
          The Grouchybeast

          I’ve always thought that Gun-Sar is portrayed as weak because he, albeit unknowingly, still lives cosseted by technology — the computer controlled heating, surveillance, etc. Wise, nurturing Nina is going to take them somewhere far away, where they won’t be corrupted by even that remnant of bad technology.

          (Because that’s absolutely where I’d want to be while I devoted myself to having lots of babies. Far, far away from any kind of technology, especially medical technology. Natural is best! GOOD CHOICE, NINA, and also, sod off, Ben Steed.)

          • Visit site
            July 18, 2014 6:32 amPosted 3 years ago
            Anniew

            I think the episode raised some interesting points about the way technology is used as political control in that society and our own. Most of us don’t know how it works, we haven’t got enough energy to supply our demands and it’s use keeps us docile and uncomplaining. Sooner or later this is going to lead to problems. It’s not suggesting technology is bad but reminding us that power (electrical, political) has to be maintained and that involves some kind of control which in the end will break down and that the real power lies with those that control technology who are usually ‘invisible’ to most of us and because of this unaccountable – unlike the visible rulers who can be challenged. I can’t remember the name of the Homick Avon kills with a cross bow but he’s the guy with the real power in the episode.

        • Visit site
          July 28, 2014 10:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Harriet

          I can’t forgive Nina, because she operates on a young girl to remove her powers against her will. In my opinion, it’s the shock of discovering her ex-heroine is a collaborator with the people who threw nucleic bursters into Seska procreation vaults that sends Pella over the edge. If Nina is a traitor, you can’t trust anyone.

    • July 15, 2014 10:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
      encyclops

      Speaking of personal obsessions, this is the second time Dayna gets to fight a man and almost-but-not-quite win. Make of that what you will.

      • Visit site
        July 15, 2014 11:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
        DPC

        Only, with Gunn-Sarr, it’s amazing she lasted as long as she had. Nice to see Dayna have an attitude and aimed at someone other than Vila! 😀

        Jarvik was an anorexic toothpick that may have been well-acted but the physical look of a large, muscular, scary dude was not there (his pushing around the guards wasn’t believable either..>)

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 10:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Personally I’m in the majority and think it’s hideous, for exactly the opposite reasons Sue latched onto; it isn’t Ben Steed’s usual might-makes-right consequence-free male power fantasy, it’s that the very thing that makes the subjugated women able to fight back and break free of the system turns them into the bad guys and ultimately results in their own destruction. Feminist, shmeminist. More annoyingly, Power is kind of like its own The Caves Of Anti-Zani. Rather than the unwitting presence of our heroes being enough to tip over the first domino that collapses the balance of power that’s been on a knife-edge for years, here the Seska reach crisis-point at *exactly* the moment when Dorian is suddenly no longer available and prior dealings between them can’t help either side. Phew, that was close; we nearly didn’t have a plot.

    Yeah, f**k off Ben Steed.

    • Visit site
      July 16, 2014 3:07 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      I think , however badly, this episode tries to raise questions about fanaticism and what it does to people and their relationships. It tries to contrast relationships based on intimacy with relationships based on the need to win the upper hand in the struggle. The ideas are interesting and relevant to the whole idea of revolution and how people relate to each other when they are fanatically pursuing an ideological goal or even just trying to survive. What is offensive is the way plot and character are manipulated to make the point. What is enjoyable is the sly humour. For me the humour wins but I’m pretty shallow.

  • July 15, 2014 10:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    Fun fact: “Power” was directed by a woman (Mary Ridge).

    • July 15, 2014 11:29 pmPosted 3 years ago
      encyclops

      Fun fact #2: the Trevor Hoyle novelisation Scorpio Attack skips over one of the first four episodes of season 4 and stitches together the rest. Guess which one he skipped!

    • July 16, 2014 3:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Alex Wilcock

      Other fun fact: seven of this season’s episodes were directed by women. I wonder if any other telefantasy series (with multiple episodes and multiple directors) managed that? Only one woman writer, but she is the best this season…

    • Visit site
      July 28, 2014 10:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Harriet

      I don’t really see it as a “fun fact”; I think Mary Ridge accounts for the episode’s redeeming features. We know it was her idea to make Gunn Sar do embroidery (she got the idea from seeing Geoffrey Burridge doing it in between takes when he played Dorian). So I think the interesting moments arise from the tension caused by the misogyny of Ben Steed’s script being subverted by Mary Ridge’s direction.

  • Visit site
    July 15, 2014 11:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
    DPC

    I used to hate this story, apart from the look and feel (the series 4/new wave/Paul Darrow Hair (PDH)(tm)/1981 goodness and sound effects). That and Mary Ridge knew how to make B7 come across good.

    There’s an unauthorized guide to B7, called “Liberation”, that puts a new spin on “Power” – and manages to vindicate the story, and even Ben Steed to some fair extent. I won’t spoil it with details, but Sue’s score is definitely deserved.

    My take on “the black woman” is that Pella has never seen one and has no other descriptor to use and she seemed to be clinical in approach. For all the story’s cliches, overt, pejorative racism never crossed my mind.

    Soolin’s hot for sure, but Dayna was there first. I don’t know why they couldn’t find a different position for Soolin, but given they’re outlaws and such, of all the duplicate functions to have, a gunslinger isn’t a bad choice – and is the most probable.

    • Visit site
      July 16, 2014 1:49 amPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Crowder

      I always assumed Dayna designed and built weapons, and was interested in how they worked; mastering any new ones she found. Whereas Soolin mastered one but a level way beyond Dayna’s. So for the quick clinical kill, Soolin was ideal, but for an intelligent assessment and evaluation of a new weapon, Dayna’s the woman.

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      July 16, 2014 1:55 amPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      Dayna is a weapons designer and a self-trained killer, but she prefers to fight with “primitive” weapons, she says. She’s not necessarily a sharp-shooter whereas Soolin is a gunslinger and not a weapons designer (Dorian designed the clip guns). They make a complementary pair. Soolin reminds me a bit of Dayna’s adopted sister actually, the one who was killed by the Sarrans. Maybe that’s why Dayna is friendly towards Soolin pretty much from the off; Dayna’s sister was good with guns too.

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        July 16, 2014 2:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Complementary pair: one gets stuff to do, and the other doesn’t. Except hate Vila, they’re both pretty good at that.

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          July 16, 2014 3:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Dave Sanders

          Soolin’s entire contribution to the story is to whip out a gun at Avon and drawl ‘I sell my skill’. OK, erm… for *what*, exactly? What is it you think these idiots have to *offer* you?

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    July 16, 2014 12:45 amPosted 3 years ago
    Katie c

    This could have been the episode that introduced us properly to Soolin, how she came to be there etc. She presumably knew of Pella and the Hommicks and their history and most of what Dorian had been up to, the plot could have been centred around her. I suppose Ben Steed couldn’t be bothered to waste time on a woman and decided to have her hide in a cupboard instead.

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      July 16, 2014 1:59 amPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      If they’d really been daring, they could’ve had Soolin recruited by the Seska. I presume they couldn’t change her backstory though to make her actually be a Seska who’d teamed up with Dorian, because… well, ‘spoilers’ but it’s in Blakes 7 Monthly when this episode aired, the stuff about her family etc.

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      July 16, 2014 6:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Richard Lyth

      Apparently they weren’t sure if Cally would come back until the last minute, so Soolin wasn’t thought of until the first few scripts had already been written. All things considered, I think Glynis Barber had a lucky escape…

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        July 18, 2014 10:47 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        what really gets me is how Avon is such an impossible know-it-all. In some ways he seems to have turned into Hercule Poirot. While everyone else stands around baffled, going; “But how…? Why?” Avon appears, unscathed, even though he’s suffered four serious head traumas, imprisonment and a painful energy attack, and lectures everybody in detail. And, like, how does he know all this stuff? How is it Avon leaps to conclusions that are always correct?

        Avon was always a know-all, starting with opening the doors on the London and working out where the Liberator would explode and not telling anyone, but all that was logical stuff and this is apparently wild leaps.

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          July 18, 2014 10:54 pmPosted 3 years ago
          wyngatecarpenter

          He’s even more of a know-it-all in Ben Steed episodes. Perhaps it’s making some kind of point about male superiority. Or perhaps it’s just lazy writing.

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          July 19, 2014 8:46 amPosted 3 years ago
          Anniew

          If he wasn’t Sherlock in space, presumably the others would have air locked him episodes ago. That’s the point. He’s impossible but too good to get rid of if you want to survive, win a revolution, get the washing machine working.

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            July 20, 2014 5:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            But seriously, he just sort of automatically knows, without any pertinent information, how a society failed or what’s behind the green door…or everything.
            Why have the writers done this? Avon’s know-it-allness used to be cool. It went hand-in-hand with his spikiness, which meant he could pull off this:
            Blake: “Does the planet have any intelligent life?”
            Avon: “Does the Liberator?”
            Evoking no more than an eye-roll from Jenna. It was kind of lovable. There he goes again. Cute, though, isnt he? So pretty. We can put up with it.
            Well, there’s no excuse now, because all those stupid studs, doesnt look pretty at all.
            Goddamn it. Temper. Kick things. Adjust.

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            July 20, 2014 8:01 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            You seem to be going a lot on looks (e.g. Studs. Hair.) Surely that can’t be a major factor in whether or not someone’s behaviour can be forgiven?

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          July 21, 2014 3:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Fiona

          Just call me shallow. But yes, actually I think it can! What are clothes and hairstyles but codes after all? What does bouffant and studs say (except for contempt for female fans with taste)?

          It says: I am no longer the cool slender repressed and contained grey-tunicked Avon you fell madly in love with and idolized beyond reason for nearly three weeks. Now I’m a strutting megalomaniac who cant keep his hands off the girls.

          And seriously…come on. Its pretty unforgivable to play around with people’s emotions like that. Its the IRL equivalent of marrying somebody and then turning into a giant slob who watches TV all evening with his hand shoved down his pants. Its deceit, that’s what it is!
          Sigh, still very realistic, I guess. Life moves on.

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    July 16, 2014 12:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mat Dolphin

    Sue is spot on with this one, lots to enjoy. Even in my teens, I remember thinking there was a Monty Python vibe to the primitives. Good episode in my book!

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    July 16, 2014 2:17 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rob

    I know it’s not saying too much but ‘Power’ is easily Ben Steed’s finest B7 script saved by some witty lines and some silly ideas. I would never in a million years rate it higher than ‘Rescue’ or ‘Trial’ but absolutely loving Sue’s comments.

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    July 16, 2014 3:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    The Grouchybeast

    Sue: Is that Germaine Greer?

    Me: I very much doubt it.

    But wouldn’t that have been AWESOME?

    ‘Power’ is pure essence of Ben Steed. The same nutty thesis as ‘Harvest of Kairos’ and ‘Moloch’, only here it’s basically the whole plot. I’m not sure how you could take the ‘evil technology overthrows the natural order’ theme any further after this, unless maybe you had an episode with an entire planet ruled by women who use cyber-bridles and techno-saddles to ride the men like ponies. (“Hi-ho, Avon, away!”) Makes you wish Steed had been given the chance to have a crack at another script, eh?

    That 7/10 score made me laugh, because I’ve always had a strange affection for ‘Power’, and when I say that it always makes people look at me like I’ve gone mad. I think it’s something to do with the purity of its concept and execution, no matter how deluded, and the presence of actual science fiction, which is always a pleasant novelty in Blakes. And Ben Steed still knows how to actually pace an episode better than some other B7 writers.

    Shame about Soolin being completely forgotten. Surely there would’ve been space somewhere to point out that she can only kill people because she has a gun, which is evil cheating technology?

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    July 16, 2014 4:31 pmPosted 3 years ago
    NICK GRIFFITHS

    Oh Power. Some good ideas in there and it is an interesting take on the old sci-fi cliché of modern tech vs medieval but ultimately it is macho sexist nonsense. Gun – sar rules by right of flabby man boobs by the looks of it.
    However there are some good points. As Sue noted, Vila is used well, Kyto is a rather good if somewhat underused character, Pella is very well acted.
    Curiously enough Paul Darrow states in his autobiography that this episode is a little corker.

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    July 16, 2014 11:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
    JarrickA

    Very generous rating on this one but to be fair its the best of the 3 B7’s Steed did. I have a question does anyone know if script editor Chris Boucher tweaked Steed’s script and added those domestic Gunsar scenes that toned down the usual over the top sexism Steed usually wrote? Having just read the book on Robert Holmes and some of the tweaks and rewrites he did on Dr. Who and seeing the slight softening in those scenes it makes me wonder how much input Boucher had on this one. It is still crapsville 5/10 and one of the worst of season 4. Also hoping someone formally organizes a protest fan site to Horizon I am really tired of those dinosaurs taking every bad rating so personally and doing these protest rewatches. Who cares! The Wife and Blake is fun and if Sue trashes a few eps while making everyone laugh all the better. Down with Horizon please Blake’s 7 fandom organize a better site that includes more relaxed fans.

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      July 23, 2014 11:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      StrayCat

      Oi! Jarvik! (or whatever your name is) Lay off Horizon! Those on the fansite who are reading this blog mostly do so to enjoy Sue’s comments, whether or not they reflect their own opinion. Those who don’t find the blog entertaining don’t read it. The ‘protest’ re-watches are no more than a bit of fun that would have taken place whether or not there was a duff mark from Mrs. P.. Horizon is a broad church and accepts a very wide variety of opinions. As you’ve obviously been having a look round, why don’t you join and find out?

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    July 17, 2014 5:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Ann worrall

    Not sure if an earlier post in reply to Dave got spammed. I think this episode is about extremist positions and the effect this has on relationships and relates to the whole argument about when does rebellion become as oppressive as the order it is trying to over throw ( eg star one). The plot and characterisation are manipulative. Not good. But it is also very funny. For me humour wins but then I am shallow.

    ps loved the Germaine Greer stuff! And Avon’s slow collapse is supremely funny – though given it was the 4th head trauma in the space of about 2 hours I think this and a lot of his weird behaviour from now on is attributable to this.

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    July 17, 2014 10:14 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Geoff

    It’s quite good fun really, you can almost forget it’s by Ben Steed as the woman hating subtext is only turned up to about 5 on this one! It has some very funny lines too “you can’t say someone’s missing if they were last seen plunging head first into a bottomless ravine” is one of my all time favour lines from B7

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      July 24, 2014 12:46 amPosted 3 years ago
      Supersynths

      I think “woman hating,” is a tad alarmist Geoff. Ben Steed’s scripts are anachronistic to present day viewing, but to say that they activity promote hatred of women is a bit dramatic.

      I don’t think the BBC would’ve allowed that 30yrs ago just like they don’t allow it now.

      Mild sexism (and that’s about as strong as you can accuse it of being – even by today’s over judgemental attitudes), is not the same as “woman hating.”

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    July 18, 2014 6:42 amPosted 3 years ago
    Amethyst

    ISTR PD, commenting on the high viewer rating ‘Power’ enjoyed, said “You see, some people like male chauvinism”. *shrugs*

    Possibly the worst of Blake’s 7 imho.

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    July 18, 2014 8:26 amPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    I have been out of the UK a long time now and Gunn-Sar’s accent is driving me made. Is it Bolton? Is it Leeds?

    “…has Avon lost the plot? It’s almost as if he doesn’t give a shit anymore”.

    Hasn’t he been like that since the Anna thing? After all, things cant really get much worse than that. To carry a torch for someone that long…displace your feelings onto another person and try and protect him in her stead…and then find out that’s she’s a Federation agent setting him up, nope, can’t think of many betrayals worse than that one. Especially for Avon, who prides himself on his intelligence and rationality and double especially after mysteriously getting himself arrested and tortured to get to Shrinker (instead of, you know, having Orac find his address and wait for him on the porch).
    So he must have felt a fool (You Fool!) as well as betrayed. Then there’s Blake gone missing too, and another female set of tricks to make him lose the Liberator…yes, I can see why Avon might be feeling a bit under par.

    You have to ask yourself, since all humans need hope to live, what can Avon now hope for? And Cally dead too, forgot about her, funny how fast she dropped off my radar.

    If you were Avon, could you ever trust anyone, especially any woman, again? He might have been better off giving Servalan a chance.

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      July 18, 2014 4:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Smile

      Dicken Ashworth, who played Gunn-Sar, is apparently from Todmorden in West Yorkshire. Oh, and it seems that it’s his birthday today too…

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      July 22, 2014 1:04 pmPosted 3 years ago
      django

      After first Anna and then losing the Liberator and Cally to a Servalan trick, Avon spends all of series 4 for spinning further and further out of control. The only things left for him to cling on to being his memory that Blake trusted him. This fuels everything from his attempts to organse a fight against the federation to………

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    July 18, 2014 10:29 amPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    And just to add to his depression he’s ‘knocked unconscious and held by the Hommicks…”

    Well never mind, the blond girl’s magic Vaseline-in-a-compact will sort it all out. Even for Blake’s 7 that looks cheap. Its just so obviously Vaseline.

    “…now that she’s a real woman, she can be a man’s slave”. But didnt it mean, that enslavement is what MADE her a woman? (forgive caps dont know how to do italics). The big primitive flung her over the sofa…wait, wrong one…dragged her by the hair to his cave and lo, she blossomed. Bit like the Queen of the Amazons being captured by Theseus.
    She said that line “No, I’m a Woman” twice, the second with this kind of hilarious exasperation, like nobody ever listens.
    It makes me feel much better about Servalan and Jarvik. Servalan never stopped being the boss after all. She was still commanding Jarvik to go off and fight Tarrant.
    Ok I cannot bear that stuff with Avon acting like the worst kind of sexist. I have had it with this studded leather and bouffant hair and acting macho. It doesnt suit him AT ALL.
    In fact, I cant believe I am saying this…but I just dont think I like him anymore. As cold as that, that’s inhuman. He doesnt seem complex now, he just seems like he’s decided everyone is mean, so I’m going to be a dick. And I will never even trust anyone to go to the shops for me.
    And this is out of order. The crew, even Tarrant, have repeatedly shown Avon they care. They accompany him to deal with the whole Anna thing, they search for him if he’s lost, they have never let him down. He’s just acting…well…

    I hesitate to add this, but….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0doSWS0Fj24
    I’m going to.

    And who is going to go back for Orac? Can Orac teleport itself?

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      July 18, 2014 3:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Isn’t part of the problem for Avon that caring for others has never been enough to keep them safe? Yes he’s behaving unsympathetically but he really believes that if he gives in to sentiment those he feels sentimentally about will die. ( Anna/Cally/Blake ) Logically then if he stops ‘feeling’ for them he believes he has a better chance of keeping them alive. He will make decisions coldly on the basis of what seems to give the group the best chance of survival. And I think he genuinely believes that they wouldn’t survive without him. And I think that it is probably true that they have a better chance with him and wouldn’t last long without him – any more that the crew would have done in the Blake days.

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        July 18, 2014 7:08 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        I swear, I think its now impossible to know. The old Avon, I would have said, sure you’re right. He was always declaring anyway that he cared for nobody while still riding to the rescue (Avon: “More last minute heroics?’ Blake “Isnt that your thing?”).

        So does Avon still care like that? enough to bury his feelings, like you say? Or has complete betrayal and loss in every way started to drive him mad?
        When you look at Avon in ‘Countdown’ explaining to Anna’s brother how he blames himself for her death and would have taken her place, you realize the source of his continual protection of Blake, of something good in the universe. (If Blake had ever sat down with Avon and said, ‘You’re right, Avon, wealth is the only reality, lets be pirates and get really rich”, I think Avon would have killed him outright). Avon still had a source of hope then to counteract the despair and darkness.
        But after losing Blake and finding out about Anna, how great would these two psychic shocks be?
        The thing is, about Anna and Blake, is that Avon felt they needed him. Anna needed him and he got her killed with his schemes and not being fast enough to shoot first. And Blake needed him all the time…Blake was a great reader of people and remember how he said he had trusted Avon from the beginning? He knew Avon better than he knew himself.
        Turns out Anna wasnt just an agent but a tough woman who could mount a coup and catch Servalan. She never needed him at all. And Blake…Avon failed, Blake is gone.
        So who actually needs Avon now?

        Maybe they need him to stay alive. Maybe. He’s the one who lost the Liberator, through not caring about them at all, only his obsession with Blake. Why didnt he tell them about what he was doing? It seems to me that after Anna, the loss of feeling that he was needed made him delusional over the Servalan trick. He wanted to believe it so badly, it made it easy to fool him. He’d never have fallen for that once. Avon who didnt get caught on Horizon like the others, wouldnt have fallen for it.
        (She knew him really well, didnt she, Servalan?enough to put in this thing about Blake having made a great discovery, so that Avon would be able to hide from himself that he was really wanting Blake back and pretend he was ruthlessly going after money)

        Look how happy he was to have found Blake again and have the chance to rescue him and nurse him back to health. He had an emotional purpose, he was needed. And it was all a sham…oh poor Avon, its heart-breaking, really. Servalan exulting over her victory was so cruel, first see him brought low over Anna and then this.

        So, now, who needs Avon? I think all of them are competent enough to be dropped off somewhere and survive fine.
        The only one who might need him, and for whom Avon could be emotionally useful is Vila, who seems to be heading for a breakdown, drinking too much and going to bits.

        Without being needed, Avon is becoming psychotic. The melodrama would now make sense, all the stamping and hissing and glaring: overcompensating for emotions that arent required anymore. The hard casing of leather and studs, too. Avon has no warmth or believable humanity anymore.

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    July 18, 2014 9:27 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Ann worrall

    Yes I think he is a shell if a man and a somewhat tragic figure because if he was living in a democracy like ours he might have made a decent enough human being, happily researching and probably married. There is something fascinating though about his sheer determination to survive at a costs. I think he has a purpose now which is revenging himself on Servalan for having exposed his need for Blake. I believe his actions show he does still care. He followed Dana in rescue and went back for Tarrant. He went back into the base to make sure Cally was really dead. He doesn’t trust anyone and he certainly doesn’t care for people who ‘ask the question’ but he still seems to have some sympathy with those in a weaker position like Nina. But isn’t it interesting that what some people describe as a hammy, over the top performance has created a character whose journey provokes so much debate?

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    July 18, 2014 10:37 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Ellynne

    I don’t think Ben Steed intended a feminist subtext, but it wouldn’t take too much tweaking to rewrite the story with a clear one. Weird, but true.

    But, I’ve always told myself that not all women were given the implant that gave them telekinesis. Once you decide that the Seska were a minority and that normal women were part of the oppressed majority, Nina’s statement about being a woman means she’s sided with the commoners.

    It also helps to imagine that the oppressed slave thing was an act they put on when encountering strangers so Nina can evaluate them and signal Gun-Sar. In that case, whatever she decided made Gun-Sar decide to have a showdown with Avon.

    OK, I have to stretch it, but it can be made to work.

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      July 20, 2014 5:21 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Right that’s the bit that got me. Was that an act: in which case their domestic cosiness is ok. But there was no clear indication that it WAS an act. It could just as easily mean that it was this bullying behaviour that liberated her womanhood.

      And when we look at Jarvik throwing Servalan around and grabbing her by the throat and her being cuddled up with him after his plans panned out (and lets not forget, Avon chucked Servalan on the floor and it didnt make her swoon for him) even if she did keep the whip hand by sending him to fight Tarrant (“If it amuses you”, said Jarvik…fucked up right there, Jarvik) and remember this is Ben Steed, then it looks quite likely its the bullying .

      I think its because there’s such a disconnect between the polish-my-boots, woman, which is in public and the fact in private they are cosy…but means nothing.

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    July 19, 2014 9:01 amPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    Just binged on the omnibus edition of East Enders. Haven’t seen it for years but World Cup watching has left me with late night insomnia. It’s just like Blake’s 7, grittily unrealistic and Billy Mitchell is a dead ringer for Villa. But oh the sentimentality – Danny Dyer and Phil Mitchell play sentimental versions of Avon which makes them soo inferior. I mean if you’re going to go all angsty about shooting someone in the back just don’t do it in the first place. And Dyer actually calls women treacle (get your tweet now Neil). O yes it’s the coldness at the heart of Blake’s 7 which makes it memorable for me. Survival in unremittingly hostile environs demands that you kill others and you really don’t have time to lament in order to make yourself acceptable to your audience because the next bugger with a neutron blaster is waiting in the wings. Unapologetic survivalism and if you don’t like the answer well you might as well end it yourself.

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      July 19, 2014 10:23 amPosted 3 years ago
      Smile

      Is Michael Keating still playing the vicar in that?

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        July 19, 2014 12:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Marcus Sheppard

        Not the last time the plot demanded a vicar. Tho this may have been calculated, to get through Lucy’s funeral without laughing.

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    July 20, 2014 9:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    I think Fiona might be reacting to the fact that season 4 Avon is so armoured that he seems invulnerable and that together with his cleverness makes it difficult to empathise with him. The Avon who could ruefully describe the Volcano fiasco as ‘ a mess’ has gone for good and we can only watch helplessly as he lurches from crisis to crisis. It’s no longer pretty but rather painful.

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      July 21, 2014 4:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Yeah, that really is spot-on, Annie. It is. Even in Series 1 when Avon didnt have a good word for anyone and seemed to go about in a kind of passion of contempt, you felt from the start that this was a wounded man, lashing out and keeping people away through fear of hurt, which made the whole Blake thing so much more intense.
      Tell them how to work the doors…and reject all the questions and apparently be up for having them killed….and then stalk away and sit alone….how could you help but want to know what was going on with him?
      And Frankymole can say that I’m putting too much on clothes and looks, but his entire psyche was emphasized by the black and grey soft clothes. They made him look vulnerable by underlining how really beautiful he was. So it was intriguing and heart-breaking…and visually satisfying let’s face it…
      so Avon for all his uniqueness had great humanity, seemed so broken and flawed, even though so smart and brave….
      Now, absolutely: what can you empathize with? It would be easier if t were not for all this kissing of random women. There was no need for the Seska Pella business. I mean, why? he just met her! He wasnt conquering her, like the Cally alien. She was conquered already!He thought. I was glad when she dropped a computer on his head. He was totally asking for it.

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        July 24, 2014 10:13 amPosted 3 years ago
        solar penguin

        That fits with the B7 ethos in general. Authority figures are always a Bad Thing in some way. And even if they weren’t originally, they end up becoming one. (Look how Blake was prepared to cause the deaths of millions by blowing up Star One.) Now that Avon has become the leader, of course he changes for the worse. It’s inevitable.

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      July 21, 2014 4:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      And Wyngate no comments about how you always find it painful to watch Darrow act!

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    July 21, 2014 4:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    Not to spoil, but so far the next episode is a festival of cheekbones. But also of hilariously badly applied blusher. And this is guys I am talking about.

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      July 21, 2014 7:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      Blimey, somebody remembers something about it.

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        July 24, 2014 11:59 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        No no, I am watching it. But the blusher is killing me.

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    July 24, 2014 7:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    John Reid

    Have you thought about showing Sue, Doomwatch, survivors or Star cops

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      July 25, 2014 6:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Robert Crowder

      Wouldn’t Greg show Sue Survivors?

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