The Federation Strikes Back…
Sue: Is this one directed by Douglas Camfield?
Me: Wait and see.
I challenge Sue to name the actress playing this week’s featured Mutoid.
Sue: I have no idea, but I do know that Douglas didn’t direct this. I can just tell.
Her second challenge is to not only recognise the location for this episode – Wookey Hole – but to remember which Doctor Who story was filmed here as well. She fails hopelessly on both counts.
Sue: I haven’t got a ****ing clue. Was it a Tom Baker?
Sue: Something of the Daleks.
Me: Is that your final answer?
Sue: Something of the Cybermen.
Me: That’ll do.
Space Commander Travis has arrived in some frozen caves to set a trap for Blake. He intends on using a woman named Avalon as bait.
Sue: Snow goggles are wasted on Travis; he should have a snow monocle instead.
Travis: This time we’ll be ready for you, Blake.
Sue: Did Travis look straight down the lens just then? It’s difficult to tell because he’s only got one eye.
Meanwhile, on the Liberator, Cally is tracking Avalon’s signal.
Sue: Cheer up, Cally, it may never happen. They always look so bloody miserable on this ship. Are they actually trying to out-frown each other?
Avon: We’ve come at the worst time, of course. The northern hemisphere is just entering its winter cycle. They call it the Long Cold. Something of an understatement, it lasts the equivalent of eight and a half Earth years.
Sue: It’s just like –
Me: Game of Thrones, but with less incest. Yes, we know.
Sue: Hey, this is Blake’s 7, there could be more incest.
A resistance group has gathered in the caves. Travis, flanked by four Mutoids, makes his presence felt.
Sue: (singing) Your lights are on, but you’re not home…
Travis wants to know where Avalon is, and he holds a gun to a man’s face in order to find out.
Me: Oh look, it’s Stuart Fell.
Sue: Oh yes, so it is. He’s dead then. Spectacularly.
Once again, Stuart doesn’t disappoint.
Sue: Ouch! That must have hurt. I’ll give him a 9.8 for that.
Avalon is taken away and the Mutoids massacre the rest.
Sue: We’ve seen this before, with the same shit guns. I wish Douglas had directed this. Very bleak, though.
The featured Mutoid of the week still doesn’t ring any bells with Sue.
Me: Do you recognise her yet?
Sue: Has she been in EastEnders?
Sue: Is she the one who gave that blow job in the car?
Me: Not as far as I know.
Sue: Does she ever take her hat off?
Sue: Then I give up. Who is she?
Me: She’s Makepeace from Dempsey and Makepeace, otherwise known as Glenda Mitchell, or Glynis Barber to her friends.
Sue: You have to start somewhere, I guess. I bet she doesn’t like to talk about this, though.
Blake and Jenna prepare to teleport to the planet.
Vila: Surface temperatures are down to minus one-eighty. Better wrap up warmly.
Sue: That’s the understatement of the century. I’m sure you can’t survive in temperatures like that, especially in a Parka from Millets.
Me: It isn’t Fahrenheit or Celsius – it’s minus-180 Terrys. That means it’s a bit chilly.
Down on the planet, Travis is torturing Avalon..
Sue: Wait, don’t tell me: you definitely remember watching this scene when you were eight years old – it explains a lot, actually. Either they are interrogating her or they’re going to give her one hell of a tan.
Blake and Jenna join forces with Chevner, the lone survivor of the massacre. Chevner warns them that they will have to override the Federation’s security systems if they want to rescue Avalon, so Blake orders Vila down to the surface.
Vila: Now wait a minute, it’s cold out there, and I’m very susceptible to low temperatures. I’ve got a weak chest.
Avon: The rest of you’s not very impressive.
Sue: Brilliant. I half expected Avon to belt Vila across the chest with a handbag when he said that.
Vila is dispatched to the planet, but not before he makes a big song and dance about it.
Sue: That was quite funny. At least the programme knows that Vila an irritating dick.
After Vila leaves, Avon and Cally exchange a meaningful look before laughing their heads off.
Sue: They are definitely shagging. All they have to do now is put Gan to bed and they’ve got the place to themselves.
Me: Just open a Live Journal account and be done with it, Sue.
Servalan arrives on the planet to give Travis his annual appraisal.
Sue: How many space minks died to make her coat, do you think? The bitch.
Servalan is feeling the pressure.
Servalan: There have been two attempts on my life… I consider Blake to be responsible.
Sue: Have we missed two episodes?
Servalan: Oh, not personally, of course, but stories of his exploits are still circulating. They excite people.
Sue: Which exploits are these then? Are you sure we haven’t missed an episode, Neil? They can’t be talking about the one with the catheter cock monster, surely to God.
Servalan chastises Travis for not doing his job properly.
Sue: I bet they’re at it.
Me: Why not, everybody else is! Look, can you watch an episode of Blake’s 7 without imagining all the lead characters having sex with one another, just for five minutes.
Sue: It’s not my fault. Look at them! Tell me they haven’t done it, Neil.
Servalan changes the subject, thank God.
Servalan: I think the labs have come up with what you wanted. It’s totally new, and very costly.
Sue: Have the Federation been cooking up some space meth?
A prisoner is taken to a secured booth. A glowing ball is placed on a conveyor belt which rolls the ball into the booth and across a table.
Sue: This is the worst episode of The Generation Game ever. Sparkly ball… sparkly ball… sparkly ball. Didn’t he do well!
The ball is smashed and the hapless guinea pig is turned to mush.
Sue: Whatever it is, it’s painless. He didn’t even flinch. Which makes it easier for the vision mixer, I guess.
When the process is over, all that remains of the poor bastard is his skeleton. Travis is very impressed with his new weapon.
Sue: He’s Chemical Travie.
Meanwhile, on the Liberator…
Zen: Sensors report spacecraft approaching.
Zen: Analysis indicates they are Mark Four Federation interceptors.
Sue: Is Avon blind? The baddies’ logo is on the ****ing radar screen. And who else could it possibly be? The Klingons?
The tunnels are by patrolled by a security robot and Blake’s gang are forced to take cover.
Sue: Watch out, it’s Dusty Bin again. It’s head can spin round and yet its peripheral vision still manages to be shit. How is that even possible? How can it not see four terrorists hugging that wall over there? That’s ridiculous.
Vila opens the hatchway which leads to the detention centre.
Sue: Vila should get himself a nice shoulder bag. That cooler box is a nightmare. There he goes – clunk, clunk, bang, clunk – down a narrow corridor like a baby elephant.
Chevner leads Blake into the detention centre.
Sue: Wasn’t this guy in Crossroads?
Me: No, it’s not Ronald Allen, although I can see where you are coming from. It’s David Bailie.
Sue: The photographer?
Me: No. Although he does work as a professional photographer now, which is very confusing, especially as Big Finish keep pestering David Bailey to do a cameo.
Chevner searches the prisoner database for Avalon’s cell number.
Sue: Just free all the prisoners! Open all the doors and free everyone – it’s the right thing to do!
But Blake only has eyes for Avalon.
Sue: It’s quite exciting, this.
Me: Does it remind you of anything else?
Sue: Star Trek. They all remind me of Star Trek.
Me: Not Star Wars?
Sue: Oh yeah. I see what you mean. It is very similar. So which one is Chewbacca, because Vila is definitely C-3PO.
Still not convinced? Take a look at this:
Blake frees Avalon from her cell.
Blake: I’m Blake. We had hoped to get you out sooner, we’ve had a bit of trouble.
Me: Aren’t you a little short for a Blake?
Blake blasts his way out of the detention centre.
Sue: I still think Douglas would have done it better, but that wasn’t bad at all.
The Liberator – which has been on an evasive detour – returns for Blake.
Avon: You’d better switch on the communication channel.
Gan crosses flight deck and switches it on.
Sue: Finally, Gan actually did something useful. Things must be serious.
As they escape, Blake’s gang are confronted by the Federation’s security robot.
Sue: There are five of you! Shoot the bloody thing!
They teleport to safety before the robot can attack.
Sue: Oh my God, it’s actually peeing fire.
The Liberator hightails it out of there.
Sue: Servalan will have Travis’s balls on a plate for that. What a **** up. And in the middle of his appraisal as well.
Blake suspects that his escape was far too easy. Raising his suspicious further are the Federation’s new weapons.
Sue: It’s a mastic gun. I’ve got one in the shed.
Avon examines the weapon.
Avon: It’s not standard issue. Low energy bolt discharge. This could bruise or stun, but it couldn’t cause any serious injury.
Sue: Great for sealing windows, though.
Meanwhile, Avalon has changed into something more comfortable.
Sue: It looks like Christmas has come early for Gan. And it proves once and for all that the Liberator does come equipped with pyjamas after all.
Avalon tells Gan that Chevner attacked her.
Sue: She’s the baddie! It’s definitely her! Come on, Gan, it’s a Terry Nation script so it must be her. The Federation have brainwashed her. It’s obvious.
Avalon prepares to launch a chemical attack on the crew, and it takes the combined might of Gan, Jenna, Blake and Vila to restrain her.
Sue: Avon would have put his fist through her face.
It’s a good job he didn’t because he would have broken his fist in the process. You see, the Avalon they rescued is a robot duplicate.
Sue: That’s a clever effect for its time. I can just about buy that.
Even though she’s a telepath, Cally never suspected a thing.
Cally: I still find it hard to believe.
Sue: What is the point of Cally again? I’ve completely forgotten.
Blake asks Avon to reprogram the robot, and then he teleports back to the planet and demands to speak with Travis.
Sue: The look on Travis’s face is priceless. I almost feel sorry for him.
Servalan and Blake face each other for the first time.
Sue: Do you think Servalan secretly fancies Blake?
Blake instructs the robot to open its thumb and forefinger, just enough to grip a ball.
Sue: This isn’t the first time Avon has programmed a robot to do that. I’m saying nothing.
Blake: The robot will crush the phial in response to one of three triggers. A particular word, a specific sound or a certain movement. You had all better be very, very careful about what you say and do.
Blake teleports to safety.
Sue: If Blake was really a terrorist, he would have programmed the robot to drop the ball as soon as he got out of there.
Travis moves towards the robot and the ball is dropped.
Sue: Or maybe he did. Or maybe Travis set it off. We’ll never know for sure, but this only works if Blake planned to murder the entire room, so I’m going with that.
Travis catches the phial before it can break.
Travis: If it takes all my life, I will destroy you, Blake. I will destroy you. I will destroy you.
Sue: They have to stop ending episodes like this. It’s a bit silly.
Me: I’ll get you, Blakey!
Sue: That was pretty good. Some of it was very exciting. I think Blake’s 7 has finally found its groove. When Servalan and Travis are around it feels like we’re actually going somewhere. It’s all that mucking about on mysterious space ships and shitty planets for no apparent reason that I don’t get. This is what I thought Blake’s 7 would be like; it’s only taken them nine episodes to get there.
The next blog will be published on Friday 7th February. There won’t be an update this Tuesday. Sorry about that.