Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray…
Sue makes it through the title sequence without uttering a single word. When the redesigned logo appears on screen, I hit the Pause button.
Sue: What do you want me to say? I thought they might cut away from the boring computer display to something more exciting, but they didn’t, so it’s crap.
Me: Still no apostrophe in the title.
Sue: Still no Avon in the title.
I press Play.
The episode begins with Avon and Dayna approaching the spaceship left to them by Servalan at the end of Terminal.
Sue: Servalan must be around here somewhere. She can’t have teleported very far.
However, Servalan has booby-trapped the spaceship, and when Dr. Cornelius sticks his head inside the door, it explodes.
Sue: What a bitch. She’ll regret that when she realises she’s stranded there with them.
When the complex beneath Terminal explodes, Vila thrusts his crotch into Tarrant’s face in order to shield him from the flaming debris.
Sue: Thank God he didn’t try to save Cally like that.
We’ll never know if Cally would have preferred Vila’s thrusting crotch to death because she’s, erm, dead.
Sue: No ****ing way! Just like that? Off-screen? Doesn’t anyone stick around long enough to say goodbye on this bloody show? Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad she’s gone – but that was a really disappointing way for a character to leave a series. This isn’t a very good start, Neil.
Sue does a quick head count.
Sue: Orac must be dead as well. He couldn’t have survived that explosion. So that’s two cast members who didn’t renew their contracts.
Meanwhile, on a spaceship we’ve never seen before…
Sue: Is this the Liberator‘s replacement?
Me: You tell me.
Sue: I think they’ve spent some serious money on it and they’re showing it off, so I guess it must be. I like it.
Me: You like it? Are you insane?
Sue: It’s a proper spaceship. It’s clean for a start. And silver.
Me: You’re actually telling me that you prefer this bland box to the Liberator, one of the most interesting designs for a spaceship ever seen on television?
Sue: Yes. I don’t like the exterior that much, though. It looks like someone’s wrapped a spaceship in brown paper.
The ship belongs to a man named Dorian.
Sue: Is he Cally’s replacement? There’s going to be a lot of testosterone on that ship if he joins the crew. That’ll annoy Dayna and Vila.
Dorian’s ship is equipped with an obsequious computer.
Sue: This must be Zen’s replacement. He sounds like the miserable robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Is he from Birmingham? Who’d programme a computer to sound like it came from Birmingham?
Back on Terminal, Avon tells Tarrant that Cally is dead.
Sue: No one gives a shit. I know Cally didn’t do very much, besides getting taken over by telepathic aliens every week, but the lack of tears is a bit harsh. Even Avon doesn’t care and he slept with her!
She eventually realises that Avon is fiddling with something between his legs.
Sue: I don’t believe it! So he went back in there for that stupid bloody computer but he couldn’t be bothered to recover Cally’s body so they could give her a decent burial. I don’t know how I feel about that. Actually, I do know how I feel about that – I’m pissed off!
Sue seethes in silence until Vila walks over the edge of a cliff.
Sue: What a dick!
Dorian comes to the rescue.
Sue: Why haven’t we got a cat called Dorian?
Me: Because then we’d have a cat called Dorian.
Sue: Fair enough.
Avon forces his way onto Dorian’s ship.
Sue: Why don’t they just ask him for a lift? He just saved Vila and Dayna from being eaten by a Triffid, so why is Avon is treating him like he’s just pissed in his tea?
Dorian says he’s an intergalactic scrap dealer.
Sue: If he is a scrap dealer, they should have hired a cockney, or someone from the North. Does this show really need another posh boy?
Not for the first time, Vila invades Dayna’s personal space.
Sue: No wonder Dayna can’t stand Vila. He can’t keep his hands off her.
Me: I think Dayna hates Vila almost as much as you do.
Sue: I don’t hate Vila, he just irritates the hell out of me.
The crew prepare to lift-off as a volcano erupts around them.
Me: You can buy those chairs from Staples, you know.
Tarrant buckles up his seat-beat. Clunk-click every space-trip.
Sue: Does the ship come equipped with air bags as standard?
Me: Yes, although you do have to pay extra if you want the built-in tape deck.
When Scorpio blasts off from Terminal we are treated to another exterior shot.
Sue: I’ve got to say that shit-brown isn’t a great colour for a spaceship. And are those car headlamps? Is the ship going backwards?
Dorian bangs his head on a corrugated box during take-off, which renders him unconscious. However, before his accident, he pre-programmed the flight computer to take him home, which makes Vila extremely nervous.
Vila Any friend of Dorian’s is unlikely to be a friend of ours.
Sue laughs her head off.
Dayna explores Dorian’s gun cabinet.
Sue: At least they look like proper guns. If you pointed that at someone they wouldn’t go, “Eh? What? You want to curl my hair?”
Dorian’s guns have been adapted to fire a wide variety of projectiles.
Dayna: Laser, plasma bullet, percussion shell, micro grenade, stun, drug –
Sue: They look like printer cartridges. If they cost half as much to replace as printer cartridges, they’ll only kill people when they really, really have to.
The ship even comes with its own (non-functioning) teleport system.
Sue: What are the chances of that? Of all the ships they could have ended up on, it had to be one with a talking computer and a teleport thingy. Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen. Does the ship come with its own telepath as well?
The ship is heading for the planet Xenon.
Sue: Aww, I bet Zen would have loved that.
Vila is worried about Dorian’s associates. Dayna tells him to cheer up – he’s surrounded by clever associates as well.
Vila: Oh yeah? Name six.
Sue: Seven, surely? Oh **** it – I don’t care any more; the title of this programme only ever made sense for a fortnight.
On the planet Xenon, a woman is trying to establish radio contact with Dorian.
Sue: I bet you wish she was a regular character on Blake’s 7, don’t you, Neil? Eh? Eh?
The spaceship is called Scorpio.
Sue: I don’t like the name. They’ll have to change the name.
Scorpio enters the Xenon base.
Sue: Wow, this is fabulous. It’s like Thunderbirds meets James Bond. It looks amazing. Are these new effects, Neil? Were they added to the DVD later? No? Bloody hell. I’m impressed.
After some gentle prodding, Sue eventually recognises Glynis Barber.
Sue: Either I’m experiencing déjà vu or she’s been in Blake’s 7 before.
I remind her of the conversation we had during Project Avalon.
Sue: Is she playing the same part? Is she still a space vampire?
The woman’s name is Soolin and she’s the fastest gunslinger in the Western spiral arm of the galaxy. She serves a mean glass of wine, too.
Sue: Do they call her Soo for short?
When Dorian leaves his guests to freshen up, he does so with a noticeable limp.
Sue: Either he hurt his leg when he fell over on the ship, or he can’t hold his drink and he’s pissed.
Avon congratulates Dorian for his impeccable taste in wine and women.
Sue: Cally’s corpse isn’t cold and he’s already thinking about another man’s girlfriend. Bloody hell, Avon. Show some respect.
Dorian pays a visit to the planet’s basement. He appears to have aged considerably.
Sue: What the actual ****? I haven’t got a clue what happening any more.
Me: Haven’t you worked it out yet, Sue? What other work of fiction features a character called Dorian, who tries to stay young in spite of their age?
Sue: I don’t know. Birds of a Feather?
Vila, Dayna and Tarrant change into some fresh clothes.
Sue: Vila looks like he’s the new poster boy for Man at C&A.
The next time we see Dorian he’s young and virile again.
Sue: Did he cut himself shaving or are his sideburns supposed to look like that?
Dorian isn’t who he says he is.
Vila: There’s something very suspicious about a man who keeps his booze under lock and key.
Sue: That must be a clue. If this story doesn’t hinge on a bottle of wine, I’ll eat my hat.
Me: It’s Chekhov’s carafe. And no, that wasn’t a reference to Star Trek, Sue.
Dayna and Tarrant explore the planet’s basement. When they come to a dead-end, Tarrant decides to return to the surface, mainly because he’s worried that Avon will leave without them.
Sue: Still no trust, I see. I don’t understand why they insist on staying together. They should call it a day and split up. Avon should start again from scratch.
Dayna finds a secondary staircase that leads deeper underground. When she reaches the basement she’s threatened by a monster lurking in the shadows. Dayna freaks out.
Sue: Just run back up the stairs, love.
When her gun refuses to fire, Dayna chucks it at the monster instead.
Sue: I’m beginning to think that they should have ended Blake’s 7 after the last episode, Neil. This is dreadful.
Soolin removed the gun’s cartridges while Avon was bathing.
Sue: Hey! Why didn’t we see that scene? I feel cheated.
Dorian entertains Avon in his swanky subterranean pad.
Sue: It reminds me of a hotel foyer. And Dorian reminds me of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – only posher and even more camp. He is easy on the eye, though.
Dorian has lived for more 200 years.
Sue: I knew it! He’s a vampire. Glynis Barber bit him on the neck and now he’s a sodding vampire. It all makes sense.
Vila knocks back some more wine. I wish I could join him.
Sue: I’ve got it! The wine isn’t really wine – it’s blood. Cursed blood that turns you into a vampire. Vila’s ****ed!
Meanwhile, in the basement, Avon, Tarrant, Dayna and Soolin are told that they will be transformed into a Gestalt entity. Be honest now – who didn’t see that coming?
Sue: This is more supernatural than science fiction. I don’t like it. This is too far-fetched – even for Blake’s 7.
A monster staggers out of the mist.
Sue: It’s a Sea Devil… What the **** is a Sea Devil doing in this story, Neil?
Me: That’s one of Blake’s 7 greatest mysteries, Sue.
She doesn’t fall for it.
Sue: I bet they ran out of money so they had to raid the BBC’s cupboards for second-hand monster props. Yeah, that explains it. They spent all the money on the new spaceship. The producer should be fired for that.
Avon kills the Sea Devil and Dorian crumbles to dust.
Sue: He’s making a meal out of this. I just don’t care any more. Oh, that special effect was quite good.
Now that Dorian is dead, the Sea Devil reverts to its original human form.
Sue: Hang on a minute… That means he explored that cave in his pyjamas!
The episode is so ridiculous, Vila promises to stop drinking.
Vila: It’ll be pink asteroids next.
Sue: Only if you steal them from Doctor Who, you cheapskates.
Sue: Damn it. I was really looking forward to that.
Me: Do you like the new music?
Sue: No, I bloody don’t. It’s lift muzak.
Me: It’s as if Blake’s 7 has won an award, and the house orchestra have struck up an easy listening version of the theme tune as the producer heads to the stage to collect it. That what it sounds like to me.
Sue: If Blake’s 7 ever won an award, Neil, it wouldn’t be for that episode. No, it reminds me of those Top of the Pops records from the seventies; you know, when you couldn’t afford the real thing and you had to make do with a cheap cover version. I don’t like it.
Me: I suppose a dance is out of the question, then?
Sue: What are those three lights leaving the screen supposed to represent?
Me: That’s Blake, Jenna and Cally running in the opposite direction.
Sue: That was disappointing. It started off OK but it went down hill as soon as they landed on the planet. I didn’t get that at all. Even Servalan would have been preferable to that. Where is she, anyway?
Sue: Still, I liked the spaceship, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Do they get to keep Dorian’s house as well?
Sue: Does this mean they’ll have to feed the supernatural entity in the basement every week? Is the supernatural entity a member of the crew now? Is it any good at telepathy?