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Sand

Dune Bug…

SandBefore we begin, Sue hasn’t read Frank Herbert’s Dune and she doesn’t remember anything about the David Lynch film, either. So if you’re expecting any jokes about the Kwisatz Haderach, you’re going to be disappointed. The good news is that not only is Sand directed by Sue’s favourite female director, it’s written by a woman, too. It can’t possibly fail.

Sue: This is a bit shit.

Oh.

Sue: I can see what they’re trying to do, but they haven’t got the money to do it justice. It looks cheap. Having said that, the model canyon isn’t that bad. It’s ambitious, I’ll give it that.

Investigator Reeve is on his way to the planet Virn to look into the unsolved case of Don Keller, a Federation scientist who hasn’t been heard from in five years. Please note: Sue wasn’t a fan of Howard’s Way (it was too middle-class) so if you’re expecting any jokes about yachts, forget it.

Me: I love Stephen Yardley. I don’t know why, I just do.

Sue: Good, because you’re going to end up looking like him if your hair keeps abandoning your head the way it is at the moment.

Commissioner Servalan Sleer is also on her way to Virn.

Me: Aren’t you going to swear or stamp your feet or something?

Sue: I’d be more surprised if she didn’t turn up. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that she has to turn up sooner or later, so it may as well be sooner.

SandWe learn that a mysterious virus attacked a Federation outpost on Virn five years ago, but Sue is too distracted by Stephen Yardley’s posture to care.

Sue: Is he limbering up for a disco dancing tournament?

Me: It looks like they’re discussing tactics for their next Strictly performance.

Sue: (as Reeve) Does my bum look big in this?

Servalan’s demeanour as she listens to Don Keller’s final transmission is a little odd to say the least.

Sue: Why is Servalan so sad? Is she thinking about the time she used to be the president and she could order her lackeys to risk their lives on missions like this? I bet she is.

Investigator Reeve isn’t a very nice person.

Reeve: (to Servalan) There’s nothing for you on Virn. Unless someone thought I’d be lonely?

Servalan: I’m sure you’re accustomed to loneliness, Investigator Reeve. You must be alone such a lot.

Sue: Nice put down. Maybe she’d be interested if he had more hair. Sorry, I’m joking, Neil. I still love you.

And because Stephen Yardley doesn’t need any hair gel, it appears that he’s shared his daily ration with the ship’s crew.

Sue: They look like they’re auditioning for a part in Grease. Hey, I recognise that pilot…

SandShe’s pointing at Daniel Hill. Definitive proof that even though Shada doesn’t really count, it’s impact on Sue has been so profound she –

Sue: He was in the last series of 24. You know, the funny one set in London. Do you remember, Neil?

Their ship is suddenly caught in the grip of a Pink Floyd laser show (aka a multi-gravitational field). This results in a very bumpy ride.

Sue: If this is how they usually fly the ship, I’m not surprised they need all that hair gel.

Back at Xenon Base, Avon suggests that it might be a good idea if they followed the Federation to Virn to steal whatever it is they may – or may not – have found.

Sue: It’s a bit risky, isn’t it? Is there really nothing else they could be doing or stealing today? Are they really that bored? This is needlessly reckless.

Servalan and Reeve begin a five-mile hike to Keller’s base. Servalan opts for high heels, obviously.

Sue: This set is a bit crap. The effects seem to have gotten worse as the series has gone on. You’d think they’d be better at this sort of thing by now.

The ship’s captain tests his engines and accidentally sets off a sand slide.

Sue: Servalan will be picking sand out of her gown for weeks. That’s what happens when you stroll around on a barren planet in a cocktail dress. I’ll never say this again, I promise, but IT’S RIDICULOUS! And if the whole episode takes place on this set, we’re in big trouble.

SandReeve and Servalan end up sharing a cave together. Servalan boasts to Reeve that she is unique.

Sue: Who else would go camping dressed like that?

Servalan: Goodnight, Investigator. Sweet dreams.

Sue: (as Servalan) Please keep the noise down if you feel the need to toss and turn all night.

Servalan’s assistant (a man so bland he doesn’t even get a name) is murdered by a sand dune.

Sue: So the sand is alive and it kills you? I’m sure I’ve seen this in Doctor Who.

Me: You have, but Blake’s 7 got there first.

Sue: It’s a brilliant idea. The kids must have been scared to death when they went on holiday.

As Scorpio approaches Virn, Slave begins to act erratically.

Sue: Slave is even more off his tits than he usually is. He’ll be complaining about a bad case of the munchies next.

Dayna and Tarrant teleport to Virn armed with percussion bullets.

Sue: Does that mean Dudley Simpson plays his maracas every time she fires her gun?

Me: I think that always happens, Sue.

Servalan tells Reeve that she’s faced several maniacs in her lifetime, and how this adventure on Virn isn’t a new experience for her.

Sue: And yet she still insists on wearing high heels every time she leaves the house. You’d think she would have worked it out by now. Sorry, sorry… I promise I’ll never mention her clothes again.

Reeve knows who Sleer really is.

Reeve: We never actually met. But I was at one of those official receptions for good and faithful servants that you occasionally graced with your presence.

SandSue: Finally! Somebody who can remember a face! He is so dead.

Right on cue, Reeve begins acting even more unhinged than normal.

Sue: So the sand takes you over and makes you crazy. The virus is in the sand. This is exactly the sort of thing that Doctor Who would do.

A gun-happy Reeve goes hunting for Tarrant and Dayna.

Sue: This planet looks fine when you can’t see the sky. As soon you can see the sky, it looks like a children’s nativity play.

Dayna teleports back to the Scorpio with a flesh wound and a pile of sand.

Sue: They are so ****ed.

Tarrant shoots Reeve, which saves Servalan the trouble of doing it herself later.

Tarrant: Well, everyone’s entitled to one really bad mistake.

Sue: I’m really beginning to enjoy this.

Back on Scorpio, it’s Orac’s turn to start acting up.

Orac: I love you!

Sue: He must have got some sand in him. Quick! Somebody get a hoover.

When Orac tells Avon that they will become lovers for a little while, or maybe even a long while, Sue spits out her tea.

Sue: It’s all coming out now! I reckon the virus makes you lose your inhibitions and you have to tell the truth, which means this programme is even more messed up than I thought.

SandTarrant and Servalan agree to put aside their differences so they can work together. After they’ve finished flirting, of course.

Sue: Thank God she didn’t put that gun in her mouth.

The computer in Keller’s base begins spouting nonsense.

Computer: I love you. I know a land where love… Keller. Don. Don. Dun. Din. Dan. Den.

Sue: It’s a transcript of his last chat room visit. He was finding it difficult to type one-handed towards the end.

When Servalan finds Keller’s corpse, she pushes it to the floor in a fit of pique.

Sue: Maybe she knew him, back when she was Servalan… Which means she would have killed him later anyway, so why is she so upset?

Keller’s body is still warm. And then the sand begins to advance on the base.

Sue: This is proper scary. I hope the TARDIS turns up.

Tarrant opens the front door, which lets a huge quantity of sand into the base.

Sue: What did he do that for? What did he think would achieve? Has Tarrant lost his mind?

When a sudden noise startles Servalan, she grabs Tarrant’s arm for support.

Sue: Tarrant’s definitely pulled.

SandThe noise they heard is the meal that Tarrant ordered from the base’s food dispenser.

Sue: He thinks he’s James Bond. I hope he’s ordered some champagne.

Back on Scorpio, there’s a subtle callback to another episode written by Tanith Lee.

Soolin: I seem to recall you telling me of an alien trying to take over the Liberator through Cally.

Sue: You’ll have to narrow it down a bit, pet. It will probably be quicker to tell you about the times when she wasn’t being taken over by aliens.

The crew begin to bicker amongst themselves. Even more than usual, I mean.

Sue: What? I don’t get it. Is there supposed to be something wrong?

After a romantic meal, Tarrant decides to grill his arch nemesis about her miraculous escape from the Liberator and her plans to take back the presidency.

Sue: At least they’re finally addressing this. Her explanation still makes no sense, though. Surely it would easier for her to get a new face to go with the new name. It must be possible in the future. This means she has to murder everyone who recognises her, and it won’t be long before killing people who recognise her will become a full-time job. It can’t be worth the aggravation.

Tarrant lets it be known that he thinks Servalan is an evil, conniving predator, and yet, if push ever came to shove… Well, you know…

Sue: Brilliant. Avon will go spare.

SandAvon is currently oblivious to Tarrant’s attempts at foreplay. He’s too busy playing with his probability squares.

Sue: He should design an app for that; he’d make a fortune. Avon’s App: for all your intergalactic problems.

Me: I wonder how many of those squares have Servalan’s name on them.

Sue: All of them if he’s got any sense.

Tarrant tries to work out why the base’s computer malfunctioned.

Sue: It actually makes sense when you think about it. Computers are made from silicon, so there you go. Yes, it’s very clever. And now that we’re indoors, this is very claustrophobic. Yes, I like this a lot. The sound effects are really good, too.

Tarrant has a theory about the sand.

Sue: Tarrant’s acting like he’s the Doctor, and he’s treating Servalan like she’s his companion. Are you sure this script wasn’t rejected by Doctor Who and they simply changed the names?

Tarrant thinks he has it all figured it out.

Tarrant: The sand reckoned it could afford to kill them if it saved me. And you, of course. Yes, any number of women would be safe. A herd.

Sue: Is he saying what I think he’s saying?

Me: I think he is.

Sue: He’s jumping to a very big conclusion. Hang on a minute… He’s just making this up so he can get his leg over!

Me: The only time Tarrant gets his leg over is when aliens force him to do it. At least that’s what he tells himself.

Servalan admits that she and Keller used to be lovers.

SandSue: Ah, that explains why she’s been acting so sad. Oh, and Keller was punching well above his weight. He must have let himself go as he got older.

Me: Why are you suddenly looking at me?

Servalan is on the verge of tears.

Sue: I can’t believe that I actually feel sorry for her. I must be crazy.

Tarrant and Servalan snog.

Sue: Hey! Don’t take advantage of her when she’s feeling vulnerable!

When we next see Tarrant and Servalan, they have enormous smiles on their glowing faces.

Sue: They definitely did the deed. Avon will hit the roof when he finds out.

While Servalan was sleeping, Tarrant came up with another theory about the sand. And no, it doesn’t involve anal sex.

Tarrant: You cry very beautifully, Servalan, and one of your tears did this to the sand on the floor.

When Tarrant pours water onto the sand, it goes up in smoke.

Sue: Are you sure her tears were responsible for that? There must have been a lot of moisture that we didn’t get to see last night. Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if…

Me: Sue!

SandTarrant and Servalan snog again, but this time she pulls a gun on the permed crusader before he can get to second base.

Sue: He must be shit in bed.

Back on Scorpio, Vila’s pulse is very weak.

Avon: Well that should go very nicely with the rest of him.

Sue: Brilliant. I can’t tell if Avon has been taken over by the sand or not. I mean, how would Avon act if the sand made him go crazy? You’d never be able to tell.

Avon believes that the sand has decided that he is the dominant male on the ship, which means Vila is now surplus to requirements.

Me: Avon IS the Kwisatz Haderach!

Sorry.

Sue: Avon is jumping to a lot of conclusions as well. Has he got any evidence to back this up? Or is this just an excuse for a threesome?

Me: You need an excuse?

Avon decides to make it rain.

Me: It only rains on Dune in the movie – it doesn’t rain in the book. I just wanted to point that out. If it had rained, the giant worms would have died. Don’t worry, Sue, there aren’t any giant worms in this.

Sue: I know. Just ask Servalan.

SandAvon: Let us get closer. Eventually there may be enough of a build-up to create some kind of rain.

Sue: I bet you wouldn’t try to save the day if a threesome was on the cards. Don’t pretend that you would, Neil.

Avon: (screaming) This is not just a rescue mission for poor gallant Tarrant!

Sue: He’s a poet and he doesn’t even know it. Is the sand making Avon act like this? It really is impossible to tell with Avon.

The rain generated by Scorpio’s rapid descent keeps the sand at bay long enough for Tarrant and Servalan to escape from the base.

Sue: That was one hell of a first date. A little bit more exciting than a game of pool in Whitby.

Me: Similar death toll, though.

When Tarrant teleports back to the ship, he decides not to admit that he’s slept with their arch enemy.

Sue: Avon will go bananas if he ever finds out. I bet Servalan can’t wait to tell him.

SandUPDATE: It seems that we were talking over the bit where Tarrant doesn’t deny that he’s slept with Servalan, but doesn’t want to talk about it. Either way, it’s pretty obvious that Avon knows. Sorry, it happens sometimes, especially when I’m not familiar with an episode and I don’t rewind the important bits that we miss because we’re yakking over it.

The episode concludes with Servalan filing a negative report.

Servalan: I had the gun but I didn’t kill you, Tarrant… Yet.

Sue: Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: It started off badly. If I’m honest, the first fifteen minutes had me worried, they were so dreadful. However, as soon as the bald guy died and the sand came to life, I began to enjoy it. Even Servalan was sympathetic, and I never thought I’d say that at this late stage. The script was very clever and the direction was pretty good, too. If only they’d gone on location. Anyway, yes, I liked it a lot.

Me: Aren’t you disappointed that Tarrant was stuck on the planet with Servalan instead of Avon?

Sue: Not really. It’s a proper love triangle now. In fact, I bet Avon kills Tarrant when he finds out that he slept with her. Just you wait and see.

Er… sorry!

8/10

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129 comments

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 7:45 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robert

    Um… by the end of the episode the crew DO alll know what he did and who with…

    • August 13, 2014 7:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      Yes, you’re right. He doesn’t deny it but he doesn’t admit it, either. To be honest, we were probably talking over that bit.

      • August 14, 2014 10:25 amPosted 2 years ago
        Michael Clark

        I thought they could tell by the stains!!

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 7:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    You’ve got some Suz in your Sand, Neil.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 7:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Inform Tarrant and his ice queen
    That the colour of monsters is green.
    And if the Dicks warning
    Can’t prevent shoehorning,
    Let’s keep it to PG-13.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 7:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robert

    I’m off to the website next door.

    • Visit site
      August 13, 2014 8:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Frankymole

      My favourite line in this is the “girl next door” exchange. What makes it really lovely is the (oft-told by Pacey and Pearce) fact that in real life the two actors really were living next door at the time (Thames house boats).

      • Visit site
        August 13, 2014 8:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        That’s cheating when it’s the houses that move.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rassilon

    Who is this “Severlan’s” of which you speak.

    I was struggling for the DW sand reference then realised Robots of Death, I think this is more the basis of “ST-TNG Home Soil”.

    Intrigued now by the deathpool in Whitby, presumably no threesome there either, though I imagine not much else to do there.

    Been a while I thought Tarrant did mention who he was with, hence everyone walking of the bridge (to where, its a closed off area).

    Lots of talk about guns & killing…..Hmmmmmm.

    • August 13, 2014 8:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      It took me 49 updates to spell it incorrectly. Refunds are available.

      • Visit site
        August 14, 2014 7:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Fiona

        Also, Neil, not to be fussy and stuff, but you have put Tarrant where you mean Sue.
        Here:

        Sue: Is he saying what I think he’s saying?

        Me: I think he is.

        Tarrant: He’s jumping to a very big conclusion. Hang on a minute… He’s just making this up so he can get his leg over!

        • August 14, 2014 7:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Neil Perryman (Author)

          Damn it. I hate it when that happens. Thanks, it’s fixed now.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rob

    Such a shame that Tanith Lee didn’t get to write more B7 eppys – I adore both her stories and she really kew how to write for these characters. Did Sue miss Avon’s brilliant line about Servalan getting ‘it’ at the end (Tarrant’s sympathy that is)?

    Had a very strong feeling that Sue would love the second half of season 4 🙂

    • August 13, 2014 8:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Neil Perryman (Author)

      We missed it because we were talking over it. And because it’s the first time I’ve seen Sand in decades, I didn’t know to rewind that bit so she didn’t miss it. I think she caught the line where Tarrant said he didn’t want to talk about it and she probably took that for a denial. Anyway, I’ve updated the blog to explain the cock-up.

      • Visit site
        August 14, 2014 2:21 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Tim

        The quite literal cock up… 😀

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 12:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Geoff

      When Paul Darrow wrote for B7 magazine he complied a list if his favourite episodes and Tanith Lees were in his top 10. Goes to show he genuinely liked the show and not just the eps where Avon gets to strut around in black leather shooting people and making witty quips. Although he did rate those ones quite highly too as I recall!

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 6:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
      DPC

      Same here, though I was hoping “Sand” would get a 9 or 10… my only gripe with the story is that if it never rains, how can one make rain? The story doesn’t know if it never ever rains, or if it does rain but only very very infrequently and after a long buildup. But Avon could be under control of the sand, by being ‘told’ by the sand it never rains… it’s clear that it rains at some point since the planet makes new sand after a rainstorm… so there’s a natural gaia at work…

      Tanith Lee definitely does B7 big justice and it’s a shame she never got a chance with Doctor Who (there was a story but it fell through at some point – never found out precisely when or if even a rough draft was made…)

      It’s still all uphill-going from here. Not a turkey left amongst the remaining episode… with one or two that I’m hoping get 10… but reading Sue’s always-great responses, now with “Sand” under the belt, I do wonder about one upcoming story for being similar (slow to start with but an amazing finish… no spoilers, just in case… 🙂 )

      • Visit site
        August 14, 2014 6:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Frankymole

        Tanith Lee was commissioned to script a Doctor Who serial on 6th February 1981, but this was ultimately abandoned. It would’ve been a fifth Doctor story, likely for early in Season 20. A (partial) script in some form should have existed, in order for it to have been abandoned.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:24 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    I bet that gun sees a lot more use now in Servalan’s hands, I just hope she unloads the clip first.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    Decent, and a last ditch effort to give Sleervalan some more character depth than just being the Ice Bitch of the universe. Living sand is certainly something Who should do – I mean the bloody stuff does get everywhere and is almost impossible to get out of your car.

    I digress.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Frankymole

    I love Stephen Yardley too. I love the anecdotes about his spiderman antics at the afterparties, and I even braved the XYY man for his performance. Always good when he shows up in a cult show, from Day of the Triffids to Genesis of the Daleks. I still won’t re-watch Howard’s Way though! Too b1980s and a huge waste of talents like Yardley and Maurice Colbourne.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sean Alexander

    I’ve just remembered a dreadful Jaws rip-off called Blood Beach, in which nubile – and no doubt half naked – teenagers were swallowed by a hungry beach while Burt Young (Pauly, Rocky’s brother-in-law in the films) plays a policeman trying to be Roy Scheider and, naturally, failing horribly.

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 1:26 amPosted 2 years ago
      Karyl

      Actually, there was a monster underneath the sand, and it ended in a weird way.

      The thing was blown to heck, but spawned little alien babies that popped up on the beach, and started eating vacationers.

      • Visit site
        August 14, 2014 7:19 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Fiona

        Are you actually from some 1950s American town with a malt shop or what? “Blown to heck”; “Holy Jiminy Crickets”; “kind of crapola”; “it sucks eggs”…no offence (really) I just never heard any americans actually use these phrases. they usually say ‘It’s like whatever, dude” or they say black slang “s’up dawg, ma homie” for which, if white, they should be flayed to death. Its just too much cringe.

        • Visit site
          August 14, 2014 9:58 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Karyl

          I’m censoring myself.

          I use plenty of bad language on the job; I don’t need to use it here and offend people.

          Otherwise, I’d be asterisking every other word in my comments.

          • Visit site
            August 15, 2014 10:07 amPosted 2 years ago
            Fiona

            We all have our big girl knickers on.

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 7:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      Ahh I knew it reminded me of something! Its that Stephen King story called The Raft! It is on Creepshow 2
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VdBmrTxDk
      here it is, its only 20 mins. Sentient oily mud. Scared the hell out of me first time I saw this. Cant beat Stephen King’s early stuff. How good Is The Shining and how lousy the film?

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 8:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Is there anyone from Genesis Of The Daleks that you *don’t* love, Neil?

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 9:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Katie c

    Huh! Well I’m very cross Sue missed the end (stamps foot.) The part where they all flounce off (to where I don’t know) is one of the best bits. 🙂

    Love the trailer for Gold, brilliant!

  • August 13, 2014 9:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    encyclops

    I love “Sand” — glad Sue warmed to it by the end. It might not be THE best episode of the season but it’s a strong contender, largely owing to Pearce and Pacey’s performances.

    Really, though, this episode is about Servalan — her motives, loyalties, character, perceptions, calculations. The sand may prize polygamy, but she’s holding the gun before the end. It continues to mystify me that anyone, Sue included, could really complain about her omnipresence in this season — I don’t see what competition she has for being at least the second best thing about the whole show, and Pearce and Darrow are at least neck and neck for screen presence.

    She wears high heels on sandy alien planets because she CAN. Servalan doesn’t run from you…you run from her. That’s the theory, anyway.

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 4:43 amPosted 2 years ago
      Katie c

      “Pearce and Darrow are at least neck and neck for screen presence”
      Is that why I wonder that Jacqueline Pearce’s name pops up second in the closing credits of series 4 episodes and why there were rumours of egos clashing?
      I could understand Michael Keating being a bit miffed about it, having been one of the star characters from the beginning.
      But then what do I know, I’m just guessing…

    • Visit site
      August 14, 2014 7:26 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      Yes, yes, the Servalan clothes are a wonderful and original move. OF COURSE they are ridiculous: dont be crazy, Sue. It’s not like anyone thought high heels were for hiking.

      Just how utterly boring would Servalan be in some Federation uniform or dressed like Ripley in Alien? Its this High Camp that’s so outstanding! And right…you run from her. She can just coolly teeter away, even from the sentient sand. It will probably fade back from her path respectfully.

      How could Servalan deliver her cutting lines in a parka and boots? How would that look? How could she sashay? Ok Dayna sashays too. But she’s younger and can wear body-con sex spacegirl jumpsuit.

      Anyone noticed that a lot of Servalan’s lines now sound like they were written for Avon? Early Avon, sniping and carping at Blake, Avon, I mean. Same inflection, everything. All right, not the girl-next-door line.

  • Visit site
    August 13, 2014 11:26 pmPosted 2 years ago
    JarrickA

    One of the best of season 4. That said I’ve always had issues with this season overall because it feels like a completely new show (despite most of the same characters from season 3) without the Liberator. Never like Scorpio because it is really just a souped up hunk of junk.

    • August 13, 2014 11:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Chris Allen

      I know what you mean. Not only has the familiar background of the Liberator gone, the original cast been whittled down to two, but (and perhaps most important) there’s a new producer. Doctor Who fans know well the impact on the feel of the show that a new producer can bring.

      • Visit site
        August 14, 2014 1:37 amPosted 2 years ago
        Frankymole

        Notwithstanding the loss of the Liberator, I found the big change really came between series B and C with the loss of Blake and Jenna. Vila’s the only “original” crew member in Series D in the sense of having been in episode 1 (along with Blake and Jenna), though if we stretch to the first 3 or 4 episodes of the series we can count Peter Tuddenham as an original member of the (Series A) cast even if he’s now playing a (slightly) different computer.

        Vere Lorrimer was responsible for so many of the episodes in the previous series that it feels like his show. The new cameras and costumes (and end theme music and title logo) don’t help though. Then again maybe they were aiming on setting up for a fifth series…

        • Visit site
          August 14, 2014 9:46 amPosted 2 years ago
          Anniew

          I loved the fact that things changed so drastically. It made much more sense to me that having the characters go through hell and yet remain untouched as happens more or less in Other shows. They’re adapting to circumstances as all intelligent people must in order to survive and encountering madly different phenomenon. I always visualise the sand as a silicone version of an ant colony. As for Servie’s clothes…. Well the girl’s seeking a former lover. Of course she needs lippy and high heels. if Anna had chosen a less utilitarian outfit, Avon might have forgiven her but better to shoot her than to have to admit, ‘there’s no one else but I really don’t fancy you in that outfit with your hair like that. What HAPPENED to you?’

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            August 14, 2014 11:03 amPosted 2 years ago
            Rob

            Agree with Annie. So many brave changes in Season 4 mostly due to the late Bill Cotton reprieve but these changes were totally necessary. I do think that it would have been to obvious had the crew stumbled upon yet another Liberator. Other than the wonky first few episodes, it still felt like B7 for me at the time and it actually looked like the Beeb had thrown some much needed money at it this this time round. I still find it odd looking back that the BBC went to so much trouble to relaunch the show in 1981 only to abandon it despite viewing figures of 10 million against Coronation Street. I don’t think any other drama has ever achieved such high figures against this soap that never dies? My guess is that BBC bosses saw rough cuts of ‘Animals’ and ‘Stardrive’ and simply panicked. The latter half of Season 4 is so strong and dramatic and I believe that we would have seen more episodes in the mould of Orbit and Gold in S5 with the crew turning more to desperate crime capers.

  • August 14, 2014 12:15 amPosted 2 years ago
    Chris Allen

    “Please note: Sue wasn’t a fan of Howard’s Way”

    Shame, we could have had “is it Ken Masters”?

    “Tarrant decides to grill his arch nemesis about her miraculous escape from the Liberator”

    I guess she had to get away, but it doesn’t bear any kind of close examination.

    Traveling at the speed of light it would take you about 4 or 5 hours to reach Pluto. And about 4 or more YEARS to reach the nearest star. That’s how empty space is.

    Even disregarding signal degradation, to randomly “hit” a planet in all that emptiness would be an amazing feat.

    Not only that but a habitable planet. And it’s lucky for Servalan that she didn’t materialize 10 miles off the ground or somewhere below the planet’s crust. Or even in the middle of an ocean.

    Still, I love “Sand”. Tanith Lee should have written many more episodes. She manages to give Servalan so much extra depth and character. I wonder what she would have made of Travis?

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      August 14, 2014 1:26 amPosted 2 years ago
      Frankymole

      To be fair, we’re talking about a teleport system that punches through a fifth dimension in ways we won’t understand for another 1000+ years (if ever), and we’ve seen from the Liberator’s “turbo boost” breaching the anti-matter barrier that it makes masses seem closer together and space smaller. But it’s all made up anyway.

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        August 14, 2014 10:09 amPosted 2 years ago
        RLF

        I think the idea that “v > c is just not possible, space is probabilistically completely empty and Earth can’t afford a space program anyway” is just a Thing that you have to either just make peace with, or resign yourself to watching nothing but ‘Dark Star’ for ever.

        With the beach ball edited out.

        • August 14, 2014 10:23 amPosted 2 years ago
          Michael Clark

          I like the beach ball. He loves his squeaky toy:)>

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            August 14, 2014 11:25 amPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            Oh, I adore the beach ball. I want one.

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    August 14, 2014 12:35 amPosted 2 years ago
    Amethyst

    Tanith Lee’s use of language is so rich and abundant, and the intricacies of her plots reach deep into the characters’ blood.

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    August 14, 2014 1:25 amPosted 2 years ago
    Karyl

    For me, this is pretty much when the show not only jumped the shark, the shark ended up stuffed and mounted on the wall!

    Tarrant and Servalan??? Does this man have NO taste in women??? I mean REALLY! He’d have been better off with Dayna, or Soolin, or even JENNA, and I LOATHED JENNA!!!

    The whole thing made absolutely NO sense. Sentient SAND??? The moondiscs were okay; they were kind of cute, and fairly harmless. BUT SAND???

    And here I thought that GAMES was bad! This is infinitely worst!

    I knew that Season Four was pretty much of a crap shoot; and that’s what we got! Crap in abundance.

    No wonder so many people have devoted their time and energy into writing fanfic that makes FREAKING sense!

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      August 14, 2014 10:05 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anniew

      No he doesn’t. Tarrant really does have no taste where women are concerned. Once they appeal to his protective instincts, that’s it, he’s putty. The alien creature in Sarcophagus recognised that when she made him her knight protector.
      RLF re your comments on role playing – Tarrant consistently adopts the heroic role as Avon recognises and exploits ( ah well Tarrant is brave…handsome..). He’s like a puppy – throw the stick and he’ll always jump in and get it . I’ve always wondered if they went to a fifth season whether he might at some point be revealed as a Servalan plant ( not talking Meglos here but spy) because his simple heroics seem so inappropriate. I mean in a world of snakes , evolution demands you cultivate an impervious nasty tasting skin with, probably, your own venom if you’re to survive.

      Karyl : jump the shark is a great metaphor… At least I hope it’s a metaphor and not a reference to an American game analogous to the Popular British chicken game which involves standing with your mates in front of an oncoming vehicle, winner being the last one to jump. Sharking – so much more macho than chicken!

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        August 14, 2014 10:17 amPosted 2 years ago
        RLF

        Anniew: If I remember correctly, ‘jumping the shark’ is a reference to something that happened on an actual TV show: they had a scene where a character has to jump over a shark on water-skis. Since then, it’s become an expression for “something a clapped-out, past-its-sell-by-date TV show does as a pathetic last-ditch attempt to generate tension and drama, but blows even that and renders itself impossible to take seriously in any meaningful attempt”.

        I don’t happen to think that’s true of ‘Sand’, but hey.

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          August 14, 2014 12:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Geoff

          It’s a reference to an episode of Happy Days where The Fonz went waterski-ing (in his leather jacket) and jumped over a shark, signalling the point at which the cult of the Fonz eclipsed the show that gave birth to him. In other words the point it all starts to go wrong and events happen for the sake of hyperbole and sensation instead if because they make dramatic sense within the world of the drama.

      • August 14, 2014 10:22 amPosted 2 years ago
        Michael Clark

        Hi, no doubt there will be a string of folk explaining the ‘jumping the shark’ phrase. But for what it’s worth, it refers to an episode of ‘Happy Days’ where The Fonz jumps over a shark on his motorbike. A jump too far for viewers to cope with; so the phrase became legend.

        • August 14, 2014 10:25 amPosted 2 years ago
          Neil Perryman (Author)

          Have you seen Arrested Development? There’s a great bit where Henry Winkler jumps over a baby shark on a boardwalk. Very funny, probably because no one mentions it.

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            August 14, 2014 11:03 amPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            The Fonz mmmmmm. A show with Avon and the Fonz. And a motor bike. Was that the inspiration for Star Drive?
            Thank you all. My understanding of pop culture references is increasing exponentially. As is the list of cool, funny things to watch. The care home experience is going to be bearable after all as long as they don’t confiscate my iPad and they have wi fi.

          • August 14, 2014 11:26 amPosted 2 years ago
            Michael Clark

            I like Henry Winkler, smart guy.

            He should of been in Sharknado.

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            August 15, 2014 9:19 amPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            Not to mention Dinocroc Versus Octoshark.

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          August 14, 2014 12:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Geoff

          Ha! Sorry Michael, it seems I’m that “string of folk”! Should have read your input first which was much more succinct than mine. Although you were wrong about the motorbike 🙂

          • August 14, 2014 1:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Michael Clark

            Geoff, was it a jet ski? I actually saw the episode when it was first aired and a lot of the details are as fuzzy or wholly erased by the incident.

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            August 14, 2014 1:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            I am reeling from the revalation that someone made a film called Sharknado or sharkdoo doo. And a sequel.
            Sad story about Happy Days. I could see Blakes 7 going the same way with Avon leaping gracefully over a ring of approaching Feds, turning, mowing them all down, grabbing a frustrated Servalan in a manly embrace, tossing her aside and then teleporting out with Orac in his arms. Or is that just the plot of Lucifer?

        • August 16, 2014 9:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Andy Luke

          It’s gimmickry, inconsistency with narrative-logic. Blake’s 7 jumped the shark early in it’s first season, and then went on to find a whole school of new sharks and jumped them. Funny thing is, shark-jumping can often lead to something innovative and surprising and quality. The camp factor is a the strongest shark-jump, and as someone else says, it transformed the bleakness of the show and kept it on the air.

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      August 14, 2014 2:27 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Anniew

      I’m guessing you didn’t warm to the Harvest of Kairos and Avon’s rock ( the sophron). Just guessing.

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        August 14, 2014 4:16 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Anniew

        That was addressed to Karyl by the bye.

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        August 14, 2014 11:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Did anyone?

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      August 14, 2014 7:30 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      No need to shout, Karyl, dear.
      and sentient sand is a clever idea. We have no idea how life on other planets may have evolved. Why not like this: the ultimate hive mind.

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        August 14, 2014 9:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Karyl

        Well, it’s not like they could use the Mama Horta bit from Star Trek.

        She was a waaaay more credible, and scary threat than a bunch of sand.

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          August 15, 2014 4:27 amPosted 2 years ago
          Frankymole

          Actually prion proteins (that cause Creutzfeld Jakob Disease, mad cow disease, senile dementia plaques etc) are pretty much silicon viruses. It’s one of the more plausible B7 aliens, and way more plausible than any other SF ones that seem to think earth-based biology will magically reappear everywhere.

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            August 15, 2014 9:40 amPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            I think another big deal is that Silicon and Germanium are close to Carbon in the periodic table, which means that one can sci-fi conceive of an organic-like system of chemistry, possibly even silicon-based amino acids. The hydrogen bonds would work different, so your proteins would be completely different, and the electrochemical properties of carbon and silicon are so radically different (conductor vs. semiconductor) that the neurology would be radically different too (would you get noticable Hall Effect in a silicon-based life form? Would that mean it would have an electron pump and therefore a laser projector as part of its physiognomy? Would its reaction to MHF electromagnetic radiation mean that such creatures were intrinsically telepathic?)

    • August 16, 2014 12:18 amPosted 2 years ago
      Andy Luke

      It’s not as if he and Servalan sailed away on a yacht together, fed each other feta stuffed olives, and besides, I’m sure Tarrant wouldn’t get aroused by Jenna’s corpse.

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    August 14, 2014 2:03 amPosted 2 years ago
    Anniew

    Episode has a great atmosphere and good edgy moments. I’ve always loved Avon’s outraged ‘off’ when Orac declares it’s love for him and the exchanges at the end. Tarrant and Sleeravan play nicely together and the man from Howard’s Way and the sand compete for top creep. ( I’m not sure about those happy smiles though – sand don’t half get everywhere and it’s bloody uncomfortable too) loved Sue’s comments about Servalan’s fashion choices and the problem she’s going to face offing all those that can remember her from the good old days to keep her identity secret. Makes you wonder why they didn’t go for the identical twin trope.

    However in terms of drama this seems a tame episode if compared with what happened on that first date in Whitby.

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    August 14, 2014 3:42 amPosted 2 years ago
    Robert Rowles

    I rewatched it and I still have problems with it. I see this sentient sand and my mind just thinks ‘oh that’s bollocks’, whatever next a sentient ocean – or perhaps a sentient coastal resort on the Alzarian riviera? Ironically I’ve just watched the TNG episode ‘Home Soil’ for the first time, and the idea seems better handled. It also reminds me a bit of ‘the Rings of Akhaten’ and ’42’, two DW episodes I do not remember fondly, and where I had a, shall we say, conceptual problem with the villain. If there had been creatures beneath the sand, a bit like the Tractators, my mind would have swallowed it no problem. Yes, I know full well this whole point is absurd is the context of a science fiction drama.

    Unfortunately there’s more: I see Servalan wearing that cocktail dress and walking in high heels over a barren shithole of a planet, and again I think this is ridiculous. Lis Sladen had proved, a few years before, that a woman can still look gorgeous in combat fatigues. Whatever was the director thinking? Actually it smacks of Jacqueline Pearce insisting. Again, it grates on my mind and stops me suspending disbelief.

    Finally, and the clincher, a lot of the dialogue is far too ripe for my taste. One particularly bad example is that crap about Avon as the alpha male ending in a big grin from Darrow. True or not I wanted to reach for the sick bag. Please can we get back to the scams.

    • August 14, 2014 7:25 amPosted 2 years ago
      encyclops

      Without the cocktail dresses, the “ripe dialogue,” and perhaps even the sentient sand and elements like it, we would not be talking about this series now. Embrace the glam, you guys. Just try and imagine how dull this series would be without it.

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      August 14, 2014 7:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      Combat fatigues commonplace and boring and would jar with Servalan’s snaky walk and snakier lines. This makes her special. There are billions of space heroines in tough uniforms: one only in cocktail dresses. Its fabulous in every sense of the word and it also makes Servalan look even harder: you’d have to be nails to go space adventuring in chiffon and Blahniks.

      She’s the model for every Iron Butterfly, Dragon Lady, world conqueror in 5-inch stilettos. Come on! Put her in those fatigues in your mind’s eye and just see what it would be missing!

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        August 15, 2014 9:51 amPosted 2 years ago
        RLF

        So, Fiona, do you regret that she never got a cheongsan or aodai to wear? Ivory opium pipe and jade hair-comb? Probably while running her vice den side-project in Space Singapore circa Space 1930?

        Oh…and I had to double-take on ‘iron butterfly’ for a split second….trying to imagine how B7 would would sound with ‘Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida’ on the soundtrack. Including the eight minute drum solo.

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          August 16, 2014 11:56 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Fiona

          Lord, she could have given good cheong-sam! Ao dai no. Its gentle and girly. Cheong-sams are, as Tyra Banks unendingly says, fierce. God I hate that phrase, be fierce.
          still it takes serious work to wear one, but nobody sashays like Jackie.

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    August 14, 2014 6:45 amPosted 2 years ago
    Katie c

    “It reminds me a bit of ‘The Rings of Akhaten’ and ’42’

    It reminds me more of ‘The Snowmen’ and the telepathic snow. I think the vampire sand is a great idea, alien, very creepy, strangely beautiful. Ok it’s more horror/fantasy/romance than sci-fi, but so what? This is so much better.

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    August 14, 2014 8:41 amPosted 2 years ago
    Licence

    I have no problem with sentient sand. My only problem is what does it eat when Keller and his team or Reeve and his team/Dayna & Tarrant are not around? Seems like it must be able to survive well enough with no food so why suddenly this important need for breeding stock?

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      August 14, 2014 10:12 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anniew

      It goes dormant.

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    August 14, 2014 9:59 amPosted 2 years ago
    RLF

    “whatever next a sentient ocean – or perhaps a sentient coastal resort”

    The problem here, you see, is that I think both of those are great ideas. A sentient coastal resort especially. Did you have in mind a holiday camp – type coastal resort, or a more upscale place?

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      August 14, 2014 10:09 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anniew

      I think he’s talking about Butlins or more likely The Maplin’s resort from High de High.

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        August 14, 2014 10:53 amPosted 2 years ago
        RLF

        Which works perfectly, but I was thinking more like the inexplicably-unpopulated nice Mediterranean resort in Mario Bava’s ‘Bay of Blood’.

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          August 14, 2014 12:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Anniew

          As opposed to the inexplicably populated , concrete, freezing south coast resort in Bognor? An entertainment centre without any Star drive ( or even much sand) and whose only other claim to fame is that George 5 is supposed to have uttered ‘ Bugger Bognor’ as his dying words? The place that attracts herds of parents chasing the Eldorado of a week that keeps the kids happy and once the gates close behind you begins by eating your brains while fattening you up on a diet of pizzas and sweet cocktails until you are too enormous to ever leave and then slowly drains your wallet , your bank account, your savings, your disposable assets, finally casting your desiccated husk into the waiting sea? The horror. The horror.

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            August 14, 2014 12:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            Don’t get me wrong. I love Butlins and it’s the perfect venue for The show. Even better than a motor way service station. Tarrant’s waterproof headscarf would be at home, Avon could tinker with the giant robot, Villa could hit the slots and the girls disco to the small hours. And Servalan and Barney? Match made in Blake’s heaven.

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            August 14, 2014 12:40 pmPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            Anniew: I have just split my sides reading that. You forgot the part about Slave whining about how hard it is to get an oil filter for a Morris Marina on a Sunday, and failing to hide last month’s Razzle inside his Hayes Owners’ Manual, but apart from that, you’re spot on.

            Waterproof f**king headscarves! The ones they used to sell in corner-shop newsagents stapled to cardboard sheets, next to the Big-D peanuts….

            I could go on all day.

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            August 15, 2014 9:55 amPosted 2 years ago
            Fiona

            Water-proof headscarves! My gran wore one…pulled a tartan shopping trolley…do they still make those headscarves? Hijab for dinner ladies.

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            August 15, 2014 10:41 amPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            I recycled my gran’s tartan shopping-trolley to trundle my 100A / 12V tranny and leads around on. Lasted for years, too.

          • August 16, 2014 12:36 amPosted 2 years ago
            Andy Luke

            Vila getting toasted at “Jaks” bar and shouting his way back to the chalet, standing on his bunk-mate while trying to climb into the top. Tarrant’s complaining, “well, I thought my karaoke was rather good!”, and their bickering, which means over-sleeping for the gamble on the donkey races. Of course, Avon and Dayna are up in time to commandeer these (a mistake which lead them to believe they could hire horses), then off for some archery and fencing. Soolin’s just relaxing by the funpool with her cordless ZX81, listening to Beaver Club Radio, when she spots Travis in one of the bumper boats. “I’ll show Kerr Avon”, he snarls, “”A little bit of this, and quite a lot of that” and laughs mentalist-like. Soolin’s not met him and thinks he’s just another nutter, at which point the redcoats remove him.

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            August 17, 2014 11:43 amPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            Andy: The thing is, I now desperately want to see the B7 Summer Special (shown on August Bank Holiday, natch) set at Space Butlins. Another entry on the long, long list of lost opportunities.

          • August 17, 2014 5:25 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Andy Luke

            Strewth, you had me googling there for a minute.

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      August 14, 2014 7:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      See this, I posted above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VdBmrTxDk The Raft…

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        August 15, 2014 10:11 amPosted 2 years ago
        Anniew

        Oh dear!

  • August 14, 2014 10:18 amPosted 2 years ago
    Michael Clark

    I do like bits of Sand. The acting is sometimes better than other episodes but comical lack of money and/or effort on sets and costumes is annoying. If only… etc.

    This whole season suffered from half-arsedness and dressing ‘space captains’ in silver was sad even then. But what sort of fan would I be if I didn’t slag it off and still enjoy the less pants bits?

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    August 14, 2014 11:17 amPosted 2 years ago
    Rob

    Rather ironic since S4 was the most expensive season of B7 🙂
    It wasn’t down to ‘half arsedness’. If you know anything about how the BBC made drama back in those days – there were lots of factors. Lack of money played a small part but these episodes were rehearsed and recorded *very* quickly. When you take all those factors into account, you have to admire the fact that this series still has a dedicated following 30 years on and wonder why the BBC hasn’t managed to match the success of this sci-fi series with anything other than Dr Who.

    (Sorry Neil, my previous reply made absolutely no sense)

    • August 14, 2014 11:37 amPosted 2 years ago
      Michael Clark

      Cheers Rob, it’s ok I know a lot of the financial and internal political forces involved behind the scenes. And I admire a lot of the work, the characters, the story telling, the stuff that doesn’t involve tinfoil or sparklers. But many of the solutions to props and costumes were just slack, compared to standards of the day. A lot of it was due to the time constraints, of course, but some times it was over ambitious writing or directing, without thought for the actual resources at hand.

      And like classic who, I can live with the shortcomings if the story is fun.

      Funnily enough, my ex’s dad was the floor manager on a lot of Blake’s and 80’s who. He took home heaps of props, which my ex systematically broke, as a kid. The horror!

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        August 15, 2014 10:03 amPosted 2 years ago
        Rob

        ‘Funnily enough, my ex’s dad was the floor manager on a lot of Blake’s and 80’s who. He took home heaps of props, which my ex systematically broke, as a kid. The horror!’

        So that’s were the original teleport bracelets ended up 🙂 Imagine how much original B7 stuff would fetch these days on Ebay? The definitive Scorpio model ended up in a skip outside Television Centre once recording of ‘Blake’ was wrapped up. I know that some people hated that model but you’d think that someone would have saved it?

        • August 15, 2014 1:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
          Michael Clark

          I was in shock for about a week after she told me. Apparently the props barely lasted a couple of days before going to pieces. The cyber guns from Attack of the Cybermen survived a few years, though.

          I heard about the original Scorpio. Crazy to think that happened.

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    August 14, 2014 1:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robert Rowles

    It’s a good question, why am I here? Mainly because, after a chance comment by a friend in an email, I watched the entire run of B7 last year, and I really enjoyed bits of it. I had a couple of dodgy childhood memories (I thought Jenna was in Terminal), but otherwise I hadn’t thought about it in over 20 years. Plus Sue often makes me laugh. But is it the camp? I’m not sure because in general I preferred the second half of season two with Blake and all the politics to stuff like Sand. Yet I loved Gambit (the episode) and Orbit, and I know that the dialogue there is just as ripe and, if anything, the style is even more garish. Perhaps the comedy in those two seems more overt, and camp usually make me laugh, so I don’t question it. It’s an interesting topic, and were I at university expected to turn it into a 3000 word essay, I’d try to do it justice. Thankfully those days are long behind me, so for now I’ll just have to say camp works for me in Orbit, but it grates on me in Sand. Probably an evasion (sotto voce).

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      August 15, 2014 11:03 amPosted 2 years ago
      RLF

      It’s a good answer, and maybe you can help me answer one of my own. How exactly would you define ‘camp’, or rather what does ‘camp’ mean to you (to be helpful, please no-one bother redirecting me to Susan Sontag or Milan Kundera again.). For ages, I worked on the idea of “taking the basic dimensions of something nominally attractive (for example, breast size, muscle mass/definition, lustrousness, sexual aggression, eloquence of speech), and multiplying it by large factors until it’s no longer attractive but grotesque or pardodical, so as to mock the original artefact of perceived beauty and the cultural attitudes which normalise those definitions”.

      So I get it when (let’s say) the aesthetics of the Weimar Republic or the San Fernando Valley sex industry are described as ‘camp’, but I don’t understand why “Sand” or (let’s say) ye-ye or feminised masculinity / masculised feminity should be per se.

      Anyone any ideas?

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        August 15, 2014 3:51 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Anniew

        To me Camp is about style – men dressing and posturing in a self conscious slightly feminised way . Women using stylised and rehearsed gestures. The social presentation being mannered and governed by rules ( eg don’t impulsively shake someone’s hand as Max does in Death Watch.. In regency England and 18th (I think) Century France there was a fashion for men to look and speak and walk (mince) in a feminine way while at the same time being ruthless fighters. They would box as a hobby or fight duels. The woman had elaborate wigs and ridiculously impractical clothes and shoes. Inter-relationships are conducted as a kind of performance theatre in a camp production but with a certain knowing irony that they are performing ( Tarrant’s bow in Rescue). The performance can range from limp wrists and lisping speech ( Larry Grayson) to mannered posturing and cut glass delivery (Avon) but should always make the watcher feel they are watching a stylised performance of real emotions ( Avon’s shooting of Anna and his treatment of her body).

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          August 15, 2014 4:20 pmPosted 2 years ago
          RLF

          Anniew: Good one. Thanks for that.

          So it’s the the whole business of being performative, as distinct from whatever it is that’s being performed?

          And now I’m trying to work out, how far does this go across the whole of B7? Do you think it’s a tendency that’s confined to a few episodes, or is it applied in broad strokes across the whole production?

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            August 15, 2014 7:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            I think it got camper as the plots got bleaker but after the first two episodes camp was definitely the style, probably to compensate visually for the lack of budget. I think the camp stylisation makes some of the shocking story lines bearable and possibly even acceptable whereas a naturalistic style would have pushed it to ‘ for adults only’ and even ‘too bleak to enjoy’. the mannered performances and camp style tips it into in ‘fairy tale’ category: ‘ once upon a time in space.’

            I should stress this is my personal take on camp and there are probably many better informed than I am to give you an answer.

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            August 15, 2014 9:21 pmPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            AnnieW said: ” there are probably many better informed than I am to give you an answer.”

            Or maybe not. I’ve read and re-read most of the theory, and none of it really hits the mark, to the extent that I was left with the impression that I was really missing the mark. Bit clearer now.

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        August 15, 2014 5:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Fiona

        Its like kitsch or porn: you know it when you see it and to describe it is to lose it.

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          August 15, 2014 8:00 pmPosted 2 years ago
          RLF

          I’m not even sure I do recognise kitsch or porn when I see it. Or maybe I lost it already 😉

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    August 14, 2014 2:37 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anniew

    Probably Sand isn’t Camp Enough. Servalan and Tarrant play it like relatively normal people (albeit romancing with guns) and the Avon Villa show is relatively restrained. That unbalances the tone and makes the camp
    Obvious . In Gold and Orbit there is so much camp that it appears the norm, and it’s convincingly acted and so the viewer just goes along with the flow. Happy Campers!
    I suspect with better actors in the role of Piri and Slave Cancer we’d all go along happily with Assassin too.

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    August 14, 2014 3:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shan

    On the subject of sentient sand, Stephen King wrote a short story called “Beachworld” (which was in the collection Skeleton Crew). It was published back in 1984 (so a few years after this) and was quite an interesting take on the subject.

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    August 14, 2014 7:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Richard Lyth

    I’d say this is the first really good episode of season four. Some of the sets are a bit dodgy, but the writing is a massive step up from recent episodes. Everyone suddenly feels a lot more three-dimensional, there’s references back to past episodes to give it a sense of history, and the sand makes for an unusual and interesting threat. If only Tanith Lee could have written more episodes, or even a Blakes 7 novel? Who knows, she still might…

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      August 14, 2014 8:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
      San

      Agreed. I haven’t liked much the few of her books I’ve read (possibly bad luck with the choices, given she was/is prolific), but I’d say her two B7 stories stand out in context in a positive light. I’m not surprised they tend to show up on “best of” lists.

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        August 16, 2014 10:13 pmPosted 2 years ago
        The Grouchybeast

        Tanith Lee wrote a book called ‘Kill the Dead’, in which the main character is called Parl Dro, and in often considered to be heavily based on Avon. The book is dedicated to ‘Valentine’, which is Paul Darrow’s middle name.

        My personal favourite of her books is ‘Night’s Master’, which you might like if you enjoyed Sarcophagus. It’s very stylized and atmospheric, and is essentially a series of interlinked myths/fairy tales from another world.

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    August 14, 2014 7:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Fiona

    “It’s a strange thing, and I’ve traded on it all my life, but a single redeeming quality in a black sheep outweighs all those of honest men” says Flashman. “Especially if that quality is bravery”.

    and likewise, a single heartfelt weep from a murderous wicked curvaceous female enslaves all the guys better than all the dedicated housewifery and unflinching loyal support of honest women. Especially allied to a flirtatious sense of humour.

    guys, how could you talk through the end? The reaction of all of them to Tarrant’s entirely unnecessary gossip (he could have kept his big boastful curly trap shut…seriously…I met Servalan/the sand had it fixed for us to mate/I’m saying nothing at all….Still I like the echo of Avon’s “I didnt say anything”) was brilliant: Dayna’s glare should have dropped him on the spot and Vila’s hurt stalking off, dont quite get why Soolin would too, unless just solidarity and Avon, well Avon was perfect. But why was it ‘ironic’ Tarrant being maybe her last man?

    Also Keller punching above his weight? He looked pretty good to me. Another Reinhard Heydrich tyoe, like the puppeteer. Ubermenschen of das Federation.

    And it is no good saying anything of Blake’s 7 looks ‘shit’. They dont have the money, so what are they meant to do…they did their very creative best and I hereby state I think it is mean to say “This is a bit shit’.
    also, it wasnt. It was brilliantly atmospheric. These two women made a world-class cracking job and showed all the guys up and totally put them to shame. Top story, weird scary sand, unexpected pairings and it all looked good. Better than 8/10. This was better than Death-watch. At least 9 and I am hard put to see why it shouldnt be a 10. The Reeve guy was a good supporting character as well.

    I reckon we ought at the end to have a Blake’s 7 Oscar Awards for Best Supporting Actors. We can call it the Oracs. (Man….I am pleased with that one).

    My personal nominee so far is the Chinese guy on the embryo one: “I do think about it, Captain. I think about it all the time”. Him. They all have such forgettable generic space names!

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      August 14, 2014 10:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
      RLF

      You know, I was quite tiny when I saw B7 for the first time, and being small, I was perfectly used to ‘not getting’ a lot of grown-up stuff, or at least it going over my head. I’ve never ever understood why people think that children feel alienated or put-off by things that are too advanced for them to fully understand. There’s something very exciting about that way of viewing the world.

      But ‘Sand’ was the one that really opened my eyes to how much I wasn’t understanding and how hard I was going to have to work if I ever wanted to. I’d certainly never heard dialogue written like that before, and I certainly can’t recall seeing what I would later learn to call ‘gender politics’ put front and centre so sharply. Quite obviously, most of it went completely over my head, but it’s one of those parts of my childhood that I remember.

      For the record, I don’t remember thinking that B7 ‘looked shit’ at the time, and neither did any of my friends. Looking at it now, I don’t think it looks bad at all. I know lots of people have trouble getting over the fact that it’s video, and I can see why, but it’s never bothered me. On the other hand, I think modern HD looks terrible, and I think exploitation-tastic 16mm film from the ’70’s looks terrific, so maybe my opinions aren’t entirely reliable.

      Besides, you’ve got a Tanith Lee script. Who needs sets or props or anything?

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      August 15, 2014 8:40 amPosted 2 years ago
      Rob

      ‘My personal nominee so far is the Chinese guy on the embryo one: “I do think about it, Captain. I think about it all the time”. Him. They all have such forgettable generic space names!’

      Totally agree 🙂 Ginka would be first in line for an Orac. I would also nominate a posthumous Orac to Dr Belfriar (Paul Daneman) and Tynus (Ronald Lacey) not forgetting Belkov…(this could be a longer awards ceremony than the Oscars…).

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        August 15, 2014 10:02 amPosted 2 years ago
        Fiona

        Ginka, right, Thanks. Well that’s great, 2 for Ginka. I also would agree with all those other choices.
        And I liked the guy on Weapon as well, and also the Reinhard Heydrich puppeteer guy, he was brilliant.

        You are right, there are a lot which is why a real vote-off would be interesting. Can only have one winner and one runner-up.
        Perhaps a female Best Supporting too…but aside from the Weapon guy’s ex-slave luggage carrier, that ended up with Clone Blake, I am pressed to think of any.

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          August 15, 2014 10:17 amPosted 2 years ago
          Anniew

          Inspired idea!

          The dominatrix from Terminal was ok. And the brave girl who blew up the Andromedans in Star One.

          Are we giving Slaves for the worst? Or Sophrons so that they realise how truly awful their acting was and quit the business?

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            August 15, 2014 6:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Fiona

            Slaves, hmmm…since Oracs is an anagram…whats the opposite of Oscars, its the Raspberries isnt it? What could be the equivalent? I dont reckon Sophrons, it was meant to be the most intelligent thing in the universe.

            Mind you Oracs and Sophrons has a great ring.

            But what was the worst concept…the giant Ant? Did they have a name? How about Jarviks? No, that’d be an award for Gratuitous Sexism, wouldnt it?

            Oh this is an idea that keeps on giving. A whole B7 awards. “Most appallingly sexist scene”; “Most mind-numbing concept” “Most slashy Blake/Avon episode”…

            We should give Moondiscs for something.

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            August 15, 2014 7:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
            RLF

            “Most mind-numbing concept” …
            A duel between selected champions who are also mortal enemies! Again! And Again!!

            “Most appallingly sexist scene”
            ‘I am not a Seska. I am a woman!’

            “Most slashy Blake/Avon episode”
            Too many to choose!

            Rather sadly, I have a soft spot for the giant ant. The Links are worse.

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          August 15, 2014 10:45 amPosted 2 years ago
          Rob

          Ah the puppet master Cornell would definitely be in the running for an Orac and a good supporting cast in Weapon.

          Off the top of my head – a very good performance from a female artist was Sinofar played by Isla Blair and the equally beautiful Kara from cult fave Pamela Salem. My knowledge of B7 character names and actors may seem impressive but Google..is an excellent research tool 🙂

          Who would present the Orac’s? Zoe Ball?

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            August 15, 2014 6:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Fiona

            “Who would present the Orac’s? Zoe Ball?”

            Lesley Judd.

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            August 15, 2014 8:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            Joan Collins obviously!

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            August 15, 2014 8:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
            Anniew

            Most sexist scene? Tarrant to Soolin. ‘You know what your problem is..simple jealousy.’

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            August 16, 2014 5:02 amPosted 2 years ago
            Frankymole

            Sexist scene? Oh darn, I thought you said “sexiest”.

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    August 14, 2014 8:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    San

    “whatever next a sentient ocean – or perhaps a sentient coastal resort on the Alzarian riviera?”

    Science fiction is very, very weird. Such and similar have indeed been imagined, and before Tanith Lee. Even someone who’s not a sci-fi fan might have heard of Stanislaw Lem’s “Solaris”, for instance.

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      August 14, 2014 10:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
      RLF

      San: but when you get into ‘Solaris’, you’re talking about purposefully ambitious, diamond-hard science-fiction. Sentient sand was a big deal for B7 (a series which has actual alien intelligences in fewer than five episode [correction accepted]) to take on.

  • August 14, 2014 9:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Andy Luke

    There was a clue that Servalan’s lover is Keller right at the start, which I’d totally missed out on.

    5 mins in I’m fairly sure I heard her say, “At the end of those tapes Keller is obviously dying — he wasn’t immune after all. And he said the girl shat herself. “

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      August 15, 2014 10:05 amPosted 2 years ago
      Fiona

      It’s annoying the way posts cant be edited, isnt it, Andy…wouldnt you agree?

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      August 15, 2014 10:12 amPosted 2 years ago
      Anniew

      Messy.

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    August 16, 2014 11:13 amPosted 2 years ago
    Anniew

    So Frankie just what would be the sexiest scene?

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      August 16, 2014 2:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
      frankymole

      Different for everyone, I expect!

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        August 16, 2014 11:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Fiona

        Yes , but you have to choose! there has to be voting…

        Sexiest scene…wooooooo dear oh dear. Thing is, with Blake’s 7 ‘sexy’ often means ‘intense’. Its arousing, but not meant to be. And that doesnt mean it has to be interpreted as gay.

        Maybe, should be sexiest scene and also most intense scene.
        So sexiest? Avon and Servalan.
        Intense? well it isnt finished yet, is it…but so far….the whole I want it finished, I want to be free.

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    August 16, 2014 3:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marky Mark

    Much preferred this episode to Tanith Lee’s other Blake’s 7 one. A really interesting concept.

    Was it just me, though, or was Steven Pacey trying to act and sound just like Tom Baker in this episode. I thought the similarities were extraordinary…

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    August 18, 2014 9:40 pmPosted 2 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Starts off as atmospheric and a bit odd and ends up as a cringefest. I don’t want to see two of the most annoying characters flirting, sorry (I think Tarrant is meant to be annoying, it’s how the character’s written, but i still don’t want to see it, sorry)

    Darrow Watch; “THIS – IS – NOT – JUST – A – RESCUE- MISSION- FOR – POOR – GALLANT – TARRANT!”

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      August 18, 2014 9:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
      wyngatecarpenter

      Much preferred Sarcophagus

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    August 22, 2014 7:54 amPosted 2 years ago
    Nick

    A good enough episode, but for the life of me I can’t see why Avon, Tarrant et al consider Servalan to be in any way attractive…unless it’s cabin fever, because Dayna and Soolin play for their own team…

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