RSSFacebook

Sarcophagus

Putting the Fun in Funeral…

SarcophagusMe: This episode was written by a woman.

Sue: Good. It’s a shame that they couldn’t be arsed to centre her credit, though. Look at the state of it.

Me: Tanith Lee was a prolific feminist science fiction author in the 1970s and 80s.

Sue: What are her books like?

Me: I don’t know. I’ve only ever pretended to be a feminist.

Sue: You twat, Neil.

We’re less than a minute into the episode when Nicol decides to join us.

Nicol: What the hell are you watching?

The opening is quite hard to explain, but Sue has a go anyway:

SarcophagusSue: It’s basically Eyes Wide Shut meets The Wicker Man, Nicol. Oh, and this woman can extinguish burning torches with her hand. Apart from that, I haven’t a bloody clue.

We witness a strange ceremony that features a magic act, a musician and a martial arts expert.

Sue: It’s Britain’s Got Talent… It’s Britain’s Got Talent on a space ship.

Nicol: I’m pressing my buzzer. This is ridiculous.

Me: Prime-time BBC1, Nicol. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it and I was there.

Sue: It reminds me of The Prisoner. That was ****ing mental as well.

Me: Great Tangerine Dream soundtrack, though.

Nicol decides that she’s had enough and leaves.

Sue: Did BBC2’s viewing figures go through the roof when this went out?

When the ceremony is complete, and the participants are preparing to leave, a mysterious figure in black gatecrashes the party.

Sue: The auditions are over, mate. You’ll have to try out for The X Factor next door. Sorry.

SarcophagusThis man is banished and then a vessel is launched into space.

Sue: Right, I’m guessing that was a wake and they’ve shot a dead body into space, but the only reason I know that is because of the episode’s title. Because if I’m honest, Neil, I didn’t really follow that. I’m sure it will make sense eventually, though.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator…

Sue: Cally’s bedroom looks like a prison cell. No wonder she’s so miserable. Just think, if she found a red bulb, she could have the full traffic light.

Avon pays Cally a visit.

Sue: Avon is looking very smart this week. It looks like he’s had a bath and ironed his clothes. Yes, he’s definitely making a special effort for Cally.

Avon comforts the telepath, who is still mourning for Auron. Cue the inevitable shipping.

Sue: This isn’t the first time that Avon’s been in Cally’s bedroom, if you know what I mean. I hope they end up together at the end. Now that Anna is out of the way, it should be plain sailing.

Meanwhile, on the Liberator‘s flight deck, Vila hopes to beat Avon in a quick game of Space Triangles.

SarcophagusSue: I don’t like Vila’s tracksuit. He looks like a chav this week. It’s the sort of thing Jimmy Saville wore at the height of his crimes.

Thanks to an audacious move by Avon, Vila loses the game.

Vila: It was your fault. You put me off.

Dayna: With pleasure. On the first planet we come to.

Sue: I really like Dayna. Even when she’s nasty, she’s nice.

The crew detect a ship drifting aimlessly through space. A bit like them, then.

Zen: Primary analysis suggests the design is eccentric and may be decorative rather than functional.

Avon: What about manpower?

Sue: Manpower? I thought you said this was written by a feminist, Neil?

Tarrant can’t wait to explore the mysterious space craft.

Avon: In other words, you’re bored.

Sue: They literally have nothing to do. Why don’t they pretend to search for Blake or Jenna, or something like that. Why are they still together? What is the point of them any more? They need a mission. Isn’t there a Star Two they could look for?

Avon: Something else to chase?

Sue: It’s better than sitting around doing nothing, chick.

SarcophagusAvon, Vila and Cally teleport to the derelict ship, which is covered in dust, cobwebs and party streamers.

Cally: This isn’t a ship, it’s a tomb. They, whoever they are or were, sealed their dead up inside and set it adrift in space.

Sue: It must have cost them a fortune. The performers they hired for the funeral can’t have been cheap, either.

Me: You should see the invoice for James Doohan’s funeral.

The Liberator detects an energy build-up inside the tomb.

Avon: We may have tripped a few wires.

Sue: You’ve activated the security tinsel! Quick! Get out of there!

Cally teleports back to the Liberator, but Vila and Avon are mysteriously left behind. Zen estimates that the alien ship will explode in 30 seconds, so Cally volunteers to go back for them. Tarrant argues the toss with her for at least 20 seconds.

Sue: ARGH! Stop yakking and move! Anyone would think that Tarrant wanted Avon to die. Oh, he makes me so angry.

Cally rescues her friends in the nick of time. She also steals a ring from the desiccated corpse on the ship, which really surprised Sue, and then, when she falls asleep later, Cally has a vision.

SarcophagusSue: Is it Cally’s twin sister again? No, wait, she can’t be Zelda because Zelda’s dead. Perhaps Cally was a triplet? Or maybe her sister is a ghost… I don’t know. It’s very confusing.

Avon and Tarrant lock horns on the flight deck.

Avon: Shut up, Tarrant.

Tarrant: Did you say something to me?

Avon: I said, shut up. I apologize for not realising you are deaf.

Sue: This is brilliant. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for absolutely ages. Take him down, Avon.

Tarrant stands his ground.

Tarrant: When you found me on the Liberator, it was quite a blow. And every time you look at me, it hits you harder, doesn’t it? I’m faster than you and I’m sharper. As far as it goes, I’ve made a success of my life.

Sue: Don’t make me laugh! Who the **** does he think he is?

Avon: You talk too much.

Sue: He talks, full stop.

Me: I think Avon’s patience has run out.

Sue: I don’t know why he had any patience with him in the first place. Just teleport Tarrant into space when he’s asleep. Who would miss him?

SarcophagusThere now follows a short musical interlude…

Sue: Bloody hell. It really is The Wicker Man in space.

Me: It’s late-80s Tangerine Dream meets Joan Baez.

Sue: I’ve never seen or anything quite like it.

Me Prime-time BBC1, Sue. Prime-time BBC1.

Sue: Do you know what? I think I like it. It’s different.

The crew recovered a strange object from the tomb – Sue thinks it could be a speaker dock for an alien iPod – and Tarrant asks Orac to analyse it.

Orac: I have already informed you that this structure is of an unfamiliar type. My deductions are necessarily limited by the facts available and the rationality of possible theories.

Sue: I remember when Orac could predict the future.

Me: They should consult Avon’s rock.

A drinks tray starts flying around the room.

Sue: Either the gravity is failing or they need an exorcist.

Orac is damaged, the artefact crumbles to dust and Zen has a nervous breakdown. In short: it’s all go on the Liberator.

Zen: (pitch and tone varying wildly) Inboard … inboard sensors indicate there is an intruder aboard.

SarcophagusSue: This is proper scary. I don’t like hearing Zen like this. It’s freaking me out. This definitely isn’t for kids.

It looks like Cally has been taken over by an alien. Same shit, different day.

Sue: I’d be suspicious if Cally wasn’t taken over by an alien, it happens that often.

A vision calls out to her.

Alien: Cally, you’ve been so long alone. Cut off from your people. You’ve been homesick for your own world, your own kind, haven’t you?

Sue: I detect a lesbian subtext.

Me: Yeah, but you detect a lesbian subtext in every story, Sue.

Vila performs a magic act for an invisible audience.

Me: I think I’ve got it now. The crew are possessed by the ghosts of the contestants on Britain’s Got Talent. Yes, that’s definitely it.

Dayna’s lyre starts playing itself.

Vila: Eh?

Sue: That was a B-flat, actually.

Vila and Dayna are inexplicably dressed as a court jester and a… erm…

SarcophagusSue: ****ing hell, Neil. I’m just going to go with this and hope for the best. Thank God Nicol isn’t here to see this.

A hand appears on Vila’s shoulder.

Sue: That better not be Servalan’s hand!

Luckily for Sue, it’s Cally in a ginger wig.

Sue: She suits it. It’s a big improvement on her curly perm. She’s gone a bit heavy on the fake tan, but you can’t have everything.

Tarrant tries to work out the plot.

Tarrant: It’s used her as a blueprint to make itself a brand new physical shape, only the whole thing sounds crazy!

Sue: You can’t really argue with that. This is the strangest episode of Blake’s 7 I’ve seen, which is saying something.

Tarrant races to the flight deck in a red onesie and matching cape.

Sue: Just when you thought Tarrant couldn’t be any more ridiculous. Oh my God.

SarcophagusWhen Tarrant confronts the alien on the flight deck, she shows him a life where he’ll have to dress as a pillock and look after her doves for the rest of his life.

Sue: Face it, Tarrant, you’re never going to get a better offer than that.

And then the alien raises her hand and Tarrant writhes in agony on the floor.

Sue: Nah, sorry. I don’t feel any sympathy for him. Hurt him some more, pet. Keep going until he’s dead.

Dayna comes to the rescue.

Sue: The direction is excellent this week. Just look at that silhouette of Dayna as she walks onto the flight deck. That’s wonderful.

Me: This episode was directed by a woman.

Sue: That explains that, then. You know, this almost makes up for that sexist crap I had to endure the other week. Well, almost.

The alien wants to know where Avon is hiding.

SarcophagusAlien: Remember my mental link with Cally. Naturally I know who is here and who isn’t, particularly if it’s Avon.

Sue: She said ‘particularly’. That settles it: Avon and Cally are lovers. Told you so.

Avon saunters onto the flight deck.

Sue: Avon will figure it out. He’s Avon.

The alien tempts Avon.

Alien: You know that I wouldn’t wish to make a slave of you, don’t you? Not you.

Sue: Well, not that kind of slave, anyway.

Avon cajoles the alien into killing him, and it’s at this point that Cally intervenes and breaks the alien’s mental link.

Sue: Cally’s love for Avon will save them both. Aww, this is so sweet.

The flight deck is rocked by explosions.

Sue: This looks fabulous but the ship is completely ****ed. That could be their next mission: repairing the ship.

SarcophagusAvon advances on the alien.

Avon: You look so beautiful when you’re angry.

They kiss. Sue gasps.

Avon pinches the alien’s ring. Sue gasps some more.

Sue: Naughty.

The alien is begging Avon for it.

Sue: My precious!

The alien wants to live.

Alien: Don’t send me back into the dark, Avon!

Sue: Oh just give it to her and teleport her somewhere nice. It’s sad, this. And Avon is so handsome in this scene, it’s ridiculous.

Just as she says this, we cut to Avon dressed as the man in black who was late for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions. It’s symbolic, innit?

SarcophagusSue: Oh dear. I spoke too soon. The look on Paul Darrow’s face says it all.

Me: It’s a look that says, “Get my agent on the phone!”

Sue: Please don’t tell me that this convinces Paul Darrow to leave the series.

The alien slowly transforms into a corpse before fading away to nothing.

Sue: That was nicely done. And it was very, very sad. At least Cally and Avon can make their relationship public now. No more sneaking around. Go on, Avon, find Cally and give her a big cuddle. She could do with one right about now.

Zen: All systems have been restored to maximum capacity. The Liberator is now fully operational.

Sue: That’s a relief. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was worried about Zen when he broke down earlier.

Me: What about Orac?

Sue: **** Orac.

SarcophagusAvon and Cally exchange a meaningful look.

Sue: Saucy.

Avon: Zen, let’s get out of here.

Sue: They don’t know where they’re going, but they’re gonna shag like rabbits all the way there.

Cue credits.

The Score:

9/10

Sue: I didn’t think I was going to like that one, but once it got going, it was really good. It was a bit too weird for me – I could have done without that silly dressing-up nonsense – but Paul Darrow was amazing, and it very atmospheric and different. Yeah, I enjoyed that one a lot. And I’ll tell you something else: the woman who plays Cally is a really good actress. Yeah, just let the women take over Blake’s 7 from now on. You can’t go wrong.

Next Time:

Back
Next

103 comments

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 8:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
    solar penguin

    I’m glad Sue likes this one. It’s weird, but still the best of the “Cally gets taken over by an alien” episodes.

    • Visit site
      June 9, 2014 10:20 pmPosted 3 years ago
      executrix

      Cally: the Poland of aliens.

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 8:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    You can say this for Tanith Lee; she draws very eerie, evocative cocks over that pile of Terry Nation scripts. Read her dark fantasy catalogue; eerie evocative cocks are what she’s all about.

    I’d call Sarcophagus a good episode, in kind of the same way that a ‘good’ head trauma produces some ‘good’ memory loss; it’s well-written on those occasions where there’s some actual writing to be found. Take away the surreal distractions and padding though and it’s a textbook bottle episode. Nothing new for Blakes 7’s budget, then. You don’t notice because Tanith Lee took her prescription meds into the studio that day no really you’ve got to try this it’s like the best shit ever you guys; but Big Finish’s new audio range kicked off with a very close retread of this, and the small scale becomes blindingly obvious when it’s just the original Season 2 crew talking inside the ship, with even the scenic imagery in your head looking very studiobound. (It gets a lot better once Marc Platt uses the audio format properly, and opens the whole B7 universe up in ways the TV show never could).

    Never mind, Trevor Hoyle will be along soon to resume normal service by doodling some spunk coming out the end.

    • Visit site
      June 9, 2014 9:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Eerie evocative cocks? Eerie? Evocative? COCKS? Strap on or does it take a special kind of man to flaunt one (if anything eerie and evocative can be said to flaunt)? This distracted me so much I completely misinterpreted the good head trauma Metaphor !
      Oh and Tarrant – ‘dressed as a pillock and looking after her doves., And the security tinsel. Laughed so hard I choked and had to be revived by concerned spouse.

      What a crazy crazy show. Sue and Neil this was worth the wait.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 8:38 amPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Eerie Evocative Cocks? Definitely a second album name.

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 11:25 amPosted 3 years ago
        Rob

        …or a good name for an electroclash band.

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 8:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Simon Harries

    I’ve not watched this one for years but I seem to remember it being a good’un. Glad to hear Sue thought it was a strong episode. I must give it another look πŸ™‚

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 9:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rad

    9/10? Wow. I spent a lot of it going ‘what the hell is this’ but not in a good way.

    Some great performances and visuals but I’m a bit sick of people taking over Cally’s brain every five minutes and this was a little too weird for me.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:31 amPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Not half as sick as she is I bet

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 9:33 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Chris Allen

    Phew, I’m glad Sue liked this one. OK, on first viewing there’s a certain weirdness, especially the first few minutes, but you can appreciate that they were trying something a bit different and (for once) it works really well.

    The costumes and the music really help create a half-way convincing alien culture (at least by Blake’s 7 standards) and there is a genuine air of menace about this particular version of “Cally gets taken over by aliens” (good direction from Fiona Cumming).

    It was a brave idea as well to bring in a proper science-fiction writer with no previous TV credits and it pays off. I get the feeling that Tanith Lee was something of a B7 fan as her scripts usually have little references to previous events.

    “They need a mission”

    With hindsight, given that Avon and Vila are thieves and Tarrant is a mercenary/adventurer, maybe they should have gone in for more “capers”. They could have called it Avon’s 11.

    Or, considering that they’ve got Orac, maybe they could have become hacktivists. No need to dash about the galaxy, just sit on the flight deck eating pizza. Although that would have made for some pretty dull episodes.

    • June 9, 2014 10:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
      encyclops

      Totally agreed that the focus could have / should have turned to heists. Lots of good meat for conflict there, as they go for greed rather than revolutionary zeal and some of the crew (but who? Cally? Dayna?) try to act as surrogate Blake and say “shouldn’t we be trying harder to undermine the Federation?” If there’s a missed opportunity for Blake’s 7, that’s it — a more focused attempt to tell the story of what happens when a band of criminal misfits loses the guy who ostensibly was turning their talents to a higher cause. Unless the story was just “they hang out and have adventures.”

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 1:13 amPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        They could have hunted Servalan instead of the other way round – after all, Dayna has sworn to kill her in revenge for Servalan killing Dayna’s father.

        • June 10, 2014 1:45 amPosted 3 years ago
          encyclops

          It would certainly give them a reason to keep running into her.

          Or: we could have seen Avon’s approach to crushing the Federation, which presumably would differ from Blake’s. They do that sporadically, but a bit too sporadically to be convincing.

        • Visit site
          June 10, 2014 3:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Nick

          Wouldn’t it be great if Dayna choked Servalan to death with her own strap-on? πŸ˜‰

          • Visit site
            June 10, 2014 5:52 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            Nick, you’re weird….

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 2:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        I thought this too…because it’s kind of hilarious how the series admits that no Blake, no point….but the trouble is, they are already loaded.

        In Powerplay, if you remember, Avon killed a guy who had raided the strongroom and he told Tarrant about it in such a way it suggested there’s was plenty left, plus Avon and Vila also broke that casino in Gambit, to the tune of 5 million…which is what Avon had been trying to rob in his big fraud…so 5 million must be a lot.

        So the money needs to vanish. Empty strongroom, just a ring or two rolling around in a dusty corner. I can just see Avon, dressed in grey, crouched down, picking one up and glaring at the others in a total rage.

        Hey, that could have been a good episode. Someone gets on the ship, it happens all the time…I know! someone has one of the bracelets they are forever handing out, someone hacks Orac and gets him to teleport them up…or just yells “Teleport!”.
        And then, this someone decoys them off the ship somehow…all but Vila…overcomes Vila and steals all their brass!

        Or to make it more dark and bleak and Blake’s 7-ish:

        it’s Avon who is left on the ship with this someone, possibly a beautiful woman, possibly even with strong hints of Anna…and the others have been teleported…or no, have gone against Avon’s protestations to this planet which is fairly Earth-like…

        and then the woman beguiles Avon into taking the ship and ditching them and running away together. Especially play on getting rid of Tarrant…and even Cally. Avon won’t want to fall in love again and this beautiful woman is the hardcase Servalan type….

        so he’s going to leave and then the ship gets robbed. I dont know how….and Tarrant is also in a rage..but Cally is very suspicious of Avon and trying to read his mind.

        So then they have to go on heists just to have enough beer money.

    • Visit site
      June 9, 2014 11:42 pmPosted 3 years ago
      DPC

      She definitely understands the characters (her take on Vila is arguably the best of anyone’s, save for Chris Boucher), so it’s great she made a return in series 4 as well… I too wonder if she was a fan… either way, she has terrific attention to detail.

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 1:12 amPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        Tanith Lee? I read in the 80s that she was a fan. She created that Parl Dro (Paul Darrow) Avon-alike character (and a Vila equivalent for him to knock about with) in her book “Kill The Dead”.

        • Visit site
          June 10, 2014 11:15 amPosted 3 years ago
          Nick

          One of Tanith Lee’s books about ‘Pol Dro’ was Kill The Dead. Weird stuff. She apparently really liked Paul Darrow, so if Avon and Cally weren’t shagging, I bet Paul and Tanith were!

          Useless info: in the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy, a female, sword wielding Mage is named Tanith Low after Tanith Lee, whom Landy found via this very episode of B7!

          • Visit site
            June 10, 2014 6:55 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            I knew I’d read it somewhere, the “Liberation” entry for this story says Tanith Lee was a follower of the earlier seasons, and praised B7 for its character development.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:52 amPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Five fly off in a spaceship?

      We didn’t mean to go to space.?

      Servalans and amagons?

      Just trawling through the adventure books of my childhood.

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 8:46 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        Totally OT, but speaking of Five….I was actually reading a Five book, think its five Run Away Together and it had the following dialogue:

        (Edgar Stick, son of the housekeeper and therefore an oik, has been upsetting one of the girls. Julian gets chivalrous):

        “I say, Edgar” said Julian, “Come out here”.

        “No fear”, said Edgar. “You want to fight me”.

        “Yes I do”, said Julian. “I think a little honest fighting would do you good”.

        A little honest fighting! How I love these old time guys.

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 9:33 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Susan

    I loved Sarcophagus! Still do. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 9:45 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Everyone’s jumping on this limerick lark – just wait till we get to Moloch.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:44 amPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      We’ll be limericking like headless chickens.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 2:19 amPosted 3 years ago
      Katie C

      Yes but the only word I can think of that rhymes with Moloch is “b******s”

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 10:02 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Frankymole

    “Vila: Eh?

    “Sue: That was a B-flat, actually.”

    Oh, bravo! Bellisimo! Heheheh – love it.

  • June 9, 2014 10:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mat Dolphin

    Avon fans had best check out a long forgotten scifi Radio 4 play written by Tanith Lee and starring Paul Darrow, called The Silver Sky. Aired on a Saturday afternoon in 1981, it’s a proper treat and the perfect partner to this episode. I don’t think it’s ever been repeated, even on digital.

    • Visit site
      June 9, 2014 11:39 pmPosted 3 years ago
      DPC

      Pity it’s not been released for home purchase! Thanks for namedropping, I’m off to do some research…

      • June 26, 2014 8:01 pmPosted 2 years ago
        Mat Dolphin

        Hi DPC, if you are in the UK I can post you a copy on CD if you like (recorded off the radio at the time).

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 10:15 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Rob

    This is one of my all time fave B7 eppys – a great one to watch close to the witching hour. Tanith’s script is full of sharp one-liners for most of the crew, the lighting is superb (pity they didn’t always light the set this way), the direction is sublime and the story is both frightening and touching towards the end. Terrific performance from Jan too as an alien that’s more alien than Cally, whilst Darrow and Pacey work brilliantly against each other.

    Best lines for me include:

    Tarrant: Avon. Do you want to forget I said all that?
    Avon: It wasn’t particularly memorable.
    Dayna: We need sleep. All of us. Even you need sleep, Tarrant.
    Tarrant:And tomorrow, everything will look different?
    Avon: f it does, you can assume you’re on the wrong ship.

    Delighted that Sue enjoyed this one and it’s very close to 10/10 for me πŸ™‚

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 5:40 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Nick

      I love those lines too, because Avon won’t accept Tarrant’s insincere ‘apology’ and he also makes it clear that he couldn’t care less what Tarrant thinks of him anyway.

      And, without getting all “pseud” about it, I get the feeling at this very point that you know the only reason Tarrant is still alive is because it suits Avon to keep it that way, because it’s easier to have him around than not…

      For now at least…

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 10:46 pmPosted 3 years ago
    James

    Hated this ep when I was 14 and it was – inexplicably – the final segment on the last compilation VHS ‘Aftermath’.

    When I watched it the other night I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Great stuff.

    • Visit site
      June 9, 2014 11:38 pmPosted 3 years ago
      DPC

      Why do I always post before reading others’ comments? πŸ™‚ Like you, my impression of the story is the same: Didn’t care for it originally (I hated it as much as my predominant mindset at the time, of “what the heck is going on?!”)

      I saw it about a month ago. The first 9 minutes set up the tale, which are arguably padded considering nothing happens. Get through that and things massively improve…

      Loved Dayna’s song.

      Nice pyrotechnics as well – wasn’t that (SPOILER REMOVED – Neil)?

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:24 pmPosted 3 years ago
      NICK GRIFFITHS

      Yeah that seemed odd to me, I didn’t see that compilation tape but considering how the episodes were butchered for the tapes this episode must have made no sense at all.

  • June 9, 2014 10:53 pmPosted 3 years ago
    encyclops

    I read some Tanith Lee back in college. I’d seen (and loved) “Sarcophagus” by that time but I’m not sure whether I checked out her prose on that basis or if I’d failed to make the connection.

    Either way, I remember quite liking it. Granted, I was heavily into Anne Rice at the time (this was pre-Body Thief), so atmospheric vampiric romance was the order of the day. I remember enjoying The Secret Books of Paradys, but it was The Silver Metal Lover I remember most vividly — the android love story to end all android love stories.

    A full season of Tanith Lee might have changed the tone of the show to something unrecognizable, but it would have been fascinating to see a few more episodes from her in the mix. Why, with her skill she might even have been able to make Sue enjoy Tarrant….

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 11:10 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Dave Sanders

    Oh sod it:

    The ship of the system’s most wanted,
    A presence lurks eerie and haunted.
    Even a grim portent
    Thinks style is important,
    And says if you’ve got it then flaunt it.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:54 amPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      See- it’s fun when you give in to temptation. Try another. Go on. You know you want to….

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 2:43 amPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        Alright, but *you’re* taking the rap for it. For those who don’t like the episode then:

        The weirdness contained in Sarcophagus
        Disgorges inside one’s esophagus,
        A sense of absurd
        On a par with Big Bird
        Explaining his friend Snuffleupagus.

        • Visit site
          June 10, 2014 6:26 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Anniew

          Brilliant! I am very happy to take the rap for high quality poesy. In fact how about trying a rap next?

  • Visit site
    June 9, 2014 11:35 pmPosted 3 years ago
    DPC

    Yay!

    Sarcophagus was one I didn’t care for as a teen, but when revisiting it a decade later – and getting through the first 10 minutes – I quickly came to love it.

    Anything Fiona Cumming directs I watch, because she is a class act. Every single time. The fact she often gets really novel stories doesn’t hurt, but she makes them work on screen with aplomb every time. Especially, with Sarcophagus, the POV of the alien seeing the Liberator crew as her playthings… and, of course, Avon…

    Sue’s right – they aren’t even pretending to look for Jenna or Blake any longer, and yet series 3 is definitely winning legions of 8/10 and higher votes. The clunkers are still trash, but there is a tighter feel to this series that really wasn’t there before.

    In series 3, there are two more bona fide classics, and a couple of not-classics as well…

    I do wonder how she will take to series 4, but the episodes she’s given 9/10 and 10/10 votes to definitely do return in it and they put out some great stuff…

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 2:16 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      I like it too…but none of them have that awesome tension between Avon and Blake. You never knew what would happen next with those two: if Avon would really go off and leave him.
      There’s nothing in series 3 to compare to Blake explaining to Jenna why he’s taking her down to Horizon, and Avon walking in on him while does so….and then: “I do not need Blake. I do not need any of the others. I do not need anyone at all….shut up, Orac”….

      Isnt it funny how we all write in short paragraphs with big spaces in between? Its terrible how I can’t stand to see dense text anymore. I just skip over anyone who posts like that. Yet everyone here is clearly well-educated. This is making everyone stupid.

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 12:14 amPosted 3 years ago
    Katie C

    Hated Sarcophagus as a teen, but then I didn’t like Cally(dull). But like a lot of you, I can appreciate it a lot more now, love the eerie atmosphere created by the music and crackling electricity. Jan Chappell is great and Tanith Lee obviously was an Avon fan, turning him into a proper romantic hero. This one I thought could have gone either way for Sue, but very happy with the 9/10.

    Just one thing, isn’t “You look so beautiful when you’re angry”, a bit sexist?

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 5:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
      San

      It’s a trite sexist clichΓ© used on purpose. Avon is being his sarcastically teasing self even now (disarm the monster with a platitude), BUT it’s also a probably sincere opinion that she is beautiful.

      As far as the relationship between Avon and Cally is concerned, I think this eppy shows that they are NOT involved. There’s potential, but it will never happen.

      • Visit site
        June 11, 2014 4:10 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        She is an alien, after all. Isnt that a bit, well, ewww.
        If aliens came here and they looked just like us…would you still want to shag them…or would it be just….ewww?

        • Visit site
          June 11, 2014 6:18 pmPosted 3 years ago
          San

          Depends on which ones of us they’d look like… πŸ˜‰

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 12:28 amPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    An alien rebel named Cally
    With her companion tried to get pally
    But he obsessed about rocks
    So evocative cocks
    Was the nearest she got to a dally.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 12:49 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      She shoots, she scores….

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 3:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
      GreyAreaUK

      An alien queen (mostly dead),
      Takes over Cally (in bed),
      But Avon sees through the fog,
      Delivers a huge killer snog,
      And oh God I can’t do this any more please kill me now I’m so sorry…

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 6:37 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Anniew

        0h for goodness sake. Pull yourself together and finish the bloody limerick. How hard can it be?

        And the alien’s ambience’s shed?

        And her hair mysteriously turns red?

        But never takes her to bed!

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 5:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
      San

      *applause* πŸ™‚

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 1:32 amPosted 3 years ago
    hperson

    The mind boggles that anyone would give this more than a 2! Tanith Lee – amazing, Sarcophagus – sh@te.

    There are two good moments in this: the first Sue identified, where Avon takes down Tarrant and second – in the first 5 minutes – where Paul Darrow looks straight into the camera and says, of the ludicrous space tomb thing made by the Blue Peter crew: “Its like nothing I’ve ever seen.” (or something like that)

    Anayway, I will be agog until the world is made right by Sue’s response to the next sexist nonsense, which I believe is about an episode away.

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 11:28 amPosted 3 years ago
    Rob

    ‘the ludicrous space tomb thing made by the Blue Peter crew’

    How else would a space tomb look like? I thought it was a decent enough design and it is quite pointless knocking BBC effects with Blue Peter jibes 34 years on πŸ˜‰

    • Visit site
      June 11, 2014 2:10 amPosted 3 years ago
      hperson

      You know how it goes, the episodes you like – star one, rumours, even deathwatch – you let these things go.

      If not, and this is a definite not for me, (although I can see I’m in a minority of 1 here) they jar that little bit more.

      This would have been a great short story, or possibly even a decent film, but an episode of Blakes 7? It doesn’t work. I didn’t 34 years ago and it doesnt now.

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 12:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    This episode was fantastically weird. Love Avon: “Shut up Tarrant”. That was series 1 level Avon icy. And he did look delicious except for terrible elbow patches again.
    But he’s become a complete slut, no doubt about it. Dayna, Servalan, Anna, now Cally, in two different forms….
    Still, having said this, it’s still only Vila who has actually got his end away.

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 2:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      Tarrant and Dayna did and Tarrant again in the final script from Tanith πŸ™‚ It is odd looking back that Avon was never seen to get his end away but like Sue, I’m convinced that he was finding any old excuse to wander into Cally’s den between eppys πŸ™‚

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 3:30 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Nick

        Back in the day, I see to recall there were plenty of hints from the scripts to indicate that Avon and Cally had “something going on” (or at least when the script editor could be arsed to putt hem in).

        So, let’s assume they have frequent trysts… Maybe when they’re hard at it, Cally’s Auron sexuality allows her to link minds with Avon so he can experience the act from all angles – and, for Avon, what could be better than having sex with himself? (At least sex with himself THIS way that is….) πŸ˜‰

        I’ll just leave you all to ponder that image for a while… πŸ™‚

        • Visit site
          June 10, 2014 5:50 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Fiona

          it’s funny, at the start, with Cally in her bedroom, I felt she was probably sulking over Avon’s “No, there’s no-one else” to Anna. If Jenna was still on board they’d probably be having a fine old bitch about him: “He’s not worth it love” etc.

          and as for your utterly weird ideas Nick…well, I do remember one strange thing, but I forgotten which episode: Avon said something…Cally said something about her being an alien and Avon said she was ” more human than I am”…can anyone remember which it is?

          It really made me sit up.

          I dont know about Cally for Avon. I suppose it depends what Avon wants out of a relationship. If he wants to settle down and have a passel of brats as the Yanks say, then ok Cally, but aiyah…Avon in the suburbs, mowing?

          Wouldn’t Dayna be better?

          Actually Servalan would be better, but I get you could never really relax. Dead in a week? Still, it might be a week worth dying for.

          (Just been watching 28 Days, that rehab comedy with Sandra Bullock…I like the line “Yeah, marry a cute girl, settle down, spend your Sundays mowing..you might never want to do coke again…”)

          • Visit site
            June 11, 2014 1:52 amPosted 3 years ago
            San

            There’s someone in the 4th season who’d be the best… πŸ˜‰

            Avon and Servalan would be a power couple to end all power couples, but in the end, I think the problem is that she is truly a villain, and he truly is not.

          • Visit site
            June 11, 2014 9:17 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Harriet

            Avon said she was “more human than I am”

            It’s Shadow, when Cally has been attacked by the alien using Orac.

            Avon: “There is no physical explanation for her condition unless somehow it’s locked up in here [ie in Orac] and I don’t see how that can be.”
            Blake: “She is an alien.”
            Avon: “She is more human than I am.”
            Vila: “That’s not difficult.”

            It’s not entirely clear whether Avon is making an unexpected revelation which is never followed up, or whether he’s just using “human” to describe her emotional make-up, as Vila chooses to take it.

          • Visit site
            June 12, 2014 2:15 amPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            thanks, Harriet.
            Yeah, there was another one, wasnt there, where somebody, I think Vila, tried to insult Avon by calling him a machine and Avon just batted it away by saying if he, Vila, calls himself human…I cant remember the rest now. Something about how he doesnt mind being called a machine if being human means being classed with Vila.

          • Visit site
            June 12, 2014 2:28 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Harriet

            That one’s Duel. They’ve just been talking about Zen:

            Avon: “It’s just a machine, Blake.”
            Vila: “And he should know.”
            Gan: “Well, Avon is the expert.”
            Vila “That’s not what I meant.”
            Avon: “No, he was calling me a machine. But, since he undoubtedly defines himself as a human being, I shall choose to accept that as more of a compliment than anything else.”

          • Visit site
            June 12, 2014 4:05 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            Thanks again, Harriet! What a memory for where the dialogue comes from!

          • Visit site
            June 12, 2014 11:12 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Harriet

            I don’t remember, I just know where to look!

            Do you know this set of scripts?

            http://www.lysator.liu.se/~calle/b7list/b7scripts/index.html

          • Visit site
            June 13, 2014 9:28 amPosted 3 years ago
            Frankymole

            And those lysator ones are also held as HTML versions with the missing Rumours of Death bit at http://www.hermit.org/blakes7/Episodes/scripts/index.html. I remember happy days of buying photocopies of the BBC scripts, the very different opening episode (then called Cygnus Alpha) was interesting, with Travis in it from the start.

          • Visit site
            June 14, 2014 4:32 pmPosted 3 years ago
            Fiona

            wow thanks Harriet, that’s cool to have all the scripts.

      • Visit site
        June 10, 2014 4:43 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        You can infer so much more from the things you’re not shown – so many Who fans are convinced that Ian and Barbara were at it like rabbits.

        • Visit site
          June 10, 2014 5:36 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Nick

          “You can infer so much more from the things you’re not shown – so many Who fans are convinced that Ian and Barbara were at it like rabbits.”

          Of COURSE they were! But fully clothed, with one foot on the floor at all times.

          And Nyssa and Tegan had rampant lesbian sex – fact. (Well FanFic Fact actualy…)

          And Adric was a wanker…

    • Visit site
      June 10, 2014 6:48 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Frankymole

      “Liberation” says that Avon’s costume makes him look too “stout”.

      • Visit site
        June 11, 2014 3:58 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        Stout?? Guy is as slender as a reed, which given he is around 40 is cool.

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 3:01 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Jess Patton

    I’ve been looking forward to this review ever since Sue started incessantly shipping Avon and Cally. It did not disappoint. Plus, Avon finally looses his temper with Tarrant. What’s not to love?

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 3:19 pmPosted 3 years ago
    GreyAreaUK

    This episode contains some of my all-time favourite Avon dialogue:

    “You are taking this ship precisely *nowhere*”

    and

    “You claim you can kill me. You better get on with it. Make me die. There’s nothing else you can make me do.”

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 5:11 pmPosted 3 years ago
    San

    “It’s different… I think I like it”, had the same reaction when I first saw this. Terrific episode in which the characters come across as creatures with depth. I love the atmospheric hijinks too although I won’t swear I understand all the flourishes.

    Reminds me of that “dream” episode on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, same concept of exploring what’s under the surface through a “play”. (Hamlet Act III too.)

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 6:41 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Anniew

    greyareauk: That was a joke by the way! Reading my comment back it sounds quite rude!

    • Visit site
      June 11, 2014 8:27 amPosted 3 years ago
      GreyAreaUK

      No worries, I didn’t take it that way πŸ™‚

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 11:53 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Katie C

    No, no, no, not Avon and Dayna! Dayna has been smitten with Tarrant since the end of Powerplay. Avon just feels responsible for Dayna since her father was killed, he’s her guardian if you like. Avon likes women not girls.

    I remember reading somewhere, someone had this theory that Tarrant is a virgin. That would explain a lot of his behaviour in S4.

    • Visit site
      June 11, 2014 4:00 amPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Yeah but what about all that “You are very beautiful, Avon” stuff and that remark about hoping her curiosity isnt easily satisfied?
      That was absolutely hot.

      • Visit site
        June 11, 2014 11:59 pmPosted 3 years ago
        Katie C

        But that was before all this shit happened. Mind you, I’m not denying Dayna seems to have a thing for older men..eewwww!

  • Visit site
    June 10, 2014 11:56 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Spooky!

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 4:21 amPosted 3 years ago
    Fiona

    Isnt Avon ever going to batter Tarrant? How insensitive is Tarrant, anyway? Avon just had a terrible shock, what with all the Anna stuff: he surely doesnt need Tarrant rubbing it all in like that.

    And how is Tarrant such a big success as he claims? He’s a small-time crook who by luck and quick thinking managed to hitch a ride with Avon. Bet Avon regrets letting him put his voice-print into Zen.

    I’m pretty sure Avon could have Tarrant. Well, I want to think that anyway.

    • Visit site
      June 11, 2014 3:13 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Anniew

      Umm in view of speculation about Avon’s sexuality does ‘ I’m pretty sure Avon could have Tarrant’ mean what I think it does ?

      • Visit site
        June 12, 2014 1:38 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        Do you know, Annie my dear…I regretted that the second I hit post!!

        So, no it doesn’t.

        So if I said, I wish Avon would say “Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Tarrant”…maybe I shouldnt hit post again?

        oops too late

        • Visit site
          June 12, 2014 3:09 pmPosted 3 years ago
          Anniew

          !!!!

    • Visit site
      June 11, 2014 4:35 pmPosted 3 years ago
      Dave Sanders

      Same reason he never tried to usurp Blake; his superiority complex tells him he doesn’t have to.

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 2:34 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Vic Flange

    Tarrant’s just there to mess things up. Every plan, relationship, idea, woman, Vila, everybody, the series that he encounters ends up knackered. But that’s his purpose as a character. So he’s perfect. As they say in Maximum Power, “it’s all Tarrant’s fault”.

    • Visit site
      June 12, 2014 1:40 amPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      What is Maximum Power and is it any good?

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 3:57 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Amethyst

    Oddly enough, ‘Parl Dro’ isn’t the only Darrow avatar in modern literature. Lilian Stewart Carl also said her ‘Ashes to Ashes’ character Eric Adler is based on Paul. He must have made quite an impression!

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 9:22 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Harriet

    I’m really curious to know whether Sue would revise some of her earlier scores if she started rewatching the first two series; is it just that the third season has hit the right button, or is it that it’s taken her this long to tune into the show’s wavelength?

    (A bit like me taking about three seasons to get the hang of the Noo Joirsey accent in The Sopranos; I eventually rewatched the opening episodes, and the story made so much more sense when I could understand what they were saying!)

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 9:58 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    Creepy! Easily the creepiest Blakes 7 epsiode. It doesn’t really feel like B7 as ghost stories don’t really fit the mould, but it still works, partly because Tanith Lee writes the charaters well.
    This creeped me out as a 10 year old, and watching it a few weeks ago it transported me back to being the creeped out 10 year old. Strangely the creepiest bit for me is the stone object they pick up. It must have got into my subconcious when I was 10. I can’t explain why it just looks wrong.
    Not that everyone agrees, my mate can’t let a mention of Sarcophagus pass without a sarcastic comment about the “art expression workshop” shenanigans in the opening scene.
    I’m not convinced that the ending is all that sweet. Cally smiles at Avon and he just glowers back, possibly thinking “next time you fall under an alien influence you’re off the ship”

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 10:00 pmPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    “That better not be Servalan’s hand!”

    Strange that they ever had a “Cally gets possessed by Servalan” episode, you’d think they’d have churned that out eventually.

    • Visit site
      June 12, 2014 2:53 amPosted 3 years ago
      Harriet

      Well, there is a certain fourth-season episode originally written for Cally….

      • Visit site
        June 12, 2014 7:23 amPosted 3 years ago
        Fiona

        Please, Harriet, no spoil!!! please! I haven’t seen any of it. I wish I didnt know Orbit’s story. and I knew the Anna story too, my own fault for reading various B7 pages. I am hoping there are some surprises left.

        • Visit site
          June 13, 2014 6:24 amPosted 3 years ago
          Geoff

          You could say there are one or two surprises waiting Fiona yes! There’s a serious point here though: not everyone participating here has seen it before. I know we’re asked by Neil not to spoil but we do seem to drop a few in on the assumption that everyone has a tough idea what happens as it goes on but Fiona for example clearly doesn’t and understandably doesn’t want to, so I’m not going to say anything other than that based on reading your commentrs on these threads I think you’ll like it.

  • Visit site
    June 11, 2014 10:23 pmPosted 3 years ago
    Mark Mark

    Looks like I’m in a minority again (I’m used to it, lol) – I just found this episode utterly weird. Tanith Lee was definitely on drugs when she wrote this ! I mean, WTF was all that singing bit in the middle ?! And at the start, not a word spoken for nearly 7 minutes, just some weird shit going on….

    Oh well, onwards & hopefully upwards…

    • Visit site
      June 12, 2014 12:12 amPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      ‘Tanith Lee was definitely on drugs when she wrote this!’

      A pity that Ben Steed wasn’t really. We might have had some half decent scripts from him.

      • Visit site
        July 14, 2014 8:42 amPosted 2 years ago
        Anniew

        Have you SEEN Powerplay? Waccy Baccy or wot.

  • Visit site
    June 12, 2014 1:13 amPosted 3 years ago
    wyngatecarpenter

    I remember seeing an episode of Telly Addicts in which Noel Edmonds (smug tosser who’s had an inexplicably long career in British TV for those who don’t know) in which he read out a letter from someone asking for a clip from Blakes 7, did a fake yawn , and showed the “you’re very beautiful…” scene to guffaws of laughter from the studio audience. A cold, harsh reminder that no matter how good an episode there are huge numbers of people out there who just think “cheap crappy sci-fi show”

    • Visit site
      June 12, 2014 8:42 amPosted 3 years ago
      Fiona

      Fuck them. They dont know good when they see it. Just makes us all more cool and discerning.
      Noel Edmonds also chose to do the same thing on The Telly Years, picking a clip of the Decimas from The Web. But Paul Darrow was just cool and charming and laughed along.
      Noel Edmonds…how do these people get TV careers?

      • Visit site
        June 13, 2014 1:21 amPosted 3 years ago
        Dave Sanders

        By hanging around the 70s, like every discredited twat since did.

    • Visit site
      June 13, 2014 12:36 amPosted 3 years ago
      Rob

      Reminds me of the time when I was watching Dr Who ‘Survival’ which I always thought was a decent story and my sister in law turned around to me and said ‘you know Rob…this has all the sophistication of someone’s home made video’ πŸ™‚

      • Visit site
        June 13, 2014 9:07 amPosted 3 years ago
        Frankymole

        It is instructive to compare ‘Survival’ with ‘Downtime’… and then the latter with ‘Auton’ and the P.R.O.B.E. and Stranger videos. However, I haven’t seen the one with B7 cast involvement (Brian Croucher and Jan Chappell are in ‘Shakedown’, aren’t they?) I do recall there were ructions between the producers of that and the Horizon club when they had competing convention stuff going on, so I don’t know if there was love lost between B7 and Who fandom in the early 90s. Personally I liked both, but have never been keen on fan videos.

  • Visit site
    June 20, 2014 1:06 amPosted 3 years ago
    The Grouchybeast

    Another one I’m very happy that Sue liked! I like Tanith Lee’s writing, and this is great translation of her talent for pseudo-mythology and fairy tales into what on the face of it is the pretty gritty B7 universe. In fact it fits perfectly, probably because unlike some of the other writers, she actually understands the characters.

    It is funny, though, after Sue’s calls for Avon to get rid of Blake in the first two series, for her now to be complaining that the crew don’t have any motivation to do anything and they’re just tooling around in space with no purpose. I guess there was a point to Blake after all πŸ˜‰

  • Visit site
    July 13, 2014 10:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robin Brown

    Good. I love sarcophagus.

    And surely eerie evocative cocks is a Fall song?

You must be logged in to post comment.