Mad Max Factor…
We watched this episode straight after Traitor. I think we both knew that if we didn’t keep going it would have taken weeks before we plucked up enough courage to return to the task in hand.
Oh, and we watched this double-bill on our 15th wedding anniversary. I am a very bad man.
Sue: I’ve got a Star Driver. It’s a screwdriver made by Philips. It’s got a star-shaped head and it’s ****ing brilliant. Sorry, Neil, I’m rambling.
The Scorpio roars into shot, a bit like the Star Destroyer at the beginning of Star Wars. Only smaller. And slower. And browner.
Sue: Why don’t they just put some writing on the ****ing screen and be done with it?
The crew are on a mission.
Sue: Soolin is a very bonny girl, but she’s completely wasted in this. I don’t see the point of her. At least Cally got taken over by aliens every week. I can’t believe I actually miss that.
Me: Soolin is one of the few things that I remember from this period of the show, so she must become important later on.
Sue: Oh, I wouldn’t bet on it. Like I said, she’s a very bonny lass. I think she’s done enough to lodge herself in your brain, Neil.
It’s about now that I suspect watching two episodes of Blake’s 7 back-to-back is probably a bad idea.
Sue: Do you know what really annoys me? It’s the part of the set that they haven’t glued down properly. It’s been doing my head in for ages and they still haven’t fixed it. Look at it! They need some hot glue – it would only take them a few minutes to sort it out. It drives me crazy.
Me: Rosie should have spotted that.
Sue: Did Rosie work on this episode? Oh well, at least the location will be nice.
Avon wants to sneak up on an asteroid so he can use it to shield the ship from the Federation’s prying eyes. Yes, this plan is as crazy as it sounds.
Sue: Just because Avon has a Millennium Falcon doesn’t mean he can fly like Hans Solo (sic). What’s he playing at?
As if to prove her point, the Scorpio slams straight into the asteroid.
Sue: (laughing) They should have been blown to bits! What a farce. Avon has gone completely mad. I don’t know how I feel about Avon any more. Even his hair has lost the plot.
Me: Don’t worry. There’s always Tarrant.
Sue: I admit it, he’s grown on me. To be honest, I think it was the documentary that finally swung it. He’s a really nice bloke.
Avon orders the crew to check the ship’s systems for damage.
Sue: I don’t think Avon is in a position to give any orders after that fiasco. Put Tarrant in charge. Or give the work experience girl a chance. You never know, she might actually be good at something.
The Scorpio is left with a whacking great hole in its hull.
Sue: Thank God they didn’t try that manoeuvre with the Liberator – they wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Vila staggers onto the flight deck, drunk as a skunk. He makes a play for Soolin.
Sue: Vila is a walking sexual harassment case. Even the theme music is creepy. It’s the ‘Creepy Sexual Predator’ version of the theme tune.
Dayna: Sometimes, Vila, you can be quite disgusting.
Sue: At least you know that I’ll never fancy Vila, Neil. I’d rather sleep with Orac.
Their predicament reminds Vila of the time an asteroid hit a penal colony ship he was travelling on. The crew fixed the problem by generating an atmosphere inside its force wall. Avon immediately seizes upon this as a solution to his own ineptitude.
Me: Avon only loves Vila when he’s drunk.
Sue: I love the way he doesn’t even bother to thank him.
If only they hadn’t left Orac back at home…
Sue: Can’t they get him on the phone and ask for his advice? And does this mean they have fly home again when it’s past their bed time? That’s a bit limiting. And what are they trying to achieve this week, anyway?
Me: They’re searching for crystals to turn into fuel.
Sue: I expect this is the closest I’ll get to any crystals during our crystal anniversary.
Me: Yeah, I planned this in advance. Happy anniversary, Sue.
Sue: How romantic.
Me: Give it rest, love. I wrote a book about how bloody lovely you are. (Still available from all good bookshops, by the way.) What more do you want?
Sue: There’s only so many times you can use that line, Neil, and it expired about six months ago.
Vila was only pretending to be drunk, mainly so Avon wouldn’t ask him to volunteer for the dangerous bit.
Sue: Clever Vila. He has his moments. When he’s not being a lecherous sex pest, obviously.
Tarrant and Avon head to the main drive chamber to fix the hole.
Sue: It’s pretty good, this. It’s a massive improvement on the last episode. This is what I want to see: Tarrant and Avon fixing stuff.
Avon seals the breach with a hand-held tool. Tarrant stands back and watches.
Sue: Now that’s what I call a glue gun. Now take it back to the bridge and fix the set.
While they wait for their hole to cool down, the Scorpio runs into a routine Federation patrol.
Sue: Thank God for that. I was beginning to worry that they didn’t have a window to look out of. It’s tiny but it’s better than nothing, I suppose. God, I miss Zen.
Avon suggests that they record the enemy ships’ movements. As luck would have it, as soon as they hit the record button, the ships mysteriously explode.
Sue: They should put that on YouTube. It would probably go viral.
The Scorpio returns to Xenon base.
Sue: Not only are they ripping-off the spaceships from Star Wars, they’re ripping the ****ing wipes off now as well. Have they no shame?
There’s something strange about the video footage of the exploding pursuit ships, but Orac won’t tell anyone what it is.
Sue: Threaten to drop him in a bath. That should loosen his tongue. I don’t know why they put up with him, I really don’t. At first, I didn’t understand why they left him at home – shouldn’t they take Orac with them wherever they go, just in case? But I wasn’t thinking straight. They can’t bear to be in the same room as him. It. Whatever. And who can blame them?
Thanks to Orac’s stubbornness, the crew have to take it in turns checking the video footage, frame by agonising frame.
Sue: **** me! Soolin just pressed a button. That’s the most exciting thing she’s done in four episodes. Hallelujah!
The recording reveals a Space Chopper speeding past the pursuit ships just before they explode.
Sue: I had a Raleigh Chopper. It was orange and I loved it to bits. Gary gave it to me – it must have been a hand-me-down. He could do no wrong in my eyes for a whole week after that.
Avon suspects that the Chopper must have been fitted with a new form of main drive unit.
Sue: That’s handy. That’s just what they need to turn their rubbish spaceship into something half-decent. They may as well have put an advert in the paper.
They zoom into the pilot’s helmet.
Sue: Now that’s what I call HD!
It’s a Space Rat. Vila warns everyone that the Space Rats are obsessed with speed.
Sue: Is that speed speed or speed speed?
Me: Both, I think. It’s been 33 years seen I’ve seen this. And it’ll be another 33 years before I see it again – and when I do, it’ll be Alzheimer’s kicking in.
Sue: I’ve seen a lot worse, Neil. About thirty minutes ago to be precise.
Soolin offers to turn the lights back on.
Sue: Calm down, love. You don’t want to over-do it.
Avon instructs Dayna to accompany Vila to the surface of the planet Caspar, planet of the Space Rats, so probably not a very friendly planet after all.
Sue: Oh, come on! Send Soolin instead. Let’s see what she’s made of.
Dayna and Vila teleport to Caspar. Dayna arrives in one piece. Vila, on the other hand, is stuck on a rock formation.
Sue: Soolin can’t even work the teleport properly. I’m sorry, Neil, but besides looking pretty, she’s ****ing useless.
Vila is lying face down over the edge of a cliff.
Vila: Dayna, I’m stuck! Oh oh. I’m stuck!
Sue: He can definitely pull his arm free, so what’s stuck, exactly? Actually, I don’t want to know…
The Space Rats approach the same rock formation.
Sue: Oh, I get it. It’s Mad Max on tricycles. I can see where they’re going with this. It’s Star Wars meets Mad Max meets Star Trek. I like it.
Avon has allowed Vila and Dayna to walk into a trap so they can get their hands on a new space drive.
Sue: What’s Avon got against Dayna all of a sudden?
In a high-tech laboratory on Caspar – which has a lovely tiled floor, according to Sue – Doctor Plaxton is developing a new space drive with some help from her friends.
Sue: It looks like they’ve employed two punk rockers on a YTS scheme. Could this episode be any more eighties?
The Space Rats have an attitude problem are ordered to leave.
Sue: Don’t forget to duck on your way out the door. Your hair will snap in half if you don’t.
The Space Rats’ leader is a crazy loon named Atlan.
Sue: He’s basically Gary Glitter crossed with Gene Simmons and Sid Vicious.
Atlan: What are you doing hanging around? Do you wish to join us?
Me: Does he want some jalapeños with that lizard he’s eating?
Sue: I’ve seen that sofa before! They can cover it up as much as they like, but I never forget a sofa.
Vila and Dayna find the entrance to the Space Rats’ base.
Sue: I’m sorry, Rosie, but this location isn’t really doing it for me. We’ve seen this a million times before: a desolate shit hole on a windy day, with a whacking great door in side of a cliff. Boring.
Avon, Tarrant and Soolin have also arrived on Caspar.
Sue: Finally! Soolin’s actually left the ship!
Our heroes survey the planet’s surface.
Sue: They look like they’re posing for an album cover. Was this episode directed by Anton Corbijn?
Avon, Soolin and Tarrant pose for more some photos in a shallow valley. If only they could find some Joshua trees.
Sue: What a bunch of poseurs! It doesn’t even make any tactical sense. They are standing around in the open! (Five minutes later) How long is this going to go on for? This location isn’t interesting enough to dwell on it. I’m sorry, Rosie, but it really isn’t.
There’s still time for one more pose.
Sue: Get a ****ing move on!
Dayna and Vila are captured by the Space Rats and Avon watches as his colleagues are escorted to an adjacent door in a cliff.
Sue: I don’t believe it. They’re posing for another album cover! This is hilarious.
Atlan threatens Doctor Plaxton with a game of tonsil tennis if she doesn’t complete her new space drive.
Sue: More violent kissing. This series must have put Blake’s 7 fans off kissing for life.
You can insert your own joke here, if you like.
Dayan battles the Space Rats. She gives as good as she gets, but she’s eventually thwarted by a crafty bum-bump. Watch it again if you don’t believe me.
Sue: I bet that’s the most action that sofa’s ever seen.
Avon, Soolin and Tarrant are still trekking across the surface of Caspar.
Sue: Just one more shot, darling, before we lose what’s left of the light. That’s it, Tarrant, stick your leg out a bit more. Cock your hip, Soolin. That’s it. Lovely.
Me: That’s the back of the 12-inch sorted.
Plaxton’s Stardrive can reach speeds of 15!
Sue: **** me, even I know that’s fast.
Oh, and Atlan isn’t a Space Rat after all. No siree! Not that it makes a blind bit of difference, of course.
Sue: His hair is as fake as his accent. He looks like he’s just stumbled out of a face-painting tent at a village fete.
Me: A face-paining tent on the border between Switzerland and Mexico.
Doctor Plaxton’s Stardrive is designed to work on a proper spaceship.
Plaxton: This drive was intended to be installed in a real spacecraft, not in toys driven by a bunch of murderous psychopaths.
Sue: It’s perfect for a large ship driven by a bunch of murderous psychopaths, though. Ta very much. So far, this series is basically one long episode of Pimp My Ride. First they had to get the teleport working, then they had to fix the stereo, and now they’re going to upgrade the engine. They’ll have Go-Faster Stripes and a new spoiler by the end of it.
Vila and Dayna are taken to Atlan. He tells his Space Rats to “bend them”.
Sue: Bend them? Did he just say “bend them?” It’s difficult to tell with that accent. Nah, he couldn’t have said that…
Tarrant begins burning his way through an adjoining wall in the Space Rats’ garage.
Sue: They could use this shot of Tarrant for the limited edition picture disc, I suppose.
Atlan is completely oblivious to Tarrant’s rear entry.
Sue: This is a bit stupid. I’d like to think that if someone was burning a hole in the wall behind me, I’d notice the ****ing smell. God, he’s so thick.
Just when we think everything’s under control, Atlan uses Soolin as a hostage so he can escape.
Sue: I’ve changed my mind. She should have stayed on the ship.
Doctor Plaxton wants to do a runner with Avon.
Sue: She could be their engineer. Yeah, she could be their posh Scotty.
Our heroes hijack an eight-wheeled dune buggy.
Sue: Do you remember the Banana Splits, Neil?
Me: Yes. Why do you ask?
Sue: No reason.
Soolin holds the approaching Space Rats at bay with some impressive gunslinging.
Sue: That God for that. I was beginning to worry that Soolin was all mouth and no trouser suit.
The gang escape in the buggy, with the Space Rats in hot pursuit.
Sue: You can see what they are trying to do – Mad Max in space. And it is quite exciting, if I’m honest.
Avon sets off some mines, which causes the Space Rats to tumble off their bikes.
Sue: Finally! Avon is cool again. Well, as cool as he can be with hair like that.
Our heroes race back to their ship.
Sue: Quick! Back to the Millennium Falcon!
When they reach the Scorpio, Avon decides to have a roll call.
Me: Blake? Shit, no wait, he’s dead.
Sue: Cally? Shit. Damn it.
Me: Gan? Oh, **** it.
Slave has some bad news:
Slave: I’m sorry to have to report, Master, that three Federation ships are approaching on an intercept course of zero-three-zero-zero-seven.
Sue: Slave reminds me of C-3P0. He was an arse-licker as well, wasn’t he?
Doctor Plaxton says it will take her 50 minutes to attach her Stardrive to the ship.
Sue: Sorry, pet, but you’ll have to do it in five!
Avon programmes the main drive circuit to kick in as soon as the Doctor makes the final connection. Dayna reminds him that this will kill her instantly. Avon says the Doctor is dead either way.
Sue: You can’t kill Scotty! You ungrateful…
The Doctor makes the connection, the ship’s Stardrive kicks in, and the poor woman bites the dust.
Sue: Ooh… That’s evil.
At least the Scorpio can do the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs now.
Dayna: What about Dr. Plaxton?
Avon and Sue: (together) Who?
Sue: (laughing) What a ****!
Sue: That was more like it. I really enjoyed that. Things happened. Compared to the last one, it was a rollercoaster ride of non-stop excitement. Yes, it was a bit silly – especially the bad guy – and the best bits were cheap knock-off of lots of other things I’ve seen, but at least they tried to make it entertaining. Even the album cover moments made me laugh. Give me stupid nonsense like that any day of the week.
Me: Have you lost your mind?
Sue: No. Shall we watch another one?
Me: That settles it. You have lost your mind.
Don’t worry. We didn’t.