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Blake

Merry Christmas!

Before we begin, let’s get something out of the way…

Me: Do you know what happens at the end of Blake’s 7, Sue?

Sue: No.

Me: Are you sure about that?

Sue: Quite sure.

Me: What if I said Bob Fischer and John Williams told you what happened at the end of Blake’s 7 two and a half years ago?

Sue: I’d say I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, let alone something John Williams told me two and a half years ago.

Me: Well, he didn’t exactly tell you, but you were in the room when they said it.

Sue: I still don’t know what you’re talking about, Neil.

I’m talking about our appearance on Bob Fischer’s BBC Tees radio show in December 2011, back when the Wife in Space blog was still knee-deep in Jon Pertwee. Because in the middle of that show, this happened:

You can listen to the full programme here.

So there you have it. Two years and eight months ago, Sue knew what happened at the end of Blake’s 7. But was she listening? Did she care? And, more importantly, does she remember?

Sue: Was John Williams on the radio with us? I’d forgotten he was there.

To be fair to Sue, I spoke to John about this a couple of days ago, and he’d completely forgotten about this conversation as well. So I believe her. Plus, she swore on all our cats’ lives, and she’d never do that unless she was being sincere. (The Blake’s 7 sequel was as a joke by the way. Like I said, we were knee-deep in Jon Pertwee at the time – a sequel was the last thing on my mind. And no, we’re not doing Babylon 5 next.)

Me: OK. So if you had to guess, what do you think happens at the end of Blake’s 7?

Sue: It was all a dream.

Me: Have another go.

Sue: Well, I expect things to come to a head between Servalan and Avon, of course. And I bet it ends on a cliffhanger. Does it end on a cliffhanger?

I press Play.

BlakeSue: I can’t believe this is the last time I’ll ever hear this music. (She sings along to it for a while; faultlessly, I might add.) I feel a bit sad.

And then the first bombshell of the evening drops into her lap…

Sue: Blake! Is Blake in this? Is that the big twist? **** me, I wasn’t expecting that. I’m pleased, though; Blake will sort Avon out.

Scorpio leaves Xenon Base for the last time.

Sue: Well, this season has been a complete disaster for Avon. All those people he wanted in his army are dead, and now they’re homeless again. What a waste of a year.

Avon has tracked Blake to the planet Gauda Prime.

Sue: Is the planet made from cheese?

I should point out that Sue didn’t listen to Glen’s trailer before she saw the episode. When I finally played it to her, she blushed when Paul Darrow mentioned her name.

Anyway, a bounty hunter is busy roasting a rabbit on Gauda Prime…

BlakeSue: Blake! It’s Blake. Bloody hell, it’s actually Blake… What’s happened to him?

Blake has been in the wars.

Sue: Oh no, his eye is almost missing.

Me: Does he remind you of anyone?

Sue: Oh God, yes… Blake has turned into Travis. That’s interesting. He isn’t working for Servalan, is he? He can’t be…

A young woman named Arlen has interrupted Blake’s dinner.

Sue: This forest is nicely lit. It’s very atmospheric. And it makes a nice change from yet another sand pit. This is probably one of the best shit holes that we’ve ever visited. Who directed this episode?

Me: Mary Ridge.

Sue: There you go, then.

At least Orac isn’t dead.

Sue: Why is Orac wearing Go-Faster stripes?

Me: It’s probably the only thing holding him together after last week’s accident.

BlakeAvon admits that he would have left Blake alone if Zukan hadn’t been such an arsehole.

Sue: He wanted to show Blake that he could do it without him. But he couldn’t. They need each other. It’s nice, I like it.

Arlen tells Blake that she is being hunted by bounty hunters. Only it turns out that Blake is the biggest and baddest bounty hunter of them all, and Arlen was his prize all along.

Sue: How did Blake end up like this? What’s gone wrong with him?

Back on Scorpio, Slave gets into a fight with Orac, which means the crew won’t discover that they are about to come under attack until it’s too late to do anything about it.

Sue: That was very funny. Stupid, but funny.

Blake escorts Arlen back to his base.

Sue: I can’t tell what’s more wooden – the actress or the stick she’s leaning on.

Me: Shut up, SCUM!

Scorpio is out of control and heading for Gauda Prime…

Sue: It’s a good job they’re wearing seat belts. Look at that – they’re upside down!

Two spaceships have popped out of nowhere to ruin their day.

Sue: They walked straight into this. Who are they anyway? Their ships look like spinning tops.

Avon tells Tarrant to pretend to crash the ship, but Tarrant won’t have to fake it.

BlakeSue: What happened to all those amazing enhancements they made to their ship? They should be able to get out of this.

Scorpio is going to crash…

Sue: Just teleport off the bloody thing!

Vila: We can use the teleport!

Sue: It’s so obvious, even Vila knows what to do.

Dayna, Soolin and Vila successfully teleport to Gauda Prime. However, when it’s Tarrant and Avon’s turn to abandon ship, Tarrant refuses to budge.

Sue: Oh no. Avon is going to leave Tarrant there to die. Avon didn’t try to talk Tarrant out of it. I bet he doesn’t even say goodbye.

Avon: Goodbye, Tarrant.

Sue: Oh, thank God for that. Does this mean he’s forgiven him for sleeping with Servalan?

Me: And that just about wraps things up for Tarrant…

Sue: No way… Does he die? Really? I suppose they don’t need him now that Blake is back…

An out-of-control Scorpio roars across the sky above Orac and Avon.

BlakeSue: It’s a shame we can’t see the ship crash. Nice wind machine, though.

And then Sue gets her wish.

Sue: Wow. We really are going to see it crash. Hey, this isn’t bad at all. Come on, Tarrant, you can land this thing.

When Scorpio hits the ground, the ship’s seating arrangements take a turn for the worse.

Me: Scream if you want to go faster!

Sue: He did it! He’s landed it. He’s fine.

And then the ship tears itself apart and Tarrant falls to a very grisly death. Honest.

Sue: Oh dear. At least he died a hero. He got the ship there so the others can repair it later.

Me: It’s going to take more than a screwdriver and some MDF to fix that, Sue.

Avon considers his next move.

BlakeAvon: All right, Orac, where is the nearest settlement and how do I get to it?

Sue: Initiate Google Maps, Orac.

Blake reports to a man named Deva (“He’s been in a few things.”) so he can brag about his latest conquest.

Sue: I like Blake’s outfit. It’s very Game of Thrones. He should have looked like this from the start.

Blake is a bounty hunter without a conscience.

Sue: I bet Avon is the next person on his list. He’ll be sent to capture his friend, but he won’t go through with it. Not Blake. Never.

A woman named Klyn tells Deva that a spaceship has crashed in a nearby plantation.

Me: She’s Paul Darrow’s wife.

Sue: Is she? Did they meet on the show?

BlakeMe: No, they were already married.

Sue: Aww, that’s nice. Do they get any scenes together?

Blake is given his next assignment.

Sue: What happened for Blake to get into this state? His make-up is fabulous, by the way.

Deva warns Blake that time is running out.

Deva: The representative from the Federation High Council could come at any moment.

Sue: I wonder who that will be… Still, it is the last episode. Ah! I know! Does Avon kill Servalan? Is that how it ends?

Orac warns Avon that he may have to spend the night in a forest.

Avon: When I want your impersonation of a pain, I’ll let you know.

Sue: Ha! I really am going to miss this show. Hang on… Avon’s carrying Orac with one hand. I don’t think he should be doing that.

As night falls, Dayna, Soolin and Vila discover a cabin in the woods. Dayna kicks the door in.

BlakeSue: There goes any protection that place may have given them. And that hole will create one hell of a draught.

Vila: Are you serious? The state the roof’s in, it’s the same as spending a night in the open.

Sue: You should have come in through the roof, then.

Vila is sent to search for firewood.

Sue: Just use the door you just smashed in. There it is, over there. You won’t have to go far.

Meanwhile, in the Scorpio‘s charred remains…

Sue: Come on, Tarrant. Don’t be dead.

Me: He’s dead, Sue. Just look at him.

Sue: He isn’t. … Is he?

Me: At least Slave is still alive, so it’s not all bad news.

BlakeTarrant stirs in the wreckage…

Sue: He’s alive! Come on, Tarrant! I knew they wouldn’t kill him. If they were going to kill him they would have blown him up in space; it would have been easier to film.

Slave, however, is damaged beyond repair.

Slave: Crash damage and power loss make it impossible for me to continue. May I express the humble hope that the same is not true for you, Tarrant.

Sue: Aww…. That was sweet. I didn’t like him as much as Zen, but that was really sad.

Tarrant has to scramble for cover when a flyer opens fire on Scorpio‘s wreckage. And then Blake turns up to save the day.

Sue: This looks amazing when you consider that it was shot in a TV studio. Everything about it – the lighting, the camera moves, the set – brilliant. Why wasn’t Blake’s 7 like this all the time?

When Vila turns his back on the hole where the cabin’s door used to be, a pair of bounty hunters are allowed to waltz into the property with surprise on their side.

Sue: Vila, you numpty!

Luckily for Vila, Avon comes to the rescue.

Sue: This episode feels like a Western to me. The only thing missing from this is some horses.

Avon: The fire was stupid. Putting Vila on guard was suicidal. What’s the matter, is staying alive too complicated for you?

Sue: Brilliant. I’m really going to miss Avon’s banter.

BlakeAvon hid Orac in the bushes outside.

Sue: Why is Orac pretending to be a Christmas tree?

Me: Well, this is Blake’s 7‘s Christmas special.

Avon refuses to answer Vila when he repeatedly asks him where Tarrant is.

Sue: This is brilliant. Avon thinks he’s dead, but he won’t tell them the truth. He never tells them the truth. They should know that by now.

And then the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Tarrant and Blake locking perms.

Sue: Of course, they’ve never met before. Although you’d think Tarrant would know what Blake looked like, with Blake being so famous. Even if he did have a massive scar over his eye.

Blake seems to playing mind games with Tarrant.

Sue: Blake found a teleport bracelet in the wreckage. So he must know… So why doesn’t he just say something?

Blake flies Tarrant back to his base in his flyer.

Sue: This isn’t half bad. They’ve definitely pushed the boat out for the last episode. I’m so glad this is a good one.

BlakeHowever, when Avon’s gang climb into their flyer, Sue feels the urge to sing The Jetsons theme.

Sue: It’s a good job they didn’t do another series after this. Imagine if this had been their spaceship for a whole year…

Me: I’d have paid good money to see that.

Tarrant tries to mask his surprise when Blake mentions a young smuggler named Jenna.

Sue: So Jenna’s definitely dead, then?

Me: It looks that way.

Sue: Blake could be lying. She might be back at his place. He is obviously testing Tarrant, although I don’t know why he doesn’t just tell him who he is. Talk to each other!

When Klyn detects an unauthorised flyer in the area, she suspects that the Federation observers must have arrived.

Sue: (checking her watch) She’s cutting it a bit fine.

When they reach Deva’s office, Blake turns the tables on Tarrant.

Blake: This one has a very high Federation price on his head.

Sue: I don’t believe him. Blake is pretending. Blake can’t be the bad guy – it wouldn’t be right.

BlakeShe’s spot on, of course. Blake tests his recruits before he tells them the truth – he’s raising an army against the Federation.

Sue: I knew it. Thank God for that.

Tarrant escapes from Blake’s clutches before he can discover the truth. When he reaches the base’s tracking station, he wrestles Klyn to the floor…

Sue: Paul Darrow won’t be very happy when he sees that.

And then Tarrant gets into a fight with Bobby Ball and all hell breaks loose.

This is Nicol’s cue to start filming Sue on her iPhone. This explains the weird aspect ratio, the bad sound and the poor lighting – it was the only way we could pull this off without alerting Sue to what was going on, so compromises had to be made.

This also explains why Sue looks at the camera a couple of times – she’s actually looking at Nicol, who she believes is browsing the internet on her phone, like she always does when Blake’s 7 is on. So I’m a genius. Or at least I would be a genius if my wife hadn’t turned up to watch the episode wearing her pyjama bottoms and – to use Sue’s words – “with no make-up on and her hair a ****ing clip!” In fact, it was touch-and-go whether Sue would let me post this video at all.

Sue, I love you. I really do. And I promise you this is the last time I’ll ever film you without your consent. And I actually mean it this time.

So here it is: Sue’s unedited reaction to the last five minutes of Blake’s 7. (If YouTube takes it down, here’s the same video on Vimeo.)

After a heated discussion about the ethics of filming somebody in their pyjamas without obtaining their permission, we talked about what just happened.

Me: You really didn’t know?

Sue: I had no idea. I still can’t believe it. I thought one of them might die, but not all of them. I feel numb after that. And that video will be shit. I didn’t say very much – I was too shocked to say very much. And my hair is a ****ing clip!

BlakeSue seems to be in denial when it comes to Avon.

Sue: I think he’s still alive. You didn’t see any blood when the others got shot, like you did with Blake, who’s definitely dead. And if they are dead, why were so many shots fired at the end? Maybe the others got their guns back and they fought their way out… Or maybe Orac teleported Avon out at the last second and the guards shot themselves by mistake? No? It could have happened.

The Score:

10/10

She wanted to give it an 11, but you know, graphs and stuff.

Sue: It must have been a very brave thing to do back then. Actually, I don’t think they’d try something like that on TV now. It’s too depressing. Yeah, Blake’s 7 was years ahead of its time.

And on that bombshell, we are both down and safe.

Next Time:

There will be one more blog update in September. It will either be a video or a podcast (we haven’t decided yet) and Sue will use it to reflect on Series 4 and Blake’s 7 in general. So if there’s something you’d like to ask Sue about the show or the blog, please send it via our contact form and I’ll put the very best questions to Sue. The best three questions will win a signed copy of our book, Adventures with the Wife in Space: Living with Doctor Who.. (If you enjoyed this blog, please buy our book!) And if you would like to send a question as an audio file – so we can drop it in the podcast or vidcast – please send me the URL where I can download it (Dropbox etc). The deadline for your submissions is: Sunday September 14th. Thanks.

And finally, if you backed this blog via Kickstarter, please check your email, or login to your Kickstarter account later tonight for an important message regarding your ebooks.

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Next

Warlord

The name of the place is Xenon Base…

WarlordSue: What the hell is going on?

Stencilled zombies are roaming the planet Zondar.

Sue: Are we watching some performance art?

Bored security guards decide to amuse themselves by murdering a group of these doped-up civilians on an escalator. Even Nicol is disturbed, and she thought The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a comedy when I caught her watching it aged twelve.

Nicol: It reminds me of that level in Call of Duty where you have to machine-gun all those innocent bystanders in an airport. It’s a bit grim.

Me: It’s basically Dawn of the Dead meets THX-1138.

And that’s when Nicol got up and left. Sue, on the other hand, remained slack-jawed throughout. And then she surprised me:

Sue: I don’t like the direction very much.

Me: What? Are you joking? It’s amazing.

WarlordSue: I hate the Picture-in-Picture effect. It looks cheap. We’re supposed to be watching a drama here, not the ****ing News.

Avon is hosting a conference on Xenon Base, and the delegates are an interesting bunch to say the least.

Sue: Earth, Wind and Fire have let themselves go.

One of the delegates is running a little late.

Chalsa: Zukan isn’t here!

Me: I don’t think Rick James acted again after this.

Sue: Oh, I think he gave up acting long before this, Neil. And Marge Simpson just called. She wants her hair back.

The conference hasn’t exactly got off to a flying start.

Vila: Hardly surprising. Avon’s idea of diplomacy is like breaking someone’s legs then saying, “Lean on me.”

Sue: Have Vila and Avon had a conversation about what happened on that ship yet? I’ll be very surprised if Vila is still talking to Avon, actually.

Avon hopes to forge an alliance that can defeat the Federation once and for all.

WarlordSue: OK, so this is basically Babylon 5, but with even weirder hair. And is he a thawed-out Ice Warrior?

She finds it hard to believe that Avon has managed to stage an important conference like this.

Sue: This must have taken weeks of adventures we haven’t seen. I’m surprised all the delegates weren’t killed before they arrived.

An unidentified spaceship appears on Orac’s radar.

Freighter: This is Betafarl commercial freighter Lodestar.

Sue: Paedophile?

Zukan: This is Zukan, President of Betafarl.

Sue: President of Paedophile?

It’s safe to assume that Sue thinks Betafarl is a stupid name for a planet, and that they should have changed it when they still had the chance. Just imagine her shaking her head every time somebody says “Betafarl”. And they’ll say it quite a lot.

WarlordAnyway, when Zukan arrives at the conference, he formally greets the other delegates.

Sue: Are you sure he isn’t there for the X-Factor auditions?

Me: Hang on, Rick James is attempting to speak again:

Chalsa: But words are no more than… words.

Sue: Jesus Christ. Make him stop!

Sue decides to focus on the delegates’ hair.

Sue: The stylist just went for it. One of them looks like he’s stuck his fingers in a plug socket. And as for the one with the pink knot on his head, I can just imagine how that conversation went: “Yes, you will look ridiculous BUT you will look ten years younger!”

But Sue ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait until she gets an eyeful of Zukan’s daughter, Zeeona.

Sue: Toyah!

Me: (singing) Ooh, I miss my Japanese Boy…

Sue: They’ve run out of money. They’ve obviously spent all the budget on the big guest stars we’ve had recently. They’ve resorted to rank amateurs, now. It’s a shame, really.

WarlordZeeona and Tarrant first met during an untelevised adventure (when the team were running around the galaxy selling conference tickets), and Zeeona must have liked what she saw because she’s travelled a long way to see him again.

Sue: Oh dear. Tarrant’s got a stalker. I’ve got a number he could call…

It isn’t very long before Zeeona and Tarrant end up in bed together.

Sue: Tarrant can’t keep it in his trousers these days.

Me: And aliens aren’t forcing him do this, either. Unless you count her, of course.

Sue: This would make me feel sick.

Me: What? Kissing Tarrant?

Sue: No, the stupid green thing that’s spinning in the background. That would put me right off.

Zukan isn’t very happy when he hears about Tarrant’s extramural activities, and when Avon eventually catches up with the Lothario, he pushes him off the screen and into a corridor.

Sue: That was very funny, but we should have heard Tarrant cry when Avon slapped him across the face for being such a tart.

Zukan forbids his daughter to see Tarrant again and Zeeona cries herself to sleep over a sea of stars.

Sue: Wow… What a cheesy shot. Did that just happen, Neil?

Sue isn’t a fan of Avon’s new uniform, either.

Sue: The copper collar and the patches made from lace doilies isn’t really doing it for me. Put him back in black leather!

Soolin decides to teleport Zeeona back into Tarrant’s loving arms.

Sue: Sutekh will be furious when he finds out.

Me: Zukan.

Sue: Whatever.

WarlordZeeona and Tarrant can’t keep their hands off each other.

Sue: Oh, for God’s sake. Get a room!

Zeeona’s father, meanwhile, is definitely up to no good.

Sue: His hair must be giving him a terrible headache, the poor sod.

Soolin’s cupid stunt could ruin everything…

That’s the best sentence I will ever write on this blog. I may as well pack up and go home now. Oh, wait, I’m already here.

Avon: If it comes to a choice between the alliance and Zukan’s revenge, don’t think that I won’t sacrifice you.

Sue: We believe you, Avon. You’ve made it perfectly clear that’ll you’ll throw your so-called friends under the bus.

Zeeona and Tarrant waltz back into the control room, reeking of sex.

Sue: That was quick. Oh wait, they’re going back for another go. It’s probably Tarrant’s third shag in fifteen minutes.

When Orac detects a bomb in the teleport chamber, the earth moves for everyone.

Sue: Ooh, things are very exciting all of a sudden. And just as I was beginning to tune out. That’s lucky.

warlord8Xenon Base’s roof caves in on Orac.

Me: Orac’s dead.

No reaction.

Me: I said Orac’s dead.

Sue: He’s a computer, Neil. He’s broken.

Dayna surveys the damage.

Dayna: Channel one dead. Two dead… We’ve got Channel Five!

Me: I love Glen Allen. I just wanted to say that.

Servalan arrives on Zukan’s ship.

Sue: ****’s sake.

Xenon Base’s oxygen will run out in 18 hours.

Sue: Just think of the number of times that Tarrant will be able to shag his new girlfriend before he dies. Hundreds, probably.

WarlordAvon and Soolin arrive on Betafarl. It appears to be deserted.

Sue: What was the point of that cheesy effect? The director is over-reaching himself. There was no need for that.

Me: To be fair, he was only trying to disguise the fact that they’ve LANDED ON THE SAME PLANET THEY ALWAYS DO!

A Federation trooper is hiding under a sand dune. Yes, it’s an ambush.

Sue: How long has Rambo been hiding under there? He must be good at holding his breath. Can’t ****ing shoot straight, though, can he?

Federation reinforcements somersault over a ridge.

Sue: Now they’re just showing off.

Avon: Federation guards!

Sue: Guards? They look like they belong in a ****ing circus!

WarlordFederation guards start flinging themselves down ravines like there’s no tomorrow.

Sue: Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

But our heroes are outnumbered and outgunned, and Sue gasps when Soolin turns the tables on Avon and sticks a gun in his back.

Sue: See! It doesn’t feel very nice when a friend betrays your trust, does it, Avon?

It’s only when Soolin assumes Zeeona’s identity that the penny finally drops.

Sue: Ooh, that’s very clever. Soolin’s far too good for this show. Put her in charge. Let’s see what happens.

When Servalan hears about Avon’s capture, she demands that his corpse be sent to her ship.

Sue: She’s lying. She wants to marry him. It’s written all over her face.

Me: It really isn’t, Sue.

Servalan plants a bomb on Zukan’s ship before she leaves.

Sue: Tarrant’s girlfriend isn’t the only one who’s getting shafted this week.

The Federation guards decide to kill Avon by crucifying him upside down on a sand dune. Well you would, wouldn’t you.

Sue: Eh? What the ****? Surely they can’t be running that low on bullets.

Soolin attacks a guard with her sonic screwdriver; Sue’s words, not mine.

WarlordSue: Ooh, right where it hurts. You go, girl!

Soolin makes short work of the guards, although Sue is convinced that she had to break the laws of physics to do it.

Sue: She’s shooting into the air!

Me: The bullets fall back to earth and land on the guards’ heads. Clever, eh?

Sue: Or maybe the director is out of his depth. I mean, who’s flying the Scorpio right now? Whatever happened to continuity?! The direction is ****ing terrible. Sorry, Neil, but it is.

Vila has his second nervous breakdown of the week.

Vila: WE HAVEN’T GOT FOUR DAYS!

Sue: Calm down, Vila. You’ve been through worse than this. Only a couple of days ago, in fact.

Me: We’re almost at the end of Blake’s 7, Sue. So tell me, has your opinion of Vila changed?

Sue: Yes, it has. I feel sorry for him now; I certainly wouldn’t want any harm to come to him. He’s still a bit of a numpty, though.

Zukan’s sabotage includes the release of a radioactive airborne virus. The swine.

Sue: It never rains but it pours. I’d start shagging Tarrant right now if I were her.

WarlordZukan unloads his troubles onto his loyal assistant, Finn, who is the spitting double of Jeremy Renner by the way, although Sue can’t see it.

Zukan: Get me a drink.

Sue: I’ll have another Kia-Ora if there’s any going.

After Finn tops up the warlord’s fruit juice, he discovers Servalan’s bomb, which then goes off, killing him instantly.

Sue: It’s all gone a bit Top of the Pops. Just because the edit suite has a special effect, it doesn’t mean you have to use it.

When Vila, who is completely pissed by this point, blames Zeeona for getting them into this mess, Tarrant almost knocks his block off.

Sue: Bloody hell! Are the crew taking it in turns to kill Vila? Leave him alone!

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this or not, but Sue isn’t the director’s biggest fan. Which is funny because I thought she’d love Viktors Ritelis. And then a hand-held camera gets into Zukan’s face as his ship begins to tear itself apart…

Sue: Oh, this is all right, I suppose. I just can’t take the actor seriously. He’s too theatrical.

Zukan wants to bargain with Avon. If he saves his life, Zukan will tell him how the crew can obtain a fresh oxygen supply.

WarlordZukan: If two of them volunteer to die, the oxygen they have left will last the rest of them.

Sue: That’s it? That’s his solution? I’d let him die for that, the sarcastic ****.

Zukan’s ship is on its last legs.

Sue: He’ll never survive fifteen hours like that. He’ll drown in his own vomit.

Zukan refuses to believe that his daughter is on Xenon Base.

Zukan: No! No! You’re not there! I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!

Sue: Switch your audio-only Skype call to video, you fool!

Avon finds a solution without Zukan’s help.

Sue: This bit is quite good, actually. They need to reverse the polarity of the whatsit. Obviously.

Zukan, meanwhile, is haunted by a vision of his daughter.

Me: NO! YOU’RE NOT THERE!

WarlordSue: (singing) Heathcliff, it’s me Cathy!

And then another face appears outside Zukan’s window – Servalan.

Me: NO! SHE’S NOT THERE, EITHER!

When Zukan finally accepts his own death, his does so with his arms outstretched and his mouth wide open.

Sue: He looks like he’s expecting to regenerate. The idiot.

Crash-zoom into Zeeona’s startled face.

Sue: Now I’ve lost count of the number of times the director has annoyed me.

Zeeona volunteers to return to the base so she can fix the damage caused by her father.

Sue: She’s dead, then.

Tarrant isn’t very happy about this, but Sue doesn’t have that much sympathy for him.

Me: I thought you liked Tarrant?

Sue: I did, but he’s turned into a right space slag. He thinks he’s James Bond, shagging his way round the galaxy. But he isn’t.

When the director cuts to another scene with the help of Tarrant’s back, Sue refuses to cut his Rope homage any slack.

Sue: The director thinks he’s Alfred Hitchcock. What a joke. He couldn’t direct traffic. They should have got a woman in to direct this. When will they ever learn?

Tarrant desperately wants to save Zeeona, which makes Avon break into a smile/grimace/God only knows what.

Sue: So what was that look for? Is Avon pleased that Tarrant’s girlfriend is dead? Ooh, what a bastard. Never get on the wrong side of Avon.

Tarrant and Dayna teleport to Xenon Base.

Tarrant: Zeeona! Zeeona!

WarlordSue: It’s too late, Tarrant. SHE ISN’T THERE!

Yes, Zeeona was killed thanks to a rookie mistake. Or maybe she sacrificed herself for Tarrant’s sake? It’s difficult to tell.

Dayna: She took her glove off.

Sue: That will teach her to paint her nails in the middle of a radioactive crisis.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: I didn’t like that episode very much. The direction was appalling, the editing was shoddy, and the acting was all over the place. Some of the action scenes were great, but some of the action scenes were hilarious. It had its moments, I suppose, but at the end of the day it was simply… average.

Me: Orac’s still dead.

Sue: Shut up, Neil.

5/10

Next Time:

WARNING: Glen’s trailer includes MASSIVE SPOILERS for the final episode. Please don’t listen to it if you haven’t seen it yet. However, as soon as you have seen the final episode, come back here and press play. You won’t regret it.

We plan to watch the final episode this Monday at 8pm UK time, and I hope to publish the very last (and this time we definitely mean it) blog early next week.

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Orbit

The Odd Couple…

OrbitBlake’s 7‘s 50th episode is written by Robert Holmes. (Sue thinks Gold should have been the 50th episode, but what the hell does she know.)

Sue: Come on, Robert!

She must have forgotten the 2/10 she gave to Traitor

Sue: You know you are in for a treat when you see Robert’s name at the start. Bring it on!

Scorpio is orbiting the planet Malodar.

Sue: I’ve only just noticed that the flight deck is modelled on the Sydney Opera House.

Malodar is a little on the chilly side.

Sue: At least it isn’t another sand pit. They should count themselves lucky.

Two men named Egrorian and Pinder have been anticipating the Scorpio‘s arrival.

Sue: OK, so we’ve got two mad dentists who think they’re in The Hills Have Eyes. I think I can go with this…

Egrorian is a wanted criminal, but as Vila says, aren’t they all?

Sue: Is Soolin a criminal? When did that happen?

Me: Last week when she shot all those innocent mine workers to death.

Sue: Oh, OK. Fair enough.

OrbitVila doesn’t believe that Egrorian is hiding on Malodar.

Vila: What is the point of having money if you have to exist on a hole like that!

Sue: Every planet in this universe is a hole like that. I still haven’t seen a planet with more than five people living on it.

Vila warns Avon that Egrorian’s invitation to meet for a chat could be a trap.

Avon: Why do you think I’m sending Tarrant?

Sue: I knew it. Avon wants Tarrant out of the way as soon as possible. I wouldn’t put it past Avon to set him up. I really wouldn’t.

Egrorian wants to make a deal with Avon. After certain conditions are agreed, Avon demands to see Egrorian’s face on the Scorpio‘s viewer screen, much to the scientist’s dismay.

Sue: If I looked like him, I wouldn’t want to show my face either.

Avon decides to bring Vila to the meeting on Malodar.

Avon: After all, you always say you feel safe with me.

Sue: Did Avon just clip Vila round the ear?

OrbitVila begs Avon to take one of the women instead. Egrorian might have forgotten what they look like, and Vila thinks they could help grease the wheels, so to speak.

Sue: That might work if Soolin or Dayna were blindfolded, I guess.

Scorpio leaves a small shuttle in its wake.

Sue: That was a lovely bit of Chroma. Simple but effective. I don’t know why they don’t do that sort of thing more often.

Avon puts his feet on the shuttle’s dashboard.

Sue: He’s got chewing gum stuck to his boots. Oh well, at least Avon seems to be enjoying himself this week. Is this what happens when you go round the bend, Neil?

Me: Why are you asking me?

There’s a rumour going around that Egrorian absconded from the Space Research Institute with help from a Federation insider.

Sue: I wonder who that could be…

Dayna: Servalan?

Sue: REALLY? DO YOU THINK?!

OrbitWhen they arrive on Malodar, Avon and Vila are subjected to a security screening.

Sue: Does the mad scientist want a sample? Do they have to piss in that urinal?

Egrorian and Pinder’s relationship is strained to put it mildly.

Sue: They remind me of Basil Fawlty and Manuel. And I don’t know why Avon or Vila would need a gun; Vila could take these two on his own. Oh God, look at the stains on his coat. That’s disgusting.

When Pinder greets his visitors as “Ma’am”, Egrorian explains that his assistant doesn’t understand the difference between men and women.

Sue: That’s a clue. They must have met Servalan recently. It’s hardly a twist, though, is it?

Egrorian butters Avon up.

Sue: This is very funny. I could watch these two all day. The make-up on the mad scientist is fantastic. It is make-up, isn’t it?

Egrorian eventually cuts to the chase.

Egrorian: Now, then, Avon. What would you say if I offered you mastery of the galaxy?

Avon: Oh, I would say thank you.

Sue: Ha! This is brilliant.

Egrorian introduces Avon to his Tachyon Funnel.

OrbitSue: Is that a Tachyon TV? Is this where you got the name for your old website, Neil?

Me: No.

Avon: What does it do?

Sue: It tells crap jokes.

Me: OK, you can stop that now, love.

Egrorian demonstrates his funnel’s immense firepower with the destruction of a small moon.

Sue: That must have ****ed the planet it was orbiting. This has taken a very dark turn. This was funny a minute ago, and now it’s a bit grim. It’s classic Robert Holmes, this.

Avon could destroy the Federation with a weapon like that.

Sue: Hang on a minute… We’ve only got his word for it that it does what he says it does. They could have been watching anything on that TV screen. They’re far too trusting.

Egrorian makes Pinder vacate his seat so Vila can sit down.

Sue: They’re like an old married couple.

Me: So which one are you?

Sue: (ignoring me) And now he’s making a move on Vila. His boyfriend doesn’t like that one little bit. Aww, bless him.

OrbitSue adores Pinder.

Sue: This is what Peter Capaldi will look like when he stops making Doctor Who.

Sue has it all figured out:

Sue: The old guy will try to kill Vila because he’s jealous. Or he’ll give Vila away to Servalan to get his own back. Yes, that’s probably it.

Pinder and Egrorian have been playing chess, which means Pinder must know the difference between a King and a Queen.

Sue: I said it was a clue. I just wish the clue wasn’t pointing to you-know-who.

Egrorian tortures Pinder when he catches him cheating.

Sue: He’s horrible. This isn’t funny any more, Neil.

Avon agrees to exchange Orac for the Tachyon Funnel. When they take the shuttle back to Scorpio to pick up the supercomputer, Vila spends the entire journey imagining what he’ll do when he finally rules the galaxy.

Vila: I’ll have an imperial palace with solid diamond floors, and a bodyguard of a thousand handpicked virgins in red fur uniforms. Vila’s Royal Mounties.

Sue: Vila, you sick bastard.

Me: Forget Vila-world – that sounds like Benny Hill-world to me.

OrbitBut Avon is suspicious, especially as he’s got Servalan on the brain.

Sue: His left eye just twitched. He’s turning into Michael Murray.

Guess what? Yes, Egrorian and Servalan are working together. And because Egrorian has the serious horn for the President/Supreme Commander/Commissioner/Whatever the hell she is this week, he’s literally throwing himself at her.

Sue: (as Servalan) It’s not you, it’s me. Honest.

Egrorian sinks to his knees and declares his undying loyalty to Servalan.

Sue: He’s well over-the-top but this is very entertaining. They should have made more comedy episodes like this one. The look on Servalan’s face is priceless.

And then Egrorian advances on Servalan a little too eagerly…

Sue: Ooh, that wasn’t supposed to happen. I bet they daren’t risk another take, though. This is probably the eighteen take as it is. I don’t know how they’re keeping a straight face through this scene.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

[jwplayer mediaid=”13406″]

Egrorian has a proposition for Servalan:

Egrorian: A connubial partnership, Servalan. Why not?

Sue: Does that mean what I think it means? It does? Bloody hell! His funnel had better work, that’s all I’m saying.

OrbitSafely back on Scorpio, Vila is bragging to Soolin and Dayna.

Vila: Unlike some people around here, I don’t boast about my abilities. I keep them hidden.

Dayna: Oh, you certainly do.

Sue: The banter is brilliant today. Everybody is getting their fair share of funny lines. Good old Robert Holmes. Does he write any more episodes, Neil?

Me: No. In fact, this is the probably last Robert Holmes story you’ll ever see, Sue.

Sue: Oh. That’s really sad.

Me: We could always watch The Caves of Androzani after this.

Sue: OK.

Me: I was joking.

Sue: So was I.

Tarrant has visited Wikipedia and discovered that Pinder is only twenty-eight years old.

Sue: He must have got his head stuck in that funnel. It’s the only explanation I can think of. Maybe he’s still got the body of a twenty-eight year-old under that coat. Wouldn’t that be sad.

Egrorian prepares for Avon’s return.

OrbitSue: Never trust a man with big hands. That’s all I’m saying.

As Avon travels to Malodar with Vila and Orac in tow (Sue loves the special effects, by the way), he admits that Servalan is never far from his thoughts.

Sue: Especially late at night, when he’s all alone and Orac has gone to bed.

Even Tarrant is convinced that Servalan is behind it all.

Sue: If only they communicated with each other, they’d all be on the same page for a change.

Avon hands Orac over to Egrorian.

Sue: That’s never Orac. Never in a million years. He’s too light. You can’t carry Orac with one hand, can you? Soolin could barely shift him a few weeks ago.

Avon’s suspicions are exacerbated when Egrorian accidentally mentions Servalan by name.

Egrorian: I was told she had assumed a new identity. One never knows what to believe these days!

Sue: She changed her name, I’ll giver her that, but her identity is exactly the same as it’s always been. She’s hardly made any effort at all, really.

Me: I think Robert Holmes is taking the piss.

OrbitEgrorian runs a test on Orac and the computer correctly identities the subject of his degree, as well as its grade: Beta-Plus. When Pinder laughs, Egrorian pinches his ear.

Sue: These two are a brilliant double-act. You can tell that they had a good time making this. It really comes across on screen.

Egrorian goes ballistic when Orac tells everyone that Egrorian’s degree was rescinded for gross misconduct.

Sue: He’s so hysterical, he makes Avon look normal. In fact, I think Paul Darrow has given up trying to compete with him.

Tarrant almost jumps for joy when Avon’s shuttle leaves Malodar.

Tarrant: Well I’ll be damned!

Me: (as Steven Toast) Launch the NU-CLE-AR WEAPONS!

Avon tells Vila that he made a fake Orac in his spare time, and that’s what Egrorian’s got his hands on.

Sue: Do you think Avon was sniffing the glue when he put that model together. It would explain a lot.

And then the real Orac (who’s safely stowed away on the shuttle) informs Avon and Vila that they won’t reach escape velocity.

OrbitSue: I knew it was too good to be true. It always is in this programme.

Egrorian has it all worked out: the shuttle will crash in a swamp 200 miles away. Orac and the Tachyon Funnel will survive the impact, but Avon and Vila won’t.

Sue: Part of me wants him to succeed. Does that make me a bad person?

Avon switches to manual and pushes the shuttle to its limits.

Sue: That was a nice touch, pushing Orac across the table like that to give the impression they are flying at an angle. It’s funny, too.

Vila is convinced that they are both going to die.

Sue: This is very exciting all of a sudden. I wasn’t expecting this at all.

Things don’t look good, and Scorpio‘s crew can’t intervene.

Sue: Just point the Tachyon whatsit at them and threaten to kill them with it if they don’t sort this out. Simple. That’s if the bloody thing does what it says it does, and I’m not convinced that it does.

Servalan and Egrorian discuss a future without Pinder, but Pinder overhears their plans.

OrbitSue: That’s settled, then. Pinder will save Avon’s life to spite them both.

Avon and Vila jettison the Tachyon Funnel in an attempt to reduce the shuttle’s weight.

Sue: What a complete waste of time. This happens every week – they always end up empty-handed. I don’t know why they bother any more. And the bad guy is completely screwed now, too.

But it isn’t enough – the shuttle is still seventy kilos overweight.

Sue: I bet that’s what Vila weighs…

Orac: Vila weighs seventy-three kilos, Avon.

Sue: No, wait. I was only joking.

Avon’s heart and mind are locked in combat as he considers Orac’s words. Unfortunately for Vila, Avon’s mind wins and he picks up a gun.

Avon: Vila?

Sue: Shit…

Avon goes in search of his ‘friend’.

OrbitSue: Shit…

Vila is nowhere to be seen, probably because he knows Avon better than anyone.

Sue: Shit. Shit. Shit! Is this really happening, Neil?

Avon: Vila? Vila, are you here? I need your help.

Sue: He couldn’t be more suspicious if he tried. If he didn’t want Vila to know what he had planned for him, he should be yelling at him with contempt, you know, like he usually does. Avon is never this friendly to Vila.

Avon advances on his prey.

Sue: Is Vila crying? Shit, he is. This is horrible. Make it stop, Neil. I don’t like it.

Avon finds a fragment of a neutron star embedded in a cube of high tensile plastic. After lots of huffing and puffing, he single-handedly jettisons it out of the airlock.

Sue: Unbelievable. Avon was really going to kill Vila – there’s no two ways about it. They can’t just pretend that didn’t happen.

When Vila crawls out of his hiding place, he’s an emotional wreck.

OrbitSue: I’m not Vila’s biggest fan, as you know, Neil, but he didn’t deserve that. I’m shocked. And Orac can **** off as well. How much did he weigh, eh?

Thanks to Avon, the shuttle successfully reaches its escape velocity.

Sue: The floor manager has forgotten to poke Orac across the table with a broom. He should have slid onto the floor by now.

Egrorian’s plan is in tatters, so Servalan leaves the scientist with nothing but a masturbatory fantasy and an old man for company.

Sue: Pinder will have to kill him now. It’s the humane thing to do.

Pinder bathes the laboratory in Hoffal’s radiation and Egrorian ages to death in a matter of seconds.

Sue: Gandalf! I tell you what, Neil, he doesn’t improve with age.

Me: As a wise man once said on Twitter, that’s another reclusive genius dead.

Sue: Serves him bloody right.

Back on Scorpio, Avon tells the crew that he disposed of the neutron star fragment without any assistance from Vila.

OrbitVila: It’s a trip I won’t forget, Avon.

Sue: There’s no coming back from that. Their relationship must be over now. Vila will never be able to trust Avon again. And after everything they’ve been through… I’m shocked. And a bit upset.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: Wow… Well, it doesn’t get any better than that. I can’t fault it. Can I give it 11/10?

Me: No, it will bugger up the graphs.

10/10

Next Time:

Yes, that really is Marcus Bentley! Well done, Glen, and thanks to you both!

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Gold

Weird scenes inside the gold mine…

GoldThe episode begins with what looks like a high-speed spaceship chase.

Sue: They’ve got loads of room, why don’t they just overtake?

Scorpio docks with a pleasure cruiser.

Sue: Oh look, it’s the Russians… Why don’t they just teleport over there. Is it broken?

Avon has arranged to meet an old acquaintance.

Sue: Oh dear. Tarrant can’t get his gun to stay in his holster; it’s the story of his life. And I wish they would soundproof their ship. I can’t understand a word they’re saying when they clump around the set. Clang – clang – clang. What did Dayna just say?

When Avon, Tarrant, Soolin and Dayna cross to the Space Princess, they are met by a man named Keiller.

Sue: Is he supposed to be the ship’s Redcoat? Is this Hi-de-Hi in space?

Me: Yes, it is a bit. Don’t you recognise him?

Sue: Of course I do. He’s a very famous comedian who’s been in loads of things. I just can’t think of any right now.

GoldMe: Is that the best you can do?

Sue: His name is on the tip of my tongue. It will come to me eventually. I definitely know who he is. He’s really good.

Keiller lets the crew in on his plan to steal a consignment of gold that’s due to be transported from the planet Zerok disguised as a shipment of fruit.

Sue: Is this episode going to be a heist movie? Excellent. It’ll be like Ocean’s 7. You know, a bit like Ocean’s 11, but there’s only 7 of them. Actually, it’s probably more like Ocean’s 5

Me: You’ve cracked that joke before, Sue.

Sue: Have I? How many episodes of Blake’s 7 have we seen now?

Me: This is our forty-ninth.

Sue: Well then.

Keiller chose his old friend for this heist because Avon has a reputation for mischief.

Keiller: You’re getting to be big news.

Sue: Avon will love that. He wants to be notorious. It’s an ego thing.

Keiller has come up with a cunning plan to steal the gold, but there’s a snag (or if you’re Avon, snaaaaag): they have to nick the booty before it can be processed into black gold, which is completely worthless.

GoldSue: This is an excellent way to start the episode. I wonder how Servalan is involved…

Keiller can’t keep his grubby paws off Soolin.

Sue: What a pervy bastard. Wait! Rory Kinnear! That’s it! He’s Rory Kinnear.

Me: Close. It’s Rory’s dad, Roy Kinnear.

Sue: That’s what I just said.

Keiller, Avon, and Soolin arrive at Zerok’s vegetable reprocessing plant, which acts as a cover for a secret gold mining operation.

Sue: The person who designed the logo for this company must have been a frustrated comic book artist.

Me: I bet all their stationary uses Comic Sans.

The mine’s security guards patrol the area, their faces hidden behind black visors.

Sue: Is this guy a welder?

A guard is murdered by Soolin.

GoldSue: Now we’ll never know if he was a welder or not.

Tarrant and Dayna teleport to Zerok a few minutes behind Avon and Soolin.

Sue: Why didn’t they stick together? You know, safety in numbers. Is it because they can only teleport two at a time these days, or is this part of the plan?

Keiller speaks into a computerised lock and then, after what seems like an eternity, the door to the mine finally opens.

Sue: They should get that seen to. Just imagine if there’d been a toilet behind that door and he desperately needed to go. He’d have pissed himself.

Another guard is murdered, this time by Avon.

Sue: What is the point of those masks? Is it so they can use the same stuntman over and over again? I bet it is. Or maybe one of the guards will turn out to be Servalan. Yes, that’s it: keep your eyes peeled for a security guard wearing high heels.

As Avon, Soolin and Keiller make their way to the mine’s processing plant, somebody sounds the alarm.

Sue: Just think, twenty years from now I won’t be able to hear that frequency. I think this is probably the first time that I’ve actually prayed for old age.

Security guards are swarming all over the plant, which means Dayna and Tarrant have a fight on their hands.

Sue: This is very exciting, but if they don’t turn off that smoke alarm, I’m going to have to kill somebody. And you’re the only person here, Neil.

A huge explosion goes off in the mine and Avon and Soolin are presumed dead.

Sue: Of course they are. Why are they pretending that it’s even possible? Blake’s 7 is better than this.

GoldBack on Scorpio, Keiller insists that he had nothing to do with the ambush.

Sue: Roy is such a good actor, you want to believe him.

Avon (who isn’t dead by the way) has realised that the guards’ guns weren’t standard issue, which points to a third-party being involved. But who could it possibly be?

Sue: Um… let me see… No, I couldn’t possibly guess.

Me: Maybe it’s the dwarf from Dawn of the Gods.

Sue: Who?

Avon and Soolin examine the Space Princess‘ computer files.

Sue: The ship’s computers are infested with rattlesnakes.

Me: I think you cracked that joke in Series 1, Sue.

Sue: Shut up, Neil.

Avon realises that the pleasure cruise is a sham, and the passengers are given chemical help to help overcome that fact.

Sue: Sounds fantastic. Where do I sign up?

Me: Chemical help, otherwise known as the bar on a P&O ferry.

Avon discovers that Keiller has links to a Federation president. But which president?

Sue: ARGH!

GoldWhen Avon returns to Scorpio, Keiller tries to explain.

Keiller: They blackmailed me, said they’d use my record against me. I’ve got a criminal record, you see.

Vila: Hasn’t everybody?

Sue: Ha! Brilliant. The script is very funny and Roy is wonderful. You can’t take your eyes off him.

It appears that Keiller’s associates have discovered a way to launder the black gold through Zerok’s banking system.

Sue: This is very clever, Neil. Zerok equals Zürich. See?

The crew stand to make billions if they can steal the gold.

Me: You could buy hundreds of Oracs for that.

Sue: One Orac is more than enough, thanks.

Keiller wants to join Avon’s gang.

Sue: Please take him with you. He brightens the place up.

But Orac has some bad news: they can’t teleport the black gold off the pleasure cruiser.

Orac: The processed gold will have undergone a subneutronic overlap shift. If subjected to the teleport process as well, it will reduce to dust irrevocably.

Sue: That’s convenient, but what the hell. It’ll be much more exciting the other way.

GoldThe pleasure cruiser leaves Zerok with its precious cargo.

Zerok Control: Space Princess, this is Zerok Control. Do you copy?

Sue: Hey! Zen’s back!

Me: He isn’t.

Sue: He bloody is! He just said, “confirmed”. Zen escaped from the Liberator and now he’s working for an air traffic control company somewhere. Brilliant.

Me: Whatever makes you happy, love.

Keiller assures Avon that a drug they’ve given to Dayna is completely harmless, but she’ll need it if she hopes to fool the ship’s doctor. Sue pretends to understand what he’s talking about.

Sue: You can’t trust him. He’s setting them up. And Avon is growling his lines. He’s about to explode.

Tarrant wanders around the pleasure cruiser, pretending to be drugged.

Sue: This is hilarious. Tarrant’s obviously never taken any drugs in his life before.

All the passengers are loved up.

Tarrant: I’m beginning to wish I was eating the same food as them. They seem to be having a good time.

GoldSue: I’m guessing that the drug makes the passengers feel horny. That way they stay in their cabins and don’t notice that they’ve missed all the sights. Not that Tarrant needs a drug to make him feel horny. Just ask Servalan.

When Avon and Keiller reach the cruise liner’s hold, Avon murders the solitary guard.

Sue: The guard’s hockey mask really helped when Avon shot him in the balls.

When Keiller opens the crate containing the black gold, tiny explosives attach themselves to the purser’s jacket.

Sue: It’s bloody good, this. Dudley’s music is very tense, too. I like the way they keep switching between the Muzak on the ship and the exciting bits in the hold. It’s very effective.

Keiller’s plan appears to be working.

Sue: I’m sorry if I’m not saying very much, Neil, but I’m enjoying this too much. Even the model shots are great. Look at that spaceship… Beautiful.

Dayna’s self-induced illness convinces the ship’s captain to put out a Mayday call, which just happens to be intercepted by Vila on the Scorpio.

Sue: Genius. This might actually work.

The ship’s doctor nearly scuppers their plans, but some quick thinking from Keiller puts them back on track.

Keiller: I told you it would work. We’re going to walk off this ship and no one’s even going to try and stop us.

Things inevitably go tits up, which results in a mad dash to the Scorpio‘s airlock before the doors can close. Sue is biting what’s left of her nails.

Sue: Hurry up! Run!

GoldAvon provides cover for the crew. It looks like he’s having a whale of a time.

Sue: He’s taking the piss!

The airlock closes before Avon can make it across.

Sue: Serves you right for taking the piss!

As the airlock begins to disengage, Avon roars down his teleport bracelet:

Avon: Vila, I need teleport now, Vila. NOW, VILA!

Sue: Wow. That was incredible. That has to be the most exciting moment in Blake’s 7 so far.

Keiller is told to contact his associates so they can sell the black gold. The planet they choose for this exchange is Beta Five.

Sue: It’s the same planet they always go to; it’s only the names that change. It isn’t a very diverse universe, is it?

A vehicle containing several hooded figures approaches the rendezvous point.

Sue: (scratching her chin) Now, then. Who could this possibly be?

Me: Well, I don’t see any dwarves…

The camera focuses on the occupants’ feet as they exit the vehicle.

Sue: Look for the heels… Wait for it… Yes, there they are. What a surprise.

GoldKeiller’s associates line up in front of the crew.

Sue: They’ve come to sell them life insurance. They’re the Black Widows, you see.

Me: I’m pretty sure you’ve already done the Black Widow gag…

Sue hits me with a cushion.

Avon wasn’t fooled for a moment. He knew it was Servalan all along.

Avon: It wasn’t hard to work out. But it wasn’t meant to be, was it?

Sue: It’s as if they’re ashamed of their own twist. And who can blame them?

Avon believes that Servalan wanted him to come running to her.

Sue: Or she fancied another go on Tarrant.

Avon pities Keiller’s decision to trust Servalan.

Avon: He doesn’t know you as well as I do.

Servalan: Who does?

Sue: Tarrant does for a start…

GoldAvon moves in for a snog that never comes…

Sue: They are destined to be together. They should run off and rule the galaxy as husband and wife – they’d be unstoppable. That’s how I would end it, anyway.

Avon decides to leave Keiller behind. He just can’t trust him.

Sue: Oh come on! You don’t trust anyone and it’s never stopped you before. Take him with you.

Avon teleports back to Scorpio with a suitcase full of cash.

Sue: Check the case before you leave, you idiot! Oops, too late… I bet it’s full of fruit.

Keiller begs Servalan for his life.

Sue: Aww, this is really sad. Yes, he was a conniving bastard, but I really liked him. They should make a prequel series – The Adventures of Keiller and Avon: The Early Years. I’d watch it.

Me: Maybe they could ask Rory Kinnear to star in it.

Sue is shocked when she discovers that Avon’s suitcase really is full of money, after all.

Tarrant: I’ve never seen currency of that size.

GoldSue: The first thing they’ll need to buy are some new wallets. Those notes are ****ing enormous.

Me: You should see Zerok’s coins – the size of plates.

Tarrant isn’t very pleased when Avon tells him that he knew Servalan was behind the heist all along. In fact, you could slice the atmosphere with a laser probe.

Sue: If looks could kill, Tarrant would be dead now. Do you think Avon knows that Tarrant and Servalan shagged yet? He isn’t stupid, you know.

Yes, we watched this episode before I wrote up the last one and discovered that we inadvertently missed the bit where Tarrant practically admits his crime but doesn’t want to talk about it. So the underlying tension that Sue has detected in this scene isn’t the underlying tension that actually exists in this scene. Oh well.

The next time we see Keiller, he’s lying face down in the mud.

Sue: They put him out of his misery. That’s really tragic. There was no need for that, Servalan. What a cow.

Orac has more bad tidings for the crew: Zerok has ceded to the Federation, which means Servalan can profit from the black gold after all. But it gets even worse:

Orac: The Federation banking system will now take over that of Zerok. All bank notes drawn by the Bank of Zerok will be declared invalid within seven days and all private transactions will be illegal.

GoldSue: Orac actually laughed when he told them that. He actually laughed! The cheeky bastard.

It turns out that the crew risked their lives so Servalan could get rich. The look on Avon’s face says it all.

Sue: That’s it. Avon’s finally snapped.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: That was brilliant. It was a little bit confusing at times, but I didn’t really care because it was such a good ride. And Roy Kinnear was fabulous. I wish they hadn’t killed him off; he could have come back and redeemed himself. Anyway, great script, good direction and a wonderful guest star. Yes, Blake’s 7 is definitely ending on a high.

9/10

Addendum

A few days later…

Me: Sue, I need to tell you something: I think I accidentally broke the blog.

I break it to her that Avon definitely knows about Tarrant’s tryst with Servalan, but we missed that bombshell because we were too busy yakking over the episode and I forgot to hit the pause button; actually, I blame the cat. Anyway, this means Sue thought the crew were disgusted with Tarrant because he didn’t shoot their arch nemesis in the head, when in actual fact they were imagining their arch nemesis giving Tarrant head.

Sue: You idiot. What else have I missed because of you? I knew I should have done this with a Blake’s 7 expert.

Me: Don’t worry, I’m very familiar with the next three episodes. It won’t happen again.

Sue: Well, this changes everything. Avon must be biding his time, then. He’ll murder Tarrant when he least expects it, probably while he’s sleeping. It also explains why Avon has finally lost his mind, so thanks for that. Idiot.

Next Time:

There will be two updates next week, on Tuesday and Friday. Thanks.

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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

Next Time:

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Games

Arcade Fire…

GamesScorpio‘s crew are watching a series of explosions on a monitor screen.

Sue: Is it New Year’s Eve? Are they watching a firework display?

A Federation planet is being blown to bits.

Avon: Well, that’s one way of solving your energy crisis.

Sue: Paul Darrow is bored. Tom Baker had the same problem when he was Doctor Who – and Paul Darrow’s been doing it for quite some time now – he can’t say his lines without hamming it up. I still love him to bits, but he’s chewing the scenery in the very first scene. There’s nowhere left for him to go.

Avon has his eye on some feldon crystals – the hardest and most valuable substance in the known universe. (Unless you include Sopron, which is a little bit harder and marginally more expensive, obviously.)

Sue: What is it with Avon and rocks? He’s only ever happy when he’s playing with his crystals. He’s obsessed.

On the planet Mecron Two, a man named Belkov is playing chess against his personal computer, Gambit.

Sue: Ooh, he’s famous.

Me: Yes, he is.

GamesSue: Is it Stephen Fry’s dad?

Sue eventually recognises Stratford Johns from Z-Cars, a programme she remembers fondly.

Sue: He’s very good. I’m surprised to see him in this, though.

Me: He was in Doctor Who as well. He played a giant frog, so I’m not surprised you don’t remember him.

Sue: He looks like he’s working for The Body Shop, or a spa of some sort. He’s surrounded by beauty products.

Back on Scorpio, the crew are quarrelling over what to do with the feldon crystals: use them to power their ship, or sell them for a huge profit. They haven’t even stolen them yet.

Sue: I like it when they set out to steal something. They are much better at being outlaws than they are at being terrorists. It’s a lot more believable, and it reminds me of Firefly, which is no bad thing.

Me: Joss Whedon says he’s never seen a single episode of Blake’s 7.

Sue: Well he would say that, wouldn’t he. For legal reasons.

GamesAvon tells the crew that the consignment they’re after is protected by a security system that’s supposed to be impregnable.

Sue: Paul Darrow has lost a lot of weight. His clothes don’t hug his figure like they used to. I’m worried about his health.

Belkov monitors three men as they attempt to break into an Orbiter that contains his illegal cache of crystals. The only thing standing in their way is a computer game. The first contestant reaches for a gun attached to the wall.

Sue: Phew. For a moment there I thought he was going to play Binatone badminton.

The first player’s opponent is a mirror image of himself. The player is so surprised by this, he loses his focus and is shot and killed by, er, himself.

Sue: Well, that was a shit game. I think they should play something else. Haven’t they got Wii tennis?

Then, despite an excellent first round, Player Two suffers the same fate. A third man – Gerren – barely escapes with his life.

Sue: He looks like the German submarine captain in Das Boot. I love that film. “Dive! Dive! Dive!”

GamesShe doesn’t recognise David Neal from The Caves of Androzani, but given the size of his beard this is only to be expected. Anyway, Avon has blackmailed Gerren into helping them.

Sue: So Avon’s latest expert is practically dead and we’re only ten minutes into the episode. That must be a new record. I don’t rate his chances of making it to the credits.

Meanwhile, on the surface of Mecron Two…

Sue: Great. Another ****ing quarry… Oh no. Even better! Another ****ing Servalan story. You’d think she’d wear something practical, just this once. You know, like a nice pair of dungarees and some hiking boots. She could accessorise the look with a nice diamond broach if she wanted to, but come on, Neil, it’s ridiculous having to watch her teetering around on a beach in those stupid heels.

Sue sighs deeply.

Sue: And this is too much of a coincidence for me. It stretches believability to breaking point. Can’t they think of a way for Avon and Servalan to meet each other on purpose? Is it really that hard?

When Scorpio arrives at Mecron Two, someone tries to make contact them.

Slave: I fear I am unable to identify them Master. I regret this failure most bitterly.

Avon: Orac?

Orac: The message is coming via a Federation-class Alpha-One-Nine-Seven computer.

Sue: What is the point of Slave? Just switch him off and let Orac take over the ship. Slave sounds like he’s stoned all the time, anyway.

GamesBelkov wants to do a deal: his safety in exchange for his secret cache of feldon crystals.

Sue: He’s a fabulous actor. He’s probably the best guest star to appear in the series so far. They must have been over the moon when they booked him.

Servalan isn’t very happy with Belkov.

Sue: Do you think people believe that Sleer is Servalan’s twin sister? Is that how they make sense of this madness?

Me: You have to let it go, Sue.

Sue: I can’t. It’s a big problem for me. Not only does it make absolutely no sense whatsoever, I don’t see the point of it. Why can’t she just be Servalan? It’s needlessly complicated.

Dayna, Tarrant, Gerren and Vila teleport to the surface of Mecron Two.

Sue: The direction is a lot better than usual. The high-angle shot of the quarry just then really pushed the boat out. They didn’t have to do that, but it was worth it.

Dayna shoots a Federation guard, although it looks like one of the planet’s natives got there first when Vila removes a blood-stained metal triangle from the trooper’s back.

Sue: I bet they got into trouble for that scene. That was very gruesome.

Avon wants to move Scorpio so it will be perpetually eclipsed by the Orbiter.

GamesSue: That’s a lovely shot. I bet they wish they had a bigger window they could look out of.

Avon brushes off Soolin’s concerns for the rest of the crew.

Avon: At least you and I can be certain that we can get away when we want to.

Sue: Avon’s still a selfish **** at the end of the day. Nothing’s really changed over the last – what is it – four years?

Gerren escorts Tarrant’s party to the planet’s high pressure processing plant.

Gerren: That’s the pressure container. An electro-magnetic field produces such high pressure that everything except the feldon crystals is reduced to a fine dust.

Sue: There’s a lot of chat in this episode. There’s only five minutes left and nothing’s happened yet.

Me: We’re only twenty minutes into this, Sue.

Sue: Really? Bloody hell, it’s even slower than I thought.

Federation troopers detain our heroes and demand to see their identification.

GamesSue: If Avon’s gang are on the Federation’s Most Wanted list, you’d think the Federation would know what they looked like, wouldn’t you. This just proves that they don’t give a shit about them, unless you count Servalan, and that’s definitely personal.

Our heroes make short work of the troopers.

Sue: Wow. A nicely staged fight for a change. I’m impressed.

Tarrant pushes a Federation trooper into the pressure plant and a puff of red dust fills in the blanks.

Sue: That was pretty grim for 7 o’clock. This episode isn’t pulling any punches. At least they didn’t dwell on it too much.

Me: It reminds me of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And Belkov reminds me of a Bond villain, too.

Sue: So who’s James Bond? It can’t be Avon if he’s stuck on the ship.

Me: Well, Vila, obviously.

Sue: **** off!

Servalan wants to know where Belkov has hidden his crystals.

Sue: Are you sure he hasn’t stuck them up his jumper. Maybe he isn’t as big as he looks.

Belkov offers to trade Avon, Tarrant and Vila in exchange for Servalan’s help.

Sue: He didn’t mention the women. They can’t be infamous enough, which means they should both run away the next chance they get. I mean, why doesn’t Soolin ask to be dropped off on the nearest inhabitable planet? I don’t get it.

GamesOn the planet’s surface, Vila, Gerren and Tarrant approach the door that will lead them to Belkov.

Sue: The Federation are using supermarket packing trolleys. My friend Christine stole one of those from the back of a shop after school one day. I have a very vivid memory of me pushing it down the road while she sat in it and played her saxophone. Don’t ask me why we did it because I don’t know.

Me: When I was a teenager, I worked in supermarket called Victor Value as a shelf-stacker. When the shop was closed, we used the packing trolleys as stock cars. We’d race down the aisles pretending we were taking part in Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead. The worst culprit was our supervisor, and he was in his thirties.

We swap more supermarket packing trolley stories before resuming the episode, at which point our heroes are practically knocking on Belkov’s front door.

Sue: That’s the best door-in-a-cliff to appear in Blake’s 7 so far. And to be fair, there’s been quite a few.

Avon wants Orac to tell him everything he knows about Belkov’s supercomputer.

Orac: You suggested I spared you the technical details.

Avon: Oh, don’t sulk, Orac.

Sue: I could watch these two sniping at each other all day. I like the way that both Avon and the other guy treat their machines with more respect than they do other human beings. And why does Paul Darrow sound like he’s appearing in a Shakespeare play?

GamesAvon: So what we need is not the right answer, but the right question!

Sue: To be or not to be? See, he’s auditioning for Hamlet.

Tarrant, Dayna and Gerren reach Belkov’s lair. Belkov warns them that Gambit will raise the alarm if they kill him.

Sue: Wasn’t there a Doctor Who story called Gambit?

Me: No, but there is a Blake’s 7 story called Gambit. We watched it four months ago.

Sue: It’s all beginning to blur together into one big… thing. I don’t know how you can remember all this stuff. How can there be enough room for it in your head?

Belkov keeps switching sides. This time he offers to send Servalan into a trap so they can all steal a spaceship together.

Sue: He’s playing games with everyone and they don’t even know it. It’s really good, this. It’s a very clever script.

There’s an almighty explosion and Vila watches in horror as a man rushes out of the cave in flames.

Sue: **** me! Look at that! Either that’s a fantastic stunt or something’s going horribly wrong and we’re witnessing a terrible accident.

I usually only capture those moments in Blake’s 7 that are so bad they have to be seen to be believed. Today, I’m making an exception to that rule. I mean, come on! How good is this?!

[jwplayer mediaid=”13034″]

When Servalan and her men investigate another cave, they interrupt a religious ceremony that’s already in progress.

Me: It’s all gone a bit Eyes Wide Shut.

Sue: You wish.

GamesServalan’s men are butchered on the spot.

Sue: Why is Servalan posing for a calendar shoot?

Servalan shakes her head and leaves.

Me: I’m sorry, Sue, but as far as I am concerned, that’s Blake’s 7 funniest moment by far. The look of disinterest on Servalan’s face just then – priceless.

Avon has identified Belkov’s weak spot:

Avon: Belkov does not trust anyone except that machine. It is his bodyguard, his companion, his playmate… his friend.

Sue: He reminds me of someone I could mention. Someone who isn’t sitting all that far away, Neil.

I don’t know what she means.

Sue: And Orac is the closest thing Avon has to a real friend, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Vila sneaks into Belkov’s lair.

GamesSue: His computer reminds me of a giant game of Frustration. I just want to pop it.

When Belkov returns, Vila hides behind the computer. Belkov asks for a security update and Gambit provides him the location of every single person except Vila.

Sue: (as Gambit) Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: there’s a weird guy squatting behind me. You might want to check that out.

Gambit: Security scan completed.

Sue: What? Did she do that on purpose? That was crazy.

Belkov has some bad news for his computer: he will have to leave her behind.

Gambit: Is there some other function you wish me to carry out?

Sue: (as Belkov) Yes, whatever you do, don’t forget to erase my porn collection as soon as I leave.

Belkov: I shall miss you. I don’t suppose that concept could possibly mean anything to you. I just thought I’d mention it.

Sue: This is touching. Weird, but touching. I couldn’t imagine Avon having this conversation with Orac, but he is really selling it to me; he’s such a good actor.

Vila convinces Gambit to part with one of her circuit boards before persuading her to set Tarrant, Dayna and Gerren free.

Sue: And he didn’t even have to raise his voice. There’s a message there, somewhere.

GamesVila shoots a Federation guard at point-blank range, as calm as you like.

Sue: Vila is stealing the show this week. Even I’m impressed.

Gerren is shot and captured, but Vila, Dayna and Tarrant are teleported to safety.

Sue: This is probably Blake’s 7‘s best directed episode so far.

Me: Even better than Douglas Camfield’s?

Sue: It’s definitely up there.

Me: The director’s name is Vivienne Cozens and you’ll be pleased to know that she directs the next episode as well.

Sue: Excellent. Things are finally looking up for this show. The direction is very cinematic. It makes all the difference.

Servalan interrogates a badly wounded Gerren.

Sue: Is he not dead yet? He’s ****ing indestructible!

Soolin prepares to play the Orbiter’s first game.

Soolin: You have to out-shoot yourself.

Sue: It’s the perfect game for people with low self-esteem.

Me: I bet this isn’t what Vila had in mind when he said he wanted to watch Soolin play with herself.

Sue: When did he say that?

Me: In a dream I had last week. Sorry.

Against all the odds, Soolin wins.

GamesSue: Is that it? All she gets is a message on a TV screen that says ‘Very Good’!? Doesn’t she get any tickets that she can exchange for sweets later on? Or a goldfish?

It’s Tarrant’s turn to step up to the plate – this time in a high-tech flight simulator.

Sue: (as Tarrant) So where do you put your fifty pence piece?

Meanwhile, on Scorpio…

Dayna: Slave, what’s the position of those Federation ships?

Slave: The leading ship will be within firing range in one minute, Madam.

Sue: What would have happened if Dayna hadn’t asked that question at that precise moment? Would Slave have kept his mouth shut, or would he have warned her? I need to know.

Tarrant’s piloting skills are put to the test.

Sue: This is way ahead of its time. Computer games were just coming into fashion back then – we wouldn’t see games as good as the one Tarrant is playing for years. If they ever bring Blake’s 7 back, this is one of the episodes they should definitely remake.

Vila uses his initiative to open the next door.

Sue: Vila is showing everybody up today. There’s no stopping him.

The Orbiter moves out of orbit, which leaves the Scorpio exposed to a Federation attack.

Sue: Ooh, this is really exciting all of a sudden!

GamesSue finally notices that Gambit’s circuit board has been bolted to the top of Orac.

Sue: So is she Orac’s girlfriend, now?

Me: STOP IT!

Avon: There aren’t any damned crystals. There never were any damned crystals. They’re like everything else on this ship: a game!

Me: It’s basically 3-2-1 in space.

Sue: They should have included a version of Tipping Point, but with bombs instead of coins. They missed a trick there.

Gambit decides to turn the tables on Belkov. Well, you know what they say about a computer scorned.

Sue: Checkmate, mate.

Belkov opens a door to a black hole (keep up at the back), but Avon has a cunning plan.

Orac: It would appear that positive and negative inputs were balanced by the feldon crystals. Indeed, the balance was so perfect, that they simply ceased to exist, along with everything in their immediate vicinity.

Sue: Eh? What? Oh, forget it. I don’t care. Whatever happened, it was exciting. So is the bad guy dead or what?

Me: I guess so.

Sue: That’s a shame. And Servalan? Where has she got to? Has she ceased to exist as well?

Me: What do you think?

Sue: I think she’ll be back next week.

GamesJust when the crew think they’ll be heading home empty-handed, Vila produces a crystal necklace that he’s stolen from Belkov. Unfortunately, Avon has some bad news:

Avon: It’s a fake. End game to Belkov.

Cue credits.

Sue: They didn’t even get a miniature Dusty Bin. What a shame.

The Score:

Sue: It took a long time to get going – it was very talky at the beginning – but when it pulled its finger out, it was great. The direction was especially good and the man from Z-Cars was brilliant. I even liked Vila, so it must be good. I could have done without Servalan, but I’m getting used to that. And Paul Darrow needs to tone it down a bit, obviously. But apart from that… Yeah, I enjoyed that one a lot.

8/10

Next Time:

Back
Next

Assassin

As serious as Cancer…

AssassinVila has some bad news for Scorpio‘s crew.

Sue: Is it just me or is Avon tired? They’ve plastered him in make-up to try and hide it, but he looks like he’s knackered. And stressed.

A familiar voice stresses him out even more.

Servalan: Utiliser to Cancer, Utiliser to Cancer. Domo the ninth, five subjects. Utiliser to Cancer, Utiliser to Cancer. Domo the ninth, five subjects.

Sue: Oh joy.

This radio message, which has been intercepted by Vila, sounds like gibberish. Or does it..?

Sue: Well, there are five of them so they must be the subjects. Why do they keep drawing attention to the fact that they always seem to be two people short.

Domo is a planet, the ninth is a date, but who or what is Cancer?

Tarrant: (to Avon) You know about Cancer.

Sue: This is a cheerful start to the episode.

Cancer is a man.

Sue: What a stupid name. I bet he doesn’t go on many dates.

Cancer is a professional assassin.

Sue: OK, fair enough. He’s using a made-up name, like a professional wrestler.

AssassinMeanwhile, in Servalan’s floating bingo hall…

Sue: This is what every good spaceship needs: sexy mood lighting.

Me: Forget the plasma bolts, has it got a dimmer switch?

Servalan confers with her captain.

Sue: That man is so tall, I’m surprised Servalan doesn’t sprain her neck every time she gives him an order.

Servalan instructs her captain to lay in a course for the planet Domo.

Sue: If she’s still pretending to be somebody else, how is she paying for all this? And why has she put a contract out on Avon? I thought she wanted to rule the universe with him, or has she changed her mind about that? I mean, how much of a threat is Avon supposed to be?

Me: Well, considering that all the experts that Avon has tried to recruit are dead, not much.

The crew turn to Orac for some advice.

Orac: You must find this Cancer before he finds you.

Sue: Good idea, Orac. Preventive medicine is always the best course of action. I’m willing to bet good money that either the writer had cancer, or they knew someone who had cancer when they wrote this. It’s basically a metaphor for cancer.

Avon teleports to the planet Domo, where he allows himself to be captured by slave traders. Their leader, Benos (who Sue mistakes for a very young Jeremy Irons), takes possession of Avon’s teleport bracelet.

Sue: Typical. They’ve got this incredible technology that can beam you down to alien planets, but they can’t invent a bracelet that doesn’t fall off your wrist if you so much as look at it.

AssassinAvon ends up sharing a cell with a slave named Nebrox.

Sue: Is that William Hartnell?

I pretend not to hear her.

Sue: Is it, you know. It’s William Hartnell. Look!

Me: It isn’t William Hartnell. William Hartnell’s dead.

Sue: Well, it doesn’t half look like William Hartnell. It’s uncanny. He even sounds like him.

I pause the DVD and put her out of her misery.

Me: Oh yeah. I’d completely forgotten about that. Still, you can see why JNT hired him to play the part after he saw him in this. The resemblance is spooky. He’s even playing this part like the Doctor. He’s more like the Doctor here than he ever was in Doctor Who. He’s really good.

Nebrox begs Avon to trust him.

Sue: Oh, and he’s definitely Cancer. I bet you anything.

Servalan has the best seat in the house at Domo’s slave auction.

Sue: This reminds me of Game of Thrones, but without the sunshine. Yeah, it’s an off-season Games of Thrones. Those two bare-chested men with the fans – they must be freezing their bollocks off.

Domo looks like every other barren shit hole we’ve visited.

Sue: Did Rosie work on this episode? Oh, she did? Bollocks. This is not good.

AssassinNebrox and Avon share a meal.

Nebrox: It’s mangon. It’s a sort of stew made from fungus. It takes some getting used to, but it’s really very nourishing.

Sue: Whatever they’re paying him to eat that slop, it isn’t enough. Paul Darrow won’t go anywhere near it.

Me: And Paul Darrow eats MDF for breakfast.

Nebrox describes Servalan to Avon. Well, sort of.

Nebrox: I didn’t really get much of a look at her. She was tall, dark, obviously important and powerful.

Sue: Surely the first thing you say when you’re describing Servalan to somebody is that she’s got short black hair. Why would he leave that detail out? Unless he’s Cancer, of course. It’s pretty obvious, really.

According to Nebrox, Servalan purchased a male slave that very morning.

Sue: Avon is seething with jealousy.

He needn’t worry, because as soon as Servalan claps eyes on him, she can’t wait to splash her cash.

Servalan: I want him.

Sue: This should be fun.

Benos highlights Avon’s extra features:

AssassinBenos: Now I know he looks soft, and he talks soft, too, but you can tell the ladies he’s strong enough to work all day and still have plenty of energy left over for any little chores you might have for him in the evenings.

Sue: Oh dear. I think I’m having a hot flush.

Avon becomes the subject of a bidding war.

Bidder #1: Valeria bids two hundred.

Bidder #2: Natratof bids two hundred and fifty.

Servalan: I bid seven hundred vems.

Sue: I bid a million vems! How much is a vem worth, Neil?

Me: More than you can afford, Sue.

With Nebrox’s help, Avon gets his teleport bracelet back. However, just when it looks like Avon will do a runner, he changes his mind and rescues Nebrox instead.

Sue: Aww, bless. The Doctor is going to join the team. That’s brilliant.

AssassinThere then follows a really strange shot where Avon is captured in the middle distance. Blink and you’ll miss it – mainly because the director has decided to pack the foreground with panicked extras.

Sue: Who directed this? That was terrible. Inept, even. One minute you think Avon is free, and in the next shot he’s captured again. That was terrible!

Me: The director’s name is David Sullivan Proudfoot.

Sue: Are you taking the piss?

Me: No.

Sue: Is he a hobbit?

Me: Not to my knowledge.

Sue: Well, he’s got nothing to feel proud about. That was a shambles.

With Dayna’s help, Avon and Nebrox manage to escape in the nick of time, and it isn’t long before the Scorpio intercepts Cancer’s spaceship.

Sue: They should leave it alone. Everybody knows that Scorpio and Cancer are incompatible.

Tarrant and Avon teleport to the ship and walk straight into a trap.

AssassinSue: Either the money has run out and that’s Blake’s 7‘s worst ever monster, or this is a trap.

She breathes a huge sigh of relief when we see Cancer hiding on the ship’s flight deck.

Sue: He looks like Noel Edmonds crossed with Michael Ball, with a young Colin Baker thrown in for good measure.

Tarrant and Cancer engage in some fisticuffs.

Sue: This is a very realistic fight, but there’s no atmosphere. I’ve lost all faith in the director.

Cancer is accompanied by exotic dancer named Piri.

Sue: She isn’t what she seems. She must be Cancer. It’s a bit obvious, this.

Me: I thought you said William Hartnell was the assassin?

Sue: We were supposed to think that – to put us off. No, she’s definitely Cancer.

Piri: He said that he wanted me to help him to celebrate after he’d finished a job that he had to do.

Sue: It really is Game of Thrones in space, what with all the space prostitutes and everything. Although you don’t get to see any tits in Blake’s 7. Well, not unless you count Vila.

Soolin, Vila and Nebrox teleport to Cancer’s ship.

Soolin: You have been busy.

AssassinSue: Soolin’s very cocky all of a sudden. We didn’t hear a peep out of her for ages and now she’s strutting around like she owns the place.

Cancer promises to get his own back on Avon.

Cancer: I’ve never killed for personal pleasure before, but in your case I shall make an exception!

Sue: Oh dear. It’s all gone a bit panto, now.

Piri has a nervous breakdown.

Sue: Either they’ve hired a terrible actress or she’s Cancer. And if she is Cancer, Cancer is a terrible actress. Does that make sense?

Avon is rapidly running out of patience.

Avon: I’m setting a trap, not holding a convention for liberated slaves.

Sue: Brilliant. He’s stressed to hell, but he’s secretly enjoying himself.

Piri and Tarrant get to know each other.

AssassinSue: (singing) I’m a private dancer, a dancer for a money, I’ll do what you want me to do…

Tarrant lets Piri know that Avon isn’t his boss.

Tarrant: If we think he’s right, we go along with it, if we don’t, we don’t. We’re all free agents.

Sue: (as Tarrant) It’s a shambles; we hardly get anything done.

Tarrant is completely smitten by Piri.

Sue: I don’t mean to be funny, but Tarrant is easily pleased.

Me: At least it means you might stand a chance with him.

Sue: Hark at Robert Redford over there.

Nebrox and Piri reminisce about the time they spent in slavery on Domo. However, Piri doesn’t seem to know what mangon is.

Sue: That confirms it. She’s definitely Cancer. And Noel Edmonds is her private dancer. But what is she waiting for? Shouldn’t she be killing everyone by now?

Right on cue, Cancer escapes and Nebrox is killed.

AssassinSue: Is he dead or just out of focus? I can’t tell when it comes to this director.

Me: He’s dead.

Sue: Oh no. That’s rubbish. I wanted him to join the team full-time. He was wonderful.

Piri falls to pieces and Soolin slaps her to shut her up.

Tarrant: You enjoyed that, didn’t you?

Sue: I did. She’s really beginning to get on my tits.

Tarrant thinks Soolin is jealous of Piri.

Sue: Is he having a laugh? Soolin’s got absolutely nothing to be jealous of, whether she can pole dance or not.

As he bickers with Tarrant, it appears that Avon isn’t immune to Piri’s charms.

Tarrant: It certainly doesn’t speak highly of your much vaunted brains.

Avon: Your little friend seems to prefer them to your equally vaunted brawn.

AssassinTarrant: What was that supposed to mean?

Sue: It means she fancies Avon and she doesn’t fancy you. Although why she can’t fancy both of them is beyond me…

All this testosterone makes Avon very agitated.

Sue: Here we go. Time for a violent snog.

Piri: Don’t fight over me, please!

Sue: Has she got an alien power that makes men fall in love with her, because if she hasn’t THIS MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL!

They decide to lock Piri on the flight deck, because if somebody stayed with her it would reduce their chances of finding Cancer by a third.

Soolin: Well, do we stick together, or what?

Sue: Weren’t you listening to anything Avon said two minutes ago, pet? If you stay together, all that chat about cutting down your chances by a third wouldn’t make any ****ing sense. ARGH!

The crew split up and search for Cancer.

AssassinSue: It’s trying to be like Alien, but instead of a man-eating, acid-spewing monster, we’ve got Noel Edmonds skulking around in a bad mood. It’s not really working for me.

A mechanical spider is let loose on the ship.

Sue: A spider? What the ****? Shouldn’t it be a crab? Don’t tell me it didn’t say crab in the script. It should be scurrying sideways, too. What a farce!

Soolin takes a break, just long enough for the spider to creep up on her.

Sue: What the hell is she doing? She may as well wear a sigh that says “Kill Me”.

You’ll never guess what happens next…

Piri: I am Cancer.

Sue: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.

It looks like Piri has dedicated several hours to styling her hair for a torture session with Avon.

AssassinSue: Wow. If Tarrant fancied her when she looked ordinary, he’s going to crazy when he finds out she’s an S&M dominatrix.

Noel Edmonds is actually a professional entertainer who was hired by Servalan to act as a decoy.

Sue: She could have auditioned a little bit harder. He was crap. Or maybe he was supposed to be crap, in which case he deserves a BAFTA.

Piri planned to kill the crew when they returned to Xenon Base.

Sue: Or she could pull her finger out and do it on the ship. You know, to save time.

Servalan is over the moon.

Servalan: Congratulations, Cancer, you are a credit to our sex.

Sue: Really? I’m ashamed.

Piri believes that her crab spider has already nobbled Soolin.

Piri: I should imagine that blonde bitch is probably dead already.

Sue: Yeah, she’s a wonderful ambassador for feminism.

AssassinPiri places her magic spider on Avon’s trussed up body.

Sue: Right on his cock. Ouch! Actually, a crab would have been funnier. What a wasted opportunity.

Soolin and Tarrant come to the rescue and the spider ends up on Cancer’s arm.

Sue: At least she’s squishing it to death as it kills her. That’s nice.

Cancer screams the place down.

Sue: OH, SHUT THE **** UP!

There then follows a nail-baiting race to see who will reach the crew first. Will it be the Scorpio or Servalan?

Sue: What do you fancy for tea tomorrow night, Neil?

Cancer’s spaceship is blasted into a million tiny pieces.

Sue: They’re not really dead. Don’t ask me why – it’s just a hunch. Oh, look, they’re not really dead.

Not only are the crew not really dead, they’re sipping cocktails and kicking back on the Scorpio‘s sun loungers, although Vila does threaten to spoil the party mood.

AssassinDayna: Vila’s worried. He wants to know what became of that sweet little girl.

Soolin: Vila, all sweet things have one thing in common: a tendency to make you sick.

Cue credits.

Sue: Do you know what else has a tendency to make you feel sick? Forced comedy endings. Now pass me a bucket.

The Score:

Sue: The direction, the acting and the script let it down. Apart from that, it was great.

5/10

Next Time:

Back
Next

Headhunter

How To Get Ahead In Terrorising…

HeadhunterSue: Is it called Headhunter because that’s what Avon does now? He’s basically a recruitment consultant in space, isn’t he?

Me: Er, sort of. I don’t know. I’ve never seen this episode before. I think the last one put me off watching the series for a while. In fact, I can’t remember a single thing about the next three stories. So whatever you do, don’t ask me to explain the plot to you.

The Scorpio is flying through space…

Sue: It’s a different colour every time I see it. It was brown last time. Now it’s orange.

Me: Nicol is going to bake a Scorpio-shaped cake when we finish the blog. She’ll probably use orange-flavoured sponge cake covered in chocolate.

Sue: Good luck with that, because it’ll probably look like a giant dog poo. I’m sure it will taste nice, though.

Slave rouses Vila from his slumber as the ship nears its destination.

Sue: Is it just me or is Slave in a sarky mood this morning? This isn’t like him at all.

Tarrant is snoozing on the flight deck, too.

Sue: So their ship is basically a camper van. I bet the toilet is just a hole in the floor.

Tarrant and Vila have been tasked with taxiing Avon’s latest expert – a cybernetics genius named Muller – back to Xenon Base. Vila has been banished from said base in a desperate attempt to stop him from interfering with Muller’s ‘lady’.

Sue: More proof that Vila can’t control himself when it comes to women. That was probably funny in the 1980s, but now it just seems inappropriate.

HeadhunterBack at base, Avon is entertaining Muller’s lady friend, Vena.

Sue: Oh, it’s whatshername… thingy… the rubbish Helen. You know, after she regenerated in All Creatures Great and Small. She was in Doctor Who as well, but don’t ask me who she was.

Me: It’s Lynda Bellingham.

Sue: Of course it is. “Hmm… Bisto!”

Me: Not quite, but close enough.

When we return to the Scorpio, Sue becomes very animated indeed.

Sue: Oh look! They’ve finally glued down that bit of the set that was doing my head in. Hooray!

Tarrant teleports to Muller’s laboratory at the Robot Development Cartel. There’s a dead body under the table but Tarrant isn’t overly bothered by that.

Sue: The new teleport effect has really grown on me. I don’t miss the old one at all. I like the new teleport handle as well – it’s chunky.

These words will come back to haunt Sue in a minute.

Sue: There’s something not quite right here. I bet that’s Muller’s body under the table. No one knows what anybody looks like in this programme, so I bet Tarrant has picked up Muller’s killer instead. It’s just the sort of thing he’d do.

Sue struggles to pin down exactly who (or what) Muller reminds her of, but she finally settles on a cross between a Beefeater, a druid, and a playing card. So that’s that settled, then.

Sue: He’s going to be trouble. I can just tell.

HeadhunterTarrant gives Muller a teleport bracelet.

Sue: Ha! He can’t get it over his hand. That’s hilarious. I take it they didn’t bother with a dress rehearsal?

Muller safely teleports to the Scorpio. However, when Tarrant brings a sealed black box back with him, Muller goes bat shit mental.

Sue: He’s pulled the handle off the teleport thingy!

Muller: That box! Send it back. Send it back!

Sue You can’t teleport it back – you’ve broken the ****ing handle!

I didn’t believe her at first, but watching the scene again…

[jwplayer mediaid=”12637″]

Muller gives Tarrant a big bear hug.

Sue: He could have offered to buy him dinner first.

Vila whacks Muller over the head with a space spanner and accidentally kills him.

HeadhunterSue: Avon isn’t going to be very happy about this. There’s definitely a theme developing here: the kids are sent on a mission, they completely **** it up, and then Avon tears his hair out.

Vena is mildly upset when she discovers that her lover has been killed.

Sue: I know you shouldn’t go by looks, Neil – I married you, after all – but Lynda Bellingham could do a lot better, especially with cleavage like that. She must be wearing one hell of a bra.

Soolin comforts Vena, who really is put out by the whole thing.

Sue: I like what Soolin’s done to her hair. Still, it’s not as if she’s got anything else to do with her time, is it?

It turns out that the body in Muller’s lab has been decapitated – and the head is missing.

Sue: I knew it! They picked up the killer instead. The idiots.

Me: Forget that. Why didn’t Tarrant slip over in a pool of blood when he arrived?

Sue: Ooh, wait… I think I’ve worked it out. Oh no, that’s horrible – Muller’s head is in the box! How sick is that?

HeadhunterMe: It’s Blake’s 7, with the emphasis on Seven.

Slave is still being difficult.

Sue: He’s been spending far too much time with Orac. He’s a bad influence on him.

The Scorpio experiences a dramatic power surge.

Sue: Is it going to rain?

Avon: Tarrant, what have you got up there apart from yourself, a half-wit and a corpse?

Sue spits out her tea.

Sue: Avon’s finally back on form!

When Vila attempts to open the box, the flight deck .

Sue: Is the box haunted? Is there a haunted head in that box?

HeadhunterSlave is behaving like such an arse, Tarrant has no option but to take him off-line.

Sue: Aww… Poor Slave. Maybe he’s just fed up with being treated like shit all the time? They never made Zen call them Sir.

Tarrant will have to fly the Scorpio back to base on manual.

Sue: Why can’t Orac fly it back over a Wi-Fi connection? The way he carries on, you’d think he could do anything.

What Orac does do is dispense some advice. He suggests that Tarrant and Vila should be kept in quarantine until they figure out what has gone wrong with ship.

Sue: If they did this every time something went wrong, they’d never step foot off the ship.

Tarrant manages to bring Scorpio back home.

Soolin: Scorpio, your approach is one-six-zero by three-three-zero, standing by.

Sue: Look, Neil! Soolin’s doing stuff! She’s reading out numbers and things! And is that a fruit machine I can see in the background?

HeadhunterSoolin: Scorpio, preset retro sequence at four seconds at maximum thrust.

Sue: I’m sorry, love, but that countdown isn’t in seconds. They obviously couldn’t get the computer to display the numbers quickly enough. It took Soolin seven seconds to count down from four.

No one can put their finger on the Scorpio‘s problem.

Vila: It’s to do with that box. It must be!

Sue: Really? Do you think? I take it all back, Vila. You’re a ****ing genius.

Tarrant starts pushing buttons at random.

Sue: It sounds like the ship has been infested with crickets.

And the bad news doesn’t stop there.

Slave: All life support systems have ceased to function.

Sue: Shit. That can’t be good… Hey, this is really exciting, Neil. It reminds me of Apollo 13, but with a severed head in a box.

HeadhunterI glower at, her but she’s too wrapped up in the story to notice.

Orac is adamant that Tarrant and Vila should be left on the Scorpio to die.

Sue: Don’t listen to him, Avon. **** Orac!

Avon chews it over. The scenery, I mean.

Avon: Oh, you’ll have to do better than that, Orac, if you expect me to kill them.

Sue: He won’t do it. Avon’s got a conscience.

Avon: (suddenly yelling) Restore the teleport!

Sue: (half off the sofa in excitement) Yes! You ****ing tell him, Avon. It’s brilliant, this.

Soolin and Dayna change into their rescue suits.

Sue: Soolin’s helmet barely covers her head. Won’t the air escape through the gap between her chin and her neck? Why are you laughing, Neil?

Me: I’m laughing because THEY LOOK RIDICULOUS!

HeadhunterSue: They do look like children pretending to be astronauts. It’s cute.

Tarrant and Vila are taken to the base’s medical unit.

Sue: Now I understand why they are determined to keep this place. It’s full of high-tech toys.

Me: And working toilets.

When Orac starts playing silly beggars with Soolin, she refuses to take any shit from him.

Sue: Soolin’s actually been given some decent lines to say this week – and she’s great.

Avon and Vena prepare to teleport to the Scorpio.

Sue: He can’t possibly be checking her helmet for leaks, can he? Because that would be a bit silly.

Me: This is way past silly, Sue.

Orac is convinced that humanity will be enslaved by their new cybernetic overlords, so he begs Soolin to turn him off.

Sue: What’s got into Orac? Is he having another one of his premonitions?

HeadhunterOrac asks Soolin to hide him.

Sue: If Orac was that worried about this threat, he’d tell her to take a hammer to him. A couple of sturdy whacks should do it.

Muller has teleported to Xenon base and attacked Dayna.

Sue: This is really good, so far. The direction is really good, too. Why are you shaking your head, Neil?

Vena rushes to greet her lover, who isn’t dead after all.

Sue: She’s going to get a shock when she realises he isn’t Muller… Oh, wait. She recognises him. Wait a minute – WHAT?

Muller kills Vena with a massive bear hug. We know she’s dead because Dayna can’t detect a pulse, even though she’s standing on the other side of the room. And then the penny finally drops…

Sue: I think I’ve worked it out. It’s a robot and it’s stuck Muller’s head on top of its body. How clever is that? So that must mean it’s a cyborg. Like the Terminator.

Avon leaves Vila in charge of the mysterious box.

HeadhunterVila: Where are you going?

Avon: I’ll be back.

Sue: Even the dialogue is ripping-off The Terminator.

Me: The Terminator wasn’t released for another three years.

Sue: Really? Wow. This is way ahead of its time, then. I’m surprised the writer didn’t sue James Cameron.

Me: There was a queue.

Soolin finds Vila hiding in a closet.

Vila: We’ve been looking for you.

Soolin: (pointing in the closet) In there?

Sue: Soolin is very dry.

Dayna blows up a corridor and Muller is buried under the exploding rubble. But this doesn’t stop him, which can only mean one thing…

Sue: I guessed the twist ages ago, but it’s still really good. Wait a minute… Is it just me or is he even taller without his head?

HeadhunterMe: Just a bit.

Sue: It’s a shame. You can tell what they are trying to do, but it does look a bit silly.

The android’s real head is in the box. But the android doesn’t want its real head – it wants Orac.

Android: Where is Orac?

Sue: OK, let me get this straight: is the robot going to use Orac as its head? That would explain the massive shoulder pads. He can rest Orac on top of them.

If the android unites with Orac, it will become a God.

Sue: That’s a bit of a leap. And I’ve just realised something else: if the robot hasn’t got a head, how can it see and talk?

Me: Its brain is situated in its arse.

Avon’s gang escape from the android in the most shambolic way imaginable.

Sue: The robot will never catch them. They’ve got a head start.

Me: Let’s knock the head puns on the head, Sue.

Sue: They should head him off at the pass. Sorry. That’s the last one, I swear.

HeadhunterThe only way to disable the android is to place its real head on its shoulders. But who’s brave enough to attempt such a crazy thing?

Avon: It will be Vila, or it will be me.

Vila: It’ll be you!

Sue: Brilliant. This is what we want to see. It’s just like old times, this.

Soolin retrieves Orac from a cupboard.

Sue: It looks like Orac is supposed to be heavy, which isn’t very believable. If only they could convince Orac to shrink himself down to the size of a packet of tabs. How handy would that be right now?

Orac taunts Soolin as she hefts him up a flight of stairs.

Orac: Join us, Soolin. We can fulfill your every desire.

Soolin: You wouldn’t know where to start.

Sue: Ha! Where has Soolin been hiding for the last five episodes?

Orac and Muller will rule the galaxy together as father and box.

Sue: And how are they going to do that, exactly? I’m not convinced they could run a cafe together.

HeadhunterDayna and Tarrant engage the dam’s generator, which disables the android. After a titanic struggle, Avon eventually secures the android’s head to its neck.

Sue: Never let it be said that Avon doesn’t give good head.

Me: Sue!

Sue: Sorry.

Avon is knocked unconscious by an electrical discharge. Orac believes there’s only one course of action left for them to take.

Sue: Soolin will have to give Avon the kiss of life. Lucky Soolin.

Me: Lucky Avon, you mean. Two can play at that game, Sue.

Dayna blows the android to smithereens, which renders the exciting bit with the head a bit pointless in retrospect.

Sue: Avon is going to be furious when he wakes up!

Me: Those pesky kids have ****ed it up again!

She’s right, of course: Avon flips his lid. And then Orac makes things worse by giving him some lip.

HeadhunterAvon: Shut up!

Orac: Yes, master.

Sue: Brilliant. Now leave him outside – let’s see how he gets on when it rains.

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: I really enjoyed that. It was way ahead of its time, even if the robot did look a bit shit. I didn’t mind that much. That was probably Avon’s best story in ages, too. Even Soolin had something to do. And no Servalan, too. Bonus!

7/10

Me: Wow. I wouldn’t have given that episode more than a two. It was Muller Shite.

Sue: Nobody cares, Neil.

Me: I’m sorry, but I have to say something. I mean, come on, Sue! How the **** did the android get Muller’s head to work? Just think about that for a second. It cut off a man’s head, stuck it on top of its neck, and then it ****ing talked out of it. Even the ****ing eyes moved! How the actual ****? It didn’t even have a proper neck! And as for the –

Sue: Shut up!

Next Time:

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Next

Animals

Oggy! Oggy! Oggy! (No! No! No!)

AnimalsSue: Animals… I hope Pink Floyd do the music.

Tarrant is ferrying Dayna to the planet Bucol Two so she can visit an old teacher (and I do mean old).

Tarrant: Will he remember you?

Dayna: I should hope so.

Dayna smiles knowingly. I tut loudly.

Sue: What’s wrong?

Me: What’s wrong? Dayna is supposed to be sixteen, or thereabouts, I think, and she was even younger when she made a big impression on her teacher, if you know what I mean.

Sue: Don’t be so bad-minded, Neil. Maybe Dayna was an A-star student, and that’s why her teacher will remember her. Don’t be so quick to judge.

Dayna teleports to the planet and meets a strange creature covered in fur.

Sue: It’s a cross between a Yeti and a hatstand. Is that her teacher? Does he train all the local Jedi?

The Scorpio is ambushed by Federation pursuit ships.

Sue: It’s absolutely fine. Tarrant can outrun them with his super-duper new engine.

The Scorpio is hit by a plasma bolt.

Sue: Oh.

AnimalsMeanwhile, Dayna finds herself surrounded by furry animals.

Sue: They’re cute. They look like horny Ewoks.

Dayna shoots one of them in the face.

Sue: What the ****? What did she do that for? He only wanted a cuddle!

The Scorpio suffers several direct hits and Tarrant is lucky to escape with his life.

Sue: Avon is going to be furious when he finds out.

Slave: Main teleport system is damaged to a degree as yet unspecified. Navigation systems register first warning of malfunction. Main detectors show fifty percent is functional. Further damage is under assessment.

Sue: They’ve only just got the bloody thing working! If only Slave had spotted those ships a little earlier. They need better radar. That’s their next upgrade – better radar.

Dayna, who is now stranded on the planet, is being chased by the titular animals.

Sue: Stop ****ing killing them!

She is rescued by a man in his early fifties. His name is Justin.

Sue: Justin time! Sorry. I won’t do that again, I promise.

Justin is extremely pleased to see Dayna.

AnimalsJustin: Here, let me look at you. My little pupil Dayna, lovelier than ever.

Sue: Er… I beg your pardon?

Me: I did try to warn you, Sue. I’m really sorry, but this is going to get very rough, very soon. Why do you think I’m cradling a bottle of Jim Beam? Here, do you want some?

Sue: No, that would be cheating.

Justin: You look quite beautiful…

Sue: Oh my God, this is really dodgy.

Dayna: I think it’s disgusting.

Sue: Join the ****ing club!

Dayna isn’t referring to Justin’s advances, she’s talking about her mentor’s experiments on some animals he’s bred – the loon! – the most intelligent of which is called Og.

Sue: What kind of name is Og? Is he taking the piss or what?

Dayna tells Justin about her gang, and how they are currently scouring the galaxy, recruiting experts to help them in their never-ending war against the Federation.

Sue: Well, that’s certainly news to me. When was that decided?

However, Justin isn’t interested in joining a rag-tag band of terrorists.

Justin: Of course, if you wanted to stay on your own, that would be different.

Sue: Will somebody please call the police! Or Operation Yewtree! Anybody!

AnimalsOh look, it’s Commissioner Servalan Sleer.

Sue: What happened to her giant space crocodile? Her new spaceship looks like a Bingo hall.

A Federation captain delivers a classified report on Bucol Two.

Sue: How can he possibly read that thing? It’s just shapes! And why is Servalan fondling a thermostat? Why is she even in this episode? Still, things must be bad; I’m sure this is the first time I’ve seen her wear the same thing twice.

Back on Bucol Two, the animals are revolting.

Sue: I feel sorry for them. They’re bloody terrible singers, though.

Justin is still trying to get into Dayna’s pants.

Justin: You came here expecting more, a young love resurrected.

Sue: Oh, for God’s sake. Stop it!

There was a time when the Federation wanted to use Justin’s animals as shock troops.

Sue: The enemy would get a shock all right. And then they’d die laughing. This is preposterous, Neil.

Justin: Those animals can go into any of the devastated sectors of the war zone and the radiation won’t kill them. They can work on simple projects already.

Sue: Now if only we could get them to stop flinging their own shit at each other, I’m sure they’d be brilliant.

AnimalsJustin’s work is almost complete.

Sue: Never trust a man with thin lips. And his top lip is so thin, it’s practically invisible.

Tarrant limps back to Xenon base in a battered and bruised Scorpio.

Sue: That’s the last time Avon will give Tarrant the keys to the car. He’ll ground him for this.

Sue used to be a hairdresser, which probably explains why she’s drawn to the sculptured hairstyles which seem to be all the rage within the Federation’s ranks.

Sue: That’s one hell of a graduated bob. Is that what all the fashionable vampires are wearing these days? Graduated bobs?

Me: I don’t even know what that means.

Sue: Is Servalan still pretending to be somebody else?

Me: Yes.

Sue: Why?

Me: **** knows.

AnimalsSue: But it’s ridiculous. It would be like Margaret Thatcher faking her own death and coming back as Mrs Hatcher, hoping no one would notice as she became Prime Minister again. She hasn’t even dyed her hair!

Justin bitterly regrets turning Federation deserters into furry animals with silly names.

Sue: Those animals are the least of your crimes, mate.

When Justin says he wants Dayna all to himself, Dayna breaks into a huge, self-satisfied grin. Which is weird because you’d think she’d throw up.

Sue: What the ****?

Servalan arranges to meet Ardus, an ex-Federation officer who knows everything there is to know about Bucol Two. The poor man lost his eyes during the war.

Sue: He’d have to be blind to leave the house wearing glasses like that.

I pause the DVD.

Me: Don’t you recognise him? I’ll give you a clue: “Paaaaaacker…”

Sue: Oh yeah. He’s been in Blake’s 7 before. Is he playing the same character?

Me: Yes.

AnimalsOK, I lied. This episode’s got enough problems without me telling the truth.

Ardus eventually recognises Servalan’s voice.

Sue: It took him long enough. I thought he was deaf as well as blind.

Ardus immediately regrets mentioning Servalan by name.

Sleer: Very well. I await your information.

Sue: Sorry, I mean (in a gruff, deep voice) Very well. I await your information.

Ardus tells Servalan everything she needs to know about Justin.

Sue: Doesn’t anybody know his surname?

Back on Bucol Two, Dayna offers to talk to the Og on Justin’s behalf.

Dayna: If he won’t trust you, perhaps he’ll trust me.

Sue: Yes, he’ll trust you because you killed his friends – right in front of him! Has Dayna been taking the stupid pills?

AnimalsJustin fondles Dayna’s hands.

Sue: I think I’m going to be sick.

Justin: I’ve been on my own on this planet so long now…

Sue: Oh dear. He’s been shagging all the animals. He basically just admitted it.

Back on the Scorpio, Vila prepares to drown himself in a tank full of shit.

Sue: This has nothing to do with the other plot. They are just killing time until that other pile of steaming shit finishes. What Vila’s doing here is a metaphor for what we are going through right now.

Sue trusts Justin as far as she can throw him.

Sue: Justin isn’t everything he seems.

Me: He’s exactly what he seems. That’s the ****ing problem, Sue!

Dayna extends the hand of friendship to Og. She promises Og that he won’t be hurt if he returns to Justin’s loving arms. Og points to his head.

Dayna: Not hurt. Not your head. Not hurt.

Sue: It’s all right. You can tell me. Show me where the creepy old man touched you.

Just as Dayna believes she’s about to make a breakthrough, Og throws her over a cliff.

Sue: Wow. She was even more wooden than usual. Anyone would think they threw a doll over that cliff instead. Actually, what the hell has happened to Dayna? I used to really like her. Now I can barely stand her.

AnimalsMeanwhile, in the other shit-stained plot, Soolin places a blue box next to Orac.

Sue: Is that Orac’s girlfriend? She doesn’t say very much. Still more animated than Soolin, though.

The Scorpio blasts off again.

Sue: Avon should sit down when they take off. It can’t be safe to stand up like that, especially the way Tarrant drives.

Dayna is interrogated by Servalan. Every time Dayna lies to her, Servalan presses a button on her chair and Dayna is subjected to a very intense orgasm.

Sue: I don’t know what Servalan is doing to her, but it looks all right to me.

Servalan asks Dayna if she loves Justin. Dayna denies it, but Servalan’s magic chair can detect the horrible truth. I swallow a bit of sick.

Sue: There should be a caption at the bottom of the screen: ‘My Teacher Molested Me And Now I’ve Fallen In Love Him’. Seriously, though, this episode is giving me the creeps.

Servalan offers to support Justin’s research, on one condition:

Servalan: That I use the animals in the way I think fit.

Sue: She’ll probably skin them and turn them into a nice dress.

Dayna refuses to cooperate with Servalan.

Sue: She’s holding out for one more orgasm.

Servalan switches to Plan B. By the time she’s finished with her, Dayna will hate Justin with every fibre of her being.

Sue: Is there anything that chair can’t do? If you sat in it, Neil, could I make you love me more?

Me: Give it a rest, love.

AnimalsJustin is so distraught when he discovers that Dayna has disappeared, he briefly considers suicide before hitting the bottle.

Sue: SHIT! That was the Fairy Liquid!

Servalan’s aversion therapy has been a complete success – Dayna now hates Justin as much as we do. Good for Servalan.

Servalan: You really hate him now, don’t you?

Sue: Remember that Maths lesson, when you were only fourteen and he –

Me: Stop it, Sue.

Dayna: I hate him.

Sue: I’m fairly sure this isn’t what the writer intended. I think we’re actually supposed to feel sorry for the old pervert.

I feel it’s only fair to tell Sue that this episode was originally written for Cally.

Sue: That’s no excuse. They should have realised the implications as soon as the problem presented itself. Soolin would have been just as bad – even though it would have given her something to do – so they should have sent Tarrant instead. That would have been much more interesting. But either way, they should have ditched the randy teacher routine. It just isn’t right.

AnimalsServalan storms Justin’s base with three snowmobilers equipped with graduated bobs. She tells the women that they can wing Og if they have to – but they can’t kill him.

Sue: Are they allowed to snap one of its horns off?

Avon, Tarrant and Soolin teleport to Bucol Two. It’s pissing down and they are drenched in seconds.

Sue: Paul Darrow’s hair gel is dripping into his eyes. This is not a good look for him. It looks like his head is melting… And now he looks like David Ginola from that angle. And not in a good way, either.

Servalan’s troops find and restrain Og.

Sue: Poor Og. The next time we see him, he’ll have a graduated bob.

When Avon blasts his way into Justin’s base, he… well, let’s just say it’s worth watching again. And again. And again.

[jwplayer mediaid=”12524″]

Sue: Wow. What a recovery. Paul Darrow almost ended up on his arse but he remained super-cool. What a professional. That takes real talent, Neil.

Me: It serves him right for kicking that ****ing chair!

Sue: Rosie didn’t have anything to do with this shambles, did she? No? Oh, thank God for that.

When Justin agrees to Servalan’s demands, Dayna is taken to the magic chair again.

Servalan: You love him, Dayna. You love him, Dayna. You love him. Dayna…

Sue: I feel like I’ve been sat in that chair for years. “You love Blake’s 7, Sue. You love Doctor Who, Sue. You love redacted, Sue.”

Og has been tied to a stump in a field.

Sue: Aww, he reminds me of that Shetland pony I see on the common on the way to work. He can only walk around in circles as well, poor thing. It always makes me sad when I see him.

Me: Og is basically Li’l Sebastian. Aww.

When Avon, Tarrant and Soolin mount a rescue mission, Og is killed in the battle.

Sue: Damn it. Og was the best thing in this stupid mess!

AnimalsServalan’s ship blasts off.

Sue: **** me. What a brilliant shot! What’s a brilliant shot like that doing in a pile of shit like this?

Justin didn’t make it either, and the episode ends with Dayna weeping buckets of tears for her dead teacher/mentor/mad professor/lover/abuser (take your pick).

Sue: MAKE IT STOP!

Cue credits.

The Score:

Sue: **** me, that was shit!

1/10

It’s official. Animals is as bad as Trial.

Sue: I’m only giving it a mark for that crane shot at the end. It was seconds away from a big fat zero. What a load of shit.

Next Time:

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Stardrive

Mad Max Factor…

StardriveWe 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.

StardriveSue: 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.

StardriveThe 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.

StardriveMe: 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.

StardriveSue: 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.

StardriveThey 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.

StardriveVila 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.

StardriveAvon, 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.

StardriveSue: 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.

StardriveSue: 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.

StardriveJust 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.

StardriveSue: 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.

Avon: Dayna?

Dayna: Check!

Avon: Vila?

Vila: Check!

Avon: Soolin?

Soolin: Check!

Avon: Tarrant?

Tarrant: Check!

StardriveMe: Blake? Shit, no wait, he’s dead.

Sue: Cally? Shit. Damn it.

Me: Gan? Oh, **** it.

Sue: John-Boy?

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.

StardriveDayna: What about Dr. Plaxton?

Avon and Sue: (together) Who?

Cue credits.

Sue: (laughing) What a ****!

The Score:

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.

8/10

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.

Next Time:

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