Friday, 19 February 2016


I don't know about you, but I've lost track of the number of different versions of Skaro we've had in this opening season of Blake's 7. There have been versions with little woodlouse men, versions of Patsy Smart having a giggle, and last night in my house there was a version with men in furs throwing rocks, and a woman who worshipped Avon and had a rocket hidden in a cave.

Perhaps they're all just different regions of the same planet? Is this wintry version just Skaro in December? I think the answer must be yes. And at some point the panels are going to wheel back from Zen's big dome and we'll see that he's the Dalek Emperor from the Tv21 Comic Strips.

Now, I'm feeling a real need to acc-cent-uate the positive at the moment, because I sincerely went into all this with a very open heart toward this show, and at the moment I'm really not enjoying it very much. It moves slowly, I don't care much about the characters, and although some scenes are very sharp and witty, they tend to be compressed into one scene, like a big expensive special effect they don't want to repeat too often.

The scene with Servalan and Travis being a superb example. Nation obviously loves these characters, they're perfectly cast, they're out for themselves but they're also needy – they really want sex and power and death and glory all at the same time. In this story, both characters are somewhat on the back foot. Servalan is being supremely devious. Travis has been publicly humiliated.

Their scene together is electric. But it lasts about nine minutes, and it's surrounded by very earnest, rather directionless space action.

But I have been promised, this very day, that Season 2 is a big improvement. Moreover I have been told that Season 4 is space panto. I'm not a man who'll turn down the chance of a space panto. So I'm sticking with this show.

There is actually more of worth in this story than the Travis/Servalan scene. There is, after all, a very important little Avon/Blake scene at the beginning, when Avon virtually announces that he's ready to take Blake's place as Captain. And Blake's expression when Avon's adventure goes wrong and Jenna goes missing – for the first time this series, despite all the stories which saw him hunted through a radioactive forest by his arch enemy or ordering his crew to fly through a purple space hole vortex to risk saving Gan's interfered-with bonce, for the first time I think we see real fire in Blake's character. Ready to ignite.

And then there's the moment where he inadvertently refers to himself as a messiah. Once again, it's during a conversation with Avon. Suddenly I feel that I know Blake even less than I did before – and I suspect there's much more to Kerr Avon than I hoped. I feel that Avon might just challenge Blake in ways the great curly-headed symbol of freedom hasn't experienced before.

Maybe the issue is, Servalan and Travis get drunk while they're chatting, and hence their conversations are a bit freer and naughtier. I'm not sure what it is, that vibrant green liquid, but someone needs to smuggle some aboard the Liberator. A couple of drinks inside that crew, and it'd be the messiest Christmas party the galaxy has ever seen.

Meanwhile, here comes the season finale – and here comes Orac...

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