Friday, 15 April 2016


Well, I was right. Vila and Cally are alive and well and off having adventures. No, because you couldn’t possibly have a drama series with only three lead characters, plus Zen and Orac and Servalan. You need someone to be knocked unconscious or possessed at some point, and someone to stay on the Liberator to operate the teleport. Also, somebody to turn up at the last minute. Oh, and Vila for punchlines.

But this is exciting, because nothing is quite as it should be: nothing is straightforward. Avon and his new ally Dayna are immediately taken prisoner by smooth-faced Tarrant and granite-faced Michael Sheard. Only a thin veneer of disguise is keeping them alive. And meanwhile, Zen is searching for his masters, listening for their voices

Stranded in space, Cally and Vila are light years from one another. She’s been rescued by a fleet of wonderfully eerie nurses from a neutral planet. Vila is being hunted by robots on a jungle world, with only John Hollis for protection. What could possible bring them together?

Well, how about the most outrageous coincidence? Yes, that’ll do.

 I do like what they’ve done with Servalan, though. Watching her storyline makes me wish they’d bring the whole series back. She’s been a background manipulator, risen to the heights of power, seized the presidency and now she’s on her uppers. It’s now that we see the true strength of the character, and of Jacqueline Pearce too.

It’s like the show was actually leading somewhere in the last season!

Well, yes, Servalan is picked up by the same ship that Cally is on. Not only that, she’s put on the bunk right next to her – and the pair of them are flown to Vila’s planet. If they’d touched down any nearer, they’d have actually knocked him over. Last week I arranged to meet my friend Steve in Waterloo Station and we still ended up missing each other in the crowd. If only we all had a little of what Servalan’s got – and I don’t mean a wardrobe full of figure-hugging evening dresses, but obviously that too.

She even seems to be getting away at the end of the story, but we’ll see how that goes for her.

Meanwhile, Avon and Dayna are playing cat and mouse with Tarrant and Mr Bronson. It’s all a bit shooty shooty for me, but there’s plenty of fun stuff thrown in. Avon picks a lock with little success. “Don’t judge by appearances,” he tells her. “I don’t,” she says, “I judge by results. And you’re not getting very far!” At which point, Avon gets the door open after all. The guard outside is dead – with a dagger in the back.

“Quite a complicated way to commit suicide,” observes Avon. “Perhaps it went off in his hand?” suggests Dayna. I’m not kidding when I say they reminded me of John Steed and Emma Peel. In space.

This could be a good series…

In the nick of time, Avon teleports Vila and Cally from a fate worse than death. Just to show Dayna and Tarrant how to do it in subsequent weeks, presumably. 

I photographed the Radio Times listings from copies held by the British Library. Other screencaps are thanks to this amazing website: