Oh. So Servalan is President again. What’s she the President of? Season 2 ended with Blake throwing everything he had against the nerve centre of the Federation. Avon was making plans for his retirement. Servalan was going nuts trying to prevent it happening. After all this, there was an alien invasion – and some sort of civil war, judging by some of the dialogue in this story: the planet Obsidian remained safe and neutral because of its terrible secret.
On top of all that, Star One was actually destroyed, despite the best efforts of Blake’s 7 and a hapless guest star (guest star one?).
In episode one of this series, Servalan was stranded on one of those planets of Space Vikings that seem to litter the universe. She was radioing for help but nothing much was doing. Avon rejected her advances and whipped his laptop out from under her clutches. In episode two, she was just about managing to gain port on a hospital ship – and probably only because they thought she’d make a good organ donor.
But now she’s back on her space base, which she’s had time to refit entirely from beige and white to matt black. She’s got pursuit ships and designs on the Liberator and as many men under her as any evil Villain could wish.
It really should feel more fun like this. Last season, there was so much double crossing and duplicity and playing of long games that Servalan could have got a part time job in her spare time. It ought to be more cartoonish fun for her to be constantly on the Liberator’s tail, but instead you just feel that something more interesting has been sacrificed.
And naturally, I don’t mean Brian Croucher.
We at least have a thread of continuity with Avon and crew chasing rumours of Blake on this mysterious world of volcanos, peaceniks and cocktail waiter robots. It doesn’t make any sense for Avon to be trying to find Blake again, but at least they haven’t just stopped talking about him. And they need some reason to keep flying around, after all.
Lovely to see Michael Gough in the show, of course. That’s a Doctor Who guest star and a half – in fact, we should get double points for him, plus an ‘accelerator’ for being Anneke Willes’ ex-. He’s even an Avengers guest star, twice over, including the creator of the Cybernauts. In short, he’s a past master at dignifying camp nonsense with a bit of Old Vic glamour. Even he’s under a heck of a strain in this role, though.
Why do the peaceful inhabitants of the planet blink in and out of existence when walking across the moors? Why does Michael Gough kill his son for breaking their peaceful ways? Why are all Michael Gough’s (invisible) citizens slowly dying, and do they get any say in his heroic act of self-sacrifice/genocide?
It’s fair to say that after a great start to the season I was let down by Volcano. It might have been better if a couple of roles had been swapped, by which I mean Servalan’s new ersatz-Travis (Malcolm Bullivant) and Michael Gough’s rather cuddly looking cocktail waiter robot.
Servalan needs an android as her right hand man. Come on, Blakes 7. You’ve got one and a bit seasons. You can make this happen for me.
I photographed the Radio Times listings from copies held by the British Library. Other screencaps are thanks to this amazing website: www.framecaplib.com/b7lib