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Blake's 7: Breakdown

It's time for the Gan episode. We must be nice to it - this is pretty much all that Gan ever gets to do, ever. It's not much, and it's not great, but it's nice to see him being given something, even if it is just the once.

Gan has a device implanted in his skull. It's called a limiter, and it prevents him from being violent; except when the story requires him to be, which is remarkably clever of it. Ever since he first announced that he had this thing inside him, he's winced occasionally, and rubbed the top of his head; and even had he not done so, it would have been blatantly obvious that at some time they'd be making a story out of it. This week it malfunctions, sending him mad.

Okay, I may have lied when I said that this was Gan's episode. He spends half of it sedated in the medical bay, while the others try to find some help for him. They do this by pacing up and down the flight deck, spouting techno-babble, and arguing about flying and computers and engines and things. Gan twitches, Avon pokes instruments with futuristic tools, and everybody else worries about secret regions of space that might be dangerous. Gan snarls and snaps at the air, Avon makes little lights flash in different colours. Golly, it's exciting stuff. It's basically an episode's worth of Gan gurning, which as well as being the beginnings of a rather uninteresting tongue-twister, is also the backbone of an extremely uninteresting episode. Even an appearance by Julian Glover as a neurosurgeon can't save it; not least because his assistant is the most crassly sexist buffoon I've seen in a long time. They do manage to pull things together for the last ten to fifteen minutes, as Federation pursuit ships bear down on the Liberator, which can't escape due to the delicacy of the operation to save Gan. Also, Julian Glover is wonderful, naturally. But then, just when it looks as though maybe the episode isn't going to be uniformly awful after all, it ends with one of those dreadful, group laughing scenes that used to be an industry standard.

Poor Gan. It's his only storyline, and he slept through ninety percent of it. Still, all things considered, that's pretty understandable. I damn near slept through a good chunk of it myself.

If nothing else, this episode does at least have some lovely model work.

Nice starscapes too.

Gan goes nuts and attacks Jenna.

And Blake.

And Cally.

I'm sensing a bit of a theme.

In their haste to find a neurosurgeon, the gang dash through a section of space marked on the map as "Might Be Dangerous, Or It Might Not. You'll Have To Go Poke It To Find Out". They find it contains something big, red and swirly. Would it have killed the chartmakers to put "Danger: Big, Red, Swirly Thing" on their charts, instead of keeping it a secret? The purpose of making a chart is surely for aiding navigation, not for just being weird.

Having negotiated the very dangerous big, red and swirly thing, the team fetch up at a space station. This is one of those times when the little thing is little because it's far away, right? Only it looks suspiciously as though that space station is very tiny indeed. In which case any medical help that it's offering is likely to be of minimal use.

Julian Glover. Neurosurgeon. Nutcase. Complete and utter bastard. On the plus side, at least he's not as dull as the preceding thirty minutes.

The Federation ships turn up, and shoot at the Liberator for a bit, and then hit Julian Glover's space station instead. This is a shame, as he was the episode's one saving grace (not counting Avon's dialogue of course).

Everybody laughs. Not actually because of all of the innocent people who just blew up due to the Liberator's presence, but because Blake said "Welcome back," to Gan. Apparently this is hilarious. Either that or they really are laughing about all of the innocent people (and Julian Glover) who they have just caused to get blown to pieces. With this lot it's quite hard to be sure.

Poor David Jackson. Everybody remembers how rubbish Blake's 7 was with its female characters, and certainly the female half of the cast has always been quick to point that out. They were pretty rubbish with Gan too though. This was his episode, and they didn't even manage to give him anything to do in it. That really doesn't say a lot for his chances in the rest of the series.

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