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Blake's 7: Orac

Love the show though I do, these DVD boxsets are growing ever more frustrating. It's really irritating having to unravel six feet of cardboard to get the last couple of discs out of the packaging. The work of that damned Federation, undoubtedly.

But anyway. One thing that this show always did well was season finales, although in this case I think it was the penultimate episode that was better. Yes, okay, I'm mostly sulking because it's another episode when half the cast gets left back aboard the ship, whilst Blake goes off and has all the fun. If you're constantly having to find ways to leave half of your characters out of the action, it's a fair indication that you've got too many of them. No matter how much you might like the number seven.

Last week, Blake and co met the son of genius scientist Ensor, who told them of his father's fabulous creation, Orac. Servalan and Travis are after Orac, and so now are Blake and his six. In this case it's more Blake and his one, as everybody else has conveniently got radiation sickness after all that chasing around on the caveman planet last time. So off go Blake and Cally for a tussle with Ensor and the redoubtable Orac. Orac's great. He needs punching, obviously - not that it would be likely to do any good, since he's basically a novelty foot stool - but his exasperation with humanity, and his unwillingness to put up with the slightest hint of stupidity, is always entertaining. There's also Servalan and Travis, here being the perfect team. I love Servalan's moment of weakness in the caves, when confronted by a monster; and then the way that she regains her poise, and is back to being queen of the universe in an instant. Their exchange here: "I'll go first, shall I?"; "No, Travis. You will follow me," may just be my favourite piece of dialogue in the whole of series one. The interplay between these two is so damned good. Maybe this time I'll get lucky, and they won't recast Travis for series two?

Blake, Cally and their stupid anoraks prepare to zap down to the planet. At the start of the series, that table was chock full of teleport bracelets, and now there's only a couple left. Take better care of them, for goodness sake.

Avon ponders his fast approaching, horrible death from radiation sickness, should Ensor not have the necessary life-saving drugs. Blake's obvious concern is touching.

Crotchety genius scientist Ensor. He orders his security system to leave Servalan and Travis to get eaten by tunnel monsters, on the theory that, had they been friendly, they would have tried to get in touch before they landed. But he's living on the planet in secret, and it's supposed to be uninhabited, so why would they have tried to call? And he's a genius?!

Being left behind sucks. Avon and his shiny jerkin have to resort to staring at cardboard cut-outs of planets in order to pass the time.

Blake and Cally encounter Ensor's security system.

Servalan and Travis approach via a different route.

Cave monster! Obviously the cave monster is rubbish, and clearly a bloke in a dodgy suit. They're very careful to only show brief glimpses of it though, and mercifully they're in the dark. If this had been Doctor Who, we'd have had a fullscreen shot of the thing, ridiculously brightly lit. Some shows are much better than others at being low budget.

Some previous house guests who presumably also failed to phone up first.


Blake and Cally encounter Servalan and Travis on the beach.

Sadly Avon and his sparkly jacket (and Vila) arrive in the nick of time.

Poor Travis.

Another utterly glorious bit of Travisness, although I couldn't get a clear shot of the best bit. As Blake and the others escape with Orac, Servalan gives Travis an utterly withering look, and makes it clear that the blame for all of this is going to fall on his shoulders. His wry little smile, and calm acceptance of his fate, speaks volumes about him. I do wish the guy in series two had been another character. This version of Travis would never have devolved into that. Still, what's done is done; and way back in 1978 at that. Goodbye, proper Travis. It was nice knowing you, even if you were a cold-hearted, murdering bastard.

But a cold-hearted, murdering bastard with a lovely speaking voice, which naturally makes all the difference.

Technically speaking, when Avon and Orac have a conversation, all that haughtiness and sarcasm ought to cancel each other out, and you'd be left with a random radiance of sunniness. Oddly enough, that isn't what happens at all.

Orac predicts that the Liberator will explode. As the episode ends, we're left with his prediction playing out on Zen's screens. It's kind of clever, as if the show hadn't been renewed, they could have claimed that the ship really had exploded, and left it at that. Instead, with the show returning, the crew are left with the prediction hanging over them. Will it happen or won't it? Gosh, the suspense!


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Aug. 15th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Another awesome recap :) I'm really enjoying these.
Aug. 15th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
Aug. 15th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
Just found this & was laughing through the recap.

I agree: They should not have recast Travis, never mind reality and contracts.
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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