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Blake's 7: Harvest Of Kairos

Blake's 7 is a show with an uncanny habit of being good most of the time, truly great some of the time; and yet, at other times, quite appallingly awful. There are two episodes universally renowned for being more appallingly awful than the others, and both are written by the same man, Ben Steed. This is the first; and it really is very, very bad.

Tarrant is eager to be a pirate again, and sets out to capture 'the harvest of Kairos' - a mineral that's gathered on the surface of the planet Kairos during one week of every year. Servalan, who for some reason is utterly obsessed with Tarrant this week, despite never to my knowledge having met him, or even having any reason to know that he exists, hires his former CO, Jarvik, to fight him. And it's bad. It really, really is. I have no idea who Ben Steed is, but his sexism is so absolute that it actually surpasses offensiveness and manages to achieve hilarity. Sort of. The basic plot isn't too bad, although much of it requires the Liberator crew to be out of character and temporarily very stupid indeed. The dialogue, however, may be amongst the worst ever recorded.

Basically, this episode has only one redeeming feature. It should come as no surprise to learn that it's the end credits.

Plumbing the pits of despair, then, in screencap form.

Servalan and her ballgown have a plan. They have ships, and lots of them, and together they will destroy Tarrant. How Servalan knows who Tarrant is, I have no idea. Not only does she know of him, she also thinks he's the best pilot in the galaxy. In fact, not only does she think that he's utterly awesome, but apparently her underlings are muttering amongst themselves that she's afraid of him. Servalan isn't afraid of anything. She's Servalan. Her underlings should be paying better attention.

A rock. Avon will be spending the entire episode gazing at it, completely forgetting to be Avon until a couple of minutes before the end.

Meet Jarvik. Servalan has no chance of understanding Tarrant, announces Jarvik. This is because Tarrant is a man. He thinks like a man. He walks like a man, he talks like a man. Jarvik used to be a Federation starship captain, but because he prefers to be a man, he quit and became a labourer instead. To the great delight of the universe, however, he has now arrived to give us all the benefit of his experience. And his breath-taking, nay awe-inspiring, sexism.

Jarvik randomly snogs the president of the galaxy, because he's a man. In any other episode, Servalan would have had him executed instantly. In this episode, she decides that she likes it.

It appears that Tarrant has heard my comments about his Errol Flynn fixation, and has now changed into the seventies tracksuit from hell. Tarrant, I shall never complain about your clothing ever again, if you please change out of that monstrosity immediately. It's even got an elasticated waist, for heavens sake.

Oh, and Avon is testing his rock. Apparently it's the cleverest, most alive thing in the galaxy. And also a rock.

So obsessed is he with his rock that he runs off with Cally in the middle of a space battle to play with it some more. This scene is so bad it beggars belief. Not only does Avon ignore a space battle, but nobody notices he, Cally and Orac getting up and leaving the flight deck, despite the fact that Avon and Orac sit right at the very front. And why the hell would they go off to play with a rock in the middle of a battle? And why would Cally go along with it? Tarrant goes to complain, which does actually require him to abandon his station in the middle of a battle as well - and he's the pilot, and technically the captain when they're in a combat situation, but we'll overlook all that. There follows a peculiar scene in which Avon tells him that he's the most astute starship commander in the galaxy. Except his lips don't say that at all. They seem to be saying that Tarrant is the most dashing starship commander in the galaxy. Who the hell could ever have thought that Avon would say that?! It's rather a shame that they dubbed it, though. In its original form at the very least it might have given us all a laugh.

Servalan, just have the irritating moron shot. Now.

In the best scene in the entire episode, the Liberator draws up alongside a shuttle carrying the harvest of Kairos. I do like that Liberator model. There follows another ridiculously rubbish bit. It's a trap, as Jarvik 'phoned up the shuttle captain earlier. Several guards capture Tarrant and co when they begin to collect up the boxes of the mineral. Avon intercedes and shoots them all. The gang then load up lots of boxes into their own hold. The boxes are full of more guards, though. So where's the mineral gone? It's a tiny shuttle. It didn't even have enough room on board after the cargo was loaded, meaning that the workforce had to be left behind on Kairos. And where are all these guards coming from? It doesn't make sense.

Still, it gets Servalan the Liberator, which makes her happy. Avon manages to fix things so that he and the others are teleported down to the nearest planet with a breathable atmosphere, rather than being executed. However the nearest such planet is Kairos which, outside of the week when the harvest takes place, is lethal to all visitors. So much for Avon being the smartest man alive. Nobody knows why Kairos becomes lethal, incidentally. Nobody left behind after the harvest has ever lived to tell the tale.

The gang will presumably now get to find out why. Impressively, not a single one of them even glares at Avon.

Oh brother.

There are giant cobwebs everywhere, with dead harvesters in them. This should probably be a clue as to why Kairos is so inhospitable, but apparently it isn't.

This is a slightly bigger clue.

Oh no! Whatever shall I do?!

The gang are utterly mortified at the terrifying danger that poor Dayna is in.

It's a truly deadly foe, but happily Tarrant is heroic enough to dash to Dayna's aid. It's not terribly difficult to avoid death by giant cuddly spider, as it turns out. Everybody who has ever stayed on Kairos post-harvest must have been actively trying to get killed. Then Jarvik arrives. He knows all about the spiders, which is clever, since it's already been established that nobody does. Maybe he read ahead in the script. Who knows. Who cares. Anyway, he's here because Servalan wants him to wrestle Tarrant for her. No, really. She does.

So he wrestles Tarrant. At least I think that's wrestling. Of a sort. Jarvik wins, and then he leaves again. By now the episode has become so bad that even the crew of the Liberator have ceased to care. Tarrant didn't even bother fighting.

Luckily, however, there's a shuttle on the planet. Avon has figured out that his magic rock isn't alive or clever or anything else except a rock. It just reflects your brain back at you. Sort of. So he rigs the shuttle to do likewise, and therefore, when they fly after the Liberator, Zen tells Servalan that the most powerful ship in the galaxy is chasing them.

Jarvik thinks this is daft. Servalan, however, because she's had her brain turned off for the duration of this week's episode, abandons ship, after first having one of her guards kill Jarvik entirely accidentally. He actually does wander in front of a firing gun, which suggests that he's had enough of this nonsense. I know I have.

So we have the Liberator back, which is nice. Mr "I am a man!" Jarvik is dead, which is also nice, if not for him. Best of all, however, this episode is now finished, and I need never watch it again.

The end. If only it could have happened fifty minutes earlier. It would have saved me a great deal of pain.


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Oct. 29th, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
One line
Actually, I rather like "They were an OBVIOUS possibility, Tarrant."

Even though it's rather unlike Avon to *not* do something about the possibility of having his ship taken away from him ahead of time.

Really, this one makes me wonder whether anyone even read it before filming,and why, having somehow lumbered themselves with it, they proceeded to film Moloch rather than, say, giving the cast sock puppets and letting them ad-lib a puppet show that week.
Oct. 29th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Re: One line
I don't mind "Moloch" quite so much, although it's pretty bad, certainly. The real mystery is how they managed to invite him back for series four. His episode there, "Power", is truly dreadful.
Oct. 29th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Ben Steed
Yes, he went from dreadful to truly terrible to truly abominable. Perhaps someone was thinking "It couldn't be worse"?
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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