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Blake's 7: Children Of Auron

What is it about television? It has an unyielding devotion to torturing the loved ones of its stars. If you are friends with, or related to, anybody who appears on television, you're fated to encounter great evils, suffer dreadful misfortunes, or die horribly. It's probably even more likely that you'll manage all three; with a few more inconveniences as well, thrown in for good measure. Given that everybody who has ever watched television knows this, why does everybody on television still insist on having family and friends?!

Servalan has decided to play power games, in her new role as president. She's not president of all that much as yet, but she has a whole galaxy to hand, and she wants to get as much of it as she can, before somebody else does. Her first target is the planet of the Aurons - Cally's people - who were neutral during the Andromedan War, and consequently look like good candidates for a little galactic chess. Exposing an Auron pilot to a terrible, engineered plague, she sends him off to infect his homeworld. Summoned by some sort of telepathic signal, Cally brings the Liberator lot flying to the rescue; or the not-so-much-of-a-rescue, given that they don't really manage to rescue anybody. Still, it's the thought that counts. Mind you, that's a philosophy that's a lot easier to appreciate when you're not watching your entire race die a horrible death (I'm guessing).

Servalan, once again, is floating through the stars in her giant space whale.

And looking pretty damned spectacular while she's doing it.

Avon, on the other hand, has issues. The Liberator is heading for Earth, he announces, on a personal revenge mission against 'Shrinker', the Federation interrogator who killed Anna Grant. Anna Grant, for those keeping track, was Avon's girlfriend. She was a plot point a while back, when her brother Del helped to defuse a giant, planet-killing bomb. For some reason Avon has suddenly remembered her, and decided that now is the time to go after her killer. He is utterly single-minded on this issue. Shrinker must be killed, etc and so forth. There is growling, there is narrow-eyed glaring into the middle distance. Avon's determination is absolute.

And yet at the same time he's in the middle of a game of checkers with Tarrant. Inside Avon's head is a strange place to be.

A pilot from the planet Auron, dressed for some reason in the manner of a World War Two fighter pilot. The inflatable life jacket is an interesting stylistic choice, but is probably more use when you're bailing out over the English Channel than it is when you're bailing out over Beteljeuse. Which sounds like a good title for a Broadway play, but I digress. Anyway, he stops off for tea and biscuits in Servalan's space whale.

And arrives home looking decidedly the worse for wear. Almost immediately the contagion spreads, and soon his entire race is dying.

Gazillions of miles away in the Liberator, Cally senses the general distress.

Sending her a more specific message is her identical twin sister, who works in the planet's cloning department. It seems that children aren't born naturally on Auron anymore. Everybody just clones themselves multiple times, apparently just because why not.

I don't think Cally left Auron to become a freedom fighter like she claims. I think she ran away out of sheer terror.

There is a pow-wow. Since there might possibly be danger involved, and there is certainly the opportunity for looking a bit swashbuckly, Tarrant is all for dashing to the rescue as quickly as possible. Avon, meanwhile, is determined to continue making for Earth and killing this Shrinker guy that he's suddenly got all obsessed with out of nowhere.

They consult Orac, to decide what they should do. He makes moral decisions now?

They're like the Adam Ant Fan Club or something. The clothes in the future really are an odd affair.

Faced with a dying race and a dread disease, Vila displays all due sensitivity towards those affected.

Whilst down on the ground, the relief party are helpfully getting themselves captured by Servalan's guards.

Servalan herself has hit on a plan. She'll come up with a cure (maybe) if the Aurons will clone her. Soon there are multiple baby Servalans growing in a lab.

Avon is clearly none too fond of this notion. He and the others escape, to which Servalan's lot respond with heavy gunfire. Servalan's security chief tricks her into blowing up the building where the gang probably are.

And ka-boom! it goes, with enthusiasm. It was, however, the cloning factory, where all the baby Servalans were percolating. Servalan is distraught. So is Cally (ish), as her identical twin sister was there as well, refusing to leave the babies.

Guys? Entire race dead of a horrible disease? Twin sister blown to smithereens? Flirting probably not a tactful response at this juncture. Not that Cally looks particularly bothered, admittedly.

Avon does not approve of flirting. Or, indeed, of anything at all right now that doesn't involve killing Shrinker. Mind you, he's infected by the disease, so isn't exactly at his best. Needless to say, Orac can fix the Liberator crew, but not the inhabitants of Auron. It sucks to be way down the cast list.

The best-dressed men in space.

Really not sure what to think of this episode. It starts out as high camp, with Servalan swanning about the place in her fabulous outfit, plotting like a proper evil bitch space queen in her giant space whale. Then she murders an entire planet of people with her genetically engineered virus - although we never really see the people of Auron, so that doesn't feel as unforgiveable as it probably should. Then the B7 crew are bouncing about the place doing their heroic space pirates thing, with Cally failing to look particularly upset about the deaths of anybody, entire race and identical twin sister included. And then right at the end there's Servalan, tortured by the telepathic screaming of her exploded babies. I'm conflicted, to say the least. It's not a bad episode. It's just rather odd.


( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 2nd, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Wildly varying moods
Isn't that part of the charm of B7 as a whole, though? As a series, it can never decide whether it's camp, serious, deeply thoughtful or completely trivial.

I'm never really sure whether this was a matter of brilliance or sheer dumb luck on the part of the producers, but whatever it is, it worked (usually,and on the whole).

This, incidentally, is why I have my doubts about the remake: Will any contemporary director be willing to cover the ground from zany to tragic and back with quite the same cavalier grandeur?
Nov. 2nd, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Wildly varying moods
Yes, I'd agree with that. The often clashing styles works well most of the time - that's also one of the reasons why I love series one of Torchwood so much - but this time it did leave me slightly reeling. The whole subplot of Servalan and her screaming, dying babies just seems to belong in a completely different episode.

And yes, TV is lacking much originality these days. So many shows seem to be built from the same template, so I can't see the new version being all that comparable to the old. I'm dubious about the characters as well. Will they be prepared to have their Blake be so ruthless and driven, or their Avon be so cold? I'd hate to see it become a show of genuine heroes.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: Wildly varying moods
I, on the other hand, am terrified that they will go all Battlestar Galctic-y and make it all dark & violent & depressing because these days you can show your rebel leader blowing stuff up & get all nasty & gritty, so much so that they'll likely forget the goofy part.

It is, I'm afraid, much to much to hope for that the Liberator will have wooden floors, or that there will be paper mache caves.
Nov. 3rd, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Wildly varying moods
I hadn't thought of that. New BSG was very successful of course, so they might well be tempted to try something similar. That would be a shame. Dark and gritty has its place, but I'd hate to see B7 sent too far down that road.
( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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