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Blake's 7: Power

If there's any bigger mystery than who thought Scrappy Doo was a good idea, then it's how Ben Steed kept getting offered the job of writing for Blake's 7. Here he is back with his third episode, which means that the script is full of appalling dialogue, and Xenon is suddenly populated by moronic tribesmen who like knocking women about. Years go by, cast members come and go, but some things never seem to change.

To a distinct lack of my delight, the B7 crew are still scrambling to get back all the bits of technology that the writers blew up at the end of series three. Last week it was hand guns, and tonight's project is the Liberator's unique teleport system, which they find conveniently lying about on Xenon, waiting for them to activate it. Some people get all the luck. Or not, given that in order to get it working they first have to negotiate a Ben Steed script. Incidentally, it seems nobody told Ben that Soolin joined the cast last week, as she's conspicuously absent for the entire episode - or at least I hope that's the explanation. I know this show likes to sideline its female characters, but forgetting that one exists is a whole new kind of low.

Tarrant looks far more pleased with himself than anybody in a polo neck sweater has any right to be.

Elsewhere, Avon finds himself involved with a tribe of boorish louts, who are, in a whole new step forward for Ben Steed's pervasive sexism, caught up in a war of the sexes. On one side, a crowd of men with bad facial hair; on the other, women who wear collars to give themselves telekinetic powers. The men capture the women, take their collars (and therefore their power) away, and force them to bear sons, abandoning the baby girls in the mountains.

Back in his first episode, 'Harvest Of Kairos', Ben Steed was obsessed with how Tarrant and bad guy-of-the-week Jarvik were men. They walked like men, they talked like men. Avon, apparently, "looks like a man and smells like a man". Impressively, he doesn't giggle.

Okay, he does. That's not until later, though. He gets challenged to a duel, which he does actually win. Then he gets sneakily bashed over the head. It's the second time so far in this episode, and it happens again shortly afterwards. Ordinarily I'd feel sorry for him, but unconsciousness is probably the best defence against the plot.

Back at the ship, the others attempt to get a straight answer out of Orac. Dorian has booby-trapped the Scorpio, and unless they get into it in under two hours, and deactivate his handiwork, a large chunk of the planet will be destroyed in a nuclear explosion. Which is even better booby-trapping than Servalan, so bravo. Orac, being Orac, is more interested in insulting everybody's intelligence than in actually helping.

Since this is a Ben Steed script, it's necessary for somebody to comment at least once that men are stronger than women, and then prove it. Avon betters one of the last standing female warriors, then snogs her for good measure, because... oh, because it's a Ben Steed script. I realise I'm probably beginning to sound like a broken record where he's concerned, but that's just the sort of thing that happens when he's writing. You throw women around and then forcibly kiss them. It's why they're there.

And yes, I appreciate that he randomly snogged Servalan a few episodes back, but they were on an even keel in power terms, and Servalan was a willing participant. Here Avon's actively forcing himself on a woman who wants none of it. That's not just objectionable, it's not remotely Avon.

Still, as everybody knows, after you've knocked them around for a while, women will generally decide that they're in love with you, and refuse all attempts by their former comrades to help them escape. Rape, the murder of all their daughters, and a regular programme of beating, are all far better than being free. This woman is either hilarious or profoundly disturbed. I particularly like how, when offered rescue, she proudly asserts that no thank you, she's a woman. And?!

The only good thing about boorish tribesmen is the weaponry. Avon rocks a crossbow.

Head moron tribesman expresses irritation when Tarrant, Vila and Dayna are brought in. Apparently all these invaders are stopping him from playing with his balls.

He doesn't exactly say that, but it is rather implied.

Things pick up briefly when Dayna challenges him to a duel. She wins, due to secret telekinetic help, which cheerfully rids us of the annoying headman. Does that mean she has to be the tribe's king now?

Vila, at least try to pretend that you're tied up. It would help the plot a little.

The last remaining telekinetic warriors. They had a deal with Dorian, who supplied them with food in return for technical help. They offer the same deal now to the Liberator-ites. I wonder if Dorian supplied them with their make-up too. They're supposed to be warriors living rough in the mountains, but they look more like television news anchors.

Avon arrives in the nick of time to stop the gang from breaking into the Scorpio. Under his orders, Orac has supplied them with a false password for stage one of Dorian's booby-trappage. Avon did this because he was afraid that they'd leave without him. I'm not sure whether to take this as evidence of Avon's spectacular paranoia and general untrustworthiness, or just of Ben Steed's stupidity. Possibly both. Even though the others would never leave without Avon, he'd cheerfully leave without them, so it makes sense he'd suspect it. But would he risk getting a large bit of planet (with him on it) blown to bits by a nuclear bomb just in order to stop the others opening the ship without him? Because I'm really not seeing the logic there, and logic is one thing that Avon does particularly well.

Telekinetic warrior #1 has only been interested in the Scorpio all along. Shooting down telekinetic warrior #2, she runs off with it. Avon then zaps himself aboard via the teleport system, which he's able to get to work in ten seconds flat. Dorian worked on it for two hundred years. This all goes to prove that you should either get Avon to do your techie work for you, or always wait until the end of an episode before you try to operate something. It's the one sure way to get things done in a hurry.

He shoots down the other warrior. Sadly this means that the irritating tribesmen back on Xenon just won the war of the sexes by default. Still, by this point I doubt anybody cares anymore. Reaching the final credits is of far greater importance.

I still can't warm to the Scorpio design. It's not a patch on the dear old Liberator. Mat Irvine's models are certainly showing the benefits of the increased budget though.

Tarrant and Dayna teleport aboard Scorpio to join Avon, at which point Vila calls to say that he's found Soolin hiding in the broom cupboard. Or somewhere. I don't know. I guess she was waiting for the show to end, and who can blame her.

She's clearly very determined to escape from the episode, and I don't think anybody's going to object.

Poor Soolin. Compare her arrival on the show to Dayna's and Tarrant's. Dayna got an episode carefully introducing her, followed by two episodes where she shared the focus with Avon and Tarrant. Tarrant got much the same. Soolin got an episode where she poured some wine, and then another one where she was hiding in a cupboard for the entire time. I'm beginning to understand why Glynis Barber has only recently begun to look upon the show with any degree of warmth.


( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Nov. 10th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
Sadly this means that the irritating tribesmen back on Xenon just won the war of the sexes by default.

Only if enough of them figure out that they'd better stop leaving their girl babies out in the hills.
Nov. 10th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
But all the women warriors are dead, so there's nobody left to find them.
Nov. 10th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
And that is why they'd better stop leaving them out in the hills.

No woman warriors raising girl babies = No Seska to capture for breeding purposes = end of annoying tribesmen.
Nov. 10th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
Good thinking. Okay, so the annoying tribe have only won a temporary victory. That's a definite improvement.
( 4 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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