Doctor Who: Looking Forward to Series 9?

July 21, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Around this time last year I did a post on the build up to series eight explaining everything we knew about it so far. Now I’m going to be doing the same for the upcoming series nine by examining the recent trailer we got from comic-con as well as all the other information we’ve been drip-feed by the BBC over the past months. The first thing to quickly note is something that came along towards the end of the trailer, the release date. So it’s now been confirmed that series nine will be starting on the nineteenth of September which is almost a month later than series eight started last year and will also mean a very short gap between the finale and the Christmas special. It also looks like we’ll be getting a lot more two-part stories which is fine by me as I feel that quite a lot of one-part stories end up having rushed endings and being just plain unmemorable. Now onto one of the two-part stories themselves, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar which will kick start the series in September. They are written by show runner Steven Moffat and directed by Hettie MacDonald. The Doctor and Clara will of course be back along with Michelle Gomez as Missy, making a swift return after her inclusion in the series eight finale. Hopefully she’ll have a better plan this time. Also confirmed for this story is Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart along with Clare Higgins who previously appeared in Night of the Doctor as the High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn and after looking at some scenes in the trailer I wouldn’t be all too surprised if she was playing this role again.

Next up is another two-part story, this one written by Toby Whithouse and directed by Daniel O’Hara. While we don’t have any titles for the individual episodes it has been confirmed that this is a “ghost story” and so I’m guessing that many of the ghost like monsters in the trailer are from this story. It also appears to be set on an underwater base and it’s a story I am quite looking forward to as I love the sort of horror this story appears to be going for. The fifth episode is The Girl who Died by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat which appears to be linked with the sixth episode, The Woman who Lived by Catherine Tregenna, but it appears that they are not being counted as a two-part story. The inter-linking presence in both of them is Masie Williams’ character who appeared at the end of the trailer and very little is known about her other than she will apparently be giving the Doctor the right sort of hell. The episodes, both directed by Ed Bazalgette, appear to be set in two different periods of history with featuring Vikings and mysterious robots which can be seen in the trailer. Clara has also been spotted wearing a space suit and it appears some hugging will be going on in at least one of these episodes.

Kill the Moon writer Peter Harness is back for episodes seven and eight which are currently untitled but we do know that they are directed by Daniel Nettheim. What else do we know? Well we know that the Zygons will be making a return along with Osgood in some way, shame or form. Kate Stewart will also be back once again and thanks to this story involving a great deal of location work we appear to know a lot more about this story than we do most of the others. However, I won’t be diving too deeply into that but I will say that it appears that the Zygon’s plan involves children in some way which can be seen in the trailer when a Zygon kidnaps a child at the park. I moderately excited about this story as while I do love the Zygons I feel that they weren’t handled too well in Day of the Doctor and I’m not totally sure I have much faith in Peter Harness after Kill the Moon. There’s very little to say about episode nine other than it will be written by Mark Gatiss. Episode ten on the other hand we can talk about as it features the return of Rigsy who previously appeared in Flatline. It’s written by Sarah Dollard and directed by Justin Molotnikov (who may or may not be directing episode nine as well) and will also apparently be playing about with the idea of reality. Rachel Talalay will be back for the two-part series nine finale written by Steven Moffat and it is apparently very different from last year’s and Rachel Talalay herself has said that episode eleven is a big challenge for her. That’s all we have for the episodes themselves but in terms of characters it’s been claimed that the Doctor and Clara’s relationship is very different to what it was back in series eight. It’s said that they’re much more comfortable with each other now and are now in their glory days, exploring the galaxy and meeting all the wonders of the universe together.

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So then, it seems like some great stuff is on the horizon. However, I am trying to keep my anticipation in check as I said similar things last year about series eight and ended up being at least slightly disappointed by almost everything in that series apart from Peter Capaldi and Jamie Mathieson. Anyway, hopefully the inclusion of many more two-part stories will allow the storylines to be more developed and engaging and I also hope that tonally it will live up to the dark hue that the trailer gives off. So then, what are you most looking forward to seeing in series nine? Please leave your thoughts below while we wait for The Magician’s Apprentice to arrive on the nineteenth of September, now less than two months away…

Thunderbirds: Trapped in the Sky

July 7, 2015 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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So here we are at the first episode of a TV classic. If you’re not all that familiar with the world of Thunderbirds then I suggest you read the introduction post first. Now without any further adieu let’s talk about Trapped in the Sky. The basic storyline is that a criminal mastermind, The Hood, has placed a bomb aboard the Fireflash, a hypersonic airliner on it’s maiden voyage, in order to draw out International Rescue so that he can steal their secrets. If the Fireflash uses it’s landing gear then the bomb will go off but if they stay in the sky then the passengers and crew will all eventually receive fatal doses of radiation, meaning that it’s a race against time to save the Fireflash. After an attempt to remove the bomb fails Thunderbirds 1 and 2 arrive with a plan. While they put this into operation The Hood sneaks onboard Thunderbird 1 and takes pictures of the interior so he can recreate it. Scott and Virgil manage to get the plane down by using elevator cars as replacement landing gear. Meanwhile, Lady Penelope and Parker hunt down The Hood and destroy the pictures. With the bomb defused and the secrets of International Rescue safe, Scott and Virgil head back to Tracy Island with their first operation completed successfully. But The Hood isn’t defeated so easily and will return to plague International Rescue time and time again.

I’m going to start off by saying this straight away, I think that Trapped in the Sky is a very strong start to the series. It sets up most of what you need to know about the series and is also just a well made episode in it’s own right. More on that in a second but first I want to quickly talk about a line which is quite amusing in retrospect and that is when Kyrano says that Jeff Tracy was one of the first men on the moon. It’s a throwaway line and probably would’ve meant very little at the time it went out but looking back it’s rather interesting to see how some parts of society thought it would take a long time to reach the moon. Little did they know that five years after they made this episode man would indeed land on the moon. Since then we appear to have given up with space travel however and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 now seems like a more realistic future than that of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds but anyway, I think that’s enough of my political views and now let’s shift focus back to the topic at hand, Trapped in the Sky.

Now if you’ve read some of my Blake’s 7 post you’ll probably have realised that I am a big fan of model shots and Thuderbirds has plenty of those, and some breathtaking ones at that. Now while the visuals here are rather simple compared to what will come later there are still quite a few nice sequences, namely the landing of Fireflash. It’s a wonderfully made sequence and the instantly recognisable music in the background just fits so perfectly. What’s also nice about this resolution is that it doesn’t work first time which just racks up the tension even more for the second attempt as there is no time for a third attempt. But it’s not the only well done sequence of the episode as there are plenty more such as the attempt to remove the bomb by hand. It was going so well until the man fell and it kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t try it again as it was fairly close to success the first time. Then there’s the scene where Lady Penelope and Parker chase down The Hood. It was a rather minimalistic chase but nevertheless it served it’s purpose and the shot of the car rolling down the side of the hill was nicely done. It’s also quite funny as you would not see roads like that that empty in England nowadays and I don’t imagine traffic is going to improve that much in the next half a century or so.

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Now we come to rating Trapped in the Sky and I think a nine-out-of-ten is a very fair rating for this story. Next up is Pit of Peril where a five-hundred ton US Army walker, the Sidewinder, ends up in need of rescue but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Thunderbirds: Introduction

July 6, 2015 in Cult TV, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Not too long ago now a new series called Thunderbirds Are Go premiere and so I thought now would be the perfect time to take a step back fifty years and look at the original series simply titled Thunderbirds, a series that was a big part of my childhood. While I wasn’t around during the sixties to watch them on first transmission I practically grew up on VHS copies of the episodes and reruns on some channel which I’ve forgotten the name of and probably isn’t around now anyway. So this will probably mean that as I review each of the episodes I will undoubtedly end up doing so through rose-tinted specs because the nostalgia will be too great. Apologies in advance for that. But anyway, let’s now talk about the series itself which was created by Gerry Anderson and his wife, Sylvia Anderson, and aired thirty-two fifty-minute episodes between September 1965 to December 1966. It is widely considered their most popular and successful series and, like many of their other TV shows, has gained a strong cult following. The series was made using a combination of marionette puppets and model shots, a process known as Supermarionation. The series was so popular that two films were also made during the sixties using the same techniques as the TV series and then a less than successful live-action film was later released in 2004. Finally there’s the previously mentioned series Thunderbirds Are Go which was released earlier this year and is made through a combination of CGI and model shots. But for now we’re going to stick to the original TV series so let’s move away from what went on behind the camera and instead focus on what was in front.

The series is set in 2065 and follows the adventures of International Rescue, a top secret organisation run from Tracy Island and founded by American ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, a widower and father of five sons, Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan. Each of his son’s pilots one of the Thunderbird machines, vehicles designed to help save people in almost any situation. The Thunderbirds were created and maintained by the engineer Brains who is also the inventor of practically every piece of technology you’ll see on Tracy Island. Jeff’s mum, more commonly referred to as Grandma Tracy, also resides there along with Malaysian man-servant Kyrano and his daughter Tin-Tin. Tin-Tin also serves the role of the love-interest of the youngest Tracy brother, Alan.

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International Rescue’s London agent is Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, an English aristocrat who helps International Rescue to track down dangerous criminals. She travels about in a modified Rolls-Royce (modified by Brains of course) with her butler Parker who is a fan favourite character with an instantly recognisable voice. So as you can see it really is an international organisation with members from many different nationalities. International Rescue’s most dangerous and persistent foe is a mysterious criminal known only as The Hood. He is Kyrano’s half brother and through the use of hypnosis and dark magic he uses Kyrano to steal try and steal the secrets of International Rescue. Now onto the Thunderbirds themselves.

Thunderbird 1 is piloted by the eldest of the Tracy brothers, Scott, and is a hypersonic rocket plane designed to arrive first on the scene no matter what the situation is. Now if I remember correctly Scott was my favourite when I first watched it all those years ago. Not so sure if it’s the same now though. Virgil Tracy is the pilot of Thunderbird 2, a heavy duty transporter that carries vehicles and equipment into disaster areas. These are carried in detachable capsules known as pods and the most popular of these vehicles in the Mole which is designed to drill underground. Unfortunately there are so many vehicles inside the pods that I can’t go through them all so let’s instead quickly talk about Virgil who was Scott’s only competition when it came to my favourite character. And here’s a little bit of trivia for you, he and Scott are the only two Tracy brothers to appear in all thirty-two episodes of the series. Now onto Thunderbird 3 which is piloted by the youngest of the Tracy brothers, Alan. It is a space rescue vehicle and is unique in that it is a reusable spacecraft, meaning that it does no have to jettison any hardware to get into orbit. Scott also occasionally co-pilots Thunderbird 3. Thunderbird 4 is next up and it is piloted by Gordon Tracy. It is the smallest of the Thunderbirds and is used for underwater rescues. It is so small in fact that it is typically launched from Thunderbird 2′s Pod 4. Finally there’s John Tracy who is the space monitor aboard International Rescue’s space station Thunderbird 5. It receives all emergency calls from around the globe and then reports to Tracy Island. When John is on leave Alan takes over as space monitor.

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So there’s your introduction to the world of Thunderbirds and now we shall begin looking at the series episode by episode. Tomorrow we’ll be taking a look at the first episode, Trapped in the Sky, where the Hood sabotages a new aircraft called The Fireflash so he can draw out International Rescue and steal their secrets. So then, have you ever watched Thunderbirds? Have you ever even heard of Thunderbirds before now? Whatever your response be sure be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Blake’s 7: Pressure Point

June 7, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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What a gut punch of an episode that was. Now I don’t usually stress the point that these reviews contain spoilers but because of what happens in this one I would like to say that you will be reading on at your own risk. Now that that’s been said let’s talk about the big topic of this episode and that is, of course, the death of Gan. This means that this episode is the final appearance of David Jackson as Olag Gan, a role he had been playing since the second episode of the series, Spacefall. Jackson himself was not upset when he found out his character was going to die as he felt he had too little to do in many of the episodes. One of the original ideas was that Gan would be killed by a double agent who would then go on to join the crew of the Liberator as a Federation spy but for whatever reason this idea was not gone ahead with, possibly because they crew of the Liberator had grown quite large by this point and replacing Gan immediately after his death would not have solved
this problem. Gan’s death did quite a bit for the show afterwards as it gave an added element of suspense as viewers would now know it was possible for a crew member to be killed off and it also meant that with one less crew member to worry about more focus could be put on those remaining. The man who wrote out Gan was series creator Terry Nation, returning for his second script of the second series. The director, meanwhile, was George Spenton-Foster who had directed Weapon just two episodes earlier. One more bit of trivia before we move on to the synopsis is that the episode is the first to be set on Earth since the very first episode, The Way Back.

After fighting the Federation across the galaxy Blake decides to take the battle right to it’s heart and plans to destroy the main computer nerve centre on Earth. The episode begins with him preparing to meet up with resistance leader Kasabi but unfortunately she is captured by Servalan and Travis and together they set a trap for Blake. After evading the Federation’s trap Blake elects to continue with the plan despite the increased risk now that they don’t have back up from Kasabi. Despite some protest Blake, Avon, Vila and Gan continue with the plan and enter control. Inside they are disappointed to discover that the main computer nerve centre was moved thirty years ago and the whole thing was a trap. Travis prepares to execute them but before he can Servalan shows up, held at gun point by Jenna. She demands that Travis let’s her friends go and he does. They then run in an attempt to get into teleport range but during their escape Travis throws a strontium grenade which brings the roof down on Gan, killing him. His last words to Blake were that he was not worth dying for and he then breaks the news to the others than Gan didn’t make it out. They then leave to get as far away from Earth as possible.

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I’m gonna start off by talking about Gan’s death and, as previously stated, it’s a real gut punch. It also follows up on the on going plot line of Blake going too far in his fight to defeat the Federation. Gan’s death is very much down to Blake’s refusal to give up despite the ever increasing risk and no doubt this will have a huge affect on him in the episodes to come. Up until now there were very few consequences to Blake’s actions and now he has lost who was arguably the most loyal of his followers. Ultimately I feel that Gan was the right choice to kill given that his character was far too often given too little to do which ultimately made him the least interesting. This event also links back to Shadow in which Gan was challenging Blake and Blake failed to heed Gan’s warning’s then but just about got away with it. Nevertheless he didn’t learn anything from it and that failiure to learn lead to him repeating his mistakes again with far worse consequences. Gan will be missed but ultimately someone had to go to add some much needed suspense to the show as up to this point the character’s had been in difficult situations but managed to escape unscathed, in future they may not be so lucky.

Now for the rest of the episode which was one of the strongest yet in my opinion. It seems a break was just what Terry Nation needed as after three episodes off he’s back on top form again and writing solid stories. This episode could almost be considered the mid-series finale as right from the start it has that sort of epic quality to it which lets you know something big is going to go down. It also holds nothing back and jumps straight into the story itself which can sometimes annoy me as it means there’s no build up but here it can be forgiven as any time spent on build up would’ve been wasted as the rest of the episode would then have been rushed, leaving a very poor balance of pacing overall. Should it of been a two-parter then? Maybe but maybe not. I personally feel they should built up computer control a bit more over the previous four episodes so that you’d know what it was about here but they’d only of been little mentions so that those stories could still stand very well on their own. Then we have the villains of the piece, Travis and Servalan. Brian Croucher does much better job here as Travis than he did before as he’s tuned down quite a lot compared to his previous appearance which makes him much less pantomime and much more threatening. It feels like he was trying to hard before but at least he’s now found his feet in the role. Then there’s Servalan who is played as wonderfully as ever by Jacqueline Pearce but we also get to dive into her back story a bit through the character of Kasabi who she betrayed. We also find out that part of the reason she is in her position is thanks to relatives in high places which fits perfectly with her character.

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In conclusion, Pressure Point is probably the best episode of series two so far and I look forward to seeing the aftermath in the episodes to come. It’s a nine-out-of-ten from me as it’s still not utterly breathtaking and I’m still waiting for the episode that really knocks me off my feet in terms of quality. Maybe the next episode will be that episode as Trial seems to be held in quite high regard by many fans. Will I give my first ten-out-of-ten to a Blake’s 7 episode? You’ll have to wait and see but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Blake’s 7: Horizon

May 31, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Another new face for Blake’s 7 in the form of writer Allan Prior. He’s someone I personally wasn’t familiar with until I watched this although fans of the classic police drama Z-Cars will probably recognise him given that he wrote a total of one-hundred-and-thirty-six episodes for the show and it’s spin-off Softly, Softly. In fact, in a somewhat cruel twist of fate (I’m being slightly over-dramatic) Blake’s 7 was originally made to fill the gap left by the cancellation of Softly, Softly. Blake’s 7 even kept the same budget, a budget which worked fine for a police drama but it wasn’t the best for a space opera. Now let’s talk about the person who had to deal with that budget, Jonathan Wright Miller. He had previously directed the second episode of the second series so it’s a quick return for him but it’s also his only return as he directed no more episodes of Blake’s 7 following this. Admittedly I’m not going to miss him too much as he was a rather standard director who didn’t exactly bring anything to the series but at least didn’t really take anything away either. One other production note is that there’s a familiar face on the cast list in the form of Brian Miller who would go on to appear in the recently reviewed Doctor Who story Snakedance. He was also the husband of the late Elisabeth Sladen who had played the popular character Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who. Now with the production details out of the way let’s move on to the episode’s synopsis.

A mysterious Federation freighter is heading towards the edge of the known galaxy and the episode begins with a curious Blake deciding to follow it. It leads them to a strange planet designated Horizon and Blake and Jenna decide to teleport down to investigate. After loosing contact with them Gan and Vila go down to find out what’s happened and contact is lost again. Cally finally goes down and the pattern repeats itself once more, leaving Avon alone up on the Liberator. On the planet below it turns out that most of the local population are living as slaves under the rule of the Federation. Blake and the others were captured and are now being forced to work in the mines alongside the inhabitants of Horizon. After realising that he can’t go on forever without the others, Avon goes down and rescues them. Blake then manages to convince the planet’s leader, Ro, that the Federation are just using him and then together they fight back against the invaders. Ro promises Blake that he will continue the fight against the Federation and the crew of the Liberator then leave with the knowledge that they now have one planet with them in their crusade.

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Now I will admit that this was a rather standard and predictable episode although not necessarily a bad one. The plot is probably something everyone’s seen many times before with the mislead leader realising he’s been manipulated and turning against his former tutor in order to free his people. Nothing particularly original there but nothing particularly bad there either. It’s at least something Blake’s 7 hasn’t done before so at least we get to see it with these different characters although the only one who truly takes part in this plotline is Blake himself. Then theirs Ro who takes on the role of the mislead ruler and while he’s initially quite interesting he ultimately ends up being rather dull when his tutor, Kommissar, turns up. Kommissar is an enjoyable villain but he was no Carnell and I ultimately wasn’t disappointed to see him bite the dust at the end of the episode. Come to think of it even his death was predictable which pretty much says it all.

Thanks to this rather forgettable plot the most interesting part of this episode is the in depth look at the character of Avon who spends most of the episode up on the ship contemplating whether he can survive without the others. They may seem like padding to some but to me they are the most interesting part of the episode simply because Paul Darrow’s such a marvellous actor and these scenes really do show off his acting ability. He hasn’t really got anyone to act against accept the voices of Orac and Zen and there aren’t that many lines either which means a great deal of what’s going on has to come from his facial expressions and he does this wonderfully. And the laugh at the end when he realises he needs the others really does sum him up perfectly.

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To sum up, this is probably the most neutral I’ve ever felt about an episode of Blake’s 7 and the only part I can say I properly enjoyed was the scenes with Avon in. Because of this I’m going to go straight down the middle with a rating of five-out-of-ten although I’m not too sure if it really deserves that. Anyway, big changes are on their way next week when Blake heads to Earth to strike right at the heart of the Federation in Pressure Point but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Blake’s 7: Weapon

May 24, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Unsurprisingly, the episode titled Weapon focuses on a weapon and the Federation’s attempt to gain control of it. Once again written by script editor Chris Boucher, Weapon is directed by another new face called George Spenton-Foster who went on to dirrect three more episodes, all of which from series two. The episode also features the return of Servalan and Travis but there’s something different this time. Travis is played by an entirely different actor in this episode and all subsequent ones after the original actor, Stephen Grief, declined the offer to appear in the second series and went on to pursue other roles. The recast of Travis was Brian Croucher who had previously appeared in another Chris Boucher penned production, The Robots of Death from Doctor Who. Recasting is never ideal as the new actor almost always ends up in the shadow of the old one and from what I’ve seen of Croucher so far I do ultimately prefer Grief although maybe that will change after I see more of Croucher in the role but at the moment I just find his portrayal a little to over the top. But what about the episode itself? Was that too over the top like the previous one? Let’s take a look and find out.

The episode begins with a paranoid Federation defector called Coser on the run with a slave he liberated called Rashel and a weapon of his own design called IMIPAK. It marks a person with a point of unstable matter which can then be activated at any time in order to kill said person. Servalan wants IMIPAK and together with Travis she uses a clone of Blake to trick Coser into giving the weapon to her. The real Blake and his crew are also in search of Coser but are to late as Servalan uses Coser’s own weapon to kill him. Upon their arrival Travis marks Blake, Avon and Gan using IMIPAK and they are then forced to retreat out of it’s range before Servalan activates it. The clone of Blake, together with Rashel, then steals the weapon and uses it on Servalan and Travis, forcing them to retreat also. Blake and his crew are now safe and IMIPAK is safely out of the Federation’s hands.

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For the most part Weapon is a very villain-centric episode with our heroes pretty much taking a back seat this time around as far as the plot is concerned. This time Travis and Servalan are in the pilots seat and are the ones who are driving the plot forward. Speaking of, there isn’t a whole lot of plot in this one which is a welcome relief after the overstuffed Shadow. Instead, it’s more of a character based episode and does very well on that front but not in the way that you’d expect. Instead of expanding on the main characters it builds up the guest characters and makes them all feel very real and well rounded which is something to be commended considering the fairly short running time. Carnell is easily the best and most enjoyable of these supporting characters, I’d even go so far as to say that I wish he could have been a recurring character as he was just that good and he certainly had the potential. A psycho-strategist would be a useful character for Servalan to have around and Scott Fredericks is just so good in the role. He’s also very funny and that last line had me in stitches, the delivery was just perfect. More one-off character as well written as him would be very welcome.

Coser and Rashel are our other two supporting characters who have a rather interesting dynamic for the short while that it (or more accurately Coser) lasts. He may be upset when she calls him her master but he still very much treats her like a slave despite the fact that he freed her. You could just call that inconsistent writing but I think it’s much more than that and as such it makes Coser a quite well layered character. Rashel might not be as well developed a character but she’s probably the more likeable and ultimately gets a happy ending after everything. The episode isn’t perfect however as the whole cloning sub-plot of the story feels a bit out of nowhere and takes a while to link into to the main plot so for that while you’re just left wondering what it was all about. The scenes with the Clonemasters are also quite weird and they just feel a bit too much like pantomime. They ultimately just don’t fit in with the style of Blake’s 7 and I’m not sure whether to blame the writer or the director for this. I also feel that a clone of Blake had a lot of potential that was rather wasted here, even if we would’ve ended up with a bit of a cliché storyline. Bringing up back full circle to the idea of this being a villain centric episode, Servalan is wonderful in this and it’s nice to have Jacqueline Pearce back. She’s an absolutely wonderful villain and she overshadows Travis even more now that he’s been recast. The only villain who could really rival her was Carnell whose time on the show was all too brief but I digress.

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Rounding off this episode, it’s a definite step up from Chris Boucher’s first effort and where it mainly excels is in the wonderful supporting characters. Because of this I’m giving it an eight-out-of-ten despite the plot being a bit weak. Next up is another episode which continues the recent trend of single word titles and it’s called Horizon but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : Prayer

May 20, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

Aeryn is being held captive aboard a Scarran freighter captained by Jenek, who’s determined to find out if Aeryn’s carrying Crichton’s child. To discover the location of the Scarran base where Aeryn is being taken, Crichton and Scorpius travel through a wormhole to a mixed-up “unrealized reality” version of Moya. As the others wait for their return, pursuing Peacekeepers draw closer.

Synopsis

Aeryn is finally forced to admit that her child is Crichton’s but she puts up a good fight.

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Meanwhile Scorpius provides the ruthlessness necessary to find out where Katratzi is and just as well because once Jenek gets the information he’s looking for that’s exactly where he’s taking Aeryn.

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Blake’s 7: Shadow

May 17, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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What a mess that was. Now I usually don’t show my hand this soon in these reviews but I just needed to get that out of my system as soon as possible. Now Blake’s 7 has a format of approximately fifty minutes per episode and there is only so much a writer can do in that time. Chris Boucher however tries to do far more than that in the time available to enough with enough ideas to fills half a series worth of episodes. Now since I’ve brought up Chris Boucher I might as well mention the fact that he’s the first to write for Blake’s 7 who’s not the series’ creator Terry Nation. That’s not to say he hasn’t been involved though as he was script editor for the entirety of the series’ run. His debut episode as a writer is directed by Jonathan Wright Miller who is an entirely new face but unfortunately one that won’t be around for long having only this episode and the fourth episode of the second series, Horizon. Admittedly he has his work cut out for him and it’s easy to see that while he’s not a bad director this episode was a challenge he was just not cut out for. Now the episode has two main plots which I will explain into in a minute but one thing that was really poor about them was that they had no business being in the same episode. There was so little connecting the two and they are so different that it feels like the episode doesn’t know what it’s trying to be. It doesn’t know which plot to focus on which leads to both being extremely underdeveloped and one of them is so unusual that it doesn’t feel like Blake’s 7 at all.

Space City is a retched hive of scum and villainy and it’s also where the episode begins as Blake arrives there looking to use the Terra Nostra, a notorious criminal organisation, in his crusade against the Federation. After negotiations fail Blake opts for plan B and sets the Liberator on a course Zondar, the source of a highly addictive and lethal drug known as shadow. Orac meanwhile is possessed by an alien entity from another dimension which targets Cally. Blake, Jenna and Avon teleport down the planet and find that the Terra Nostra are actually run by the president of the Federation who is controlling both sides of the law in order to achieve total control. Cally soon follows them down and encounters the telepathic moondisks of the planet which help her to defeat the entity controlling Orac. With the shadow refinery destroyed and the mystery of Orac solved the crew of the Liberator leave the system pursued by seven Federation ships with the unsettling thought that they could be all the good guys left in the galaxy.

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Now I’m not going to be too negative about this episode as it actually does quite a few things well and one of those is the character themselves. It’s odd to think that Chris Boucher is doing a better job with Terry Nation’s characters than Terry Nation himself was. Take Cally for example. Her telepathic abilities were all but forgotten by Terry Nation after her first few episodes but here they are crucial to the story (well one half of it at least) and not only that but Cally is also shown as a very strong and intelligent character when threatening Space City. Gan is also given some good stuff to do at last as he stands up to Blake who is quite possibly beginning to go a bit too far in his crusade for peace. This was something that began to build up a bit in the previous episode and it will hopefully continue to do so as the series go on before finally coming to ahead at some point as while there is doubt within the ranks in this episode it doesn’t really go anywhere as of yet which is probably a good thing given how much stuff’s going on already. Nevertheless it’s nice seeing the often neglected Gan getting something interesting to do for a change. The same cannot be said for Jenna though who is largely forgettable in this episode and the only thing that saves Avon from the same fate is his usual wit. Then we have Vila who becomes a bit of a caricature of himself in this episode and ends up being either hilarious or just simply annoying at times which has become a growing problem for him recently.

The episode is also surprisingly adult at times with it’s handling of drugs and it’s rather physiological direction with the Orac plot line. The drug addict character of Hanna in this was kind of an interesting one although one that if feel just helped to overcrowd the story even more and didn’t really do much at all other than show the ruthlessness of the Terra Nostra. Shadow itself was also a nice idea but it could’ve done with a bit more focus seeing as the episode’s named after it. Seeing a trend yet? To be perfectly honest I think that the way to fix this episode’s problem of not having enough would be to take the Orac plot line out completely. Not that I dislike that plot line but it’s just that I feel it deserves an episode of it’s own for it to be good. The idea of an alien entity from another direction is also quite a strange one for Blake’s 7 and doesn’t exactly fit in with the tone of the series that’s been laid out so far and certainly doesn’t fit in with the tone of this episode. As a one off oddity on it’s own it might have but as the other half of this episode it just doesn’t.

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To sum up, this episode is full of loads of half-baked ideas and it ultimately just feels like a mess. But at least it’s a mess that does a good job with most of it’s characters. For that reason I’m giving this strange piece of television a four-out-of-ten but I would like to stress that it is not my least favourite episode so far, although it isn’t that far off. Chris Boucher returns to write the next episode and I hope it’s an improve on his first effort. Next week we’ll be looking at Travis’s and Servalan’s return in Weapon but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : A Constellation of Doubt

May 13, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

Having overheard Ahkna, the Scarran Minister of War, mention the secret Scarran base known as Katratzi, Sikozu is sure this is where the Scarrans intend to take their captive, Aeryn Sun. Though Moya’s data banks have no record of Katratzi, Crichton’s sure he’s heard the word “Katratzi” somewhere before, if only he could remember where. Unable to sleep, Crichton pores over a documentary intercepted from Earth that examines the visit by “aliens” – Moya’s crew – and discovers that the documentary just might hold the key to locating Katratzi – and Aeryn.

Synopsis

The documentary is not desperately flattering.

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Obviously some of the crew freak out the people of Earth more than others.

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and Chiana causes trouble everywhere she goes.

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The sheriff from the episode Kansas is now barking mad poor thing.

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In the end Crichton realises where he heard the name Katratzi, it was in one of the unrealised realities. So he goes to ask Scorpius for his help, offering him a deal, Aeryn for wormholes.

Blake’s 7: Redemption

May 9, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After the dramatic cliffhanger at the end of Orac Blake’s 7 returns for a second series to resolve Orac’s prediction about the destruction of the Liberator. At first I expected it to be a season long arc with the prediction hanging over the characters heads for quite a while but surprisingly it was completely resolved here in the first episode. Although it should be noted that the audience at the time would’ve been waiting nine months to find out what happened and probably wouldn’t want to of waited any longer than that and that’s fair enough. Behind the scenes wise very little had changed. David Maloney was still in the producer’s chair and Chris Boucher was still serving as script editor. Even the writer and the director of Orac are back with Terry Nation and Vere Lorrimer returning for Redemption. Although there wass one big change behind the scenes and that was that Terry Nation role was diminishing. Not only was he writing less episodes but he was also only being consulted on general storylines and ideas. Another change, albeit not a big one, was that Peter Tuddenham took over as the voice of Orac after the production team became aware that the original actor Derek Farr was unavailable. It was a change that was easy to get away with as it was a voice that the audience had only heard in one episode broadcast nine months earlier.

The episode picks up just hours after the last one left off with the crew of the Liberator trying to understand Orac’s prediction. Avon comes up with the answer by pointing out the stars in the background, noting that that constellation can only be seen from one place in the universe and if they avoid that sector then Orac’s prediction will never come true. With that mystery solved they quickly discover that they have more immediate concerns when the Liberator falls under attack from two unknown alien ships. Following the attack control of the Liberator is lost and Blake soon realises that the creators of the Liberators are taking back what’s theirs. Following the mysterious disappearances of Gan, Avon and Cally, Blake orders Orac to regain control of the Liberator but just after he does this the bridge is invaded. They are then taken aboard a space station where Avon and Jenna are imprisoned and Blake is taken for questioning. During questioning Blake learns that the creator of the Liberator is a super computer known as the System which enslaved its creators and took over its universe of origin. From the comfort of his cell Avon recognises the star constellation outside as the one from Orac’s prediction and realises that even if they escape the space station they are doomed to be destroyed. Despite this an escape attempt is launched and Avon, Jenna, Gan, Cally and Vila begin to fight their way through the space station towards the Liberator. Meanwhile, a malfuction in the system (brought about by Orac) gives Blake an opportunity to escape and they all meet back up again aboard the Liberator. They take off and are then pursued by a sister ship of exactly the same design. The ship then explores due to Orac’s interference with the System, fulfilling his prediction. With the Liberator and it’s crew now safe Blake orders Zen to take them to Earth sector, claiming that they have unfinished business there.

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It’s not hard to see that this is the start of a new series as the budget has been refreshed and thanks to this the visuals have returned to what they were at the start of series one. The fall in production values over the course of each series was a common problem for shows back then, especially when they had a budget at small as Blake’s 7′s to begin with. Now one would be forgiven for thinking that the production team blew at least half that budget on this first episode but the massive sets you see of the space station interior aren’t actually sets. It was actually all shot on location at what I believe is a nuclear power station. Additionally, the main casts costumes have all been given a significant upgrade (which is a little odd when you consider the events of this episode take place only hours after the previous one) and some of the changes are interesting to say the least. Avon now looks like he’s wearing some sort of biker jacket (which I think suits him) while Gan is wearing a massively impractical overcoat. Blake is probably wearing the strangest thing although the colours work quite well and I’m not sure what to think of Cally’s dress. Jenna and Vila are wearing the most simplistic clothes and it works out very well for them, especially Jenna with her costume matching her character very nicely. But the biggest costume problem in this episode is the costumes of the Alta’s who wear one very dull shade of blue and have random pieces of clear plastic stuck to them. This doesn’t exactly fit with the idea that they come from a highly advanced civilisation. On a more impressive note the model shots for this story are great and the model for the space station is particularly good. It’s also nice how the models all have similar elements to them which makes sense given that they were all built by the same civilisation. It’s also provides a nice bit of foreshadowing before it is actually revealed that the ships belong to the people who built the Liberator.

Now that we’ve had our little talk about the visuals let’s move on to the episode’s plot. And as plots go it’s quite a good one, nothing too breathtaking but definitely nothing bad. The balance of plot between the characters is fairly good although Blake and Avon (and maybe Jenna) are definitely in the forefront here. Gan gets a decent action scene which means that Cally is the one who gets the least to do here which I can live with given that she has been in the forefront of quite a few previous episodes and I’m sure will be again in some future ones. Then we have the Alta’s who are rather bland character and while they are meant to be emotionless it does unfortunately end up making them rather dull. And that isn’t helped by the fact that, as previously mentioned, their look is also rather dull. It’s also even more disappointing to think that these are the people who built the Liberator and I always preferred that plot point as one that remained a mystery, like the Doctor’s real name in Doctor Who. It’s something that will always be disappointing no matter what it ends up being and this just proves that point. I personally imagined the creators of the Liberator to be a bit more disembodied and mystical as opposed to the rather bland sci-fi idea that is presented here but anyway, I digress.

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In conclusion, I feel like my review of this episode is much more negative than how I actually feel about this episode. While it’s not as good of a series premiere as The Way Back was I’m still giving it a nine-out-of-ten for it’s sheer energy and excitement, especially in it’s second half. The epic scale of the location filming really helps to give the episode the hugeness that it needs and it ultimately leaves me very much excited for what’s to come. Speaking of, next up is the first episode not to be written by Terry Nation and it’s called Shadow but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.