Blake’s Seven : Orac

March 14, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Here we are at last at the series one finale, Orac. It’s named after a character (of sorts) previously mentioned in the last episode and properly introduced to us in this episode where it’s true nature is revealed. It is a highly advanced computer which can accurately predict future events and hack into any other computer system. It’s also got a bit of an attitude. For this episode only it is voiced by Derek Farr who also plays its creator Ensor. For all of its subsequent appearances it is voiced by Peter Tuddenham who also plays a certain other computer in the series, Zen. But my full thoughts on that can wait as for now we are looking at the end of the beginning and it’s amazing to think how far the series as come since its very beginning in The Way Back. It seemed to have a darker edge back in the first few episodes which seems to of gradually faded away and while that’s not to say the series isn’t dark still it just feels like it has a slightly softer quality which is more noticeable in some episodes than others. Bounty is a good example of this as there are dark moments such as Tarvin’s death (and Blake’s horrifyingly out of character laugh during it) that aren’t really complemented too well by the slightly ridiculous setting of an English castle. Certain characters have soften up quite a lot too since they were first introduced which is only natural I suppose. Jenna and Vila are probably the best examples to use here as the dark criminal side of their personalities was quickly dropped and the same thing eventually happened with Avon although that took a bit longer to come into affect which is probably why he’s the most interesting character in the series at the moment. Now that we’ve had a quick look back at where we’ve been let’s turn our head back to look at where we are now which is at Orac, the series one finale written by Terry Nation and directed by Vere Lorrimer, both of whom I think we can describe a veterans of the series by this point.

Continuing from where the last episode left off, the Liberator is on course for Aristo but their situation becomes a bit more desperate when they find that Avon, Jenna, Vila and Gan are all suffering from radiation sickness after spending too long on Cephlon. There only hope for survival is that there are radiation drugs on Aristo. Once they arrive, Blake and Cally teleport down and track down Ensor and his creation, Orac. They collect the anti-radiation drugs they need an give the power-packs to Ensor although they then learn that the will have to do the operation on board the Liberator. To make matters worse, they can’t teleport out due to a forcefield around Ensor’s complex and so have to leave on foot. They then run into Travis and Servalan, who are there for Orac, and while escaping through the caves Ensor dies from natural causes. With help from Avon and Vila they escape from Travis and head back up to the Liberator with both the anti-radiation drugs they need and Orac, who then predicts the inevitable destruction of the Liberator.

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Interestingly the plot shifts focus here with the primary and secondary plots from Deliverance being swapped round here along with the characters in the spotlight. Blake and Cally take centre stage now to follow the Orac plot which is enjoyable enough but as a plot for a series finale it’s rather uneventful to say the least. Sure there’s a tense stand-off between Blake and Travis but if I’m brutally honest it’s nothing we haven’t really seen before. Avon’s arrival in this scene does help to freshen it up a bit but ultimately it feels like it’s more of the same. This episode as a whole doesn’t add anything to the character of Travis like the last one did and I personally feel that was a rather bad missed opportunity. There isn’t even a big struggle to escape from a Federation fleet at the end or anything along those lines for that matter. On the plus side though we did get to see that Avon was perfectly willing to kill both Travis and Servalan for what they’d done. It’s not really all that surprising a twist for his character but it’s a nice moment nonetheless and having Blake stop him was a nice touch too as it showed the big difference between who are arguably the two central characters at this point in the series. Too some it may seem obvious as to who was right and who was wrong in this situation but to others (such as myself) it’s a little bit harder to decide. Sure, Blake can now claim the moral high ground here but does he really expect his crusade to succeed if he feels he can’t do what arguably needs to be done. While Avon’s way may involve killing in cold blood it is more likely to lead to a better future. So the question is: does the end ever justify the means?

Servalan was good here although, like Travis, I feel she had some better stuff to do in the previous episode. It’s nice to see her take a more active role in proceedings but even though she is down on the planet with Travis it still doesn’t feel like she’s doing anything. As for her scream when being cornered by the cave monster, well there are some who would defend this to their last breath and others who would say it just ruins the character but I personally am not going to choose a side in this debate and just accept that it happened and move on. And hopefully the character of Servalan will too and then go on to do better stuff in her following appearances. Moving away from the topic of the main plot for a bit let’s instead take a quick look at the sub-plot (if you can even call it that) which focuses on Avon, Jenna, Gan and Vila suffering from radiation sickness. It’s curious how often Terry Nation uses radiation in his writing. Radiation is a huge part of his first Doctor Who story The Daleks with the Doctor and his companions suffering from radiation sickness too in that story funnily enough. I guess it was foolish of me not to predict this subplot happening after the reference to the radiation levels Cephlon given how Terry Nation does have a tendency to reuse his old ideas. Whether he does this intentionally or otherwise is something we will likely never have a definitive answer too although since it’s not been done before in Blake’s 7 it’s something that can be easily forgiven. It’s interesting to see Avon soldiering on through the sickness while Vila does quite the opposite and tries to convince himself that he doesn’t have it. It’s also quite amusing to see Vila acting so grumpy when he’s summoned to help Avon search for Blake and Cally later in the episode. Finally we have the ending, and what an ending it is. It was great fun to watch Orac interact with the crew of the Liberator, especially Vila and Avon with the former taking an almost instant disliking to the new character. It’s a wonderfully written scene which culminates in an epic cliffhanger to end the series on. It leaves me very excited for what’s coming up next as it doesn’t look to be a cliffhanger which can be easily resolved and it should have an interesting effect on the crew of the Liberator itself.

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Rounding off this episode, Orac might not of been the finale I was hoping for but it still a good piece of entertainment and the cliffhanger makes me excited for what’s coming up next in the second series. I think an eight-out-of-ten is a fair rating for Orac and now it’s on to Redemption where we should get our answers about to the fate of the Liberator but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : Unrealized Reality

March 11, 2015 in Farscape, Guest Blogs by Firebird

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Crichton is sucked down a wormhole he correctly senses will appear near Moya. Within “wormhole limbo” he is confronted by an interdimensional being who is intent on discovering why Crichton was entrusted with this knowledge. The alien sends Crichton through various “realities” of past events to illustrate how dangerous it can be if wormhole knowledge is misused.

Synopsis

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Most of this episode is Crichton talking to the wormhole alien and weird filler sequences.

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The ‘Unrealized Realities’ seem to be an excuse to mash up the characters and they really don’t progress the story at all. The only real purpose of this episode is to move Crichton from predicting the appearance of wormholes to navigating them.

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After finally exercising his abilities Crichton arrives not back where he entered the wormhole next to Moya but looking down onto the Earth. At first he’s delighted and then he realises where he is, floating in a spacesuit with no way to go anywhere.

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Blake’s 7: Deliverance

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

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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The penultimate episode of series one is here and it’s a huge step up from what we had last week. Obviously it serves to set up the finale itself as any good penultimate episode should do but it also stands alone very well too. It also shines a spotlight onto the character of Avon who leads the expedition down to the planet and drives the primary plot while Blake is stuck up on the Liberator driving the secondary plot which serves to set up the next episode, Orac. It’s interesting to note that the two characters were originally supposed to be the other way round but were swapped and I believe that the episode’s better off for it. It’s once again written by Terry Nation and while Michael E. Briant is credited as sole director producer David Maloney also played a part in directing this episode although the extent of his involvement is unknown. This is also Michael E. Briant’s last involvement in the series having previously directed three episodes for series one. Now that we’ve finished talking about what happened behind the camera let’s move on to what happened in front of it.

Above the planet Cephlon is where the episode begins. The crew of the Liberator witness a small crash on the planet bellow and so Avon, Vila, Gan and Jenna go down to look for survivors. They find one survivor, Ensor, but the other crew member, Maryatt, has died. Ensor is badly injured and so he’s taken up to the Liberator for treatment. Blake and Cally look after him while Avon, Vila and Gan go back down to look for Jenna who mysteriously didn’t teleport back up. Meanwhile, Blake and Cally learn from Ensor that he was on his was to his father on the planet Aristo who is in urgent need of medical supplies. He also reveals that the Federation is willing to pay one hundred million credits for a machine called Orac. It is then revealed that Servalan sabotaged Ensor’s rocket so that his father would die from natural causes, leaving Orac defenceless. She then tells Travis to leave immediately to collect Orac. While looking for Jenna on the planet Cephlon Avon, Vila and Gan run into a woman called Meegat who believes Avon to be a god. They learn that she has been waiting for someone to launch their ship into space and so, after successfully rescuing Jenna, they agree to do so. Up on the Liberator Ensor holds Cally at gunpoint to force Blake to take him to Aristo. Blake reliuctantly agrees but then turns the ship around after Ensor dies from his injuries. After launching the rocket everyone is reunited on the Liberator and they then head off to locate Orac before Travis does.

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As previously mentioned, the main character of this episode is arguably Avon who, in an interesting turn of events, gets mistaken for a god on the planet Cephlon. Personally, I’m glad this was Avon and not Blake as it’s much more fun to see Avon in this position and enjoying himself a fair bit. There’s also a lot of additional humour gained by this move as well as some great lines from Vila and Avon alike. It was nice to see a different side to Avon but it wasn’t all fun and games as his first mission in charge almost ended in disaster when Jenna very nearly didn’t make it back. This not only affects Avon but Blake as well and it causes quite a bit of tension between the two. But having said that, when is there not tension between those two? Nevertheless it was interesting to see that play out. Unfortunately though, both of the female leads end up being the damsels in distress for the majority of the story with Jenna being held captive by the savage inhabitants of Cephlon and
Cally being held at gun point by Ensor.

But anyway, let’s move on from this and talk about Servalan and Travis’s brief but crucial role in this episode. Their appearance in this basically served to help set up the following episode and while it did so rather well I was slightly more interested in the new sides they were showing to the two characters. We get to see Servalan being extremely ruthless and manipulative and while we’ve always known she was capable of this this is still the first time we’ve really seen her doing so. We also get to see Travis return after his suspension at the end of Project Avalon and we see that it has had an effect on him. We also see a different side to his character when he finds that Sevalan sent Maryatt (the medic who saved his life) to his death. It’s not much but it’s just a little thing that allows us to see Travis’s humanity and it also reveals to us who is the more monstrous of our two villains. We also get a reference all the way back to the fourth episode of the series, Time Squad, in that the ship in that episode holds genetic stock in the same way as the ship in this episode. It’s not much by any means but it’s just a nice little link which shows us that the same patterns do recur throughout the galaxy and that not everything’s random. As for he story behind the planet Celphon, it is rather a simple one but given that the episode also had to set up the finale there’s not much more they could’ve done without making it seem rushed. And even though it’s simple it serves its purpose admirably. The divide between the primitives and Meegat’s people could’ve been better explained (presumably they are the remains of the two opposing factions from the war) but it’s nevertheless a nice idea that the war was so devastating that it eventually reverted society back to being primitive. Even Meegat, who seems hospitable enough, is still fairly primitive in the fact that she’s surrounded by technology that she doesn’t know a thing about. On the whole the are
some very good ideas here.

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To conclude, this episode has got me really excited for what’s in store next but the real highlight of it for me had to be Avon. Deliverance gets a nine-out-of-ten from me and so while we’re yet to reach perfection I’m still holding out hope that I will be able to give an episode full marks very soon. Next up is the series one finale and it’s title is Orac. Will it end my wait for an episode deserving of a ten-out-of-ten? You can find that out next time but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : Coup By Clam

March 4, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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While in quarantine high above the patriarchal planet Khurtanan, the crew shares a meal of alien mollusks and almost instantaneously suffers a violent physical reaction. Each crew member becomes bodily linked to one of the others, Crichton to Sikozu, Aeryn to Rygel, and so on. It soon becomes clear they have been deliberately poisoned by the local doctor and are being blackmailed in exchange for the cure

Synopsis

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The poisoning is interesting in that it pairs up crew members, sharing each-others physical experiences. D’Argo and Noranti is particularly amusing.

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The local political situation complicates matters. The women trying to overthrow the patriarchal regime aren’t a very friendly bunch and rather than helping Aeryn and Sikozu would much rather see them dead.

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Of course it all ends up with poor Crichton having to dress as a woman and naturally some blind fool takes a fancy to him.

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Unexpectedly Scorpious saves the day, first killing a rather nasty guy on Moya to protect Chiana and then risking his life by eating what’s left of the two molluscs so he can link with Crichton, Aeryn, Rygel and Sikozu keeping them alive long enough to get the cure.

Before they leave Rygel gets his revenge on the Doctor.

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Blake’s 7: Bounty

February 28, 2015 in Blake's 7, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Well I guess it had to happen sooner or later, Blake’s 7 has had it’s first real dud for me in the form of Bounty. Now admittedly I didn’t give The Web the most respectable of scores but at least there I appreciated what it was trying to do and still found some enjoyment in it whereas here I just didn’t. I guess with Terry Nation having written all the episodes of the first series he had to slip up at some point and I just hope this is the only occasion as we get closer and closer to the finale. But anyway, let’s save the rest of my opinions for later in the review and instead focus on some facts. As previously stated the episode was written by series creator Terry Nation and it was also directed by Pennant Roberts. Bounty is his fourth and final directorial credit for the series and it’s rather a shame to see him go. While I’m obviously not too fond of his work on this one I still think he was a great director overall as two of his three other episodes are personal favourites of mine. For those who are interested those two episodes are Space Fall and Mission to Destiny. Also, an interesting bit of trivia in relation to this episode is that President Sarkoff’s place of residence was represented by the Waterloo Tower, a bell tower located in Quex Park in Kent. Just a quaint bit of trivia for those who are interested and for those who are more interested in the synopsis then here it is.

The episode kicks off with Blake and Cally trying to locate ex-president Sarkoff, the deposed leader of Lindor, a planet on the verge of civil war. Up until now Lindor has remained neutral but if war does break out then the Federation will more in peacekeeping forces and easily annex it. Blake and Cally then locate Sarkoff’s residence and attempt to sneak in without the Federation guards noticing. Meanwhile, the Liberator answers a distress call from another ship but ends up being hijacked by the notorious bounty hunter Tarvin, a former colleague of Jenna’s. Blake and Cally, however, have much better luck and are able to break in without detection and then head back to the Liberator with Sarkoff and his daughter Tyce. There they are tricked and Blake and Cally end up locked up with the others while Sarkoff and Tyce are held on the bridge by Tarvin. He intends to hand over the Liberator and it’s crew to the Federation in return for the thirteen million credit reward. Blake is able to escape the prison and rushes towards the bridge. Tyce pulls out a hidden gun but Tarvin stops her and the gun winds up in the hands of a reluctant Sarkoff. Blake then arrives and distracts Tarvin, allowing Sarkoff to shoot him dead. The Liberator then drops Sarkoff and Tyce off on Lindor so that Sarkoff can restore order and ensure Lindor’s neutrality.

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Now one big problem this episode has is that it lacks focus. There is obviously a primary plot and a secondary plot here but which one’s which is beyond me. It almost feels like Terry Nation started writing this with just the President Sarkoff plot and then halfway through realised that it wasn’t meaty enough to sustain a whole episode so decided to add another plot in with Tarvin which feels like it could’ve sustained an entire episode on it’s own and therefor leaves that side of the story underdeveloped. A lot of the interesting stuff takes place off screen as well with the Amagon’s attack and Jenna’s apparent betrayal taking simply being explained by Avon rather than actually being seen. Sarkoff’s story line also takes up way much more time than it should’ve done and more time should’ve been left for Jenna’s betrayal which could’ve been the most interesting thing to of happened to her since the series began but is unfortunately poorly realised which also reflects badly on Jenna’s character who’s had a bit of a rough ride up to this point.

A character who hasn’t had a rough ride however is Cally and it was great to see her using her powers of telepathy again at the start of the episode. It’s nice to see her going down to the planet with Blake and getting involved with some of the action and there’s also some nice dialogue between her and Sarkoff. Actually, one of the things this episode does have going for it is the dialogue which is very good for the most part. There are some great lines between Avon and Vila at the start when they are talking about the latter’s opinion and then again towards the end when they’re both imprisoned. There’s even some nice dialogue between the Federation guards at the start and you really do get the idea that they’re not the best the Federation have to offer just from a few simple lines about a rodent and a motion-scanner. Even Tarvin has a couple of good lines but I get the feeling that they tried to make him a loveable scoundrel kind of character but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. The line about his grandmother was still enjoyable though.

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To sum up, I think I’ve made it quite clear that this is my least favourite episode of the series so far but I also hope that it doesn’t come across as if I absolutely hate this episode with a passion as there is still a reasonable amount to enjoy in it. So it’s a four-out-of-ten from me and with that we can now finally move on to the next episode, Deliverance, which is the penultimate episode of series one but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.

Farscape : A Prefect Murder

February 25, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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The crew lands on a planet divided by generations of clan war. After experiencing strange hallucinations, Aeryn is subliminally coerced into assassinating a clan leader. When Crichton also starts having hallucinations, they must uncover the planet’s political machinations in order to prevent more killings.

Synopsis

So, either you’re going to be screaming “OMG it’s Father Jack!” or if you’ve never seen Father Ted it will totally pass you by.

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Meanwhile fans of Star Wars ought to recognise this guy.

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The episode has a strange structure, jumping backwards and forwards sometimes repeating, sometimes seeing events from another point of view until the assassination actually happens.

This guy is the villain’s henchman and the one responsible for creating the bugs that control first Aeryn and then Crichton, but once they realise what’s going on our heroes prove a little harder to manipulate than he’d counted on.

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The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Masque of Mandragora

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

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Tom Baker played the fourth incarnation of the Doctor for seven years and what an amazing seven years they were. And since he played the part for such a long time a lot of changes took place which means it’s hard to pin down a definitive story for his Doctor. Nevertheless, I still had to decide on a single story to represent this Doctor’s era and so after a large amount of indecisiveness I settled on The Masque of Mandragora. It comes from towards the end of his second full year as the Doctor and is Elisabeth Sladen’s penultimate adventure as the much loved Sarah Jane Smith. It is also the final story to be written by Louis Marks who had been writing for the series since William Hartnell was the Doctor and it was director Rodney Bennett’s last contribution to Doctor Who as well. I choose this story because it is probably the most balanced Fourth Doctor story as it is not as dark as stories such as Genesis of the Daleks but it’s also not as silly as others like City of Death. And now let’s not waste anymore time and move on to the synopsis.

The Masque of Mandragora begins with the TARDIS being dragged inside the Mandragora helix. The Doctor and Sarah manage to escape but end up bringing part of Mandragora with them to fifteenth century Italy. Here the Duke of San Martino has recently been assassinated by his brother Count Federico and the court astrologer Hieronymous. Now the only thing which stands in the way of Federico and the throne is the young prince Giuliano. The Doctor and Sarah both end up captured, the former by Count Federico and the latter by the mysterious Brotherhood of Demnos who intend to sacrifice her. The Doctor is accused of being a spy and sentenced to execution but is able to escape and he then rescues Sarah from the brotherhood. Hieronymous is then revealed to be the leader of the brotherhood who have been given great powers by Mandragora. Mandragora intends to use the brotherhood as it’s bridgehead on Earth so that it can send humanity back into the dark ages. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Sarah meet up with Giuliano who is concerned for the safety of his people. All three are then captured by Federico who intends to execute them but the Doctor convinces him to instead investigate the brotherhood. While doing so Federico is killed by Hieronymous and Giuliano can now safely take the throne of San Martino. The Doctor is then able to drain away Hieronymous’s power and put an end to Mandragora’s bridgehead leaving Earth safe once again.

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The Masque of Mandragora is, of course, a wonderful story and a very rich period piece. The sets and costumes are amazing and it truly does feel like Renaissance Italy. But perhaps what makes it authentic most of all is the location footage which, by the way, is seamlessly edited in with the studio work. Now of course they couldn’t go to Italy on a Doctor Who budget so instead they went to the tourist village of Portmeirion in Wales which stands in beautifully. Now onto Tom Baker’s brilliant performance as the Doctor and it really is wonderful here. There were times later in his era where he had a tendency to go a bit over the top but here he is under control. Of course he has to send it up just a little to make it entertaining but it’s not done so much as to make it difficult to believe in. There’s a wonderfully alien response to the death of the count and his humour during this scene has never raised a single eyebrow. But when the Sixth or Twelfth Doctors make a callous remark then all hell is raised for some reason. Obviously there has to be a limit but I’m just trying to put it into a bit of perspective, that’s all. Now enough ranting, let’s get back to the topic at hand which is this story. Alongside Tom Baker is Elisabeth Sladen who gives a superb performance as Sarah Jane Smith. The two work so great together (although I personally prefer her alongside the Third Doctor) but they also spend a lot of this story apart which allows Elisabeth Sladen to do some interesting stuff away from Tom Baker’s shadow.

Funnily enough there is a link between this serial and the previous one we looked at as Tim Pigott-Smith who plays Marco in this also played Captain Harker in The Claws of Axos. It’s an upgraded role for him as he plays Prince Giuliano’s loyal advisor and the two have an interesting double act going on between them. But more interesting than both of them though is Count Federico who is probably the best villain of the piece despite having no powers whatsoever. It’s all down to the performance and the writing and while both are fairly strong with the other villains they all just fall short compared to Federico. It is perhaps part of the reason why the last episode isn’t as entertaining as the others due to his death at the end of part three. The other reason is probably because the ending is a bit of a mess. For some it can completely ruin the story while others won’t mind it all too much as the rest of the story is good enough to overshadow it. Nevertheless it is a rather anti-climatic end to the story and while it’s not terrible it’s just not any good when compared to the quality of the rest of the piece. Now then, let’s take a few steps away from the ending and instead talk about the monster of the piece, Mandragora itself. There’s a nice idea behind it and it’s great to have a monster which isn’t really tangible but is still deadly. The special effects used do quite a nice job and they really do give an otherworldly feel to Mandragora but the voice of Mandragora is rather dire and the laugh is too over the top to be taken seriously. Luckily, these two elements don’t have too much screen time with the primary vocal point for Mandragora being Hieronymous. He’s very much your stereotypical villain but that does not take anything away from Norman Jones’ great performance. It was also a nice twist to have him revealed as the main antagonist of the piece as well as he was originally seen as a foil for Federico but then became a so much more.

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Overall, The Masque of Mandragora is a brilliant example of Doctor Who save only for the rather disappointing ending. So then, it’s an eight-out-of-ten from me and I’d say it’s definitely worth a look if you want to start exploring the Fourth Doctor’s era. Next week we’re moving into the eighties with the Fifth Doctor story Snakedance where a creature known as the Mara takes control of Tegan’s mind but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Star Trek : Galileo 7

February 16, 2015 in Guest Blogs, Star Trek by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Mindless-Droid

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This week’s classic Star trek episode is Galileo 7. The Enterprise is on route to Markus III with urgent medical supplies. The ship will pass close to the quasar Murasaki 312. Captain Kirk decides to stop and study the quasar over the objections of High Commissioner Ferris who tells Kirk that the medical supplies need to be delivered to Markus III within 5 days. Since they are three days away Kirk decides to go ahead with the study. Spock leads a team in the Galileo 7 shuttlecraft. Shortly after launch the ship encounters turbulence and is thrown off course losing contact with the Enterprise. The quasar makes sensors useless and Kirk must find a way to find the stranded shuttle in a vast area of space before time runs out.

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The shuttle has made an emergency landing on a lone planet in the center of the quasar. Upon inspection Scotty finds that the ship has been damaged and that they have lost a great deal of fuel. Scotty finds that they will need to lose 500 pounds to achieve orbit meaning three of the team will have to stay behind. Lieutenant Boma suggests they draw straws but Spock says he will make the decision logically causing tension among the crew. Back on the Enterprise Uhura acting as science officer discovers the one planet in the area that can support life. With tension high between Kirk and Ferris the enterprise begins the search.

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As two of the team conduct a scouting mission they come under attack by large cave man like giants. Latimer is killed and Gaetano is successful in driving them off with his phaser. Spock arrives and logically analyzes the situation which angers Boma and Gaetano that Spock would be so unfeeling when one of them has been killed.

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On the enterprise the search grows futile as sensors are still inoperative and shuttle flyovers reveal nothing. Kirk orders wider search patterns in hope of getting a lucky find. Back on the planet the crew has lightened the shuttle by 150 pounds and with the death of Latimer this means only one person will have to stay behind. Boma enters the shuttle telling Spock that they are ready for Latimer’s funeral. Spock deems it more important for him to help in the repairs which angers Boma and McCoy as Spock is in command and it’s his responsibility. During the repairs a tube ruptures spilling the last of the fuel and making take off impossible. Scotty says they are done but Spock says there are always alternatives.

Outside loud grinding noises are heard. Boma and Spock argue on how to defend against the giants. Spock’s plan is to scare them with phaser fire. Spock Gaetano and Boma move out and use the phasers to frighten the creatures and it appears to work. They leave Gaetano on guard duty and head back to the ship. Scotty has come up with a plan to use the phaser’s energy as fuel but leaving them defenseless.

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Gaetano is attacked and killed by the creatures. Spock McCoy and Boma look for him but he is missing Spock orders them back to the ship along with the phasers he will find Gaetano. Spock finds Gaetano’s body and is chased back to the ship by the creatures who start pounding it with rocks. Scotty electrifies the hull scaring them away. Boma and Spock but heads again as Boma wants to conduct the funeral for his fallen comrades. Spock relents stating as long as the creatures allow it. The Enterprise landing parties have also encountered the creatures suffering casualties. On the bridge Ferris informs Kirk that his time is running out. Kirk orders all search teams and shuttles to return. Uhura informs him the last shuttle will return in 23 minutes.

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The phaser transfer is completed and Scotty tells Spock they have enough fuel to achieve orbit make it last for a few hours and enough for a controlled reentry. Spock tells Boma that they have ten minutes for the funerals and that he will assist in them. Back on the Enterprise all search teams have returned and Kirk orders a space normal speed and course to Markus III with all sensors pointing aft. On the planet the funeral is interrupted by the creatures. Spock is trapped by a boulder thrown at the crew. He orders them to leave him and take off but they free Spock and board the ship. The engines are working but they are being held down by the creature.

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Spock hits the boosters and frees the ship. They achieve orbit but using the boosters has eliminated all hopes of a controlled reentry. Scotty reminds Spock of his statement that there are always alternative to which Spock says he may have been wrong. Calculating that they only have 45 minutes left Spock on an act of desperation jettisons the fuel and ignites it hopping the Enterprise will see the flare. Sulu scanning notices the flare and Kirk orders the ship back to the planet. They beam out the survivors just as the shuttle burns up in the atmosphere. As the ship heads to Markus III Kirk confronts Spock on his emotional act of desperation. Spock defends the decision as the only logical course of action left to him. Kirk bluntly asks him if he would admit to a purely emotional act to which Spock replies, “No sir.”

Another good season one episode. Lots of action and adventure on the planet. We get some insight into Spock’s character and his balancing of his human and Vulcan side. His interaction with the emotional Boma and trying to save the crew logically made for some dramatic moments. The tension of the search and the tension between kirk and Ferris is well played. I like that they made Ferris competent in this one his decisions were always aimed at saving the most lives possible. It is a nice contrast to the bumbling Starfleet bureaucrats we see in other episodes. Scotty was once again the miracle worker. We see his ingenuity here which will become his trademark. This episode also shows the relationship between Spock and McCoy which will also be played up more as the series moves on. The re-mastered version of this episode is nicely done enhancing the Murasaki quasar and the Galileo’s flare. All in all a great episode. Even though we lost several crewman no red shirts were harmed in this episode. Sort of makes you wander about all the red shirt clichés.

{Editor’s note – this is the last of the Original Trek blogs but the next episode “Squire of Gothos” was the first blog so you can continue in broadcast order by going back to it. Thanks Mindless-Droid and Siblings for a great run!}

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: The Claws of Axos

February 14, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After being exiled to Earth at the end of his Second incarnation this new Doctor played by Jon Pertwee brings more than a few changes with him. The programme is now broadcast in colour, UNIT play a much more vital role, the Doctor becomes more of a man of action and that’s just a few of the many changes which came along when the show entered the seventies. The Claws of Axos is the story I choose to represent this era of the show as it comes from the second year of Jon Pertwee’s time as the Doctor and is thus from a time when the show had decided what it wanted to be after a rather experimental first year. Alongside Jon Pertwee’s Doctor the serial also features Katy Manning, Richard Franklin, John Levene, Nicholas Courtney and Roger Delgado as Jo Grant, Mike Yates, Sergeant Benton, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the Master respectively. Now that is a rather large regular cast based upon Doctor Who’s standards but it made sense to have this set up with the involvement of UNIT as they wouldn’t change their key staff every story and it gave an almost family feel to the whole thing. In fact this group of regulars is often described as the UNIT family. Another interesting thing to note about this story is that it is the first to feature TARDIS interior scenes since Patrick Troughton’s swan-song, The War Games. It is the first of many stories to be written by the dynamic duo of Bob Baker and Dave Martin who would later to go on to create everyone’s favourite robot dog K9. The director meanwhile is Michael Ferguson who also directed our previous story, The Seeds of Death. Now before we look at the synopsis let’s talk about why I choose this story as opposed to any of the other fan favourites from this era. Simply put it’s because there is a lot going on and it rattles along at a similar pace to the new series and so I felt that it’s probably a good place to start for newer fans who want to look back at the classic series. Now then, I think now is the right time to move on to the synopsis for this story so let’s take a look at that.

Unlike most stories this one doesn’t start with the TARDIS landing on Earth but instead with a strange spaceship doing so and UNIT heading off to investigate. The beings within, the Axon’s, claim to be peaceful and have landed to refuel their ship. They also offer a gift, Axonite, which has the power to duplicate any molecule. However, they are really all part of the same entity as their ship, Axos, and it has been lured to Earth by the Master so that it can destroy drain all the energy from Earth to feed itself with. The Doctor grows suspicious of the Axon’s seemingly benign intentions and goes to investigate. Meanwhile, Chinn, an official from the ministry of defence, has his own men take over the affair and arrest those from UNIT so that he can keep all the advantages of Axonite for Britain rather than the whole world. However, Chinn’s plan is foiled and distribution of Axonite goes ahead as originally planned. Unfortunately this means that Axos can now feed on the energy of the entire planet which means the Doctor, who now knows the truth, has to race against time to stop it. He tricks both the Master and Axos and uses his TARDIS to trap them in a time-loop but while he is able to escape it the Master is too which mean he survives to fight another day. So while the Earth may be safe from Axos the Master is still at large and dangerous.

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Now then, if I had to choose just one word to describe this story then it would probably have to be psychedelic. Now you should not be put off by this description as there’s a lot more to the story than just that but the scenes within Axos are very much dominated by strange effects and colours which gives them a very psychedelic feel. Luckily for those who don’t like that sort of thing (I myself don’t mind it) those scenes are few and far between. The story itself has lots of twists and turns and a lot of scenes are crucial to the overall story which is good unless you’re writing up the synopsis for it, so what you read above is a very basic outline of quite a complex story. It really does feel like writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin gave their all for this story and while some ideas don’t end up being executed so well you just have to admire the sheer ambition of them. In fact ambition is one of the key things this story has going for it, it has it in abundance. But what about the characters who inhabit this complex story that Bob Baker and Dave Martin have created. Well I think it’s on fit and proper to start of with the main character, the Doctor, who is wonderfully played by Jon Pertwee. Now while his action hero side is shown off all to much in this story his intelligence is. He has his standard outrage at the actions of a political figure which can sometimes get a bit annoying but in this story they are totally justified and Chinn is quite an irritating character anyway so he definitely deserved to be shouted at by the Doctor. That’s to say I dislike Chinn’s presence in the story, far from it in fact as his annoying nationalist views allow many of the other characters to shine. One of these characters is FBI agent Bill Filer who strikes up a nice friendship with Jo and overall I find him to be quite likeable. Now I’m not from the US so I can’t really judge his accent but I’ve heard quite a few say that it’s rather bad. It’s going to be different from person to person as to whether it puts you off his character or not, some may even find it offensive. But to me it’s not all that bad and I actually quite like the character.

The UNIT regulars however, mainly Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton, are very much pushed into the background for a lot of this story. Even Jo suffers a bit but to a much lesser extent. The Brigadier on the other hand gets a great scene where he has to make a deal with the devil and work alongside the Master to save the world. Not only that but he also has to make the choice between saving the Doctor and Jo or the world. It’s a lot of heavy stuff and Nicholas Courtney of course performs it brilliantly. Beyond this however he doesn’t get to do a whole lot but these moments are so amazing that they basically make up for it. Our final character of note is of course the Master who is superbly played by Roger Delgado, the first and (in my honest opinion) the best. Admittedly the story would probably have functioned just as well without him but it’s nice to have him there anyway, mainly because of Roger Delgado’s sublime performance who brings out the best in every actor he acts opposite. One last thing I’d like to discuss before I conclude this review is the Axon’s. They’re a very solid idea for a monster and it’s rather a surprise that they haven’t returned at all. But Peter Capaldi has said he’d like to face off against them at some point (even though Steven Moffat doesn’t seem too keen on the idea) so you never know what might happen.

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In conclusion, The Claws of Axos isn’t perfect but a lot of merits and a pace similar to that of the new series. It was a tough call but I’m afraid it’s only a seven-out-of-ten from me but it’s a very strong seven and is still most definitely recommended by me, especially for those who are fairly new to the classic series. Up next is The Masque of Mandragora where the Fourth Doctor and Sarah take a trip to renaissance Italy but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Farscape : I Shrink Therefore I Am

February 11, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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When Moya is raided by bounty hunters working for the Peacekeepers, every crew member is captured except for Crichton and Noranti. The armoured intruders shrink the captives and imprison them inside holding cavities in their torsos – if Crichton harms them, he endangers his friends as well. Finding that Scorpius is also free and on the run, Crichton teams up with him to fight off the menace, unaware that the leader of the bounty hunters has a hidden agenda.

Synopsis

Noranti doesn’t actually contribute much to the story spending most of it in a drug induced coma. Crichton comes up with several creative ways to kill the bounty hunters until only four of them are left.

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In the process Scorpius is captured and discovers that the lead bounty hunter is, unknown to his followers, a Scarran.

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Crichton tells the other bounty hunters and when one of them goes to check he and the other two are killed by their boss. It’s left to Crichton to take out the Scarran which he does with a battle of shrink rays and a final stomp of his boot.

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The episode sees Scorpius almost a member of the crew and discussions about Moya traveling into ‘Tormented Space’.