Farscape : Twice Shy

April 22, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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Chiana purchases Talikaa, an abused slave girl from a passing Trading Ship. When the crew starts acting strangely and Talikaa goes missing, they realize she may not be as innocent as she first seemed. The crew tracks down the Trading Ship only to find its occupants have succumbed to a painful death, the result of neural harvesting by an alien arachnid. When it is revealed that the arachnid is Talikaa’s true form, Moya’s crew must hunt down Talikaa before they suffer the same fate.

Synopsis

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Talikaa first hightens the crew’s prime characteristics and then harvests them taking Crichton’s optimism, Aeryn’s self control, Rygel’s greed, D’Argo’s anger and Chiana’s sex drive.

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She’s sure an ugly thing in her natural form.

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and the way her victims die is nasty

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but the crew figure out that something is wrong fairly quickly and find out what they’re dealing with.

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Luckily Noranti is too old to be of interest and Sikozu is immune. They allow Talikaa to harvest Scorpius and then Sikozu and a weakened Crichton follow her to her nest.

Main points of interest, Crichton and Aeryn finally get back together, Scorpius has definitely got a thing for Sikozu, oh and not for the first time the crew end up eating the monster of the week. Spider stew anyone?

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

April 18, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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So here we are at last at the end of our journey through the classic series. Last week we looked at the turmoil that was the Sixth Doctor’s era and now we take a look at the aftermath of that. Sylvester McCoy’s first year as the Doctor wasn’t exactly what one would describe as universally praised and the show was very much still trying to rediscover itself at that point. In the following two year however it knew what it was and took the Doctor in a much darker direction than he’d ever been in before, portraying him as clownish and silly on the outside but dark and manipulative on the inside. Unfortunately, tough scheduling and a poor reputation meant that not many tuned in to watch this new Doctor as thus he only lasted three years. The precise reason as to why the show was cancelled at the end of the eighties is unclear but during the wilderness years that followed the fandom was kept alive by novels, audio dramas, comics and a one off TV movie before the programme’s eventual return and reinvention with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper by his side as Rose. Anyway, the story I have chosen to represent these final years of the original series is Remembrance of the Daleks which was written by Ben Aaronovitch, directed by Andrew Morgan and featured Sophie Aldred as fan favourite companion Ace. I thought it was a fitting choice as the story has a strong feeling of coming full circle which is quite poet as this final review also brings us full circle by looking at another Dalek story. It also shows just how manipulative the Doctor can be and you can find out why that is in the synopsis that follows.

It all begins in nineteen-sixties London where the Doctor has some old business to attend to. Back in his first incarnation the Doctor left something behind and has now returned to put it to good use. That something is the Hand of Omega and he’s not the only one who’s after it. Two factions of Daleks have also arrived to claim the Hand of Omega and the two quickly start a civil war in the heart of London. The Renegade Daleks, the original Daleks who obey the Dalek Supreme, eventually capture the Hand of Omega but the Doctor is able to manipulate events so that it instead ends up in the clutches of the Imperial Daleks, the new race of Daleks who obey their creator Davros. It is then revealed that the Hand of Omega is actually a device used by ancient Time Lords to customise stars and that Davros plans to use it to turn Skaro’s sun into a source of unimaginable power. The Doctor tricks Darvos into activating the Hand of Omega which then turns Skaro’s sun into a supernova, destroying Skaro in the process. The Hand of Omega then returns and wipes out the remaining Daleks on Earth. With the Daleks seemingly completely wiped out, the Doctor and Ace move on to their next adventure.

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Now I’m going to start off by saying that I absolutely love this story and it’s one of my favourite Dalek stories of all time. I mean it’s a Dalek civil war and what’s not to love about that. This means that the second half of the story especially is very action heavy and there are loads of great actions scenes done with some very real and very large explosions. Some may argue that the classic series was all wobbly sets and poor effects but this story proves otherwise. Some of the effects are still very much of their time such as the Hand of Omega but that doesn’t mean they’re as bad as a lot of people make them out to be. While they’re by no means perfect they still work quite well. Probably the most breathtaking moment is the landing of the Dalek Shuttle in the school playground which was actually lowered by a crane which means it is very much real and it looks much better for it. But this story isn’t all flash and no substance, there is very much a plot behind there too and it’s a strong one at that. It added some mystery to the Doctor’s character that hadn’t been there for quite a while and also linked back into the shows history in a way which didn’t feel irritatingly forced. The pacing is also very well constructed as well and builds up over time rather than either being constant or all over the place. This means that when you get into the second half while it is most definitely quicker it’s not necessarily noticeably so because it has sped up over time. There are also some nice little slow moments which aren’t necessarily crucial to the plot but just compliment the piece as a whole and give it an element of humanity. My favourite scene is one of those moments which is the Doctor having some tea in the cafe. The conversation he has with the cafe worker is very well written and the cafe worker himself is really well characterised despite the fact that he does not actually play any role in the overall storyline whatsoever. It’s nothing much but I personally love it.

And with that said it now seems like the perfect time to move on to characters and there are quite a few to talk about here. Ace is going to be our first port of call as she is one of the most (if not the most) well developed companion in all of Doctor Who and she is played wonderfully by Sophie Aldred. It’s only her second story and she’s already settled in very well and has a wonderful dynamic with her co-star Sylvester McCoy that continued to grow following this. She’s very much a fun loving kid in this story and is yet to mature like she would in the stories that followed but that is far from a bad thing as something called character development and both sides of the character are likeable. In this we get to see her beat up a Dalek with a baseball bat which is something no other companion can claim to have done and overall she is just a joy to watch. Next up we have the Seventh Doctor himself and this is the first instance where we get to see his much more dark and manipulative side. Sylvester McCoy does a very good job portraying this side of the Doctor but there is still a fun side to the character so there is a sense of balance as well. Then we move on to the supporting characters such as Group Captain Gilmore, Rachael Jensen and Allison. These three are wonderful together and serve as a bit of a call back to the Third Doctor’s era as there’s the military leader, the scientific advisor and the assistant and so the dynamic is pleasantly familiar while the characters themselves are very unique. Another supporting character is Mike Smith who is very much there to provide an interesting subplot for Ace and while all that is nice it does feel a bit rushed in the first half but that’s made up for by the wonderful scene where Ace finds out he’s a traitor. Although after that he begins to feel a bit superfluous to the plot although at the same time I feel that getting rid of him there would’ve felt too sudden and messy. And finally there’s Davros who is kept hidden right up until the end which provides a nice little surprise when you’re least expecting it (although admittedly it is a little easy to predict) and it’s also good that he’s kept out of proceedings up until then to allow the Daleks themselves to dominate their own story for once as a lot of Dalek stories before this focused a little too much on Davros but thankfully this one is a nice change of pace. However, some could argue that it may be a step too far in the other direction.

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In conclusion, Remembrance of the Daleks is undoubtedly a ten-out-of-ten because it has the right balance of basically everything that’s important in a Doctor Who story. It’s one that comes highly recommend by me and I think that it provided a fitting end to this blog series that I thoroughly enjoyed writing and I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed reading. Now we continue the long wait for series nine which looks to be shaping up quite well but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Farscape : Terra Firma

April 15, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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The crew returns to Moya – in orbit around modern-day Earth – to find Jack and a contingent of Earth dignitaries waiting for them. The aliens are introduced to an amazed and apprehensive public, but soon find life in the public eye difficult. As Crichton tries to readjust to life on Earth, his relationships become strained, especially with Aeryn. Meanwhile, a monstrous assassin sent by Grayza hunts for Crichton, and will stop at nothing to accomplish its mission.

Synopsis

Aeryn takes Jack on a tour of the solar system …

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Chiana shops …

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Rygel (surprise surprise) eats, Noranti is weird …

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and on the other side of the wormhole Sikozu gets cozy with Scorpius

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but the core of the story is Crichton. His relationships with his father and Aeryn and his growing realisation that he just doesn’t fit in on Earth any longer. By the time Grayza’s assassin attacks he’s already decided that they should all leave. The people of Earth know there are aliens out there now and need to get their act together.

The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen

April 11, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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Colin Baker is probably the most controversial actor to ever play the Doctor. He was of course the Sixth incarnation of the beloved Time Lord and was much more unstable than his predecessors ever were. It was originally intended that over the years his character would grow and mellow but unfortunately his time came to a premature end and thus he never had the chance to do this. There are many different reasons as to why this period of the shows history was such an unstable one. It is common knowledge that the higher-ups in the BBC at the time were not fond of the programme and were on the look out for any opportunity which would allow them to cancel it. Eventually they got that chance at the end of Colin Baker’s first full year as the Doctor but the outcry of fans managed to get this revised to a hiatus and when the series did return it was put on trial in more ways than one. The trial had proved successful enough for the series to continue but unfortunately it was not successful enough for Colin Baker to be allowed to stay. The classic series never quite recovered from this turmoil that had plagued it at this time and it was eventually cancelled three years later. So then, what story have I chosen to represent this period of unrest? Well I choose none other than Attack of the Cybermen which was written by Paula Moore (or so the credits say) and was directed by Matthew Robinson. For those who are interested it was Colin Baker’s second story in the role of the Doctor and Nicola Bryant’s fourth in the role of companion Peri Brown. Now then, something tells me you all know the drill by now so let’s not waste anytime and get on to the synopsis.

Continuing on from where the last story left off, this one begins with the Doctor still in the process of recovering from his regeneration. The TARDIS picks up an alien distress beacon and the Doctor heads to Earth to investigate. Following the distress beacon leads him and Peri into the sewers of London where they discover the presence of the Cybermen. They then return to the TARDIS but are followed by the Cyber Leader who orders the Doctor to take them to Telos, the adopted home world of the Cybermen. He also informs the Doctor that the Cyber Controller, who was once thought destroyed, is very much alive and is waiting for them on Telos. Once on Telos Peri manages to escape and runs into the native Cryons who were almost wiped out by the invading Cybermen. Meanwhile, the Doctor learns that the Cybermen have captured another time vessel and intend to use it to change time so that their original home planet, Mondas, was never destroyed. He then realises that the Time Lords must have manoeuvred him into this situation to protect the web of time. The Cybermen then imprison him within a refrigeration unit which contains a highly volatile substance which explodes at high temperatures. He uses a bit of it to destroy the guard outside and rigs the rest up to take out Cyber Control itself. The Doctor then meets up with Peri and the Cryons who help him destroy the Cybermen guarding the TARDIS. They then escape just as the substance self ignites, destroying Cyber Control as well as the Cybermen’s stolen time vessel. With the web of time now safe the Doctor and Peri continue with their travels.

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Now then, this story is about as polarising as the Sixth Doctor’s era itself, making it the ideal choice to represent this era. On the topic of the story itself it used more than a few elements from the show’s past and in my opinion it used way too many. The return to the scrapyard in Totters Lane was simply an unnecessary call back to An Unearthly Child; the plot links with The Tenth Planet are both forgivable and forgettable; the return to Telos makes the story seem like a poor remake of The Tomb of the Cybermen; the Cybermen in the sewers is actually a nice reference to The Invasion simply because it’s subtle; and finally there’s the return of mercenary Lytton who last appeared in Resurrection of the Daleks and I quite like what they did with his character here. Now one or two of these in a story is a nice reward for long term viewers but when there’s this many all it does is alienate most of the casual viewers and annoy most of the long term fans. Now the idea behind all this was that those who didn’t like the Sixth Doctor in his first story would come back to see all the familiar elements in his second and hopefully warm to this new incarnation in the process. And in that respect it did kind of work as the viewing figures were fairly high but unfortunately a lot of people felt that the quality, especially in the second part, was low. Another major complaint a lot of viewers had was the level of violence shown, and I can’t help but sympathise with this complaint even if I don’t agree with it. There is a scene where two Cybermen completely crush Lytton’s hands as a way to get him to talk and as a one off it works quite well. So while I see why people have a problem with this scene I personally don’t. It’s a bit like the “don’t cremate me” line in Dark Water where I can understand why there are complaints it’s just that I don’t have a problem with it myself. In fact even when I was younger I didn’t have a problem with this scene. The scene I did have a problem with though was when the Doctor gunned down a group of Cybermen in the control room. Since then I have grown to accept this but at the time I felt that it just wasn’t a thing the Doctor would just casually do. However, this is far from my biggest flaw in the story as you’ll soon learn.

However, before I reveal my biggest flaw with the story I first wish to talk about the characters involved. Now we’ve already talked a bit about the Sixth Doctor so why not start with him. As previously mentioned he wasn’t the most popular of Doctors for a lot of reasons and none of them are really Colin Baker’s fault. Now since this story is so early in his era it doesn’t show him in the best light as he has still yet to mellow out at this point and is very brash at times. Now to be honest I don’t mind him in this and while it took a while for me to warm to this initially prickly portrayal it wasn’t long before I learned to appreciate him for the Doctor he is. Next up is his companion Peri Brown who is supposed to be American but unfortunately Nicola Bryant’s accent sometimes noticeably slips back into her natural British one. I’m sure there are some out there who’ll probably find the accent offensive but she certainly didn’t have the easiest of jobs and this was quite early in her time before she was able to perfect and refine the accent. But on the whole her character is quite likeable and a suitable character for the Sixth Doctor to bounce off of. Then we have Lytton who’s character is nicely expanded upon here and who’s death actually means something to the Doctor because of how badly he initially misjudged him. Lytton himself is also a lot of fun and has a great double act with Griffiths. There is some wonderful dialogue between the two and in fact one thing this story does very well is dialogue. There are some real gems of it in this story, especially in the first half and Lytton gets almost all of the best ones. Unfortunately not all of the characters are great in this and one in particular is the Cyber Controller. He’s a little on the tubby side which makes it hard to take him seriously but he also pales in comparison to the Cyber Leader who is supposed to be him subordinate but nevertheless has a much more powerful presence in all of his scenes. On the whole this story doesn’t do the Cybermen justice but that’s not its biggest flaw in my eyes. The biggest flaw is that the story lacks focus. There’s far too much going on and while some people like that I personally do not as it distracts from the main story line. So much so in fact that I’m not even sure what that is.

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Overall, Attack of the Cybermen is not one of my favourite although I have heard people say that they love it and so I thought I’d include it because of that. However, that’s not going to stop me from giving it a five-out-of-ten which is by far the lowest rating up to this point. However, you’ll be happy to know that we’ll be ending on a much higher note next week with the Seventh Doctor story Remembrance of the Daleks where a Dalek civil war is raging in nineteen-sixties London but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

Farscape : Kansas

April 8, 2015 in Farscape by Firebird

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The crew travels through a wormhole to Earth, 1985, and Crichton finds he has somehow disastrously changed the course of time – his father Jack is now slated to fly the doomed Challenger mission. Lying low in Crichton’s home town, the ‘aliens’ use the timely Halloween celebrations to remain (almost) anonymous, while Crichton tries to revert the timeline – in the process putting his younger self in mortal danger.

Synopsis

We left poor Crichton, floating in space looking down on the Earth. As the outline above makes clear, he didn’t just go home, he went to a home in the past. His friends follow his voice through the wormhole and come out at the same place and time.

After that it’s a pretty typical time travel story …

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with the inevitable Farscape twists. Rygel high on Halloween candy. Aeryn watching Sesame Street. Chiana seducing young Crichton.

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Meanwhile back in the future and on Moya, Grayza and Braca arrive and we discover that Braca has been working for Scorpius the whole time. Unfortunately having discovered that Crichton isn’t on board Grayza leaves one of her agents behind to wait for him.

With the timeline fixed the crew return through time and we end with another cliffhanger, Crichton finding his father and 3 other people from Earth waiting for him aboard Moya.

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The Seven Faces of Doctor Who: Snakedance

April 5, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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After an unprecedented seven year run it was at last time for Tom Baker to step down from the iconic role of the Doctor and to replace him producer John Nathan-Turner choose Peter Davison. His casting had proved quite controversial at the time with Davison being far younger than any of his predecessors but this didn’t mean he wasn’t an established actor. Quite the opposite in fact as he was very much a popular figure in the early eighties due to his appearances on many highly regarded shows such as All Creatures Great and Small. But none of this could’ve fully prepared him for the immense challenge of following up Tom Baker who had been playing the role for so long that many of the younger audience members couldn’t even imagine anyone else playing the part. So how did he do it? He did it by being completely different to his predecessor in almost every possible way. He also bought a much more human and flawed element to the Doctor which is probably why so many fans of the new
series end up going to Davison first when they begin to explore the classic series. Another difference between him and his predecessor was that he didn’t stay nearly as long, leaving after only three years in the role. This was partially because of advice he received from Patrick Troughton but also because he felt the quality had sipped greatly in his second year, and many fans would agree with this statement. Funnily enough the story I ended up choosing is from this year but don’t worry, it’s one of the good ones. Snakedance was written by Christopher Bailey and it was a sequel to his previous contribution to the series, Kinda. So why did I choose this and not Kinda? Well mainly because Kinda was quite experimental and this is much more representative of the Fifth Doctor’s era as a whole. It also featured Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Jannet Fielding as Tegan and was directed by Fiona Cumming. I think that’s all I’ve got in terms of general behind the scenes info for this story so not wishing to bore you any further with useless facts let’s more on to the synopsis.

The story kicks off with the TARDIS landing on the planet Manussa which causes Tegan to have a strange nightmare. After questioning her about it the Doctor deduces that the Mara which once controlled Tegan’s mind is trying to assert itself again. While Nyssa watches over Tegan the Doctor explores and discovers that Manuassa is the birthplace of the Mara although the legend of its return is now treated by most as just a load of nonsensical superstition. The Doctor also deduces that the Mara was originally created through a group of minds meeting in the Great Crystal and believes that the Mara will try to use this to come in to being again. Meanwhile, Tegan takes fright and Nyssa loses her amongst the crowds. She then meets up with the Doctor again and informs him of this. The Mara then takes full control of Tegan and then does the same to the Federator’s son, Lon, who knows how to acquire the Great Crystal. The Doctor and Nyssa then go out into the desert beyond the city and find Dojjen, one of the few people on Manussa who believes the legend of the return, who shows the Doctor how to resist the Mara. He then returns to the city where Lon and Tegan have already gained possession of the Great Crystall. They place it in the appropriate place which causes it too feed off of the fear of the people of Manussa and thus allow the Mara to manifest itself as a large and deadly snake. The Doctor is the only one able to resist this which allows him to interrupt the manifestation of the Mara, causing the snake to die and Tegan and Lon to be freed. The Doctor then comforts a distressed Tegan and assures her that the Mara has at last been destroyed.

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Now while this story does technically feature two companions Tegan is very much sidelined during this due to the Mara inside her which allows the much underrated Nyssa to get some time in the spotlight for once. Nyssa is a favourite of mine so any extra attention put on to her is more than welcome. Sarah Sutton’s performance is great and the character herself stands up to the Doctor more than usual in the first half of this story. But Sarah Sutton’s isn’t the only fantastic performance here, far from it in fact as the guest cast is breathtakingly good which causes the regulars to raise their game and become even better than they normally are. One of the guest cast members is Brian Miller which gives us a nice link to our previous story, The Masque of Mandragora, as he is the widower of the late Elisabeth Sladen who of course played Sarah Jane Smith in that story. Here he plays Dugdale and does such a wonderful job with the role that makes it such a great shame that his acting career never really took off. An actor who had better luck with his career afterwards was Jonathan Morris who plays Chela here who almost acts like an extra companion to the Doctor in the latter half of the story.

Then we have Martin Clunes and Colette O’Neil who have a wonderful double act as Lon and his mother Tanha. But that’s not to say their acting abilities aren’t just as good when separated. Martin Clunes especially excels whether he’s with Colette O’Neil or not and his performance is arguably even more enjoyable when Lon is under the control of the Mara. It’s a shame about that ridiculous costume the production team made him wear at the end though. However, the guest cast isn’t all this story has to offer as it also has a fantastic plot which reveals more about the monstrous Mara rather that just continuing on with what they had at the end of the previous story. Here we learn about how the Mara came in to being and while that takes away some of the mystery it still adds to the monster itself. There is also a very nice world created here however I feel that a little bit too much time was wasted in creating it as it all involved a lot of exposition whereas the world in Kinda very much told itself and while there was some exposition there it was very much restricted to what was absolutely necessary. There’s also the issue that visually it doesn’t really get the feeling of this great world across that I feel the script was aiming for. Now while the market place worked well enough for the first few episodes the climax in the cave just didn’t really have this sense that it was supposed to be a massive celebration. Now obviously they didn’t have the budget nor the technology back then to make this work too well by nevertheless I feel this could’ve been done a lot better. On the bright side, the snake has improved greatly since Kinda but still leaves a lot to be desired.

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In conclusion, Snakedance is a fun story with a strong cast helping to support a great script, even if it’s a little ambitious. It’s getting an eight-out-of-ten from me but will my ratings remain so high when we move on to the Sixth Doctor’s era next week. You can find out next week when I review Attack of the Cybermen but until then be sure to sound off your thoughts on the story in the comments below.

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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