22/03/2012

Blakewatch - Week 12 Deliverance

52 Weeks in The Year- 52 Episodes of Blake’s 7.

This week: Season One Episode 12- Deliverance
(1978) Writer: Terry Nation / Director: Michael E Briant
A stricken craft’s inhabitants escaping to an icy planet below lead to Jenna being captured by cave men, Avon declared a god, the Liberator hijacked again and Travis getting his job back. And all because of something called Orac…


"Yes, I do bring these walls with me wherever I go"
Unlike some previous episodes, the constituent elements of `Deliverance` are arranged well, allowing enough time for each to be fully explored. With a triple plot involving the Liberator being hijacked, the others on an icy planet and a couple of lengthy scenes between Servalan and Travis, there is plenty to engage.

Of the three, the latter is the most entertaining as Jacqueline Pearce and Stephen Greif play up each character’s devious traits to the max. She is all false smiles and charm, he barely managing to restrain his anti- Blake zeal. The fact that they don’t actually meet Blake and co this week adds to a sense that with this being the penultimate episode matters are being pulled together towards a climax.

The sequences on the planet Cephlon are surprisingly good thanks to some rugged location work and the fact that the cave men we meet don’t speak! As soon as they appear the heart sinks on expectation of lots of primitive tribal shenanigans but instead they remain no more than dangerous stooges and that suits matters.

Once the crew get inside the base under the mountain matters take an even more interesting turn. Paul Darrow has fun with Avon’s attempts to appear modest when declared to be a god  by Meegat and there is an impressive set lurking inside as we discover an old control room.  A pity though that after some good model work earlier, the production resorts to stock footage of an Apollo rocket that just looks nothing like the rocket we have seen.

The least successful strand involves another Liberator hijack, this time by Ensor a Federation scientist trying to get vital power cells to his inventor father. This has a whiff of familiarity with other episodes and somehow fails to be as tense as was probably intended. The usually reliable Tony Caunter is mis-cast in the role; his groaning in pain routine is even worse than David Jackson’s similar behaviour two weeks ago. Also Cally remains the least interesting of the main cast, Jan Chappell either unable or unwilling to look bothered about anything at all.

`Deliverance` ends up feeling like a bridge towards what we would nowadays call the season finale but is sturdy enough to maintain the high standard of the second half of this season.


"And you're sure the chocolates are in here?"
Notes
The scenario of the control room and a rocket ready for launch begs the question of how the knowledge to operate them was lost in the first place.  At some point, did the people who loaded the rocket all decide to go outside for a smoke and get locked out for centuries, slowly reverting to primitives?

Meegat may not know how the control room works but she clearly maintains a washing machine for her floaty blue dresses and enjoys a hair care regime.

For the second time this season the crew beam up and don’t notice that one of their number is missing. And when they realise Jenna is not there, Gan declares “She was right behind me when I teleported”. What a fibber - he’d actually left her round the other side of a hill out of sight.

Despite almost dying minutes earlier and not knowing his way round the Liberator, Ensor manages to find his way to the flight deck and hold Cally hostage for hours before finally conking out. That must have been quite an injection he is given!

It is rumoured that the Servalan / Travis scenes were added to the story later to make up the running time and were not part of the original script.

It has been noticed that this plot is almost the same as the keynote Doctor Who episode `Utopia` which some people thought was “a bit like Blake’s 7” when it was shown.

Tony Caunter (Ensor) has had a varied career but is perhaps best known for his nine year stint as Roy EastEnders as well as regular parts in The Chief and Juliet Bravo.

Suzan Farmer who plays Meegat was once married to Ian McShane, TV’s Lovejoy. She was in the 1966 film Dracula, Prince of Darkness.


 

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