Blakewatch - Week 35 Sarcophagus

Season Three Episode 9- Sarcophagus

(1980) Writer: Tanith Lee / Director: Fiona Cumming

The Liberator encounters an unusual craft apparently drifting in space but it seems to have made some telepathic connection to Cally. When she, Avon and Vila bring an object back with them from what seems to be a tomb, they find the Liberator’s power being drained and their lives under threat from an unknown force.

If the plot sounds familiar that’s because it is a fairly standard TV sci-fi one, but it is in the delivery that `Sarcophagus` stands out from the crowd. The mood is set by a wordless six minute opening sequence in which we seem to be seeing some sort of quasi religious ceremony. Figures masked in coloured material appear and disappear, each seemingly representing an aspect of life whether a musician, a warrior, a leader and so on. Most unusual music further heightens the woozy atmosphere though some viewers in 1980 probably wondered what was in their coffee. This atypical beginning is shot on film and director Fiona Cumming uses inventive angles to complete the sense of other worldliness.

"That's the biggest jelly bean I've ever seen"


Don't fear the Midnight Beast

There’s a whole generation of singers, comedians, writers and commentators whose work has emerged online rather than through traditional channels such as record companies, publishing, live appearances or television. Yet in an odd way it is only through exposure via `old media` that they have become better known. It is weird that you can have over a million people watching your work on You Tube yet you become much more famous with a series seen by considerably less people on E4. It shows that old media is a bit like a specialist search engine scouring the most popular online entertainment and essentially carrying out the same function as say the music press used to. The Midnight Beast emerged that way and is that most risky of ventures, a comedic pop group. After building up a following on You Tube doing parodies of songs and musical styles E4 granted them a 6 part series which recently finished its run. So, is it any good? The answer –with a few reservations- is Yes!


Writers Wanted!

This way up and Plaything of Sutekh need You!!
We’re looking for people to volunteer to create a  full size replica Wild West fort out of pasta  contribute to both This way up and the Doctor Who fanzine Plaything of Sutekh.

We can’t pay you anything but we can promise you will feel fulfilled and optimistic about life having contributed to the rich tapestry of written art that (sniip- that’s enough crawling: ed)
Plaything of Sutekh needs four people to review an upcoming Doctor Who episode each.
The episodes are `Asylum of the Daleks` (showing next week!), `A Town Called Mercy`, `Dinosaurs on a Spaceship` and `Power of Three`.
If you are willing to review one of these please contact us now on the Plaything of Sutekh Facebook page (or if you know either of the editor’s private email please contact us directly)
This way up needs someone (or someones) to write reviews of TV, film and events on a regular basis, similar in length to the reviews you see here. They would need to be of recent things on UK / US TV, cinema, online (for example from You Tube) or a play or event you’ve been too.
(No reviews of music gigs, albums, manga, horror or 26 episode long US tv seasons, thanks)
Anyone interested please email hello@livefrommars.co.uk
Thank you. In anticipation of your help here’s a photo of a mountain goat..


Blakewatch - Week 34: Rumours of Death

Season Three Episode 8- Rumours of Death 
(1980) Writer: Chris Boucher / Director: Fiona Cumming

Determined to punish those responsible for the apparent death of his lover Anna Grant two years earlier, Avon leads a dangerous mission to the heart of Servalan’s new regime but a separate rebel plot causes complications.

While this episode has a straightforward plot, the way it is written and presented adds a sophistication that you might not expect from this series. Viewers in 1980 were probably surprised by how much is packed in while from this vantage point we can see a series reaching a pinnacle after an already strong third season (give or take the odd misstep). `Rumours of Death` mixes the political and the personal with engrossing results and were it not for one significant production decision could be the best episode the series ever made.

"I can understand why the last President resigned"


2012 David Bowie theories

It’s the most mysterious thing ever. It’s the thing that nobody even noticed for years until it became obvious. And it’s the thing everyone talks about incorrectly. The thing is David Bowie’s disappearance. As Bowie fans know, he had to terminate his Reality Tour in mid 2004 after suffering a blocked artery or a heart attack depending on which report you read. He was out and about several weeks later joking that he would definitely not be writing a song about it. What he didn’t mention was that he wasn’t going to be writing a song about anything. Over the next couple of years he would make sporadic live guest appearances including twice with Arcade Fire in 2005. In November 2006, he made what may well turn out to be his final live performance at the Black Ball event. Since then he has vanished. Only of course he hasn’t.


Alternative Traditions

Every country and culture has things that are important to their inhabitants but meaningless or indeed baffling to everyone else. They have evolved over decades, centuries, millennia and in some cases people don’t even know why the ritual exits. They just do it because, well, it’s what they’ve always done. It’s what everyone does and quite right too. Yet history might have played some cruel tricks.  It could be that had one thing happened, or not happened, or had someone in the tradition of time travel fiction gone one way instead of another, things might now be entirely different. Just imagine some of the odd traditions we could have now.


Blakewatch - Week 33: Children of Auron

Season Three Episode 7- Children of Auron
(1980) Writer: Roger Parkes / Director: Andrew Morgan
The Liberator goes to the rescue of Cally’s home planet which is threatened with an alien contagion that has been deliberately spread by Servalan.

Cally’s chance to shine is somewhat swiped from Jan Chappell as much of the screen time in this uneven episode is grabbed by Jacqueline Pearce. We see Servalan trying to delude herself about her influence yet employing increasingly nasty plans to try to maintain it. Her subordinates challenge most of her orders and haggle amongst themselves while her convoluted plan to capture the Liberator (Again! why doesn’t she just send a fleet of thirty ships?!) not only fails but costs her something even more precious.

When she wasn't killing people and destroying planets, Servalan was a whizz with cocktails


Games Over

The closing ceremony of the London Olympics was as busy and confusing as the city.
Annie Lennox had the right idea. You’re appearing in an 80,000 seater stadium in front of a global television audience of billions so you might like to do something special. How about arriving in a large pirate ship wearing historical costume and looking just a little bit mad? That is how we want pop stars to be and that is why we’ll remember Annie long after we’ve forgotten everyone else. Nowhere near as ambitious or conceptual as the brilliant opening ceremony, this musical finale of the London Olympics still had its moments- but did it have to go on quite so long?

Annie finds a way of avoiding the congestion charge



A deadpan romance is at the heart of Frank Aboud’s debut film Comes A Bright Day
We don’t seem to cherish home grown films enough. Outside London, with multiplexes filling screen after screen with the same US blockbusters there is little space for smaller UK movies and even in the capital they are often restricted to a week at a film festival or in an obscure cinema. Combined with more modest promotional means, many ventures disappear without trace. There is also the issue of people believing all British films are grimy, gangster packed, gritty and humourless, a notion some filmmakers seem determined to nurture for credibility’s sake. Odder still is when a UK film does make a commercial breakthrough it is compared to US successes as if we can’t think of our own ideas.  Comes A Bright Day, released to buy this week after only a limited big screen outing last month does not slip easily into handy categories. The debut of writer / director Frank Aboud, you could call it a heist movie, a black comedy or a romance – it’s all of these things yet more. It’s not perfect but in its own way is a quiet triumph.


Blakewatch - Week 32: City at the Edge of the World

Season Three Episode 6- City at the Edge of the World
(1980) Writer: Chris Boucher / Director: Vere Lorrimer
A deal arranged by Tarrant to purchase crystals needed for the Liberator’s weapons system goes wrong when Vila is sent down to collect them. Instead he is taken prisoner by the notorious criminal Bayban who is desperate to open a strange door behind which he expects to find riches.

Cue Chris Boucher to show how it should be done! After last week’s rather shambolic proceedings, matters pick up with this well written and acted tale of greed and courage. Boucher knows how to write flowing dialogue which may occasionally seem just a little too arch but which remains very watchable. There is a neat mystery at the heart of the episode that opens up the character of Vila considerably and, in what is a showpiece for him, Michael Keating excels.

"I wonder how strong the glue is?"


Mirror Cracked

Mirror Mirror is not quite clear enough in its re-telling of the Snow White legend.
Sometimes a film just doesn’t work despite the best efforts of all concerned and Mirror Mirror, released this week on dvd, is such a movie. It is one of two versions of the Snow White fairy tale this year, the other being the darker but equally problematical Snow White and the Huntsman. In fact if you were to take the best elements of both a good film might result. What both also prove is that trying a new take on an established myth is not always as easy as it sounds.

"I can feel it, sitting in my hair tonight.."


Blakewatch - Week 31: The Harvest of Kairos

Season Three Episode 5- The Harvest of Kairos(1980)
Writer: Ben Steed / Director: Gerald Blake
After failing again to catch the Liberator Servalan entrusts the task to a former commander Jarvik whose unique approach and knowledge of Tarrant leads to success. Meanwhile, Avon’s seems preoccupied with a living rock.
`Harvest of Kairos` has a reputation of being one of the worst episodes of all four seasons and it’s not difficult to see why. Ben Steed seems to have had several ideas, none of them particularly complementary, which he has shoved together in an ill fitting manner. The result is a wayward tone, some strange acting choices and amusing plot jumps. You can at least say it is entertaining to watch how bad it is!

"Guys, come back..." Nobody was interested in Dayna's new scooter