Blakewatch - Week 25: The Keeper

All 52 episodes of Blake’s 7 reviewed, one per week

This week: Season Two Episode 12- The Keeper
(1979) Writer: Allan Prior / Director: Derek Martinus
In search of an amulet that contains the location of Star One, Blake, Jenna and Vila arrive on the planet Goth where they encounter tribal rivalries and a lot of shouting.

Can you imagine living on a planet where you had to yell all the time? Like going into the Sainsbury’s Tent for example and bellowing at the top of your voice “Milk! Now or I’ll slice you from ear to ear!” That’s what it’s like on Goth the amusingly named planet  where Blake and co find themselves this week in the quest to discover the location of the elusive Star One. It’s a weird place alright; the woodland above is full of dry ice and spotlights as if they are ready to stage impromptu rock concerts at the drop of a woolly hat. The inhabitants live underground in tepees in a cave which for some reason looks very silly indeed. They all have designated tents, even Servalan gets one. Yes, she and Travis are here too eschewing their usual ruthlessness to wait and see which of the royals has the location dangling round their neck.

"Got any Iron Maiden?"

`The Keeper` is probably what most people think every Blake’s 7 episode is like. The staging is creaky, the ideas wrought from clichés, the people look like Vikings and behave like pirates. All that’s missing is a girl bringing in wine to have it thrown at her with the declaration that it tastes more like vinegar. That epitome of shoutiness Bruce Purchase - possibly the only actor that can out yell Brian Blessed - is on hand as the chief Gola and he only has eyes for Jenna with whom he wants to “pair bond”. Sally Knyvette being the Queen of looking disgusted or fed up gets to run through her entire range in a nicely underplayed reaction to Purchase’s bellowing.

Even more ludicrously, Gola has a brother with the rather nondescript name of Rod. Yes, Rod the Goth! The only really interesting character is their older sister Tara played by Freda Jackson with as much witchery as she can muster. She spends the episode with potions and trickery, cackling at events that she is partly manipulating.  Some of the scenes on the ship have a tension but this is relaxed once everyone is in the tents; in fact Servalan just seems to be there on a holiday lounging about eating prunes.

"Give us a kiss"  "I'd rather snog Orac!"
Despite being written by Allan Prior, who previously brought some gravitas to the series, `The Keeper` is probably the worst episode of the season. The characters do not convince but actively annoy being sketched archetypes whose grandstanding quickly wears out its welcome. Matters reach a nadir when Gola and Rod have a battle while chained together across a table covered in food! Prior tries his best to entice us with the mystery of which of the trio is wearing the vital amulet but it’s a slim plot stretched over Gola’s oafish wooing of Jenna and Vila’s attempts to act the fool.  Cheekily, Prior even has Blake waiting about for about 20 minutes because he can’t think of anything to do with him- is Gareth Thomas’ yawn acted or real?

There is a neat denouement in which Star One’s location is finally revealed in an unexpected manner, even though we’d all guessed who the old man in the cellar was. Telefantasy with warrior tribes is never that good at the best of times and while there is some unintentional amusement to be had generally this episode does not live up to its name.

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