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

Trying to think of Servalan as a sympathetic character doesn’t really work, she has already done far too much in the way of bad deeds for that. Yet this episode shows her a little more as a person albeit a scheming, manipulative, nasty person. You can imagine if the series were re-made today at least one episode would be devoted to explaining how she ended up like this but perhaps the 1970s model is more suited to the character. So at the end if we don’t feel sympathetic we can at least see something of the woman behind the veneer. Jacqueline Pearce does a fine job throughout and is in particularly combative form dealing with her assistants, both of whom are given a little more character than the usual Federation officers.

The realisation of Auron, which you’d imagine would be a sort of hippy, colourful place is rather disappointing. Beige corridors and beige people really; even the normally reliable Ronald Leigh Hunt gets little to do. We do learn that only the younger Aurons are telepathic which might have been a story element to explore but the plot veers elsewhere. The cloning element is depicted necessarily literally and amazingly the foetuses start growing in minutes!

Writer Roger Parkes organises the early story well, with some strong directorial flourishes from Andrew Morgan. There are a few eyebrow raising moments near the end though, notably the fact that the Liberator crew are allowed into the incubation room at the end despite still being infected. Also, if Orac has found a cure why can’t it be sent to Auron –or why not send Orac down- to expedite matters? Is it perhaps because Parkes knows the Aurons’ ultimate fate anyway so doesn’t bother with that? There is also one of the worst / best examples of an unsuitable end of episode joke in the final scene that completely underscores what has just occurred not to mention the feelings they should have for Cally.

The Auron speed typing contest was causing much excitement
Jan Chappell does get two roles though as Cally’s twin Zelda is so undefined and spends most of the time under a mask she barely makes an impact. Surely if clones are identical she would share Cally’s spirit of rebellion yet she seems the opposite dutiful to the end even at her own expense. Despite a few reservations this is another strong episode in what is becoming a good mid season run.


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