The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Deliver Your Children

More Blake's' 7 reviews... 

Children Of Auron

Featuring a blonde Michael Troughton, in possibly his first TV job. The plot is basically 'Killer' again, but whereas 'Killer' had a subplot about Avon and Vila trying to get hold of some sort of gizmo, in 'Auron' the subplot is about Servalan wanting to have children. Or, at least, to clone herself. Which means the story is about embryos and disease and... it's just in appalling bad taste, really. It's only the lack of plausability that saves it from being an offensive peice of television. Servalan's reaction to the death of her 'babies' is quite extraordinary. Though why she should have some sort of telepathic link to them, I don't know...

For a planet of telepaths, Auron is a remarkably conventional place. They're telepathic, but they still need to use video telephones and radios, and live in somewhere that resembles the Bullring in Birmingham. It has the Ronald Leigh-Hunt in it. It has a quarantine door that flaps back and forth. But, on the whole, there are some great things in there; some fab location filming with terrific explosions, and scenes with Cally and her double which are astonishingly convincing, just from the way they are cut together. Though Cally's sisters death is typically dull for a member of the Cally family.

Disqueting, but quite good. Better than 'Killer'; a few convenient revelations aside, it all makes sense and fits together in a pacey way. Though the comedy ending is horrible horrible horrible. Avon does *not* make jokes, unless they're pointing out how stupid everyone else is.

Speaking of things that are pacey, did Stephen Pacey ever work on TV again after 'Blakes 7'? (NOTE FROM JONNY IN 2011: YES, LOADS) I mean, he's carved out a very respectable West-End career, but the only thing I ever remember seeing him in was an edition of 'Jim'll Fix It'. It was an edition where a young girl had written in asking to be a film director, and Jim had fixed it for her to make a short film. However, the young girl was an astonishingly precocious brat, and threw away the script the BBC had given her, choosing to film her own script, and she gave the actors an incredibly hard time. Including said Pacey as the romantic lead. Why do I remember all this? Anyway, I loathed 'Jim'll Fix It'. All upper-middle-class kids getting to do lame and low-budget things which only upper-middle-class kids would want to do. 

Rumours Of Death

I love this, this is a great story. Suddenly we're back on Earth and the Federation seems real again; real soldiers with guns marching past buildings over gravel, that's what Blakes 7 should've been about. I remember those bits from when I was 7. The plot is incredibly tight and well-thought-through too - except possibly with regard to Anne's motivation - is she planning to betray the rebels, or is she genuinely trying to lead a rebellion? If it's the latter, it's a shame that Avon killed her, really. I mean, I know she betrayed him and all, but it's not as if she got him captured or killed, is it? Forgive and forget, Avon.

There are so many great things in here; let's ignore the Blakes 7 crew dancing around the torturer going 'cowardly cowardly cutlet' - instead, there's just the idea of the torturer being stuck in a cave with no exit on his own, left to die. That's quite a nasty idea that sticks with you. And there's the cool teleportation effect where, instead of Avon and the torturer going wibbly, their surroundings go wibbly - presumably they could only do this because it's a teleportation from one side of the studio to the other.

It's all about Avon, and the Darrow is on great form - he's getting twitchy, and paranoid, and he's whirling his gun about suspiciously like it's going out of fashion. He is great, constantly tiptoeing on the narrow tight-rope between good acting and William Shatner. The final scene where he realises that Anne betrayed him... he carries it off. He really does. Darrow is exceptional.

The plot is great too - all twists and turns and actually building on stuff we learnt back in 'Countdown' but also completely contradicting it too; Anne didn't die, she went on to marry someone in the Federation etc. etc. etc. It's really interesting, in terms of Avon's character, to hear him trusting someone, only for her to betray him too. No wonder he's so clenched all the time. And the rebel assault on the building; it's just carried off so well, the plotting is all logical and tidy.

It has David 'Pangol' Haig in it looking positively prepubescent. Flowing locks, sans moustache.

I note that Servalan is chained to the wall with her arms outstretched on either side. I assume this is because it is the default posture for Servalan anyway. Only Servalan could be chained to the wall in a mid-'champagne, darlings?' gesture. But she's quite good in this story, sporting half of a Madonna conical bra. We start to see Servalan cracking up and being undermined, though it's a shame that Tarrant has to point this out. She's frightened and bitter. It's great. If only she had her Liberator for company.

'It's an old wall, Avon. It waits'. Now, what Servalan - or rather, Chris Boucher - is trying to say here is, 'just you wait, Avon, one day you'll end up chained to a wall too'. However, Boucher is trying to express too much in too few words, and so it ends up just sounding ridiculous. Because even if Avon were to one day end up chained to a wall, it's rather unlikely that it would be the *same* old wall, isn't it? The wall itself is not important, nor is its age, it's the fact that the metaphysical wall is waiting for Avon. The wall being a sort of metaphor for a fatal flaw, a nemesis. Servalan has faced her wall, and found herself chained up against it. One day Avon will face his wall. And it's an old wall, Avon. It waits.

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