Monday, 15 April 2013

A6 Seek-Locate-Destroy

EPISODE: A6 Seek-Locate-Destroy

BROADCAST: 06/02/1978
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 1

"Run Blake, run. As far and as fast as you like. You can't hide from me I am your death Blake!"

When a raid on the planet Centero goes wrong Cally is presumed dead. She has in fact been captured and turned over to Travis, a Federation Space Commander with prior history of Blake who is charged to with finding him. Avon intercepts a message about Travis appointment and Blake recalls their first meeting where Travis lay in wait in a location for two days and massacred Blake's friends. The Federation discover that Blake has stolen a Cypher machine and they transmit a message saying an injured Cally will be transferred to a facility elsewhere on Centero to lure him back to the planet. Travis lies in wait for Blake on Centero but after a long wait Blake reveals himself that he has been hiding there for some time. He rescues Cally and taunts Travis before leaving with Cally pursued by Travis' ships.

Ah every hero needs a good villain and here Blake's 7 supplies two of them at once. And, despite him appearing in the episode, neither of them is Peter Miles! Travis is the action man bad guy here and has a somewhat complicated origin as a character: He and Blake tell the story of how he ambushed Blake getting him arrested but lost his hand and eye in the process. Blake himself then compares it to the similar capture in The Way Back. But the original intent was that the traitor in the first episode would have been Travis, not a different character. Now I think this idea works a lot better for Travis and gives him a decent story over the series - I can't see why they changed it. Give Terry Nation his due he understands the idea of serial television pulling out a story arc idea years before it became fashionable.

His boss Servalan conveys power and menace whenever she's on screen - look there's our old friends the triangular/hexagonal wall panels from The Mutants and many other Doctor Who stories as the wall of her office (with the lines mounted vertically). She'll come into her own much later, with Travis is the centre of attention here, but I think it's rather obvious that she's more than friendly with her assistant Rai...... You get the odd feeling she's keeping him around as a pet!

This is the third episode on the trot to majorly involve Cally - her introduction, possession and then seeming death/capture!

Debuts for this episode: Two more hooded costumes: Gan's in Brown and Cally's in green - she held hers briefly last episode. The Federation Security robot, looking like a knock off Dalek, makes it's first appearance too. It's also of course the first appearance of Stephen Greif as Travis and Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan.

Two moments of absolute incompetence in this story: Why don't the Federation guards Vila talks to just arrest or shoot him? An idiot you don't recognise comes up to you in a sealed complex and you let him spout for ages? Deary me. And why does it take so long for the Liberator crew to realise that Cally is missing?

One prominent member of the guest cast is Peter Miles, playing Rontane, who was Dr. Lawrence in the Silurians, Professor Whitaker in Invasion of the Dinosaurs & Nyder in David Maloney's Genesis of the Daleks. He'll be back as the same character in B6 Trial as does John Bryans as Bercol. He'll also appear as Shrinker in C8 Rumours of Death and will appear as Tarvin in Doctor Who: The Creature from the Pit. Technician Prell is played by Peter Craze, a man with multiple Doctor Who appearances to his name: Dako in the Space Museum, DuPont in The War Games & Costa in Nightmare of Eden. He's the brother of Michael Craze who played Doctor Who companion Ben Jackson. Ian Cullen, Escon, was Izta in Doctor Who: the Aztecs.

I thought I recognised the Centero location from Doctor Who too but it turns out that Fulham Gas Works was never used in the series..... I am rather worried about the number of explosions seen in these sequences though!

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 2 days after Doctor Who episode 474 The Invasion of Time Part One, which was broadcast on 04/02/1978, and 5 days before episode 475 The Invasion of Time Part Two, which was broadcast on 11/02/1978.

Seek, Locate, Destroy is the first episode to appear in the second Blake's 7 book, Project Avalon, along with Duel, Project Avalon, Deliverance & Orac. I do not have a copy of this book. Seek Locate Destroy formed part of the second Blake's 7 compilation tape with Duel & Project Avalon released in the mid 80s and initially available for about £25. It was re-released £10 on the 5th March 1990 alongside the other 3 compilation tapes. This was the last of the tapes I bought on the Saturday following the release. It was released in episodic format on Monday 7th Jan 1991 paired with the previous episode the Web as Tape 3 and alongside the rest of the first 8 episodes all paired off Tape 1 The Way Back/Space Fall, Tape 2 Cygnus Alpha/Time Squad, & Tape 4 Mission to Destiny/Duel. A DVD release for the whole of season 1 came out on 01/03/2004.

1 comment:

  1. Karl Thurgood3 May 2013 at 22:09

    I tend to think of Seek-Locate-Destroy as the debut episode of a further distinct "version" of the series. With the Federation gaining a human face in the shape of Travis, instead of merely being a faceless oppression-machine for Blake to oppose. It changes the dynamic somewhat from Blake fighting against a featureless, somewhat nebulous collection of social forces, and personifies things more.

    Having a recurring bad-guy probably makes the Federation more accessible to the audience as a threat than a collection of "Villians of the week"