Monday, 22 April 2013

A7 Mission to Destiny

EPISODE: A7 Mission to Destiny

BROADCAST: 13/02/1978
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Pennant Roberts
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 1

"You can bet your life on it. In fact, you've just bet both our lives on it."

A crewman on a starship is murdered and the ship sabotaged. The Liberator detects the damaged ship and investigates. Blake, Avon & Cally teleport over and find the crew drugged and in comas. Blake discovers they'd been tranquillised with gas and deactivates the gas supply with Avon's help. Cally finds the dead body in the control room and the numbers 54124 written in blood. The waking crew realise flight engineer Dortmunn is missing. The Captain Kendall confirms a previous sabotage to the communications system and a life rocket is found to be missing. Kendall shows Blake a neutrotope which he believed Dortmunn may have stolen but it's still in the safe. He tells Blake how their planet is in danger. They discover the ship is crippled and won't be able to get the neutrotope to Destiny in time. Blake offers to take it there, a journey time of 4 days, leaving Avon & Cally behind to make repairs. Cally finds the body of the missing Dortmunn in the ship's hold. As suspicion shifts to the crew on the ship there is another killing with crew member Sonheim appearing guilty of the killing. Avon translates the numbers into the name Sara, one of the crew, who holds them all at gunpoint, before locking herself in the control room. Cally works out another ship is homing in on their location to rescue her. Blake discovers the Neutrotope is missing and turns the Liberator around. Avon dupes Sara into leaving the control room and captures her regaining the Neutrotope and control of the ship. Blake teleports aboard with and rescues the crew before destroying the ship as Sara's co-conspirators arrive to collect her. The Liberator returns the rest of the ship's crew to destiny with the Neutrotope.

This starts out as an open and shut case of a murder mystery only really opens up later on with the addition of another body. The episode plods along till Dortmunn is found and Mandrian is killed when it becomes obvious that there's a killer still on board. I think the spaceship's crew are a little trusting of Blake letting him take the Neutrotrope without sending one of them along with him for the journey. Blake's got not authority, they've not heard of him so he's got no reputation with them either. He's just some random stranger that appears from nowhere. I suppose the ship's crew do have Cally & Avon effectively as hostages.... which is good for us as on the spaceship Avon gets to do a lot of the talking. It's a good episode for him and Cally - isolating them from the rest of the Liberator's crew gives them some space to shine, but back on the Liberator Gan, and to a lesser extent Jenna and Villa get little to do. Gan and Jenna have been very poorly used the last few episodes.

There's several sequences in this episode shot on film, including that in the filter room. and I can't work out why. The section where Dortmunn is discovered, yes, because there's a stunt fall involved. But the others? Odd. But not as odd as the very 70s digital watch Blake is wearing at the start of the episode!

The guest cast is packed with recognisable faces several with Doctor Who form Kendall is played by Barry Jackson, probably most famous now as Dr Barnaby in Midsomer Murders. He'd been in two Doctor Who's back in the 60d - Ascarius in the Romans and Jeff Garvey in Mission to the Unknown - and had a further appearance as Drax in the Armageddon Factor in his near future. By this point John Leeson, Pasco, was regularly playing the voice of K-9 and would later appear as Dugeen in DW: the Power of Kroll as well as Blakes 7: Gambit as Toise. Carl Forgione, Grovane, had been Land in Planet of Spiders and would return as Nimrod in Ghost Light while Nigel Humphreys, Sonheim, would appear as Bulic in The Warriors of the Deep (director Pennant Roberts). Stephen Tate, Mandrian, was Alan in 4 episodes of Terry Nation's Survivors (s2 eps 8, 11-13 - 8 & 11 were directed by Pennant Roberts). Beth Morris, the murderess Sara, had recently appeared as Julia Drusilla in the 1976 BBC adaptation of I, Claudius. Finally, thanks to his tumble out of a cupboard, regular Doctor Who stuntman Stuart Fell gets an onscreen credit as Dortmunn to go with his long list of Doctor Who credits: The Curse of Peladon & The Monster of Peladon (as Alpha Centauri), Planet of the Spiders (as a tramp), The Ark in Space (as a Wirrn), The Android Invasion (as a Kraal), The Brain of Morbius (as Morbius Monster), The Masque of Mandragora (as an entertainer), The Invasion of Time (as a Sontaran) and State of Decay (as Roga)..... His character's name Dortmunn is very similar to Dortman, a character Terry Nation wrote in Dalek Invasion of Earth.

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 2 days after Doctor Who episode 475 The Invasion of Time Part Two, which was broadcast on 11/02/1978, and 5 days before episode 476 The Invasion of Time Part Three, which was broadcast on 18/02/1978.

Mission to Destiny is the second episode this season, after The Web, not to be released on one of the 1980s compilation videos. It was eventually released on Monday 7th Jan 1991 paired with the following episode Duel as Tape 4 and alongside the rest of the first 8 episodes all paired off Tape 1 The Way Back/Space Fall, Tape 2 Cygnus Alpha/Tine Squad & Tape 3 The Web/Seek-Locate-Destroy with a DVD release for the whole of season 1 followed on 01/03/2004. It's the first episode on disc 3 of the series.... Oops as I look at the disc itself I see that the picture of Travis on it is reversed!

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