Monday, 27 May 2013

A12 Deliverance

EPISODE: A12 Deliverance
BROADCAST: 20/03/1978
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Michael E. Briant
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 1

" Including yourself, that's two people who think you're wonderful."

At Space Command Servalan remotely observes a spacemaster ship approaching the planet Cephelon 6 days from it's destination, a planet devastated by war who's inhabitants have reverted to primitives. The ship shifts trajectory before an explosion causes it to crash. The Liberator witnesses the explosion and they go to help the survivors who have launched life capsules. Avon, Jenna, Vila & Gan teleport to the surface. Jenna & Gan discover an entrance to an underground bunker and locate a life capsule containing a dead body. Avon and Vila find the other with a badly injured survivor. Avon has them all teleported to the Liberator, where the survivor is taken to the surgical unit, but Jenna is missing. Avon, Villa and Gan return to look for her, finding her necklace lying on the ground. They split up to search faster. Identification on the dead body reveals him to have AA security clearance while the survivor has power cells on him and, fly demands to be taken to his dying father on Aristo and to tell him that the Federation will pay 100,000,000 for Orac. He holds Cally at gunpoint and demands Blake take him to Aristo leaving the others behind. Servalan speaks with Travis who wants his command back so he can catch Blake. She tells him that Orac is a device created by the scientist Ensor. She supplied Ensor's son with the surgeon Marriot, who operated on Travis, to go with him to operate on his father. She arranged the explosion on the younger Ensor's ship to ensure the elder Ensor's death so she can steal Orac without paying for it. Avon, Villa & Gan are attacked on the planet and flee. They are admitted to the Underground Bunker which is sealed behind them where they meet Meegat a young woman who falls adoringly at Avon's feet saying she has been waiting for him The Younger Ensor begins to weaken on the Liberator's flight deck. Meegat directs Avon to the scavenger's camp. She tells how there are less than a hundred of her people, and maybe twice as many scavengers but both races are dying. She brings them to a control room and explains how they are the fulfilment of a prophecy. Gan finds a window to a rocket silo which Avon and Gan conjecture contain brood units. Meegat's people don't know how to launch the rocket. Avon, Vila & Gan reactivate the control room bringing the systems online and prepare to launch the rocket. Ensor sets a deadman's switch on his weapon which he is holding on Cally. Avon gets Meegat to direct them to the Scavenger's camp which they infiltrate rescuing Jenna and return to the Bunker. Ensor collapses allowing Cally to escape and with his dying breath urges Blake to take the power cells to his Father. They return to Cephelon as Avon launches the rocket ensuring Meegat's people will survive elsewhere in the galaxy. The Liberator lays in a course for Aristo.

Ah you gotta love this one. Avon being worshiped as the saviour of a civilisation while Vila and Gan heckle him. Superb. Avon's chosen the occasion to debut his new surface gear a reflective silver jacket setting him apart from the rest of the crew. Back comes the pod from Time Squad repainted in white, along with some new escape capsules that we'll see again later, and back comes the idea of growing a race from genetic cells though to be fair they actually reference Time Squad here. We've got a planet devastating war, high radiation and mutations on the planet - Tel's raiding his back catalogue again borrowing from the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks. He's also quite fond of rockets in silos with countdowns running - see Genesis of the Daleks and Android Invasion. And Travis actually gets to show he likes another human being with his reaction to Servalan effectively sacrificing the surgeon who put him back together and punishing his family. This is also the first time we get to see Servalan as a corrupt character rather than just an evil Federation overlord.

Unfortunately this is the second episode on the trot where those on the surface get left behind while the Liberator has to move away - if they weren't being held at gunpoint you'd claim it was Blake & Cally getting revenge. There is the element of the two plot strands being shot gun married together but the events on the planet have an impact as the story of Ensor and the mysterious Orac is continued next episode. The Primitives on the planet look like they're being led by 'Aitch and sure enough they are and he remembers the day out filming this one all too well even if he gets the location wrong slightly - they're nearby in Reigate in Betchworth Quarry again. Making his Blake's 7 debut in this episode as one of the Scavengers is noted Doctor Who extra Pat Gorman. He'll go on to appear in Voice from the Past as a Federation Trooper, Gambit as the Trantinian planet hopper Captain, Powerplay as a Death Squad Trooper, The Harvest of Kairos as a Federation Trooper, Rumours of Death as a Federation Trooper, Power as a Hommik Warrior, Traitor as a Helot, Games as a Federation Trooper and Blake as a Federation Trooper. In fact the scavengers in this episode are a veritable Who's Who of 70s and 80s background artists: In addition to Harry Fielder & Pat Gorman the following all have Who form: John Hogan, Billy Horrigan, Steve Ismay, Steve Kelly, Ian Munro, William Perrie (better known as half of Dobbin Rentaghost's Pantomime Donkey), Joe Santo, Derek Suthern, Reg Woods (a Krarg with H in Shada) and Ron Tarr! Chris Webb & Terence Plummer both assisted The Sweeney with their enquiries while Terry Richards has a prominent appearance as a show off swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Blatant bit of time wasting in the middle of Jenna's capture by the cavemen - she escapes and is immediately recaptured! It's only function is to remind us she's still there!

Cally's glasses and music are a bit cringeworthy in a trying to be futuristic but now horribly dated type way. The ending of the episode needs a little work though with Jenna saying "standard by 6" as the titles crash in over the top of it. That needs cutting with the episode ending on Blake's course order. It's a sloppy way for one of the more fun Blake's 7 episodes to end especially as it's the last episode that Michael E. Briant. Come to think of it one of his Doctor Who's - Revenge of the Cybermen - involves a rocket with a countdown too. He makes one last attempt at reusing a member of his Doctor Who cast with Tony Caunter appearing as the younger Ensor. Briant used him as Morgan in Colony in Space but he was also in The Crusade as Thatcher and Enlightenment as Jackson before finding fame as Roy Evans in East Enders.

Of course the main thrust of this episode, which continues in the next is the mysterious Orac. I came to this story for the first time knowing what Orac was because I'd seen later episodes. In fact that why I bought the re-release of the 80s compilation tape when it was reissued for £10 on the 5th March 1990. It was one of four tapes reissued that day alongside The Beginning, Duel & Aftermath. Beginning and Orac were instant purchases with Aftermath following the next day and Duel the following weekend. An episodic version followed on Tape 6 paired with Bounty and was released alongside Tape 5 Project Avalon/Breakdown on 5th March 1991. It was part of a DVD release of the whole of Blake's 7 season 1 on 1st March 2004. The episode also appears, albeit in a cut down form (so I'm told) in the second Blake's 7 book, Project Avalon, along with Seek Locate Destroy, Duel, Project Avalon & the next episode Orac. Deliverance was the first episode of Blake's 7 to repeated on 27/12/78 as part of a compilation with the following episode Orac in the run up to the start of the second season. The episodic version was repeated on 06/05/2000 as part of a repeat of series 1.

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