Monday, 10 June 2013

B1 Redemption

EPISODE: B1 Redemption
BROADCAST: 09/01/1979
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"If it ever comes to a showdown, my money's on Blake. Well, half of it. I'll put the other half on Avon."

Blake is having the crew check the Liberator while he reviews Orac's prophecy. Avon tells him all the need to do is avoid the area of space shown in the visual. Liberator is attacked by two ships travelling at incredible speeds. Liberator's weapon systems and force wall refuse to operate. The Liberator's drive operates at maximum and they are unable to bring the ship back under their control. Avon believes the ship has been taken over and it is rejecting them. Black clad figures teleport onto the ship and start attacking the crew. The energy banks fail and the ship slows. Blake, Avon & Jenna are captured on the flight deck and the invaders commence a docking sequence arriving at a huge space station. The crew are taken onto the station and placed in detention while Blake is taken away for interrogation by the system. His captors explain that the system is the supreme power on spaceworld and that they serve it. They interogate Blake as to how he found the Liberator but circuitry disturbance caused by an outside influence cause them to stop. Looking out of the exterior window of their cell Avon realises they are in the location where Orac predicted they would be destroyed. Blake and his crew are taken away to be killed. Blake escapes and is sheltered by a rebeling slave worker. Vila escapes from his cell shared with Gan & Cally and releases Avon & Jenna. The five of them make for the Liberator. They are briefly recaptured but saved by Blake and his slave friend. The slave remains behind to cover their escape and is killed. The Liberator, now free from external control thanks to Orac, leaves Spaceworld. Spaceworld attempt to put a boarding party on by teleport but Avon & Cally teleport them back to Spaceworld. The Liberator is pursued by an identical Deep Space Vehicle. The space vehicle explodes in front of them, it's missiles having been forced to detonate on the ship by Orac. Blake has Zen set a course for the Earth sector.

Blake's 7 starts it's second season by showing where the Liberator comes from solving a mystery that's been there since the second episode of the series. Blake's interrogation however betrays that Spaceworld's residents the Altas, have no idea what had happened to their ship: Blake reveals to them where it was found and was believed to have been in a battle. That begs some questions: who was the battle with (a possible answer is revealed in the closing episode of the season), were there any more Spaceworld Deep Space vehicles involved (The London monitors a battle between two fleets) and what happened to the crew of DSV2, the name the Altas refer to the Liberator by?

The model work for this episode is a big step up from the first season with the Liberator like pursuit ships - a red sphere mounted on one of the Liberator's 3 Pylons - and the huge Spaceworld. Spaceworld's interiors look fab thanks to a lot of them being filmed on Location in the large interior spaces at Oldbury-on-Severn Power Station. Unfortunately there's a massive tramline scratch on the film for the very first location shot seen which is very annoying!.

Last episode I asked how does Orac, which relies on the Earth technology of the Tariel Cell to work, affect the alien systems of the Liberator? The question stands again as he infiltrates the Spaceworld systems and those of the Deep Space Vehicle it dispatches to confront the Liberator. After being voiced by Ensor actor Derek Farr in his first appearance Orac's voice is now provided by Peter Tuddenham who also currently supplies the voice of Zen.

The power coil attacking Blake and Avon does bear some resemblance to the city's tentacles in Terry Nation's Doctor Who story Death to the Daleks. Terry ends his script with this episode with Blake setting a course to Earth..... but he doesn't actually get there until three episodes time when Terry Nation writes his next Blake's 7 script because this episode marks the end of Nation's mammoth 14 consecutive episodes scripting the show. He writes just 5 more episodes after this point. Yes an identical sister ship for the Liberator is a a bit of a cop out on his part for dealing with Orac's prophecy but it works I suppose. When I was younger I actually had 2 different Liberator toys: one was white as per the series but the other was a silvery blue with yellow pylon tips and dome mount.

There's only three named guest roles in this serial but they all have Doctor Who connections: Sheila Ruskin plays Alta One: she'll later be in The Keeper of Traken as Consul Kassia. Harriet Philpin is Alta Two and she's already been in the Terry Nation/David Maloney Genesis of the Daleks as the Thal Bettan. If you've not seen her in the most repeated Doctor Who story then you might recognise her as the wife of the Secret Lemonade Drinker in the R. White's Lemonade advert. Welsh actor Roy Evans, playing the ill fated unnamed Slave was in The Daleks' Master Plan as delegate Trantis (one of the ones we know which is which since Evans is identifiable) The Green Death as Bert & The Monster of Peladon as a miner.

You are directed to this YouTube video for your viewing pleasure.

When I went to check the Doctor Who episode nearest this episode I noticed that the broadcast date for Redemption was a Tuesday. I'd always believed that the series only ever first aired on a Monday! This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 498 The Power of Kroll Part Three, which was broadcast on 06/01/1979, and 4 days before episode 499 The Power of Kroll Part Four, which was broadcast on 13/01/1979.

Redemption forms the final part of the third Blake's 7 compilation, Orac, released in the mid 80s (and the last one in the UK) alongside the preceding episodes Deliverance and Orac. It was the only season 2 episode to be released on one of these compilations. The Orac tape was reissued for £10 on the 5th March 1990. It then appeared in the third batch of episodic Blake's 7 video released in the early 90s. Paired with Orac on Tape 7 it was released on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) with tape 8 containing Shadow & Weapon. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005, 10 months after the release of Season 1. No season 2 episode has ever been repeated by the BBC though I'm pretty sure they've all had a showing on UK Gold!

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