Monday, 24 June 2013

B3 Weapon

EPISODE: B3 Weapon
BROADCAST: 23/01/1979
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: George Spenton-Foster
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"A weapon once created cannot be abandoned, only contained"

Travis is training himself against clones of Blake. Blake decides to raid the Federation research facility but Orac discovers it's on high alert. They deduce that someone has absconded from it and stolen something valuable. Servalan dispatches Travis to investigate the disappearance of the weapons technician Cozer who has stolen something called IMIPAK. Servalan consults her strategist Carnell who has calculated that Cozer would do this as part of a plan for Servalan to get IMIPAK.Avon locates Cozer and the Liberator sets course to find him. Cozer and his assistant Rashel are attacked by a creature where he is hiding which he kills with the IMIPAK weapon. Blake arrives to negotiate for the weapon. Cozer explains IMIPAK is in two parts: a gun that marks the victim for death and an activator device which remotely kills them at a later time. Blake obtains the weapon but then reveals himself to be working for the Servalan and Travis. Servalan kills Cozer with his own invention then marks Travis for death. Blake, Avon & Gan arrive by teleport, but are marked for death with the IMPIAK gun by Travis. They hold Servalan at gunpoint but Servalan demonstrates the weapon on one of her guards and Blake has his team teleported to the Liberator. Travis intends to operate the remote device to kill Blake but they are held at gunpoint by the Blake clone and Cozer's assistant Rashel who marks them for death. The Liberator runs from the planet and Travis & Servalan are forced to flee. Returning home Servalan finds that strategist Carnell has also fled after the failure of his plan.

Tell me .... is Cozer a Federation weapons designer or Ming the Merciless? The former according to the story, the latter if you judge by his frankly insane costume! There again Carnell utters a remark about "Cozer cracking" that makes me think that he's not the most mentally stable person anyway..... which might explain why he fled with Rashel someone he appears to neither want or need. She seems merely to be there to give Blake's clone a reason to turn against the Federation. She spends the rest of the episodes alternately moaning about the conditions her class were under and behaving like Cozer is still enforcing them! She too has a mad costume though.... in fact all the guest characters do. Yes we expect it from Servalan so she gets a pass, and Blake's crew are at the liberty/mercy of the Liberator's wardrobe. But Carnell's cape? and want on Earth is Clonemaster Fen, another Federation scientist, wearing? The Clonemaster has an almost religious tone to her..... which reminds me somewhat of Dune. It's been a long while since I read the books but seeing Clones here and sandmining in Boucher's Doctor Who story Robots of Death does make me think he'd read them. It does seem such a waste developing Clones just for Travis to shoot them.... I wonder if they were the cast offs from the main project which somehow just weren't right? Having the possibility of Blake clones around may make certain later events easier to explain away should you need to.....

The idea behind IMIPAK is quite interesting: shoots them now and mark them for death, kill them later at the press of a button. Cozer explanation to Servalan outlines a number of novel uses for it including keeping people away from a specific location.

Servalan's office is back in this episode complete with the triangle/hexagonal walls but if you look closely you'll see the pattern has been shifted round 90 degrees with the long lines in the pattern now horizontal. It's also the return of Travis but from now on he's played by Brian Croucher, who had previously appeared in one of Chris Boucher's Doctor Who stories, Robots of Death, as Borg. I'm sorry Brian if you're reading this but I much prefer Stephen Greif in the Travis role.

This episode features a few other actors with Doctor Who experience. Coser is played by John Bennett who was in Invasion of the Dinosaurs as General Finch & Talons of Weng Chiang as Li H'sen Chang. Scott Fredericks, playing Carnell, was in Day of the Daleks as Boaz and Boucher's Image of the Fendahl as Maximilian Stael which was directed by George Spenton-Foster who is here helming his first Blake's 7 episode. He'll be back for three more episodes a season. Candace Glendenning, Rashel, has a history in horror films while Kathleen Byron, Clonemaster Fen, was in the acclaimed film Black Narcissus while Graham Simpson, the Federation Officer went on to be a Chairman of Watford Football Club!

The character of Carnell later appears in Chris Boucher's Doctor Who Novel Corpse Marker providing the only official cross over between both universes. Others were planned - such as Tom Baker's suggestion that he and Blake should walk past each other in a corridor in a scene used in both shows and Terry nation's desire to include the Daleks in Blake's 7.

We're filming at the Rutherford Labs for the exterior scenes in this episode. Embarrassingly road markings can be clearly seen on the floor as Blake, Avon and Gan teleport in!

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 500 The Armageddon Factor Part One, which was broadcast on 20/01/1979, and 4 days before episode 501 The Armageddon Factor Part Two, which was broadcast on 27/01/1979.

Weapon was released on Blake's 7 video tape 8 which also contains the previous episode Shadow on 7th May 1991 (18th Birthday present for me!) alongside tape 7 which features Orac & Redemption. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

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