Monday, 15 July 2013

B6 Trial

BROADCAST: 13/02/1979
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"Which only leaves one question to be answered. Is it that Blake has a genius for leadership, or merely that you have a genius for being led?"

At Space Command Travis is being held awaiting court martial on charges of murdering thousands of civilians. The Liberator enters orbit of a planet where Blake prepares to teleport to the surface. At Space Command Bercol & Rontane are monitoring the trial for the President who is worried about Servalan's ambitions while Blake's crew ruminate on Blake's disappearance and Gan's death. Avon tries to persuade Vila & Jenna to leave. Blake's homing device to return to the Liberator is stolen by an alien being, Zil, who Blake pursues. On the Liberator Avon unveils a system for evading Federation space detectors. Zil tells Blake that they need to keep moving as the ground rumbles and Zen predicts that the landmass Blake is on is sinking. Zil removed Blake's equipment to keep it safe and returns it to him. Blake saves her from being absorbed by the planet. Orac analyses the planet and reveals it is alive, striking back against a parasitic organism on it's surface. They begin searching for Blake. Zil guides Blake to where the eggs of her people are, under threat from the planet. The Liberator brings Blake back aboard. Blake decides to restore his crew's reputation, vulnerable after Gan's Death, by a raid on Space Command. At his tribunal Travis argues his case while the Liberator successfully passes Federation Patrols undetected. As Travis is sentenced to death the Liberator attacks. Travis uses the confusion to escape. He confronts Servalan at gunpoint demanding a pursuit ship to hunt Blake down. She gives in and assigns him a Mutoid crew and he leaves knowing she will be now hunting him and Blake.

Argh another laughing ending! Oh they annoy me!

The episode is two different, but related threads. Blake is punishing himself for Gan's death while Travis is effectively being punished for his part in Blake's escape ...... I think. It's a little hard to fathom Servalan's motivation throughout - has she engineered Travis' trial or not? Is she effectively sanctioning his pursuit of Blake at the end? Just not sure. She does alright out of the episode though: political rivals eliminated, an embarrassment on her staff gone and Blake being pursued.

Apart from providing the initial motivation for Blake's solitude Gan's death doesn't feature mush in Blake's part of the story. His stay on the planet is confusing for most of it's duration right up until the point that Orac deduces the planet is alive and attacking Zil's people as an infestation. All well and good but who are they? Where do they come from? How did they get there? And why did Blake just leave them behind to die?

It's only at the end that two stories come together with Blake's attack. Designed to make them look good all it ends up doing is benefiting his enemies by killing some of those opposing Servalan and facilitating Travis' escape. In the long term these may not be good things.

Some biggish names guest starring in this episode, and a couple that will be recognisable to the general public too. John Savident plays "Starkiller" Samor. He'll be back in Orbit as Egorian and features (briefly!) in Doctor Who: The Visitation as The Squire. He's probably best known now for playing Fred Elliott in Coronation Street. We also have two returning actors and characters from Seek Locate Destroy: John Bryans as Bercol and Peter Miles as Rontane. By the end of the episode both characters would be dead but Bryans returns again as Shrinker in Rumours of Death and later features as Torvin in Doctor Who's The Creature from the Pit. Miles had already been in Doctor Who three times: as Dr. Lawrence in Doctor Who and the Silurians, Professor Whitaker in Invasion of the Dinosaurs & General Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks. There's no way you'll recognise Kevin Lloyd as trooper Par but a few years and several stone later he's be playing Tosh Lines in The Bill! He's also got a Dempsey and Makepeace appearance to his name with former B7 guest star (and future regular) Glynis Barber as Jimmy Mulgrew in The Prizefighter as well as some episode of Coronation Street as Don Watkins. Sadly his dismissal from the Bill and subsequent death made tabloid headlines. Graham Sinclair, playing Trooper Lye, is the son in law of Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim. Colin Dunn, the Guard commander, was in the first episode of The Tripods S2 as Kurt.

A big hurrah for the arrival of experienced Doctor Who director Derek Martinus. In charge for the stories Galaxy 4, Mission to the Unknown, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, The Ice Warriors and Spearhead from Space he'd not directed for Doctor Who since 1970.

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 503 The Armageddon Factor Part Four, which was broadcast on 10/02/1979, and 4 days before episode 504 The Armageddon Factor Part Five, which was broadcast on 17/02/1979.

Trial was released on video on 02 July 1991 as part of Blake's 7 tape 10 with the following episode Killer alongside Tape 9 Horizon & Pressure Point. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

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