Monday, 29 July 2013

B8 Hostage

EPISODE: B8 Hostage
BROADCAST: 27/02/1979
WRITTEN BY: Allan Prior
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"What have I done to deserve this?"
"How long a list would you like? "

The Liberator is attacked by a fleet of Federation pursuit ships. They escape but need time to recharge their energy banks. Blake receives a message from the planet Expar from Travis where he is holding Inga, his cousin. Blake goes to Expar to try to rescue her. Servalan is visited by Councillor Joban who is upset at the spread of news of Blake's activities. Travis' location is communicated to Servalan. When they arrive at the planet Cally's telepathy detects something as Blake teleports down and locates his uncle Ushton. A suspicious Avon teleports down to the planet as well. Ashton tells Blake of how Travis arrived & captured Inga and where he is located. Avon follows Blake and summons Vila from the Liberator. Ushton warns Travis Blake is coming. Servalan races to Expar. Avon has spotted Ushton moving without a limp and leaves Vila to keep an eye on him. Blake is attacked by one of Travis' men and caught in a man trap while Vila is caught by Ushton. Travis demands the Liberator from Blake so he can evade Servalan. Avon too is captured in a net. Travis has Vila brought out the cell and turns the air supply off to Blake & Avon demanding Vila tells him how the teleport bracelets work, forcing Jenna to teleport one of his troopers Molok to the ship who forces Jenna & Cally to the flight deck. Avon tells Blake he told Servalan that Travis was here. The trooper tries to force Cally back to the planet but Jenna teleports him into space as Zen detects an approaching pursuit ship. Ushton attacks Travis and frees Blake's crew. They track Travis, who wounds Avon, but capture him and leave him for the approaching Federation ship. Ushton & Inga elect to remain on Expar to utilise the building and supplies that Travis has allowed them to access. Servalan finds Travis and releases him to purse Blake, guaranteeing he will be listed as dead if he finds Blake.

That wasn't the greatest thing I've ever seen by a long shot. The battle at the start is obvious padding to get the episode up to length and serves little purpose for the rest of the plot. Neither the crew's tiredness or the Liberator's need to recharge gets mentioned again. It's the start of Horizon all over again! < Checks writer > yup it's Allan Prior again! Second episode and he's already recycling ideas and not doing anything with them. What's the purpose of Ushton's limp? It's to give away that Ushton has betrayed Blake when he doesn't do it. But why is he feigning a limp in the first place???? Why bother to invent a new group of murderous psychos the Crimnos? You don't see anything special about them! And if the tower that Travis is hiding in contains supplies that might be useful to the rest of the people on the planet don't you think it might be an idea to flag that in advance? Oh and lets throw in Blake fancying his cousin just to get Jenna all stroppy.

No it didn't do it for me can you tell? I'm laying most of the blame at Allan Prior's feet.... about the only thing I can't pin on him is why the Mutos are suddenly not wearing their headgear on Servalan's ship revealing some nasty 60s style bleached hair.

There's an all time Doctor Who great in this episode: Kevin Stoney plays Joban and he's completely wasted only appearing in just one scene! Yes we know Servalan has political enemies, we saw Traitor two weeks back! He was Mavic Chen in The Daleks' Master Plan, Tobias Vaughan in The Invasion (both Douglas Camfield) and Tyrum in Revenge of the Cybermen. He returns to Blake's 7 as Ardus in Animals. John Abineri, Ushton, has also got a few Doctor Who stories to his name: he was in Fury from the Deep as van Lutyens, The Ambassadors of Death as General Carrington, Death to the Daleks as Railton & The Power of Kroll as Ranquin. He's Hearne the Hunter in the ITV Robin of Sherwood but has probably been seen my the most people as the butler in the original Ferrero Rocher Ambassador's reception advert. You almost certainly won't recognise him but the Space Commander in charge of the Liberator's pursuit at the start of the episode is Andrew Robertson who played Mr Fibuli in the superb Doctor Who story Pirate Planet. Bruce Purchase, who played his boss The Captain, in the same story will be along in a few episodes time in The Keeper. James Coyle, Molok, has an interesting entry on his CV: He was in the banned The Professionals episode Klansmen as Merv.

Judy Buxton plays Inga> She later appeared in By The Sword Divided as Susan Protheroe. This production also featured Blake actor Gareth Thomas as Major General Horton so I thought I'd see who else we knew that was in it: Julian Glover, Kayn in Breakdown, was lead character Sir Martin Lacey in the early episodes of the series. Malcolm Stoddard, Leitz in Traitor, was Colonel Hannibal Marsh, Adam Blackwood, Tok in Assassin, was Peter Crane (3 episodes, 1983). David Neal, Gerren in Games, was Preacher Lambe. David Collings, Deva in Blake, was John Thurloe while Janet Lees Price (Paul Darrow's wife) who was also in Blake as Klyn, played Emma Bowen.

We're back at Betchworth Quarry again for the exterior scenes, previously used in Time Squad and Deliverance. It's got three more appearances to come yet!

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 3 days after Doctor Who episode 505 The Armageddon Factor Part Six, which was broadcast on 24/02/1979 and concluded the 16th season of Doctor Who.

Hostage was released on video on 3rd September 1991 as part of Blake's 7 tape 11 with Countdown and alongside tape 12 which contained Voice from the Past & Gambit. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

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