Monday, 26 August 2013

B12 The Keeper

EPISODE: B12 The Keeper
BROADCAST: 27/03/1979
WRITTEN BY: Allan Prior
DIRECTOR: Derek Martinus
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 2

"Don't leave me here I don't like the dark, I like to see what I'm afraid of!"

The Liberator arrives at the planet Goth, where a chief is said to possess a brain print containing the location of Star One. Blake, Jenna & Villa teleport down to being the search. The Liberator detects a Federation ship launching from Goth and Avon insists they pursue recognising it as Travis' ship. While the Liberator is out of Teleport range Blake & Vila are captured. Travis's ship sends a transmission into space before Avon destroys it. The Liberator returns to orbit picking up Blake's cry for help and teleporting him back to the ship. Jenna & Vila are taken to the Goth chief Gola who is being amused by his fool when Travis arrives. His sister Tara predicts their arrival. Blake returns to the planet where Servalan is a guest of Gola, with Travis working for her again, both seeking the secret of Star One. Travis is certain that either the chief or his sister possess the secret of Star One. The Liberator picks up another pursuit ship launch and Avon believes it to be Servalan's ship but Cally refuses to pursue. Blake rescues a Goth warrior Rod, Gola's brother, who was being taken away to be executed. Gola tells Jenna that Lurgen has gone. He intends to take her as a wife. She enquires of Tara as to who the Keeper of the Brain print is. Tara does not have it. Gola has Jenna bought to him. Blake finds an old man imprisoned in a cell. Servalan demands that Gola come to he tent to speak with him. The fool impersonates Vila's voice and Gola has Vila thrown in a cell where Blake finds him. Jenna demands of Servalan where Travis is. Jenna has Vila released when the fool is slung into the cells and discovers that Gola doesn't have the brain print either. Rod returns with men to assist Blake and confronts his brother. They fight, Gola killing his brother, but Gola is poisoned by his sister. Tara tells Blake that their Father, the old man in cells was the true leader and he has the secret of the Keeper's identity. They discover the brain print is gone, taken by Travis, but as he dies he gives Blake a clue that his fool knows the location. Given the code phrase "The Fool Knows Everything and Nothing" the fool recites the location of Star One which Blake gives to Zen to set a course there.

oh dear that was heavy going. Goth is, I assume, a Federation Colony gone primitive which automatically starts to ring bells for us with the likes of Cygnus Alpha and Deliverance. It gives the BBC an opportunity to break out the Viking costumes for everyone to wear and do this on the cheap, Into this walk Blake and co looking for Lurgen or his computer brain print. Why on earth a Federation cyber surgeon should choose to come here I don't know but there we go. They seem ok with the idea of Federation visitors though as Servalan and Travis are being treated as guests.... and yet the ruler's brother has never seen a gun fired before.

But my main problem with the episode if the whole where is Star One plot thread. We get repeated reminders here about what it is, the computer governing every aspect of Federation operations and how powerful it is. WE KNOW! Even if you've not been watching this season they've already said this episode. The Star One thread started in B5 Pressure Point where Blake discovers that Central Control isn't on Earth. It then goes quiet for three episodes until B9 Countdown by which point Blake has discovered Major Provine knows where it is. Except he doesn't and sends Blake after Docholli who Blake finds in B11 Gambit and he doesn't know where it is either, but by this point Travis is also interested in knowing where it is. Docholli sends them after Lurgen which brings us here..... Threaded through this is Travis a renegade - put on trial in B6 Trial he's on his own in B8 Hostage working for Servalan in B10 Voice from the Past, on his own again in B11 Gambit and they're seemingly back together here. Servalan does seem to get forgotten about half way through this episode and, unless there's another ship there, she's marooned on the planet after Travis took hers! I think BOTH plot threads could have done with some more work from script editor Chris Boucher: I'd have made Travis' break from Servalan a lot cleaner and maybe have made the finding Star One plot something running less low key in every episode rather an on off on off plot thread. I think B6 Trial in particular could have done with something in it relating to Star One in it, perhaps the missing element directing Blake to Provine, kickstarting Blake back into action from his despondency following Gan's death. That'd probably mean reshaping the entire Blake portion of the episode though....

Thankfully the major guest star in this episode does add something to proceedings. Playing the tribal chief Gola is Bruce Purchase who played The Captain in The Pirate Planet, the first Doctor Who story I saw the whole way through and love to bits to this day. His character's Father, chained up in the basement, is played by Arthur Hewlett who's two Doctor Who roles in State of Decay as Kalmar and Terror of the Vervoids as Kimber lie in his future. Lurking at the back of many scenes as "The Patrol Leader" is Ron Tarr a noted extra. He was already in Blake's 7: A12 Deliverance as a Scavenger and would reappear in D2 Power as a Hommick.... oh look all three of his Blake's 7 appearances involve primitive civilisations. In fact the Hommicks and the Goths are very similar. Before his next Blake's 7 return he's be in Doctor Who: Destiny of the Daleks uncredited as a Prisoner (he's easy to spot) and would find national fame when cast as stall holder Big Ron in Eastenders a role he also filled in the Doctor Who/Eastenders crossover Dimensions in Time. Seeing his name on the credits got me looking at the uncredited supporting artists again and sure enough there's some familiar names there: Stuart Fell (credited as Dortmunn in A7 Mission to Destiny, uncredited or stunt coordinator on a load more plus a bundle of Doctor Whos) is a Goth Warrior and the stunt coordinator. In amongst the Goth Warriors are two famous stunt performers: Nosher Powell and his brother Dinny. Dinny's got a credited Red Dwarf role to his name as Famine in Gunmen of the Apocalypse but they've both got credit lists a mile long including the Bond Films.

The location filming for this episode took place at Bream Scowles in Gloucestershire.

The Keeper was released on video on 05 November 1991 as part of Blake's 7 tape 13 with the following episode Star One and alongside Tape 14 Aftermath & Powerplay. The Blake's 7 season 2 DVD containing this episode was released on 17 January 2005.

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