Monday, 11 November 2013

C10 Ultraworld

EPISODE: C10 Ultraworld
BROADCAST: 10/03/1980
WRITTEN BY: Trevor Hoyle
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"Touch of conscience?"
"More like insanity. You really believe in taking risks, don't you?"

The Liberator encounters an artificial planet. Shortly after Cally disappears and Liberator receives a distress call from her on the Avon, Dayna and Tarrant teleport to the planet to find her and meet it's inhabitants, the Ultra. Avon theorises Ultraworld is a giant computer, the Ultras tell him it is effectively alive. They have Cally who is recovering from a trauma she sustained. They are taken to see her but Tarrant wanders off. He discovers the Ultras are wiping the minds of those who come there and absorbing them into the core. He is discovered by the Ultras but rescued by Dayna. While talking to Vila Avon is captured. When all 5 crewmembers are captured the Ultras intend to take the Liberator. Tarrant & Dayna find a room containing the bodies of those recently absorbed into the core. Avon has been connected to the machine for absorption but struggles against it while Tarrant and Dayna discover that the used bodies are being physically fed into the core, a giant brain which is growing. They find Cally's body as Avon's resistance fails, but are attacked and their teleport bracelets smashed. The Ultras try to force Dayna & Tarrant to mate with each other so they may gather data for the core. Dayna sets off a small explosive charge to allow them to escape. The Liberator is forced to dock at Ultraworld. Tarrant & Dayna save Avon & Cally's bodies from being absorbed, damaging the mechanism by which Ultraworld controls it's human servants and destabilising the core. They restore Avon & Cally. The Ultras confront them but are killed by Tarrant. Avon, Cally, Dayna and Tarrant board the Liberator which escapes from Ultraworld just before it's destroyed. Orac explains how he used Vila to distract Ultraworld's core.

How old was I when this episode aired? 6, nearly 7? I'd have loved the model work especially the spaceship docking sequence and probably been scared by the concept of having your mind wiped and being fed to a brain. And yeah the modelwork *IS* superb, 1979/80 was a fabulous year for models in the BBC Visual Effects department. But the episode, especially the "you must mate for us" sequence just feels like sci fi cliche/sub Star Trek rubbish. Vila telling jokes to Orac throughout is intensely annoying and is only there (see Avon's rock in Harvest of Kairos) in order to provide a get out at the end of the episode..... which in this case isn't really needed as the malfunctioning core looked to me to be the result of the damage Tarrant & Dayna did till Orac's additional explanation popped up

Just why does Cally teleport to Ultraworld in the first place? Does it exert some sort of telepathic influence over her? It would seem so from what we see but doesn't do anything else with telepathy for the rest of the episode!

I'm seeing UFO control panels all over the place in this episode!

A lot of this episode is on film. Add the model and location work together and you're looking at over 50% so it's quite jarring when it cuts to video. It's almost a shame they didn't record it all on film. The location sequences are recorded in Camden Deep Level shelters, used previously by the BBC in Doctor Who: The Sunmakers. They provide a fabulous location throughout but some of the shots near the end with the tunnels lit red and smoke in them are superb.

Two of the Ultras have Doctor Who form : Stephen Jenn, Ultra 2, was Seker in The Nightmare of Eden Part One and featured in the cult horror classic The Keep. Ian Barritt, Ultra 3, was in The Unicorn & The Wasp as Professor Peach.

This episode was written by science fiction author Trevor Hoyle, who was responsible for the three Blake's 7 tie in novels: Blake's 7, Project Avalon and Scorpio Attack. It's his only episode of Blake's 7 and indeed his only television scripting credit.

Ultraworld was repeated on 06/07/81. It was released on episodic video on 7th April 1992 on tape 18 paired with the previous episode Sarcophagus and alongside tape 17 Children of Auron & Rumours of Death. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

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