Monday, 18 November 2013

C11 Moloch

EPISODE: C11 Moloch
BROADCAST: 17/03/1980
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"Perhaps she wants to compare notes with some other genocidal maniacs. Or take a refresher course in basic brutality."

The Liberator has been tracking Servalan's starship for 27 days with no clear destination when it suddenly vanishes. The Liberator encounters interference and then suddenly finds itself approaching a planet's surface. They discover high technology present on the surface. Servalan is there visiting a Federation garrison on the planet. Orac identifies the planet as Sardos and identifies an approaching cargo cruiser that the Liberator's crew can teleport to to journey to the planet. Vila & Tarrant are sent over but Vila is discovered and taken to join the drinking party held on ship and joins the work crew on the surface. He's "rescued" by Tarrant who tries to bully him into cooperating. Avon deduces the transport ship has brought in prisoners from a nearby penal colony. Tarrant is detected by one of the Colony's female workers but she is caught by a Federation officer who sends troops to capture him. Cally discovers how to penetrate the shield surrounding the planet with the teleport and Tarrant & Dayna teleport down. Grose, the Federation Officer in charge of the planet, shows Servalan the matter restructuring technology that they stole from the natives when they subdued them. He has summoned Servalan to the planet to copy her ship intending to conquer the galaxy and turn Servalan over to his men, where she is found by Vila. She bargains with Vila to help her in return for finding Tarrant. Avon & Dayna discover the replicator but are detected and held prisoner. Servalan steals Vila's gun and teleport bracelet before absconding. Vila finds Tarrant who confirms Servalan has left. Avon is tortured by the guards but rescued by Vila & Tarrant who are guided by one of the planet's enslaved women. Avon, Vila, Tarrant & Dayna are sealed in the replicator room. The replicator opens to reveal Moloch a being which has been mutated into it's ultimate form by the Federation. He uses a teleport bracelet replica to beam himself to the Liberator but dies without the life support chamber. Servalan returns with a fleet of Federation ships and the Liberator flees.

On the surface this is quite a simple episode of Blake's 7: Federation troops have seized a planet with high technology and are using it. The Liberator stumbles across what's going on, investigate and and escape.

First we must ask ourselves IF the locals have a high level of technology how did they get conquered? That's the big one for me. I'm assuming the Federation troops stumbled on the planet, probably crashing there and I just can't get my head round them conquering it so easily.

And now they've got the technology the head of the colony has got delusions of grandeur and plans to take over the galaxy. But first he needs an advanced spaceship and a pilot and that's the reason Servalan's been lured there..... Servalan is essentially a little superfluous: why not have them attempt to lure the Liberator there?

Then.... why are the Federation troops busing in Prisoners? Use as slave labour I could understand but having them dressed as Federation guards???? There's something about copying brain patterns in the episode, Tarrant's brain pattern is duplicated and being passed about at one stage so I'm guessing that they're going to be ended up imprinted as Federation soldiers?

Then you've got the attitude of the Federation soldiers towards the female locals, who are being forced to work for them. At least I assume they're locals at no point are Chesil & Poola's origins identified. The sexist misogynistic attitude was also present in writer Ben Steed's previous script. Here it's even more obvious and much more disturbing with women basically being punished by being raped by the guards/Federation prisoners.

Mind you they're not that gentle with Avon either when they get hold of him.

And then, right at the end, we reveal a highly evolved being, created from the locals' prophecy and research by the former head of the Federation garrison on the planet. It wants to escape .... ok.... but as soon as it does it dies without it's life support???? WHAT????? It's just so stupid that a being supposedly that intelligent wouldn't know this. Yes there's hints at it's existence earlier in the episode but Moloch itself feels like a bolt on at the end and that's just wrong considering that the episode bears it's name!

Too many ideas, some not dealt with terribly well and a background theme that leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Not good at all and I'm not 100% sure if it's suitable for the pre watershed audience it was shown to.

Horrible thought: does Federation now have matter replicator technology?

This episode features some of the best and worst of what the BBC's model department can do. Early on we have a painting representing the base on the planet which is very poor but then we get a great model of the landing bay. The comparison between the two highlights how bad the first was. Yes it's our old friend the footage of the London from Space fall/Cygnus Alpha back *AGAIN*,

There's a really off bit of background music as the liberator turns to avoid the planet that I could swear is Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box !

Davyd Harries, playing the convict Doran, is the only one of the cast with sci fi form having played Shapp in The Armageddon Factor. John Hartley, Grose. later appears as Greville Preston in the superb House of Cards. Sabina Franklyn,Chesil, has the final episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil the rat, on her CV which has more recently included Coronation Street. Her Father is William Franklyn, the second radio voice of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Playing Moloch is Deep Roy was was a Decima in The Web and The Klute in Gambit as well as Mr Sin in Doctor Who's Talons of Weng Chiang.

This is Director Vere Lorimer's last credited episode of Blake's 7. As we'll see he ends up producing Season 4 although on one occasion circumstances force him uncredited back into the Director's chair.

Wayhay! We're back at Blake's 7's favourite filming location Betchworth Quarry making it's fourth appearance after Time Squad, Deliverance and Hostage. Two more to come next season!

Moloch wasn't included in the June/July 1981 partial repeat run of Series 3. You can kind of understand why! Moloch was released on video on 2nd June 1992 as part of Blake's 7 tape 19 along with the following episode Death-Watch and alongside Tape 20 Terminal/Rescue. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

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