Monday, 25 November 2013

C12 Death-Watch

EPISODE: C12 Death-Watch
BROADCAST: 24/03/1980
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"What about Avon?"
"Gone to visit a sick friend"
"A sick friend?"
"That's what he said. Let's face it any friend of Avon's got to be sick, right?"

Tarrant's brother Deeta is on the spaceship Teal Star bound for a combat ground between Teal & Vandor. Orac recommends the crew go somewhere to relax and they set course to observe the conflict between the champions of the two planets. They discover that the neutral arbiter of the conflict is Servalan and the Teal champion is Deeta Tarrant. Deeta meets his opponent Vinny and takes an instant dislike to him. Tarrant goes to speak to his brother who refuses to see him. Avon visits Servalan and tells her he has calculated she plans to violate the rules of the competition. Tarrant steals a number of sensor discs that let the Liberator crew experience the conflict. Deeta is killed by Vinny, but Orac determines that Vinny is a sophisticated Android and thus has broken the rules of the competition. Dayna is sent to prevent Servalan from having Vinny medically examined. Tarrant challenges Vinny using a new gun which Dayna has developed. Orac obtains information on where the conflict is to be located and Cally transmits it telepathically to Tarrant giving him an advantage which he uses to vaporise the Vinny android. Avon passes the information to the Teal representative with advice from Orac to get the contest restaged with new arbiters medically examined before the contest to prove they are human.

Oh my goodness, what an awful episode! For the vast majority of the episode the Liberator crew are just sat around watching, completely uninvolved. The active participant is Tarrant's brother and if you don't care for Tarrant (which you won't after the previous episode) you won't be that keen on his brother. It only really gets going at an astonishing 42 minutes into the episode, after Deeta has died, when Avon sets out to show how it was all rigged. Once Tarrant is doing the fighting you're a little more invested in what's going on.

In the long run up we've got Vila accidentally putting his foot in it to give the viewers a clumsy reminder that Servalan killed Dayna's father. The only reason that's there is to make it obvious why Dayna needs to be reminded not to kill her later in the episode when she's sent to delay things.

It's awful......

..... and yet in the middle (24 minutes in) is some of the greatest dialogue in the show, which I've quoted at the top of the episode:

Cally: "What about Avon?"
Vila: "Gone to visit a sick friend"
Cally: "A sick friend?"
Villa: "That's what he said. Let's face it any friend of Avon's got to be sick, right?"

and then a cut to Servalan as she and Avon share a scene, discussing Servalan's presence and plotting, which ends in their second kiss of the season. But then on Avon's returns to the Liberator:

Dayna: "How was your friend?"
Avon: "Sick as ever."


"we're wasting time Tarrant"

Yeah that about sums up how I felt watching most of the episode.

A rather annoying plot hole. Orac announces he has obtained the location of Tarrant's fight site but isn't seen to tell crew where it is yet Cally is still able to immediately transmit it to Tarrant!

I did like the white out from Deeta's point of view as he was but I was rather distracted during the rest of the fight Deeta/Vinny flight scene. It's the then derelict Wembley Exhibition centre which was used on the first title sequence for The Professionals. You may well have never seen it, as it's been replaced with the more common one for repeat showings *except* When The Heat Cools Off. It also survives on the unbroadcast episode, Klansman. If you want to see it then watch here on YouTube complete with the voice over from the first two episodes!

I'm not sure why Tarrant actor Steven Pacey plays his brother Deeta - he's his brother, not his twin, and besides the series had already pulled this trick this season by having Jan Chappell play both Cally and her clone sister Zelda in Children of Auron. Of the rest of the cast Stewart Bevan plays Max, Deeta's assistant, was in Doctor Who The Green Death as Professor Cliff Jones while David Sibley, the Commentator, was Pralix: The Pirate Planet.

Death-Watch was repeated on 13/07/81 and then released on video on 2nd June 1992 as part of Blake's 7 tape 19 along with the previous episode Moloch and alongside Tape 20 Terminal/Rescue. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

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