Monday, 9 December 2013

D1 Rescue

EPISODE: D1 Rescue
BROADCAST: 28/09/1981
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Mary Ridge
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: Vere Lorrimer
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 4

"You know what they say no good deed goes unpunished"

Stranded on Terminal Avon & Dayna discover the spacecraft Servalan left for them has been booby trapped with explosives. Rushing back to the base, fearing it too has been booby trapped, Dayna is attacked by a vicious plant but saved by Avon. Vila gets an injured Tarrant out but Cally is trapped inside and killed in a second explosion. The spaceship Scorpio, bearing salvager Dorian and his computer Slave, nears Terminal seeking the Liberator when it detects the residual of the explosion which destroyed the Liberator. Avon retrieves a damaged Orac from the base and confirms Cally is death. The next morning the part are separated when Tarrant collapses and Avon is forced to go back for him. Dayna & Vila are attacked by another plant but saved by Dorian. Avon holds him at gunpoint and forces him to take them to his ship. Vila & Avon are intrigued by what looks like a teleport system. Quakes rock the ship and Slave predicts a volcanic eruption. Dorian is knocked out by another quake forcing Avon & Tarrant to take the ship up manually without computer assistance, Slave only acknowledging his master's voice pattern. Scorpio locks itself into a pre-programmed course home. Dayna discovers a locker, which Vila opens, containing a number of advanced guns while Avon examines the unsuccessful teleport system. Tarrant deduces they're heading for the planet Xenon. Avon is worried as to how Dorian has developed the guns, computer and teleport. On Xenon Dorian's associate Soolin hails the ship. Avon rouses Dorian and he starts the landing sequence. Scorpio lands in a cliff top hanger bay and descends into an underground silo. They leave the ship, Vila bringing with him the one Federation gun they had on Terminal, but the security door to the silo seals behind them and Dorian tells them it won't open unless he wants it to. Soolin prepares drinks for her, Dorian's and 5 guests. A tiring Dorian introduces them to Soolin and offers them drinks. Tarrant notices the extra glass as if they were expecting another guest, if Cally had survived. Dorian retires to rest instructing Soolin to show them to their quarters. An ageing and frail Dorian descends a spiral staircase to a cavern under the base where he tells something that he has brought Avon's group. The thing tells Dorian it must be soon and both writhe in agony. The next morning Vila is struggling to open the Silo door which he decrees to be impossible and seeks out the wine. Dorian has repaired Orac and tries to interrogate him about the teleport. When Avon tells him Orac was designed by Ensor Dorian admits he met him. Avon deduces he must have been very young at the time, and Dorian confirms he built the base, modified Slave and created the guns. Searching for another way into the silo Dayna and Tarrant descend a spiral staircase and find themselves at a dead-end. Tarrant begins climbing back up as Dayna examines the room and triggers a secret panel and she descends into the cave beneath. She hears the creature but discovers her gun won't fire. The hatch closes on her so that When Tarrant returns for her he discovers her gone and an empty room. Dorian hopes that Avon will help him work on the teleport system. Dorian admits he has worked on the teleport for 30 years He tells Avon that Soolin has replaced their gun cartridges and holds him at gunpoint. A hiding Vila observes their exchange. Dorian tells him beneath the base is a room containing minerals that he has been studying for 200 years. What is within has stopped him ageing and kept him healthy. Soolin overhears too and asks him what's in the room. Dorian tells Avon that Soolin has killed the people responsible for the death of her family, but reveals her gun has been sabotaged too. Both are forced to the staircase. A fortified Villa, clutching the Federation gun, follows at a distance. Forced into the cave Avon, Tarrant and Soolin find a distraught terrified Dayna. He intends to use them all to form a gestalt to replace the creature in the cave, the latest in a long line that has replaced his original partner which came with him to the cave. The creature psychically attacks them but Vila passes Avon the gun. He kills the creature, freeing them causing Dorian to age rapidly,die, decay and turn to dust. While the others watch the creature turn into the body of a young man Soolin steals away into the base.....

Terry Nation, acting under instructions that the show was over, did an excellent job at taking the series to bits at the end of the last episode. He destroys their super fast ship/base, with it's computer and teleport systems, maroons the crew on a desolate planet and seemingly kills off the show's villain. Good, Chris Boucher's then got a list of things to do in the first few episodes of the series to put the show back together. But first let's attend to the behind the scenes departure of Jan Chappell by killing Cally off screen. Apparently Cally is two lines of dialogue "Vila" and her final "Blake!" were specially recorded by the actress but she receives no credit here. Note how the explosion also takes out Orac! Useful that as we'll see. (I'm forced to wonder how Vila got Tarrant out of the base: that ladder shaft is very long and isn't that wide as we saw last episode!) Of course the booby traps are so believable because that's exactly what Servalan would have done. And the over the top nature, enough explosives to cause some quakes and a Volcano, is typical of Servalan too. Her trap was well baited with cheese but it's intended execution was final.

Or would have been if Dorian hadn't showed up looking for Avon's gang. There's no doubt he specifically wants Avon and co but I'm wondering how he knows where they are. Has he been tracking them? It's obvious quite quickly there's something odd about him and once Avon start poking into the amount of technology he has personally worked on it becomes obvious what it is! So by the end of the episode Avon & co have obtained from Dorian a base, a spaceship (albeit one sealed behind a locked door that only he could open), a non working teleport system and a computer (that'll only respond to Dorian's voice). Here's where damaging Orac is so important: without Orac they're forced to go where the ship's programmed to. Now they have Orac functional reprogramming Slave to respond to them should be an easy job.... if only the ship wasn't stuck behind that door! Oh well, one for Vila to work on next episode

Dorian's story is lifted wholesale from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Keeping the name the same is a rather huge clue! Except that instead of a painting in the attic, he's got a Sea Devil in the cellar! Yup, the creature in the cave, the latest apparently in a long line of substitutes for Dorian, is a Sea Devil costume recycled from Doctor Who! Like in the book when the creature is killed Dorian ages and dies while the creature returns to it's original form (Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli! It's true - see here for a photo of him reunited with his costume!) The only difference here is that Dorian's not responsible for his own death: in the original he slashes the painting, here Avon uses the gun brought from Terminal and retained by Vila. (One of the ageing Dorian's is Harry Van Engel who was a Kaled Scientist in several episodes of Doctor Who's Genesis of the Daleks.)

There's some really good continuity between this episode and the last: the same heartbeat backing noise on Terminal, the same costumes are used as is the same location, though I pity Josette Simon out in the snow on Pyrton Hill in that costume! At least the others get to wrap up warm. The electronic binoculars Avon uses were used by Servalan's staff in the last episode so it's logical to assume they've searched the base which was how they found the gun as well.

Almost without exception the model work on this episode is superb, even the long shot of Scorpio on the ground filmed on location, a type of shot that frequently goes wrong!


The only slight nit picking I'd do is that Scorpio seems to fly into it's hanger bay a bit fast and that the platform it sits on in the silo rotates round 270 degrees: yes it shows the ship off nicely but functionally a 90 degree turn the other would be easier. In fact the Scorpio landing/hanger sequence is probably the best bit of model work ever done by the BBC!


The volcanic eruption on Terminal is stock footage, and probably from the same film used in Volcano and the Doctor Who stories Enemy of the World & Inferno. The Slave prop is the work of the firm Imagineering who designed props for many 1980s Doctor Who stories including the revamped Cybermen costumes for Earthshock.


The new ship Scorpio would seem to take a lot of it's inspiration from Star Wars. It's shaped a lot like an Imperial Star Destroyer - both are basically wedge shaped - but feels more like the Millennium Falcon being a freighter and with Tarrant's struggle - "lift you scruffy bag of bolts lift" to get it off Terminal reminding me of Han Solo struggling with his ship. Tarrant describes Scorpio as a "mark II wander class planet hopper". Planet Hoppers were mentioned in Gambit.

As well as the ship we're introduced to new character Soolin, played by young actress Glynis Barber. We learn she can use a gun, was taught to by a man who killed her family and she killed all of those responsible. And that's it. Nothing else. And that's virtually the way it stays until we get a little more background to her in the last episode. She sneaks away at the end of this episode and is absent for most of the next which maybe isn't a great move in developing a new character. Of all the characters in Blake's 7 she's probably the poorest served in terms of background and development. We'll be keeping an eye on what exactly she does during the episodes she's in as there's very little there that shapes who she is!

The show's title sequence and logo have also had a revamp last year, now showing a point of view shot of a starship launching overlaid with a readout display and a 4 point star/target logo replacing the Federation badge used previously. There's a new end sequence too featuring a revamped version of the music.


For your pleasure and enjoyment we present this YouTube video based on the season 4 title sequence.

Rescue was the first episode of Blake's 7 I ever saw..... except I didn't make it quite to the end. I was so terrified by what was in the cellar I bailed out before the resolution. I was just 8 at the time! I've got a feeling I missed Rescue during it's repeat run so it's possible that the first time I saw it right through was on the video release! It wasn't enough to put me off coming back the next week though....

Rescue was novelised by Trevor Hoyle as part of the novel Scorpio Attack along with Traitor and Stardrive, the 3rd & 4th episodes of the season. I always wondered why Power wasn't included. My local library had a copy of Scorpio Attack, never having had any of the other books, and that copy now sits on my bookshelf thanks to a stock clearance sale. Rescue, the first episode of Season 4, was repeated on Saturday 04/06/1983. It was released on video on 2nd June 1992 as part of Blake's 7 tape 20 along with Terminal, the last episode of Season 3, and alongside Tape 29 containing Moloch & Death-Watch. Blake's 7 season 4 was released on DVD on 24th April 2006.

1 comment:

  1. The reason probably why Soolin didn't have much to do in the first six episodes is due more likely to the fact that the character was hastily written in when Jan Chappel refused to return. The character works better from Assassin onwards I believe.