Monday, 27 January 2014

D8 Games

BROADCAST: 16/11/1981
WRITTEN BY: Bill Lyons
DIRECTOR: Vivienne Cozens
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: Vere Lorrimer
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 4

"As well as being a respected geologist and an expert on mining techniques he's also greedy, avaricious and a crook."
"Does he have any faults?

When Avon's ally Academician Geeren fails in his task of penetrating an orbiting space station Scorpio sets course for Mecron II to steal a consignment of Feldon crystals. The official in charge of Mecron II Belkov has been visited by Servalan and contacts Scorpio wanting to be taken off planet in return for half of his haul of Feldon crystals. Villa, Tarrant, Dayna & Geeren teleport to Mecron but Scorpio shifts it's orbit so it is hidden by the orbiter. Servalan tries to obtain from Belkov his crystals and he offers her Avon and his colleagues. Vila breaks into the mine complex and waits outside while Tarrant, Dayna & Gerrren go in. Orac determines Belkov's computer has been modified to play games. Gerren, Tarrant & Dayna find Belkov and he proposes stealing a Federation ship and escaping. He dupes Servalan and her troops into visiting a site sacred to the locals on the pretext Tarrant & Dayna are hiding there. Avon asks Vila to steal a circuit from Belkov's computer.


Belkov traps Tarrant, Dayna & Gerren in the launch area under the spaceships. Belkov tells computer Gambit he has to leave and orders it's self destruct after his departure. Vila persuades Gambit to let him have the circuit and release Tarrant, Dayna & Gerren. Gerren is believed killed in the escape while the other three teleport to Scorpio. Gerren is captured by Servalan and he tells her the Felden crystals are on the orbiter. Avon, Vila, Tarrant & Soolin take Orac to the orbiter and are forced to play the games in it's defences. Soolin is forced to outshoot herself, while Tarrant has to fly a flight simulator and Vila tricks a fingerprint sensing system. As they start the final game the orbiter moves out of orbit powered by it's panels covered in Feldon crystals. Avon is required to compute the next star in a sequence which he discovers is a black hole. He realises the Orbiter is a con and a trap and teleports them all back to Scorpio. Gambit locks Belkov's cruiser on a course for the black hole. Scorpio escapes from the black hole by firing on the Feldon crystals covering the station .

Oh and that was all going so well and they threw it away at the end. I can't stand stories which involve beating a selection of traps to win. To be fair this happening was choreographed in advance at the start of the episode. And oh look each of the traps just happens to be just the things for each of the members of out plucky team. GRRRRRRR and if that wasn't bad enough the end is a rushed spew of techno babble where it's not clear what's going on. A mess.


Which is a shame cos everything up to there was great with Belkov trying con everyone in sight. There is a question to just where his Feldon Crystals were: did he use all of them to coat the Orbiter?


Belkov is played by Stratford Johns is best known to television viewers for many years playing Detective Inspector Charlie Barlow in Z-Cars, while Doctor Who fans will know him as Monarch in Four to Doomsday, first Peter Davison story filmed. By an odd coincidence David Neal, who plays Gerren here, will appear in the last Peter Davison story as the President in Caves of Androzani! One of Gerren's associates, presumably one of the two shot at the start is Graham Cole (later a Federation trooper in Blake, various Cybermen & other extras in Doctor Who and PC Stamp in the Bill) and lurking in the background, inside a Federation Trooper costume for the first time this year is our old mate Aitch.


The location for the surface of Mecron 2 is Winspit Quarry in Dorset, which had previously been used in Doctor Who for The Underwater Menace and my favourite story Destiny of the Daleks. It was so obviously the same place that even Liz recognised bits of it. There again I have made her watch Destiny a few times..... Oddly shortly after I watched this Channel 4 showed a World's Weirdest Weather program and I instantly picked Winspit Quarry out as being used as a location there too!

Writer Bill Lyons seems to have spent most of his career writing for soaps, though I can see some of Stratford Johns' Z-Cars on his CV. In his previous guise he was an actor who appeared in Doctor Who: The Enemy of the World episode 3 as a guard. Vivienne Cozens directs this the first of two episodes. Her name pops up as a director of the Hoobs one of Jonathan's favourites when he was younger!

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast on BBC1 the same night as the Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat of Carnival of Monsters episode 1 was shown on BBC2. The whole of Carnival of Monsters was repeated on BBC2 during the week following.

Games was repeated on 23/07/1983. Games was released on video as the first episode on Blake's 7 tape 24 on 1st September 1992. It was paired with the next episode Sand and alongside Tape 23 Headhunter/Assassin. Blake's 7 season 4 was released on DVD on 24th April 2006.

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