review by Ariana

Last review for the moment, I'm afraid, since the BBC are stopping their repeats. Still, that will give me back three hours of my weekends. :)

I have to say I liked "Orac" very much.

True, it did have some problems. As Richard Callaghan said on the B7 list, the beginning was basically "Avon, come over here and I'll tell you something you already know". Why Blake would ever feel compelled to play Avon his log entries beats me.

The end was equally weak, with Blake and Travis managing to avoid killing each other for the flimsiest possible reasons. I only liked that bit because it gives me canon evidence to justify similar silliness in a fanfic I'm writing. ;)

Aside from that, I did like the continuity from the previous episode, with all those who had been to Cephlon suffering from radiation sickness. It gave an added urgency to Blake and Cally's quest on Aristo. I also enjoyed Ensor pottering around his little home, and Travis and Servalan having a difficult time in the caves. It wasn't perfect, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Character stuff:

Not a tremendous deal of character stuff to comment on. Nice bit of squabbling when Jenna and Gan join Avon in the teleport room; I think Avon was rather hoping to suffer on his own. Their different reactions to the illness were interesting -- with Avon and Vila wanting privacy (though possibly for different reasons), while Jenna and Gan seemed more keen on company. It was nice to see Cally and Blake making an efficient team again, too.

Vila doesn't get much to do in this episode, but he does get the best laughs; first when he bangs his head on the door as he leaves the recreation room (or whatever it is), and then when he's teleported down into a puddle with only one boot on. Plus he gets to wear a rather nice red shirt while he's relaxing. ;)

Servalan being so shaken by the phibian's attack was a nice touch, IMHO. After showing what a heartless cow she can be in the comfort of her own office last time, here we see that she isn't always so assured when in the field. I think it adds a teensy bit of variety and interest to the character. Travis too is beginning to grow on me; Stephen Greif is a good actor. Pity he got replaced by the later-to-be Ted Hills from EastEnders.

I liked Ensor; he was a nice grumpy old man. I thought the actor did a lot better than his 'son' in last week's episode (but then that wasn't difficult). Orac sounds like quite a character, btw. I hope I get an opportunity to see more of it in the rest of the series some day.

Nitpicks and Preposterous Props:

The man in a lizard suit. OK, so the suit was shiny and pretty, but that's not a great consolation.

All those maps of the underground city made me laugh; a bit simple and not very descriptive.

Orac's key has the flimsiest connection to his main unit. Way too easy to disconnect; I wonder if that was ever a plot point in any future episodes.

Talking about those notoriously flimsy props; notice how the little table in the alcove wobbles when Avon and Blake go to listen to Blake's log entry? Paul Darrow seemed rather hesitant to sit down, too. Maybe he was afraid the chair would prove equally untrustworthy.

Further to my previous comments about the use of film and video in the same episode, this one actually has two halves of the same scene using the different media. When Blake and Travis meet in the corridor, one of them is on film, and the other on video.

Cally's reaction when Orac set off that explosion in front of them also amused me. I suspect that the "eep!" and hasty retreat were actually Jan Chappel's reactions to the special effect.

Dialogue Gems:

BLAKEAvon, I want you to listen to this. [Blake and Avon move to a small table and chairs in an alcove.]
AVONWhat is it?

[[BLAKE: Something you already know...]]

VILASo they'll be on their way to pick up Orac as fast as they can go, and that's fairly fast actually.
BLAKEYeah, not as fast as us.
AVONEver the optimist.

BLAKEOur only hope is if they have a supply on Aristo.
VILABut if they don't?
BLAKEThey will have.
VILABut if they don't?
BLAKEThey will have.
AVONThere's no point in hiding it, our condition will deteriorate rapidly. If we don't get drug treatment very soon, we shall die.
VILADie? I can't do that.
AVONI'm afraid you can. It's the one talent we all share, even you.

AVONNot you as well. What are you doing down there?
GANI don't like being on my own. Especially if I'm about to die.
JENNAThat's cheerful.
AVONIs Vila on his way as well?
GANNo, he's doing his best to convince himself that he feels fine. Says we'll just remind him that he doesn't.
AVONSometimes he shows distinct signs of intelligence. Why don't you return to your quarters? I'll let you know the moment I hear anything.
JENNAI'll stay. I think it's better if there are two of us standing by.
GANBetter still if there are three of us.
AVONBetter still if you... [He stops abruptly. They look at each other and then all settle down to continue waiting.]

[[Avon demonstrating that he'd rather die alone and silent]]

BLAKEI thought you started without me. [He steps in.]
CALLYSo did I. [The door closes.] I said that thing was versatile.
BLAKEMaybe we should try and capture it. Perhaps Avon would like it as a pet.


[Scene: The scene switches to Vila in a cabin, reclining in a chair.]

VILAWhat is it?
AVON[On communicator] How do you feel?
VILAYou woke me up to ask me how I feel?
AVON[On communicator] Can you walk?
VILAWhy should I want to?
AVON[On communicator] Meet me in the teleport area in your surface clothes, and hurry.
VILA[Opens the cabin door and bangs his head] Ohhh!

VILA[Entering, in surface gear.] Where is he?
JENNAWe don't know.
VILAHe woke me up.
GANBlake woke you up?
VILAWhat are you up to now?
AVONYou and I are going down to the surface. [He thrusts a gun at him.] Put that on.
VILAAre you out of your mind -- I'm finding it hard enough just to stay on my feet.
AVONThen crawl, but put that on!

TRAVIS[with his gun-arm raised] Goodbye, Blake.


 [Avon shoots Travis' gun-arm]
BLAKEGood shot, Avon.
AVONI was aiming for his head.

BLAKEWhy not? Vila, switch to automatics. [Blake, Avon and Vila head for the couches where the rest of the crew are seated around Orac.] Oh, Activator. [He hands it to Avon who inserts it into Orac. The computer hums.]
JENNAWell, for a hundred million credits you'd expect something a little more spectacular than that.
VILATry kicking it.
GANAre you sure it's fully switched on?

[[The Liberator crew demonstrating that they're as clueless as any average user with a new computer...]]

BLAKEIt's exactly as though Ensor were speaking.
ORACSurely it is obvious even to the meanest intelligence that during my development I would naturally become endowed with aspects of my creator's personality.
AVONThe more endearing aspects by the sound of it.
ORACPossibly. However similarities between myself and Ensor are entirely superficial. My mental capacity is infinitely greater.
JENNAModest, isn't he?
ORACModesty would be dishonesty.
VILAWhat's wrong with being dishonest?
ORACIs that a question?
ORACThe question is futile. Were I to say that I am incapable of dishonesty how would you know if I was being dishonest or not?
BLAKEA question for a question. Well, you're capable of evasion, anyway.
VILAI think I've heard enough. I don't like him. Orac, be a good junk heap -- shut up.

VILAI don't believe it.
JENNAZen, system status.
ZENAll systems are functioning normally.
VILAYes, but Zen's only a machine.
AVONSo is Orac. [He removes the activator and throws it across the flight deck.]
VILAThat's all right, that's fixed Orac.
BLAKENo, it hasn't.
JENNAWhat do you mean?
BLAKEWe've forgotten something. The prediction has still been made.
JENNABlake! [the on-screen ship explodes]
[[Images of a future we'll presumably see if the BBC resume their broadcasts...]]


As I said in my introduction, this is the last of my weekly reviews. Thank you to all those of you who let me know how much they were enjoying my comments. I will be updating the Web page at shortly. And who knows, I might continue the reviews if and when the Beeb start showing B7 again...


"Die? I can't do that."

"I'm afraid you can. It's the one talent we all share, even you." -- Vila and Avon in "Orac"

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