A case of the curate's egg -- parts of it were excellent.
The first half was slow and reeked of padding, but things improved once we got back to the Liberator and met Jenna's friend Omar Shariff. This dichotomy is present in several of the episodes I've seen so far. Maybe Nation would have been better suited to writing a 30 minute drama rather than having to fill 50 minutes with Boucher providing the padding.
I'll confess to a pet peeve about scifi shows set in future where people keep coming back to, referring to or worshipping the 20th century. How many people do you know who collect, say, fifteenth century memorabilia?
I didn't find the first part particularly interesting. It was slow, particularly in the scene where Blake is trying to explain his intentions to Sarkoff. I wasn't really convinced by that whole aspect of the episode. Why is Blake going through all this trouble just to interfere in Lindon's internal affairs? It would make sense if some Lindonians had contacted him and asked him to get Sarkoff back so that the planet would back the Rebellion. But it seems a very ambitious, overly political plan for a band of rowdy rebels to take up off their own bat, as it were. I'd have liked more explanation of why this was particularly important to Blake.
As I said, things picked up tremendously when the space Bedouins turned up. The interaction between the captives was spot on, and the whole business of Jenna's double game was fun to watch. IMHO, this part worked because it drew on the strengths of the regular ensemble cast.
So on the whole, not a bad little episode, though not one of the best either.
Vila gets a major fright, having to hunt down some unknown danger on his own when Avon and Jenna go missing. Michael Keating even gets a scene entirely to himself; you can virtually see him tremble when Vila realises he's on his own. Later in the episode, he comes into his own disabling the neckbands, and even gets to tell Avon to shut up.
Blake's ruthless streak rears its head again as he smashes one of Sarkoff's records and threatens to trash the place. I'm glad to know the rebel leader demonstrates the necessary determination to achieve his objectives; in this case, to get Sarkoff to come with them.
Avon had less to do this episode, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it gives other characters a chance to shine. Interesting to see that Avon also knows how to pick locks; maybe he's been watching Vila and taking notes.
Despite playing a key role in the fist part of the episode, we learned only a little about Cally. She evidently feels that she's growing rusty on the Liberator; she mentions at the beginning of the episode that both her physical and telepathic skills need more exercise. We also learn that her compatriots have been in touch with the Lindonians, and the notion that failure is a stigma the Auronar cannot overcome is further reinforced.
Sarkoff was well-played, though I would have had more sympathy for the character if his scenes had been more interesting. I had no specific problems with Tyce either, but on the whole, I could have done without either of them. The episode would have been more interesting IMHO, if the focus had been entirely on Jenna's apparent betrayal.
Not that Tarvin was exactly a font of originality, but as a Brand-X Shariff knock-off, he didn't do too badly. I was intrigued by Jenna's past as a smuggler, and the fact that it included such an unsavoury character. No wonder she likes Blake so much.
Subtext: Blake fondling the side of Jenna's face at the end. Strange thing to do, but I wouldn't let any casual co-worker get away with it! Oh, and lots of Vila fiddling around with people's necks.
The grammophone was a nice touch, as was the automobile. That was obviously someone's precious; no shots of *that* getting blown up!
Cally's costume on the planet was absolutely awful. I'm sorry, but that's how prostitutes dress on cold winter nights! Whoever gave her that plush leopardskin jacket deserves to be shot. Still, the rest of the cast didn't fare much better. Vila and Gan were wearing their usual costumes, and Jenna's top, which we've already seen, garnered the following comment from my boyfriend: "If you beamed her into space, you'd only see her head". Meanwhile, Avon dressed up as Captain Marvel. Why do costume designers seem to think that everyone will be dressed in tin foil in the future? Bring back the sailor suit, I say.
Cheney's use of his communicator box was nicely consistent, with the actor even checking that the light was on before talking into it in one scene. Pity the prop itself was so tacky-looking.
The neckbands were pretty obvious plastic and reminded me of the collar I had for my Barbie dog many years ago. Blake's neckband is completely undone in the scene where he wakes up -- pity Vila didn't notice that before fiddling with it!
|VILA||I don't like the look of that.|
|GAN||Not again, Vila.|
|VILA||I'm entitled to my opinion.|
|AVON||It is your assumption that we are entitled to it as well that is irritating.|
|AVON||First sign of trouble, we get out, right?|
|JENNA||Goes without saying.|
|AVON||I only wish it did.|
|ZEN||Information. Analysis of voice print confirms that was not Olag Gan speaking.|
|VILA||[Into communicator] Avon! Avon!|
|JENNA||All right, bring him up. [Avon initiates teleport.]|
|VILA||[V.O.l] Avon! Avon! Avon! Answer me! [Normal] Avon! It's not Gan!
... Avon? Jenna? Now don't let's be silly. Answer me, one of you.|
[To himself] I shall come out in a rash. Zen, has something happened to them?
|ZEN||Data is not available.|
|VILA||I don't want data, I want to know what's happening.|
|ZEN||It will be necessary for you to make a personal investigation.|
|VILA||Oh, you're a big help. "Personal investigation." [Straps on a
weapon] "Personal investigation." The next time Avon wants to
make a personal investigation on how you work I shall make a
personal point of handing him the instruments, personally.|
[Leaves the flight deck reluctantly]
[[Vila having kittens in a big way, and Michael Keating gets the stage to himself]]
|BLAKE||That was stupid.|
|AVON||None of us showed conspicuous intelligence on this occasion.|
|TARVIN||[Removes Jenna's neckband and tosses it aside] Good to have you back with us, Jenna. [Touches her]|
|JENNA||[Walks away] This is purely a business arrangement, Tarvin.|
|TARVIN||You weren't always so cold.|
|JENNA||You weren't always a bounty hunter.|
|TARVIN||Have you forgotten Zolaf Four?|
|JENNA||Is it worth remembering?|
|TARVIN||Just the two of us in the mountains.|
|JENNA||And three hundred customs guards.|
|TARVIN||You saved my life.|
|JENNA||We all make mistakes.|
|TARVIN||I thought you liked me.|
|JENNA||Oh, I did. Then.|
|TARVIN||Have I changed so much?|
|JENNA||One of us has.|
|BLAKE||You're not going to force it, are you?!|
|VILA||-- and if I get it wrong, bang, no head.|
|BLAKE||I trust you.|
|VILA||And if it blows up and I'm right behind you -- !|
|BLAKE||That's why I trust you.|
|VILA||I told you I couldn't do it.|
|AVON||I believed you all along.|
|VILA||Nobody could open it.|
|AVON||I thought you could open anything, that's always been one of your more modest claims.|
|VILA||I could open that door in two minutes.|
|AVON||This door is not quite the problem at the moment, is it?|
|VILA||It seems to be a problem to you!|
|BLAKE||Keep your head, Vila! That way I might have a chance at keeping mine.|
|VILA||Shut up. Please.|
|CALLY||What do you take pride in, Jenna?|
|AVON||At the expense of your friends?|
|JENNA||I didn't know that you cared, Avon.|
|VILA||He didn't. And he was right.|
|AVON||Take this off.|
|VILA||Well, that's all very well, but who's going to take mine off?|
|AVON||Get on with it.|
|VILA||[Plaintively] Who's going to take mine off?|
|CALLY||And, Vila, do be quick. I'll be next.|
[[The look on Vila's face as he realises he'll be the last to be rid of the collar is brilliant!]]
In essence, the time pressures meant that Terry could either work on the next script or do the rewrites on the current one. So, he moved onto the next one, and Chris did the rewrites and brought them up to length.
If I recall correctly, Tyce wasn't even in the original script!
The records Sarkoff plays (identified by Neil Faulkner) are Tommy Steele 'Singing the Blues' and Kathleen Ferrier 'Blow the Wind Southerly' (and are of course mentined in the Sevencyclopaedia).
The whole scene in which Sarkoff is playing the latter record was introduced to bring the episode up to the required length (and I'm impressed by TP McKenna's acting - the scene does not feel like a fill-in to me)
The stunt girl standing in for Cally was badly injured jumping off the wall of the folly. (I think her name was Jan too)
The folly really does have that funny structure on top - it isn't a CGI add on. (the location of the folly is somewhere on my web site)
Gareth tells horror stories of climbing that wall with a hangover from the night before. I've a vague memory that one of the coping stones came off the wall while they were climbing it!
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