Review BLAKE'S 7: SPACE FALL - Episode 02

Doctor Omega

Moderator
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Your thoughts and views on this, the second episode and the first appearance of you know who.....


Blake takes the prison transport ship "London" under siege with help from Kerr Avon and Jenna Stannis. But when the siege fails, Blake, Jenna and Avon are sent to investigate a abandoned alien spaceship, where Blake decides to take to control of the ship and escape.





On to the next episode.....

CYGNUS ALPHA

https://www.imdforums.com/threads/cygnus-alpha-episode-3.3315/


Back to the previous episode....

THE WAY BACK

https://www.imdforums.com/threads/the-fight-against-the-federation-starts-here.3309/
 
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michaellevenson

Member: Rank 8
Indeed, Avon is the star, but what was going through Gareth Thomas's mind , we know that he found the role limiting. A very good second episode, Leslie Schofield was good, and a wonderfully imaginative and original set for the Liberator flight deck.
Amazingly it was only about a year ago I realised that the Fed guard that Vila was doing his magic tricks to, was none other than Tarot from Ace Of Wands, Michael McKenzie.
I thought the ship The London was a good practical design, and obviously pirate Jenna is going to be vital to Blakes plan to fight back. The alien ship's defence sphere was a nice idea too. Leylan seemed a reasonable chap, just going about his duties waiting for retirement . He did though tolerate Raiker to a certain extent, knowing what he had planned for Jenna and not caring much, probably because he knew he needed Raiker for the necessary rough stuff to maintain order. Yes, Avon is the focus here, and comes across as rude , full of self importance, someone who Blake recognises is vital to his plans, and Avon quickly susses Blake out as a dreamer, but now fully having his represssed memories intact Blake shows Avon and us that he is a bit of a fanatic, not quite the innocent lamb of episode 1.
9/10
 
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Doctor Omega

Moderator
none other than Tarot from Ace Of Wands, Michael McKenzie.

I had no idea until you mentioned it! Another excuse for me to re-watch the episode though! :emoji_alien:

A good, efficiently written episode, continuing to establish the show and pretty much finalising the format in it's last moments.

It has a job to do and does it well. A good villain in Raiker too.


Another

7 out of 10
 
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The Seeker

Member: Rank 6
So the prisoners on the ship are Blake’s future crew, eh? Vila made a strong impression. Good thing for him he was claustrophobic - that poor man who got trapped in the shaft!

Avon’s got a mean right hook. He’s mercenary but we know he’ll emerge a hero. The whole ensemble is shaping up very nicely.

How ruthless is Limpy? Willing to shoot his own men down to get rid of Blake.

Where did that ship come from? I guess we’ll find out in a future episode. And what was that mind control thing? Did they truly get rid of it? It certainly dispached the Federation troops quicker than our heroes. Speaking of heroes, well it’s both refreshing and cliched to see they’re all extremely flawed. They’re a bunch of prisoners, after all.
 

michaellevenson

Member: Rank 8
This episode cast list

Gareth Thomas....Roj Blake
Paul Darrow......Kerr Avon
Michael Keating....Vila Restal
Sally Knyvette.....Jenna Stannis
David Jackson....Olag Gan
Glyn Owen.....Leylan
Leslie Schofield...Raiker
Norman Tipton....Artix
David Hayward....Teague
Brett Forrest.....Krell
Tom Kelly...Nova
Bill Weston....Garton
And finally...Michael McKenzie, Tarot from Ace of Wands tv series as.....Dainer

Writer...Terry Nation
Director....Pennant Roberts
Transmitted 9 January 1978
 
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michaellevenson

Member: Rank 8
An additional point about Commander Leylan, we may ask why was he nice to Blake, Avon and Jenna, and promised to get their sentences quashed?
Well if he was serious about reporting Raiker for the murder of prisoners, then he'd need witnesses absolving him or he could be implicated.
 

The Seeker

Member: Rank 6
An additional point about Commander Leylan, we may ask why was he nice to Blake, Avon and Jenna, and promised to get their sentences quashed?
Well if he was serious about reporting Raiker for the murder of prisoners, then he'd need witnesses absolving him or he could be implicated.
Maybe he figured his crew was faithful to him.
 

chainsaw_metal1

Member: Rank 8
I forgot how much I love Kerr Avon. He is the perfect companion for Blake. While Blake is still naive enough to have these lofty goals, Avon knows who he is and what he wants - enough money to be left alone. And he is also an enigma. We're told he's merely intelligent, with little in the way of survival skills, but then we see him easily take out the guard in the computer terminal. He's rather rude and to the point, but I think there just might be a dreamer hiding in there somewhere. Who knows?

Jenna is awesome. Not too over-sexualized, but enough to give you pause, and make you wonder if she's just a pretty face, or if she can hold her own. Vila is a great character, that comic relief who is a coward but one who has skills you need to operate a crew like this. I hope we see more with Gan as well, because I dig his character.

I did have to laugh at the scene where they hook up to the Liberator. Seeing the boarding tube stretch out, it immediately reminded me of Red Dwarf, and all I could think was "Wow, in ten years time, the BBC effects department did nothing to advance practical effects".

And we have Leslie Schofield as the token asshole, which makes sense since he was Calib on Doctor Who and an Imperial Commander on Star Wars. He just has a face you love to hate. It did me some good to see his fate in this episode.

Still a solid story, and it seems to be setting up some great things for future episodes. I can't wait!

EDIT: I forgot my rating! Let's give it a 9/10!
 
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ant-mac

Administrator
Staff member
Captain Leylan, Sub-Commander Raiker and Officer Artix are the flight crew of the Civil Administration spacecraft London - and along with several armed guards - they constitute its crew. After ordering the highest level of suppressants to be administered to the prisoners' rations, Leylan and his crew take the spaceship on an eight-month journey to the penal colony Cygnus Alpha. The space vessel has mess facilities, sleeping bays and a recreational area for both the crew and the prisoners. While the prisoners have no rights, the captain has the right to order the execution of any prisoner who disobeys any order or causes any trouble for the crew.

Blake is introduced to Kerr Avon, who used his technical prowess to almost succeed in stealing five million credits from the Federation banking system. Realizing that he now knows a good pilot - Jenna Stannis - a lock-pick expert - Vila Restal - a large, powerful man - Olag Gan - and a computer specialist, Blake devises a plan to hijack the London. However, due to misfortune and poor co-ordination, the attempted takeover fails and the responsible prisoners are put in restraints.

After the aborted hijack attempt by the prisoners, the London encounters an abandoned, unidentified spacecraft, which might have been caught up in a nearby space battle. Raiker persuades Leyland to capture it for a salvage reward, so the captain sends some of his crewmembers across to board the alien spaceship, but none of them come back safely. Leylan then lets three prisoners - Blake, Jenna and Avon - explore it for them. The trio do so, killing Raiker in the process and taking over control of the new space vehicle, once Blake disables its deadly traps and Jenna successfully finds a way to pilot it - allowing the trio to escape.

SPACE FALL by Terry Nation continues the good work begun in THE WAY BACK and helps to establish more of the world in which BLAKE'S 7 is set, along with introducing more interesting character. Gareth Thomas again does well as Roj Blake, as does Sally Knyvette as Jenna and Michael Keating as Vila. The introduction of Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon and David Jackson as Olag Gan are also welcome additions to the proceedings.

Glyn Owen as Captain Leylan, Leslie Schofield as Sub-Commander Raiker and Norman Tipton as Officer Artix represent the authority figures this time around, with the addition of a handful of guards. It's nice to see that they are represented as a reasonably diverse group of characters, with a mixture of behaviours and personalities. There are one or two bastards amongst them, but the majority just come across as working-class stiffs trying to do their job. I enjoyed the fact that the makers avoided the use of that old cliché of making all the bad guys nasty and unlikable. The bad guys weren't all dehumanized and faceless and there were even scenes of the guards chatting and interacting with some of the prisoners. All in all, a very enjoyable second episode.

4/5.
 

Cloister56

Member: Rank 3
So as I have a little free time I thought I would get on with episode two.
So first of all a little model work. I always like models in sci-fi, from Red Dwarf to Doctor Who it usually looks good and I love it when they do little things to make it look authentic, like radar dishes spinning.
The brief look at the London we get is good, it looks functional as prison transport probably should. I'm not keen on the little smoke sparkler to indicate the engines. It doesn't make much sense in space and I think it would work better without it.

The crew of the London are an interesting bunch. There don't seem like a nasty bunch apart from Raiker and perhaps Dainer. The guards even seem to socialise a bit with the prisoners. We get to see other sides of them like Artix studying for his exams which helps to humanise them.

I was a bit unsure about the conversation about a female passenger between the captain and Raiker. On one level it seems like the Leylan knows what goes on but just wants it kept on the quiet. But then the look on Raikers face seems a little disgusted. I thought that maybe he is offering the deal on behalf of the Leylan. But then later in his conversation with Jenna he seems to be relishing the thought of her agreeing.

Raiker is an effective villain for the episode and he isn't over the top. He is taking extreme action by killing the unarmed convicts but I imagine he would justify it as the threat Blake's escape is to the ship and it's crew. His casual killing of just one more prisoner after being told the escape is over just rams home his wicked nature. His death is fairly satisfying.

Leylan is a convincing commander, he tolerates Raiker's actions to a point but will reprimand him when he oversteps the mark. I wonder if he finds Raiker useful to do the unpleasant things and then he can distance himself from the results. Overall he is a nice multifaceted character, he does some decent things but then turns a blind eye or even sanctions some terrible things.

Jenna's smirk after she has whispered to Raiker is very amusing, she knows the blow is coming but she is enjoying putting him in his place. We are learning a little more of her motivations in this episode. It seems to me that she admires Blakes optimism and wants to spark that in herself, but her more realistic side continues to make her skeptical.

We meet Ker Avon who makes an immediate impression. He is sarcastic and condescending but there is undeniable charisma there. He gets to be a bit of an action man, overpowering the guard in the computer room. He seems to relish the idea of going across to the ship, or at least there seemed to be a mad fire in his eyes. That would seem to fit with his interest in computer and technology.

Blake continues to show himself as an effective leader. He knows how to work with Avon, there is no point lying to him but pointing out what he already knows about his available options and their downside works well.
I assume his experience with brain washing and mind probing before makes him more resilient to the ships attack. The other explanation is that the ship mistakenly used Blakes memory of his relatives to draw him in but unlike the other 2 Blake knew they were already dead so broke free.

I really like Vila so far, especially when he is saying how underhanded the presumed plan of Avon's is before immediately suggesting they kill him instead. He is clearly not fond of direct action but is willing to play his part in the escape. His panicked obeying of Gan's "drop your guns" was a little over the top but was still amusing.

At this stage in the show we still don't know really who will become regulars so it does a good job introducing both Nova and Gan either of which may go onto be significant. Eventually Nova's death, was surprising and terrible especially where he calls futilely for help. It helps to show the dangers of their situation.

Gan is an presence in every scene due to his size. It was nice that he was floating around throughout the episode long before he is really established as more than an extra.

We get our first look at the ship. The fact they had such a good model makes it bizarre they use the paper cut out one in the intro each week. They even use a better cut out version at the very end of the episode.
I love the idea of an abandoned advanced spaceship. Full of technology to explore and allowing you to go where you want.
The inside of the ship looks very good. It seems they spent a bit of money on the bridge and it's solid and well designed.

A few final thoughts:

Did anyone else think the guard Gan throttled looked like Peter Kay while he was being throttled, strangely he doesn't later?

The chairs on the ships bridge remind me of the Tentacles from Day of the Tentacle.


So in summary a good follow up episode. It seems we have 3 at least of our 7, lots of potential to be explored with the ship and we still get to see Signus Alpha.
8 tentacle seats, out of 10
 

michaellevenson

Member: Rank 8
The contrast between Blake and Avon is apparent from their first musings about the ship they've acquired.
BLAKE " with a ship like this and a full crew we can start fighting back"
AVON " This would be worth a fortune to the federation"
 

Mad-Pac

Member: Rank 5
OK, so we start to see who the main characters are and these characters are beginning to look more than anonymous faces I care nothing about. However, I still don't know enough to care about them, except for Blake, who is the only character the writers have really bothered to develop so far.

OK, so Elegant Lady is Jenna Stannis, probably related to Stannis Baratheon, or perhaps her family took their last name as a tribute to an old TV show from early 21st century. (Oh, yeah, and there's the book as well.) The best part of learning her name is that hers was the only one said loud and clear, so this is good for us to remember the names. This reminds me of a scene from The Orville in which Captain Mercer tells a scientist they are rescuing,

"You follow Alara."
"Who's Alara? I haven't had time to memorize the names yet,"
says the scientist in a clear nod to the audience still getting used to the characters.
"I am," says a pretty alien girl, just entering the scene.

Well, as for Blake's 7, I only know the name of the other men because I looked in the credits. Apparently the show isn't very big on connecting the names with the faces. And remember how different that was in Star Trek, for instance, in which the names were regularly used.

So we meet this Kerr Avon guy who apparently is someone important in the show, considering that he appears in twice as many episodes as Blake himself. Which makes me wonder why this show isn't known as Avon's 7 (or whatever pertinent number) instead.

Avon is an interesting character, more cynical and with an ongoing bad disposition as if he eternally suffered from some annoying heartburn. Perhaps some anti-acid would lower the acidity of his humor (har, har har). No, seriously, I realize this is a harsh reality, and many people become jaded because they have to fight till death to survive, but right now the only thing we know that will make us care about him is the fact he's a prisoner. But then, he doesn't seem to be innocent, neither does he claim he is, so perhaps where Blake found him is right where he belongs?

Despotic regime or not, if you release the prisoners from a prison ship, you're bound to give freedom to some pretty nasty elements that will do more harm than good, and then you have to deal with the consequences. This is the kind of situation that made shows like Prison Break interesting.

Oh, we do know something else about Kerr Avon: our friend is a Socialist, since he believes the only reality is wealth and the only way to get wealth is take it away from somebody else. But if he were a Capitalist instead, he would know that there's also the possibility of Producing wealth, which is how wealth is created in the first place. Methinks the resistance could improve in their studies of economics and political sciences.

Jenna is very pretty and has fantastic hair for a prisoner! Say what you will about life in prison, but they always provide you with the required doses of shampoo and hair conditioning. And the character has potential and I'm interested besides the looks.

I admit I didn't recognize Avon even if I got tired of seeing that angry avatar all the time. But he looked younger in this episode. Anyway, our trio of heroes/misfits try to start a mutiny, but Raker, the bad guy, does what bad guys do and start killing te prisoners one by one until Blake surrendered. And it becomes clear that Avon wouldn't have surrendered. Well, I happen to agree with him as far as that is concerned. If the prisoners started dying on my screen I'd consider that awfully said and unfortunate and I would end their families my thoughts and prayers, but I'd also say, "Hey, I'm not killing those men, you are! I have absolutely nothing to do with your decisions." In other words, never give in to terrorists.

Let's talk about ships. The London will get to "Alpha Cygnus" (I'm assuming that's another star system, perhaps Alpha Centauri?) in eight months. Which is funny because it's too fast for conventional propulsion and way too slow for warp speed or hyperdrive. If it takes eight months to get to a nearby star, how long will it take to go from one extreme of the Federation to the other? Not practical. However what really annoyed me was that there was no visual indication that the ship was in hyperdrive and it looked more like it was leisurely cruising a tourist location on a vacation trip instead. Com on, would it kill the visual effects people to blur the stars and add a "whoosh" sound to show "hey, we're in hyperdrive factor 6" or something?

And then they find this strange alien (probably?) ship. And a hilarious thing happens. Running out of minions, the commander of the "Empire" ship has the brilliant idea (actually the idea came from Raker, the resident bad guy and look at what good that got him in the end) of having Blake, Avon and Stannis go see why his men were dropping like flies on that ship. "}If you don't succeed, you won't have problems anymore." I like that already because I hate problems!

Anyway, the brilliant idea is to send Blake and his friends to investigate, and they do it so well they decide to borrow the ship for themselves. Really? the most powerful new force in the universe and you hand the keys to a prisoner? Considering what a bleeding heart Blake is, if I were the commander I would've sent Blake and Avon, and kept Jenna as a hostage, of course. Avon wouldn't come back for her, but Blake surely would. But no, instead, they had no reason to stay so they stole the ship. Clever, Commander.

Now, i don't believe in coincidences. I mean in real life a coincidence is a coincidence and we have to accept that. But in fiction, a coincidence is just lazy writing. and it's awfully convenient that when they are trying to escape a magical super powerful ship just happens to be nearby and empty. So, there's has to be some causality there and the writers had better show that sooner or later, otherwise this is just their lucky day and that's not the way to develop a story properly.

Blake's 7 has an interesting story (at least it promises to become more interesting soon), but by comparing it to the famous shows you could watch on that decade, even productions from the previous decade such as Star Trek and even Lost in Space, we can see that the visual effects, the cinematography, set design, general direction and, especially, show's pacing were vastly superior. But then, on the other hand, the difference in the budget of Blake's 7 and that of these other American shows must have been, well, astronomical. Still, those early British productions could take a lesson or two on directing and pacing from their more famous sci-fi counterparts.

Let's watch out for what happens next. This episode of Blake's 7 gets 7 honest men you'll probably never find according to a cynic.
 

Mad-Pac

Member: Rank 5
Blake is introduced to Kerr Avon, who used his technical prowess to almost succeed in stealing five million credits from the Federation banking system.
Wow, just think of all the old ladies, orphan kids' homes and animal shelters whose savings and retirement funds Kerr Avon stole! Because, really, a bank only has money because regular folks decide to put their money in it, and tampering with popular economy is a deadly blow against the little guy... :emoji_imp: :emoji_fearful: :emoji_cold_sweat: :emoji_pouting_cat: :emoji_cry: :emoji_rage:
 

ant-mac

Administrator
Staff member
Wow, just think of all the old ladies, orphan kids' homes and animal shelters whose savings and retirement funds Kerr Avon stole! Because, really, a bank only has money because regular folks decide to put their money in it, and tampering with popular economy is a deadly blow against the little guy... :emoji_imp: :emoji_fearful: :emoji_cold_sweat: :emoji_pouting_cat: :emoji_cry: :emoji_rage:
Three points...

The first point is that Avon didn't succeed.

The second point is that we don't know for a fact that the Federation banking system and the civilian banking system is one and the same. Commercial and consumer banking in Australia is dominated by four major banks. They are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank. There are also several other financial institutions, such as smaller banks and credit unions. There's also a central bank, known as the Reserve Bank of Australia provides services directly to the government and manages Australia's currency, money supply and interest rates. So it really depends upon which type of bank Avon attempted to rob.

The third point is that Avon and his colleagues are prisoners on a spaceship, being sent to a penal colony on a distant planet. With the possible exception of Blake, the rest of them are most likely criminals. So I'm guessing this means they committed crimes.
 

Cloister56

Member: Rank 3
Which is funny because it's too fast for conventional propulsion and way too slow for warp speed or hyperdrive. If it takes eight months to get to a nearby star, how long will it take to go from one extreme of the Federation to the other? Not practical.
It will be interesting what in universe method they use. We hear them say "set time distort" it's not clear what that means. Is time distorted for the people on board so that the 8 months goes by in days.
This would fit more with what we see and would solve the Jenna hair produce problem (and Blake, do you think that hair maintains itself?)
 

michaellevenson

Member: Rank 8
Some points raised;
Yes it would have been nice to see some stars whooshing as the London travels into hyperspace but in an interview with one of the fx guys he reveals their fx only budget was £50 per episode!! Bloody hell, that was about $100.
The Federation use " time distort" to measure speed, as in Time Distort 5 or whatever, and this was mentioned at the start when Leylan then complained about " shift vibration".
During this time inflation in the U.K. was quite high and even though the show had an increase in budget season on season it was less than inflation rate, so in effect a cut!
Dedication of the fx team meant that the fx remained fairly constant throughout but it ain't getting better!
I agree that Jenna should have stayed behind,surprised Raiker didn't suggest it, but he had to tread carefully and be agreeable with Leylan after the threat to put him on report.
Where is Cygnus Alpha ( not alpha cygnus) in relation to Earth? Don't know.... but it is probably pretty close by in galactic terms, but The London is a slow old ship, the Federation fighter ships go at Time Distort 9 , probably do the Cygnus run in hours.
The fx for these ships? ..you're just gonna love them...not!!
As for explaining why the mystery ship.conveniently turned up, the reason given about a non federation space battle and the ship drifting is all we're going to get. Bit lucky true, and how Blake and Avon want to use this good fortune differently is one of many roots of their antagonism to each other. Avon has already sussed out Blake is a dreamer and possible fanatic.
 
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Cloister56

Member: Rank 3
Yes it would have been nice to see some stars whooshing as the London travels into hyperspace but in an interview with one of the fx guys he reveals their fx only budget was £50 per episode!! Bloody hell, that was about $100.
I don't mind special effects that aren't great and I realise that the quality will vary throughout a show.
The strange thing (and I'm not going to keep going on about it I swear) is that your intro is the thing everyone sees every week. I would have thought it would be where you would spend a little more money on your effects or cherry pick the best effects to have featured in it.

The Federation use " time distort" to measure speed, as in Time Distort 5 or whatever, and this was mentioned at the start when Leylan then complained about " shift vibration".
It's interesting how shows decide to do this. Do they go with one of the established tropes like Warp or Hyper Speed or do they make up their own. I like it, it sounds suitably advanced but easy to work out a ship going at Time Distort 2 will be slower than one going Time Distort 5.
 
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