224 – Blakes 7 – Killer

Blake is chasing a bug and Avon’s got a friend!

This week, Ben and Eugene discussed the first Robert Holmes penned episode of Blakes 7, Killer.

7 thoughts on “224 – Blakes 7 – Killer”

  1. Just to avoid confusion, I didn’t post on Orac and cipher crystals. I’m in the “The writers had no idea about Orac” camp.

    A great episode, even if the A story is a retread. The mysterious Wanderer Class ship. The horror of the mummy (great makeup on no budget). The creeping threat of the virus. The unseen, unknowable alien menace. “I’ve forgotten what I was doing” is a particularly chilling harbinger. I wanted the aliens to become a new Big Bad alongside the Federation.

    I give a pass to the costumes. They tried hard. The Michelin Men and Mushroom Men firefighters are only on screen for 15 seconds. However, even Avon couldn’t look good in his brown vinyl space poncho.

    + What Was Blake Thinking?
    Scene: Flightdeck of the Liberator.

    Jenna: What are you up to?

    Blake: Oh, on a whim I thought I’d beam down to the planet, demand to be taken to the Base Commander, tell him I’m Blake and the Liberator is lurking in orbit. It will keep me busy while Avon is creeping around the base trying to steal a cipher crystal without the Federation finding out.

    Jenna: You will tell the Commander that we have nothing to do with the suspicious fire in the Cipher Room?

    Blake: Of course! Just before the commander lets us all beam out again.

    + Blake should be dead.
    OK, so Bellfriar’s aid rushes into the quarantined lab to help the pathologist. He then reports in person to Bellfriar and Blake. Blake suggests the virus is airborne and to shut off the aircon. Blake beams out. The assistant dies a horrible death. Bellfriar, without contact with anyone else, breathing uncirculated air, dies a horrible death. How did Blake survive while Bellfriar didn’t? Does the transporter have a bio-filter which cured Blake on return to the ship? Teenaged me was outraged at the sloppy writing.

    + The virus works too well.
    If flight time between systems is measured in days to months, why send a virus which kills in 15 minutes and wipes out a population inside a day? It will never propagate.

    + We finally get a hint as to what time period the series is set in: first interstellar travel + 700-800 years. So, the widest range would be 2,700 – 3,300? A best guess would be circa 3,000?

    + I too noticed the tiny model of the London. I suspect it would have been invisible on 1970’s TVs. Were we meant to think that it was the plague beacon being deployed?

    Overall – one of the best episodes so far.

    1. Apologies all around for mis-attributing those remarks!

      You’ve got all fine points here about this story. The speed of the virus is a real problem.

      One thought though… If the London wouldn’t have been visible on 1970s TVs, that same shot, when used in Spacefall, would have been pointless… Somebody must have thought it would be seen.

      Unless they were planning for the inevitable DVD release! That would be science fiction!

  2. Out of curiosity, I’ve just rewatched Spacefall, and the shot from the end of Killer isn’t used. Instead there’s just a (crappy) two second shot (on video?) of the Liberator pulling away from the London. It’s strange, as the shot in Killer is far better and makes the Liberator appear much larger. The London in Spacefall looks (to my eye) bigger in relation to the Liberator, so you certainly could see Spacefall London on 70s TVs.

    I not sure about my theory that the London in Killer was difficult to see in the 70s, but I think if I had seen it when it first aired, my head would have exploded in a nerdgasm which would be remembered to this day.

    Nifty Trivia: If you watch the scene in Spacefall where the crew pass through the Liberator’s airlock, look above their heads, you’ll see the backpack from a 2001 spacesuit glued to the roof. There’s also bits of SHADO Moonbase on the London’s bridge, but they turn up everywhere.


  3. My walk to work gets me half way though the podcast. I may need to make further comment after I’ve finished it on my walk home…

    I’m glad you corrected yourself on Robert Holmes writing episode 11 of Trial of a Timelord, which, good though it is, was written by Pip and Jane Baker 🙂 You’ve saved me writing in to point out that Holmes wrote episodes 1-4 & 13. (Also, on the subject of double acts, as an aside on Jago & Litefoot it’s interesting Holmes predominantly wrote them not as a double act, though I think it’s fair to say that their collaboration in the last episode eclipses their previous appearances – and of course, they’ve been together ever since.)

    I’m in total agreement over the performance of Paul Daneman – indeed, while the writing is good, a lot of what makes this episodes work so well is that all the guest performances in this are a pleasure to watch. I don’t, incidentally, agree that all of the Chatinator crew are well-written for though – I thought Jenna (who is often written poorly) has never been given material this poor – like a very very traditional Doctor Who companion (“So what’s your theory?” “What about…?” “Yes, but what about…?” and generally mothering Blake). Cally doesn’t get much to do either, beyond acting as a life-sign detector. This is an episode written for The Men.

    I too felt Ronald Lacey looked familiar. I doubt in my case that remembered him from Indiana Jones and the Box of God (I can’t even remember if I’ve actually seen it) but instead I think (having had memory refreshed by IMDB) I know him for his odd performances as Hong Kong Harry (The New AvengersThe Midas Touch also being all about plague) and the Peter Lorre character in Terry Nation’s dire Legacy of Death (The Avengers) as well as a more interesting turn in The Joker and, of course, the terrifying baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.

    I don’t think Tynus is a by the numbers Federation man. I agree he is a Tynus survivalist, but more than that – quite simply, he is Avon. Or, at least, he’s what might have become of Avon if he hadn’t been arrested for the fraud (that’s where their paths diverge) and, of course, he acts exactly as Avon would do in his situation when cornered in this way by an old friend – i.e. string them along and sell them out.

  4. Re. the progressive dumbing-down of the writing for Jenna and Cally, Sally Knyvette herself expressed it best: “Jenna had started off as this really exciting, intergalactic space pirate, but then she became a sort of housewife on the Liberator”.

  5. It seems that both Cally and Jenna started as pretty strong characters. I find that it’s easy for me to forget what Cally was like in her first story, in red leather outfit with some kind of blaster rifle thing…. and then not much later is swooshing around the liberator, wearing long, flowing Vulcan robe type things and seeming very neo-hippie-ish. Talking to cacti… sensing things…talking…. serving drinks…. whatever.

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