B09 – COUNTDOWN (and a bit about countdowns.)

Get the violins out everyone.  It’s hard work writing these blog posts alongside one of those 7am-7pm type jobs, plus family, plus everything else.  Blogging is often a welcome distraction from the rigours of employment, and a chance to settle a frazzled mind. Yet as I type, these posts seem to take on a life of their own.

With that in mind, and considering ‘Countdown’ is what I would consider to be relatively straightforward episode of Blake’s 7 – in terms of its central plot device at least – I thought I’d simply throw in a rather tenuous countdown of my own.

These are my top 10 favourite things in Blake’s 7.  Not the best, not the most impactful, just my favourite.  Pure indulgence.

Here we go, pop pickers.  In no particular order, here’s the TOTP chart countdown – 1979 style.

010

When I compare Blake’s 7 to genre shows of the same era (which usually means Doctor Who) I enjoy picking out the way they contrast.  Perhaps the stand out example of this is in the way the main characters come across on-screen.  The movement.  The attitude.  The presence.

When I think of ‘Sapphire and Steel’, one of the first things that leaps out at me is the choreography of the characters; the way they are positioned in the frame, and the way they are directed.  It’s like a dance, in that one makes a move, and the other follows suit.  They take it in turns, and the stillness in the middle is notable.  Often there is one in the foreground with another in the background like an Abba music video.  There’s even a slightly French New Wave feel, when heads move into shot in close up.  There’s an emphasis on contrasts which is really distinctive and unnatural.

Thinking about Doctor Who, Tom Baker is a dominant personality for sure, and brings a real presence.  He makes ‘olympian detachment’ the epitome of cool.  My default image is of him walking nonchalantly, often whistling, with yo-yo on the go, and seemingly oblivious to anything going on around him.  It’s a strong physical identity.

Then you have Leela – alert, skulking, cat-like.  It’s a perfect counterpoint.  And let’s not forget K-9 – graceful and gliding, even if he is a little bit noisy.

Other companions have their own physical presence, but when I stop to think of standout character combinations, it is what was on-screen when Blake’s 7 first aired that I think of the most.  The Doctor, Leela and K-9 seem easily recognisable, simply because of their physical movement.

So Sapphire and Steel is controlled and balletic.  Doctor Who is poised and introverted.

Blake’s 7 on the other hand, is like the house party thrown while your parents are away. It’s the one that is about to spiral out of control.

When I think of Blake, I think of him running purposefully, with big deep voice shouting his way through trouble.  Notably when he is in pain, he goes for the big wide open mouth and eyes.  It’s in the title sequence, but the face he pulls in ‘Redemption’ when he is on the receiving end of the Alta’s pointy stick gun thing is the crowning glory.

Then we have sweaty, anxious Vila, snarly bounding Gan, seductive, playful Servalan, and quick on her feet Jenna.  In fact all the characters have distinctive physical presence.

I can see why Blake’s 7 and the humble GIF go so well together.  Take a visit to Tumblr for definitive proof.  It’s all about the movement and attitude.

Blake’s 7 is the extrovert in the room.  Ears are boxed, Judo chops look painful, teeth are gritted and occasionally people do actually get shot in the back.

Which leads us neatly to Avon, who is the mainstay of the Blake’s 7 brand of physical expression.  Paul Darrow’s performance evolves throughout the four seasons, whether we are talking about his poses, postures and increasingly bigger hair.  By season D, he is going for it at full pelt, with facial grimaces and hand gestures that are stratospheric.  He knows how to toss away wire-cutters like a superstar, and has got a good partnership with Tarrant for macho action poses.

The other thing I notice about the physicality of Blake’s 7, is the choreography of the scenes.  The opening scene of ‘The Keeper’ is a good example of the dance between the characters as they weave in and out of shot.  The flight deck scenes of ‘Shadow’ involving Gan confronting Blake about his motives is also notable, with characters darting in and out of shot, as is the goading of Shrinker in the teleport section during ‘Rumours of Death’.  It’s something that both the Liberator and Scorpio sets allowed to happen with their multi level design.

But if I was pressed to think of a scene that epitomises the energy, swagger, and tongue in cheek of the Blake’s 7 brand of physical manoeuvring, it is how Avon and Soolin survey the facility used in ‘Gold’.  There’s the moment they move into shot from different directions.  Then they twirl to their respective walls, and then there’s a final twist as they meet back to back.  It’s a 10 from me.

Blake’s 7 has its fair share of cool.  But it cannot rely on being aloof.  It is an action-adventure series – one that is a physically demanding series to perform, and watch as a member of the audience.  It is perhaps the reason why all 52 episodes – even the weaker ones – still have plenty of energy about them.

Blake’s 7 – it’s got all the moves.

009

I quickly picked up on some of the fun and games involved during any scene set on the teleport bay.  Avon and Cally would beam Vila down prematurely in ‘Project Avalon’, and later on in the following series, Cally would do a similar thing with relish at the beginning of ‘Killer’.

But the moment I enjoyed the most was the point where, having beamed down, the characters would take their first glance at their surroundings.  This would usually take the form of a long sweeping first person perspective shot, closely followed by a suitable reaction shot.

It’s one of those moments where the audience is right there with the character.  That first tantalising glimpse of a new alien world…often in a quarry near Reigate.

For the record, my favourite ‘down and safe’ is in ‘Horizon’, where the landscape shot is pretty effective.  It’s shot at dusk, with plenty of dry ice, giving a sense of real scale.  It’s impressive looking, which is in perfect comparison to Avon’s dismissive reaction.

Very quickly it becomes a familiar rhythm of the show – a shot, followed by reaction shot.  It might appear invisible, but take it away and you are removing a significant ‘beat’ of the series.

007

As the optimism of the 1960’s gave way to a more sober, weary depiction of space, it’s interesting to think of the ‘feel’ of the Blake’s 7 universe.  Doctor Who didn’t do full on dystopia, preferring a more subtle depiction of corruption, where characters might scheme and plot, but do it in a very well-mannered, political way, without losing face – I’m thinking of some of the central characters in ‘The Deadly Assassin’ here.  The show also didn’t do in your face cynicism either.  Perhaps a touch sardonic, but not cynical.  By this I mean, that the inhabitants of the Who universe rarely passed judgement about the futility of it all.  But season 15 starts to hint at a more jaded depiction.  The most obvious example is the theme behind ‘The Sun Makers’ (1977) but there’s a little scene in ‘The Invisible Enemy’ (1977) which is a nice little encapsulation.  On the titan base, three crewmen rest up.  One of them calls out to the infected crewmen of a newly docked spaceship.  “Hey, are we glad to see you. Welcome to Titan. You’re welcome to it.

It’s such a throwaway line, and is one that will be used by Vila at the end of ‘Powerplay’, but its inclusion feels like a bridge to the Blake’s 7 universe – a corrupt, world-weary, and sordid place, full of space sick trekkers, self obsessed computer archive technicians, bored Federation soldiers, and drunk clientele who are happy to laugh at the demise of others.  We even hear reference to a “ten credit touch” or being taken away in the “middle of anything.

Perhaps the ultimate character to capture this mood is the eye rubbing, chain smoking character of Steve McCroskey, played by Lloyd Bridges in ‘Airplane’ (1980), whose catchphrase of “It looks like I chose the wrong week to…” appears a couple of years after Commander Leylan, who rubs his eyes wearily, complaining about how no one gives a damn anymore.

But the jaded atmosphere is not simply a response to day-to-day life.  Episodes like ‘Death-Watch’ hint at the distaste of societal decisions, as evidenced by Deeta Tarrant’s gentle but ever so cutting “So you and millions of other taxpaying citizens can kill or die almost for real. Just pick a champion, join the fun“.  Terry Nation was responsible for the overall universe, but it was Chris Boucher who gave it its edge.

Perhaps the episode that encapsulates both of these elements neatly is ‘Shadow’, which not only offers a corrupt and exploitative society, but another expression of the apathy of its inhabitants.  This is demonstrated by the duty officer of Space City who shows contempt towards Cally, when he greets her with the line “Your computer took a priority channel. Whatever you want had better be important.”  And upon receiving the warning of danger, he immediately dismisses it, by saying “Listen, lady. You shouldn’t drink in those cheap dives. You go blind eventually.”  This is the real Blake’s 7 universe – a universe of fatigue, and routine, where people work long hours – sometimes by force – and are often happy to escape from it through the use of drink and drugs or other means of distraction.

Perhaps Mary Whitehouse chose the wrong show to concentrate on, in her mind’s eye.

007new

Blake’s 7 is a partially hairy show.  The first hint came pretty quickly in ‘Time Squad’.  I remember watching ‘The Beginning’ compilation tape and seeing one of the guardians who were revived onboard the Liberator.  I thought that he had a fine ‘tash – albeit stuck on in a rather unconvincing manner.

time231

And then I couldn’t move for hair.  Beards ranged from trimmed to feral, and long hair either enhanced the portrayal of a religious fanatic, or a warriors credentials.  In this respect Blake’s 7 took on a certain viking/mystical quality.  Perhaps this is why I didn’t bat an eyelid when ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Vikings’ first aired.

There is masculinity galore.  Horny Og’s, hale Gunn-Sar’s and hearty Gola’s.  There is a lot of fur clothing too.  And of course there are the supporting artists.  Doctor Who had Pat Gorman appearing frequently, and indeed Blake’s 7 also made good use of him, but when you need a man with a beard, it’s names like Ridgewell Hawkes, and ‘Big’ Ron Tarr from ‘EastEnders’ who seem to fly the flag for this show.

006new

Dear Vere Lorrimer.  His Blake’s 7 episodes are quintessential.  They’re full of traditional established directorial technique, and newly found enthusiasm and innovation.  But the thing that sticks out as a hallmark of his contributions is towards the end of an episode, where it’s time to explain or sum up what has just happened, or for the characters to hug, shake hands, and say their farewells.

I call this the ‘Lorrimer gathering.’

It’s the moment where characters are placed within the studio set in such a way that it feels like they are about to pose for a lovely group photograph.

The perfect example is towards the end of ‘City at the Edge of the World’ where Norl explains to Vila and his party what has just happened, and Vila works out the rest.  Of course Vila and Norl need to enjoy centre stage, but look how everyone is perfectly assembled,  facing the audience.  Perfectly natural!

It happens again a couple of minutes later, when it is time to go.

city240

And there’s plenty of other examples.  Such as guards of honour.

And the triumphant handshake.

And the group huddle.

When it comes to ‘blocking’, namely the placement of actors in order to highlight the characteristics of a scene or situation – Vere Lorrimer would appear to win first prize.

That’s the first half of my chart rundown.  The next five will be revealed in a future post.  It’s time to start the real countdown.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 11.31.29

Bam!
Pow!
We’re straight in there.  No establishing shot.  No lead in of any kind.  In fact the first sound effect actually interrupts the end of the title sequence.  It’s another example of how Blake’s 7 often feels unable to contain itself within a 50 minute time slot.  Great stuff.

The flight scene is also excellent.  Sure the walls might wobble as the supporting artists and stuntmen grapple with each other, but as the camera slowly tracks towards the two combatants, even jumping slightly with each overdubbed explosion, we are right in the middle of the fight.

In the relative calm of a control centre, three Federation officers assess the situation.  I really like this trio.  All of them are stoically trying to fight off the anxiety the surrounds them.  However, they are barely managing.  We have the rather clippy anxiety of Tronos – the one at the monitoring station.  There’s also the stiff upper lip blind faith of Selson, and the sharp slightly aggressive demeanour of Provine, who also offers a hint of a facial twitch.    Blake’s 7 is a full-blooded affair when it comes to dealing with stress – we often have shouting, staring and big hand gestures, so seeing these three trying to hold it in is quite distinctive.

But the single event that sets up this episode is about to happen.  Provine dusts himself off, looking incredibly cool as he does so, Selson reports a 93% chance that the Albion commandos will overwhelm the base, and Tronos is told to “LOCK THE DOOR!

Another sign that Provine is going to be a stayer in this episode, is the casual and condescending way he says ‘No!’ in reply to Selson’s plea to hold back whatever is about to be activated.  This ‘No!” Is far too good a delivery for him to be bumped off in the first few minutes.  This one’s cocksure and arrogant.

And sure enough, after a few nice flying leaps from stuntmen on film, Selson is bumped off, around the five-minute mark.  It’s a classic breathy death scene with wide-eyed stare into the abyss.  The type of death that always elicits a chuckle.

As good as these supporting artists are, there is one thing that very few can achieve convincingly – being able to batter a flimsy door with conviction.  It’s one of those acting conundrums that feels so at home in the world of Blake’s 7.

The death of Tronos is quite unsettling.  He falls rigid silently at first, but then manages to press the button that activates the eponymous countdown, with almost a joyful glee.

So the three Federation officers have now been replaced in the control room by three freedom fighters in green.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Once again we get a sense of the initial dynamics and roles of the new trio after only a few lines.  We have Del Grant, who like Provine, appears to be the dynamic commander of the operation.  Then there’s Cauder, who like Selson, appears to be the wiser, more mature head.  Finally we have Ralli who performs a similar role to Tronos – basically someone who is there to be bossed around, only here a bit more patronisingly, with lots of hand patting and “leave it to me, dear“.

We’re about seven minutes in, and finally the Liberator appears.  Duh Duh!  Wah wah, wah wah, wahhhhhh.   I love it when Dudley goes all twangy with his synth.

Ooo!  Avon’s got his Burgundy leather thing going down, in contrast to Blake and Vila’s rather more drab attire.   Blake is continuing his sullen season B portrayal, Vila is morose and weary, so it is up to Avon to inject the energy in the early scenes in the teleport bay.

Little details are noted.  Cally goes that extra mile to give Blake all the information he needs before he goes down, yet doesn’t get to go down with him.  Meanwhile Vila, who clearly has skills that Blake needs but doesn’t want to go, does end up teleporting down.  For Cally and Jenna it is a clear sign that the writers have largely given up on their characters as an ongoing concern, and the skills/attributes that are felt to further most of the adventures during this period exist only in the male characters.

Back on the planet there is more deliberating.  I love the little character note displayed by the technician Vetnor – who lets slip the instrument used to break the circuit.  The resulting reaction shot from Grant is great.

But it’s just a hiccup.

As the Albians deliberate further, we cut to an absolutely cracking shot of Provine listening in on the conversation from outside the doorway.  Shrouded in darkness, the lighting captures his angular features effectively.  I can see why Barry Jones included it in the VHS cover for ‘Hostage/Countdown’

The men get teleported down by the women, accompanied by the ‘bippidy bumb’ of Dudley Simpson’s score.   And we give Ben Steed a hard time.

I’m sure the usually meticulous sound effects are little off in this one.  We had the sound of the Liberator’s intercom used for some teleport related hokum earlier, and now we hear the hum of the Liberator’s engines in the corridors of Albion.  Yes, I’m being nit picky, but it’s only because the quality of the sound effects are usually so good overall, and a reminder of how it’s easy to pick out the minutiae when you love a series so much.

And with that, we cut from Blake, Avon and Vila in a corridor on film, to a rather fetching red corridor on video.

There’s a lovely line between Vila and Avon.
Vila : “The old magic is still there.
Avon: “The old ego too.

Ah, the rocket from Time Squad, and Deliverance!  It’s like seeing an old friend.

Provine attacks Ralli.  There’s 587 on the countdown.

Did you know that 587 is the smallest number whose sum of its digits is larger than that of its cube? (1). No I didn’t either.

We’re around one-third into the episode, and Blake finally makes contact with an Albian in the corridor.

When Cauder springs a gun on them but then moves around as he gets curious, I liked how Blake remains in his fixed position, holding his ground to give a signal of trust, while Avon just points his gun accordingly.

You two.  Find that rocket and stay with it.
And try not to get involved in any additional drama along the way.

In this episode I’m noting the decision Terry Nation is making to close out many of the corridor scenes with a quip from Vila, cutting through the drier exposition.

Not only stupid…painful!

Wait for me!

Oh dear.

At 500 Avon reveals that the actual device could be hidden anywhere on the planet.  Bank vaults, forests, beaches, polar ice caps.    500 is the HTTP status code for “Internal Server Error”.  Yeah, I knew that.

One of the fodder chaps guarding the ship is despatched off-screen, in an amusing off screen moment consisting of muffled groans and vocalisations.  This is something that Blake’s 7 has always been good at.  It’s almost as good as the “No. No, no, no no, NO!” just before Shrinker walks into shot for the very first time in ‘Rumours of Death’.

And then, after an important scene involving Provine, the other fodder bloke also cops it, by falling for the good old ‘look over there’ trick.  Throughout this scene I was interested by Paul Shelley’s portrayal.  It’s a mix of vacant Federation stare, nonchalant delivery, contemptuous glances up and down his captor and a good dose of arrogance.

It’s actually quite a poignant scene, with talk of friends and family left behind.  A reminder of the simple and cold efficiency that is representative of the Terran Federation.

Of Vila, Blake says “If anyone can crack it he can.”  It’s good to be reminded of Vila’s primary skill, in case we had forgotten.  And just in case we weren’t sure, Vere Lorrimer treats us to a wonderfully gratuitous shot of Avon watching Vila walking off to get back to work.

Now it’s time for Avon to drop his instrument, upon hearing the name Del Grant.

Vila is beamed up again.  Wrong sound effect again.  Just saying.

Vila tells Jenna and Cally to “Give me a link up with Orac”.  So this means that Peter Tuddenham isn’t in this one at all.

Screen Shot 2018-08-09 at 12.29.01

The countdown is 425.  A pentagonal number no less.  Of the form n(3n – 1)/2.

Ralli reappears in a blaze of glory.  I love this scene.  I love the way she says that someone came up and “just hit me” – it’s very haughty.  The resulting two shot of her being cradled by Cauder has an almost tragic feel, as though there will be no future for either of them when the countdown reaches zero.

Another favourite moment is when Blake offers Grant a hypothetical scenario that could explain where Provine is.  Both of them then walk out of shot in beautiful synchronicity and with a purposefulness that can only belong to television drama of the 1970’s.

In a corridor, Provine one again affords us a fabulous profile shot.  This time he is bathed in a blue/green light.  In my previous post about the studio lighting designer Brian Clemett, I neglected to include this shot.  Boy, what a beauty!

Back at control, Ralli is given some more advice from the boys.  “You need some rest.

The scenes on the teleport set make me a little sad.  Knyvette in particular is giving it her customary enthusiasm, as though she has decided that she might as well go for it in what is a fairly humdrum role for her.

We’re now two-thirds of the way through the story, and the action now switches as Grant and Avon teleport to the planet of stock footage featured in ‘Project Avalon’.

Once they have found the light switch, they indulge in some good ‘finding the device acting.  There is also reference to a ‘space heater’, which in the hands of Blake’s 7, sounds like the most interstellar thing ever.

We’re down to 200.  200 is the smallest unprimeable number – it can not be turned into a prime number by changing just one of its digits to any other digit.

I’m looking at the service records checked through by Vila and Ralli.  Just like the photo of Docholli in ‘Gambit’, I always imagine these shots are taken in some car park near Television Centre.

Vila is given instructions.  11A 51B.  5A 11-1B.  It’s a funny moment, at a critical stage.

In the ice, Avon and Grant offer some interesting backstory regarding Avon’s past.  I wonder if Terry Nation wrote this episode knowing that Blake’s days were numbered, and that Avon’s character needed exploring further.

There a tender scene involving both of them grappling at something with the words “That’s good” and “My fingers are cramping” coupled with lots of heavy breathing.

Back at the rocket silo, Blake and Provine are in a tug of war over a gun.  Provine maybe be nimble, but he’s a weed compared to Blake’s brutish stature.

Provine’s death is really interesting.  There are references to hell, but it is his stubborn arrogance right until his dying breaths that really strikes me.  It’s also a chance for Blake to briefly snap out of his season B persona and really give it some as he tries to get the information that is now the raison d’être of his character.

We’re down to 53.

  • 53 is the smallest two-digit prime that does not produce a prime by adding a digit to it.
  • 53 is the smallest multidigit balanced prime: primes which are the averages of their prime neighbours.
  • 53 is the smallest prime number separated from the preceding and the following prime number by five non-prime numbers (that is 53 is the smallest number in the middle of two sexy prime pairs.)
  • The month and day are simultaneously prime a total of 53 times in a leap year
  • 53 is the smallest prime p such that 1p1, 3p3, 7p7 and 9p9 are all prime.
  • 100053 – 53 is prime: note that 53 is the smallest number with this property.

The tension is increasing, and we’re treated to one of those wonderful Blake’s 7 scenes designed to increase the drama, but actually failing to do so.  The highlight of this type of moment is the scene in ‘Mission to Destiny’ where Gan and Jenna express their hope that Blake will “get out of there”.   Sally Knyvette draws the short straw yet again, as she berates Cally for tap tap tapping.

The countdown reaches its conclusion, which is kind of nice, when you have grown up on a diet of countdowns that stop at a specific number, such as 007 for the James Bond movies.

And Avon is the hero.  And doesn’t he just know it.

We are treated to that lovely model shot that Lorrimer uses so often, accompanied by some lush, outer space, Simpson music.

As mentioned earlier, the final scene on the teleport bay is a classic example of 1970’s blocking, as Grant gets a guard of honour.  But it is the very final scene that is a portent to the adventures of the next season.  Sure, Blake might get the ‘wise and knowing man’ close up at the end, but Avon is right; it is doubtful that Blake will be able to understand Avon’s take on relationships and experiences.  In this regard, this scene feels like the one of those ‘series lead’ transition scenes from Blake to Avon that are peppered throughout season B.  The “You want the Liberator” scene in ‘Pressure Point’ is the scene that springs to mind at first, but this one is perhaps more telling.

‘Countdown’ is an odd one.  It’s never really moved me if I’m honest.  Every time I watch it I get distracted, and the number crunching featured in this blog is not intended as some kind of cruddy gimmick, but is a reflection of the fact that this episode lacks something for me.  On paper this shouldn’t be the case, as there is plenty going for it.  On one hand the countdown motif may be a touch old-hat as a story device, but it obviously has a rich history.  Here it feels like a simple mechanism to frame everything else that is going on, from the story of the Albian’s disparate attempts to live independently, Blake’s attempts to gain information about central control, and most prominently, the glimpse into Avon’s past.  These later two elements will have a profound effect on the rest of the entire series.

And while the Grant story is fascinating, the rest of it feels a bit shallow.  There is a straightforward fight for power, while the aforementioned countdown ticks away merrily.

But the main reason that this episode fails to grip me is because there are notable Blake’s 7 type ingredients that are missing.  There’s next to nothing in the way of female involvement.  Zen and Orac are missing.  There’s no Servalan or Travis.  Of course, some of these omissions can work to an episodes strength, and make it one of those ‘distinctive’, or ‘odd’ episodes that pop up from time to time – ‘Sarcophagus’ would stand out as the most obvious example for me.    But for me, Blake’s 7 is at it’s best when it is an ensemble piece, as the title of the programme suggests.  I’m not suggesting every episode should be like this, but when Cally and Jenna are not only sidelined in terms of screen time, but are unimportant to boot, it feels like this is boys club Blake, and that goes against what I see to be the spirit of the show – where everyone gets stuck in, and their hands dirty.  This is Blake’s Three.  Even ‘Hostage’ had an important female character and a little bit for Jenna and Cally to do.  In this tale, the sole female character doing anything (Ralli) is treated as a lesser person by everyone, which just sums up the overall tone of this episode.

Perhaps there is an argument that those other distinctive episodes have managed to work by focusing on a fewer number of main characters and marginalising the others.  ‘Orbit’ is a tale of Avon and Vila, while ‘Animals’ is primarily a Dayna story.  But at least in those episodes the others get at least some screen time, and also those stories are sold as character pieces in the first place.  Bar the Avon/Grant conflict, ‘Countdown’ feels like it should be an episode that features all of Blake’s crew, who all have a vested interest in helping him achieve his goal.

There’s a fairly big cast in this one.

In 1979, Tom Chadbon joined the ranks of John Woodvine, John Leeson, and a handful of others in appearing in Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 in quick succession.  We don’t get to see him land one of the most important punches in history.

Paul Shelly, also has Doctor Who connections, appearing alongside Stratford Johns in ‘Four to Doomsday’.  In 1979 he had just completed a run in Secret Army.

The Lotus Eaters is among the credits for Irish-born actor James Kelly.

Lindy Alexander has screen appearances listed until the mid 1990’s, and is the face of the BBC in Yes Minister.

Robert Arnold is someone who immediately triggered the “where have I seen him before” alarm.  The answer was as one of Cybil’s friends in ‘The Anniversary’.

Geoffrey Snell is now based on New Zealand.  He is still performing, as is Sidney Kean.

Finally, I recognised Nigel Gregory, who pops up as Sergeant Vince Wilson in ‘K-9 & Company’ a couple of years later.

SET DESIGN

setcountdown

Gerry Scott and Stephen Brownsey are responsible for the design on this one.  I quite enjoyed picking it apart.  It would appear that the control room and rocket silo design is based around a hexagonal frame, with lots of triangular motifs that gives it a feel of an ominous military base, while setting it apart from a typical utilitarian Federation design.   There are further embellishments, such as coloured lighting that differentiates the corridors, and a number of red painted walls, which makes me imagine this was a building constructed when Albian was independent from the Federation.  If so, it’s a neat touch.

There are control panels and desks galore, many of which are familiar elsewhere. Isn’t that the Klute’s desk?

MUSIC SCORE

Musically, this is similar to ‘Killer’, which often consists of deep metallic, and menacing synthesised sounds.  Around 8m20s (on the official youtube video) there is a little model shot of the Liberator in orbit around Albian.  I love the way Dudley Simpson’s last, deep synthesised note blends into the ambient noise of the control room, as Vetnor tries to make sense of the device.  A gong is also used just before Provine attacks Ralli.

HOW TO SELL THIS TO AN UNBELIEVER

Simple straightforward storytelling will appeal to the casual viewer.  What happens around this might intrigue them to watch other, earlier episodes.

MY FAVOURITE MOMENT
Vila’s “Five A, Eleven One B.

THE MOMENT I’D RATHER FORGET
Cally, stop that, will you, please?

VERDICT IN TEN WORDS EXACTLY
A pivotal but straightforward episode.  “Boys always work it out.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 08.10.10

http://aaanz.co.nz/actors/geoffrey-snell/
https://www.mandy.com/actor/profile/sidney-kean-1
http://fuckyeahblakes7.tumblr.com/archive
(1) http://www.numbergossip.com/587

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