Shadow

Written by:
Chris Boucher
Directed by: Jonathan Wright Miller
Episode Length: 50’31
Original UK Transmission Date: 16/1/1979
Original UK Ratings: 7.8m
Original UK Chart Position: 87

DVD Availability: Try sendit.com or Amazon

Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila), David Jackson (Gan) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).

Guest-Starring: Derek Smith (Largo), Karl Howman (Bek), Adrienne Burgess (Hanna), Vernon Dobtcheff (Chairman) and Archie Tew (Enforcer).

Crew: Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Ralph Wilton (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Mat Irvine/Peter Pegrum/Andrew Lazell (Visual Effects Designers), Peter Chapman (Film Cameraman), Ian Sansam (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Clive Gifford (Studio Sound), Richard Yeoman-Clark (Special Sound), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), June Hudson (Costume Designer), Marianne Ford (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Paul Allen (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).

Story: The Liberator travels to Space City, a neutral base run by the crime syndicate Terra Nostra. There they contact Largo, a Terra Nostra representative whom Jenna had previously met on Calisto. She was caught - she believes set up by Largo - after refusing to smuggle the drug Shadow for him.
Meanwhile, Cally is attacked by aliens from another dimension, using Orac’s circuitry as their bridge. Orac operates by beaming carrier signals through another dimension, the same dimension she uses for her telepathic powers. In order to prevent the same thing happening again, Orac is fitted with an explosive device that will detonate if he operates outside of prefixed parameters.
After defeating the aliens they discover that the Terra Nostra are guarded by high level Federation troops in disguise, and that the Federation and the Terra Nostra are in fact one and the same organisation.

Shadow: Shadow is a drug partially derived from a genus cora (cactus) constitute, Alpha 7/5. They originate from the planet Zondar, partially telepathic creatures with the ability to move to avoid sunlight, known as “Moondiscs”. Possession of Shadow carries a mandatory death sentence.

Avon: Avon’s dislike of Gan again shows here, (His response to Gan trying to find Orac by shouting his name: “Oh, I’m sorry I missed that. It’s the kind of natural stupidity no amount of training could ever hope to match.”) while the episode sees the first signs of Blake’s fanaticism.

Cally: Cally claims that some of her people have exhibited the power of telekinesis, though it is rare.

Vila: Vila talks of juvenile detention wards, and mentions that he was a Delta Service Grade, while Blake was an Alpha Grade on Earth. This also sees the first reference to Vila drinking alcohol, something that would occur more frequently (in 42% of episodes) after Blake left.

Orac: This is the first time that Orac is shown to operate the teleport, though Vila states that he knew he was capable of doing so.


Viewpoint:
“Nobody steals from the Terra Nostra.”
“We’re innovators.”


The script editor of all 52 Blake’s 7 episodes, Chris Boucher gets his first self-penned story here, and the first non-Terry Nation script for the series. Drug addiction, slavery, crime… all of a sudden subtexts see their way into the series. It isn’t spectacularly good, but it is a step up in literary quality.

Gan actually gets a character this episode, showing moral objection to Blake’s plans for once, though seeing Jacko from Brush Strokes painted silver is unsettling. Certainly Karl Howman’s acting isn’t up to scratch, though debutting director Jonathan Wright Miller brings some interesting shots to the episode, so it’s a shame he wasn’t used again after this and Horizon.

Not a particularly memorable episode by any means, yet Shadow does contain some of the trademark twists of the plot from Boucher.