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Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila) Josette Simon (Dayna) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).
Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Cy Grant (Mellanby), Alan Lake (Chel), Sally Harrison (Lauren), Richard Franklin/Michael Mella (Troopers) and Steven Pacey (Tarrant).
Crew: Stuart Fell (Stunt Co-Ordinator), John Harris (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Christine Fawcett (Director's Assistant), Riita Lynn (Assistant Floor Manager), Steve Drewett/Jim Francis (Visual Effects Designers), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), Doug Burd (Graphic Designer), Peter Chapman/Anthony Mayne (Film Cameramen), Ian Sansom (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Malcolm Johnson (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Dee Robson (Costume Designer), Sheelagh J. Wells (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Don Taylor/Gerry Scott (Designers) and David Maloney (Producer).
Trivia: Steven Pacey's Tarrant becomes a regular from the following story, though his appearance here is limited to a 13-second end-of-episode cameo.
Story: After the war, around 80% of the Federation fleet were destroyed, with an estimated 500-600 alien ships also destroyed, and the race "virtually wiped out." The Federation managed to win the war, though only because they had greater numbers. On the way to the scene of the battle as a political exercise, Escort Group 9 was forced down, trapping Servalan on the planet Sarran. With the Liberator battered and suffering failing life support, Avon is placed in a capsule and blasted out with Orac. He lands on the planet, meeting first with Dayna Mellanby, then Servalan.
With a three million credit price tag still on his head, Servalan murders Dayna's father Hal, causing Dayna to swear revenge against her. Dayna's adopted sister is also killed, this time by the natives of the planet, while Servalan escapes by hiding in the underground base. Avon and Dayna teleport up to the Liberator, where they are greeted by Federation guards who have taken over the ship…
Hal: Hal Melanby was a rebel leader who defected and provided the resistance with arms. He led a revolt that took the Federation more than three weeks to suppress. When they finally surrendered, they were all murdered in cold blood, including Hal's wife. He was captured and tortured by overzealous Federation officers, causing the destruction of his optic nerve, and meaning he had to wear an "image amplifier" to see anything. Seeing a chance to save his baby daughter, Dayna, Hal fled with her, despite being called a coward for turning his back on the resistance. Landing on the planet Sarran more than twenty years previously, he placed the fixed orbit station he had piloted under the surface at a time when Dayna "was a small child." Born on Earth, Dayna lived on Sarran with her father and his adopted daughter Lauren. Dayna is described as "a genius with weaponry systems" and is quick to anger.
Servalan: Servalan suggests to Avon that they use Orac and the Liberator to control what is left of the Federation and rebuild it in their name, with imagination their only limit. After kissing Servalan Avon throws her to the floor, telling her "Imagination my only limit… I'd be dead in a week."
Blake/Jenna: We are told that "Blake didn't want to leave" and "Jenna's gone with Blake." Later, we learn through Zen that Blake didn't suffer any injuries (despite being at death's door last episode), and that Jenna is on a hospital ship with only superficial ones.
"It has a perverse kind of logic to it. Our meeting is the most unlikely happening I could imagine. Therefore we meet. Surprise seems inappropriate somehow."
Ah, season three. I love season three. It's my favourite season (Jacqueline Pearce's, too) and has such a winning dynamic. Don't get me wrong - Gareth Thomas is a class actor and Blake was a wonderful character, though he was also staid and a little predictable. With him out of the way and some serious macho crap from "heartless Blake" Tarrant, we have a crew that hates each other's guts more every passing day. It's a bit like Big Brother, and, like that show, when a contestant walks they get an instant replacement of the same sex. Convenient, as is Servalan crash-landing on the same planet. However, as this is passed away by the superb title quote, I can forgive it.
What's wonderful too about season three is the diversity. Basically, it's as if David Maloney had his finger on the button marked "quality control"… and took it off. Like a car crash waiting to happen, this one veers all over the road, from class like Rumours of Death to garbage like Dawn of the Gods. Two or three of the episodes are utter pants, though none are boring. One bad thing is that by combining models and cartoons, the new title sequence is possibly the most dated of all.
Anyway, the opening episode itself. With the benefit of video and without the nine month waiting gap, it's incredibly obvious how much of the opening battle is made up of previous episode footage, particularly the Nova Queen from Star One. Frequent cheap special effects mark out this one, a downturn visually from the prior year, God bless it. The James Bondian sexism of Dayna kissing Avon, telling him "you are very beautiful" is also curious. Of the new-look crew then Dayna is the one I used to have a problem with. Josette Simon is a capable actress, though can be a little stagy. Also, I was never comfortable with her status as one of (correct me if I'm wrong) just four black actors in the entire series. In early 80s television, where non-Caucasians were almost unheard of, then it smacked of tokenism. However, it's also commendable when you think about it. After all, one British show had to buck the trend, and in only two episodes (Season Four's Power and Traitor) is her colour actually referred to.
With the show now his, Paul Darrow gives a performance that is more understated than the last year, almost to the point of abject boredom. And his mascara-bedecked eyes, flowing shirt and overlong basin haircut remind me of Freddie Mercury for some reason. No wonder he needs to snog Servalan as well - the BBC wanted him to be a romantic, heroic lead, yet he was the campest man in the galaxy. The music by Dudley Simpson is some of his more OTT fare, though this does contain in the line "I'm not very keen on water sports, even at the best of times" possibly the series' greatest innuendo. The bitchiness between Servalan and Dayna takes things into Dynasty territory, and Servalan's all-snogging, all-murdering persona sees her get more of a caricature from this point on.
As an episode then this isn't the strongest on plot, though does all that's expected of it: ties up loose plot ends and brings the story towards a vague cliffhanger. It does its duty, no more, no less.