Moloch

Written by:
Ben Steed
Directed by: Vere Lorrimer
Episode Length: 51'25
Original UK Transmission Date: 17/3/1980
Original UK Ratings: 10.4m
Original UK Chart Position: 22

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Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Josette Simon (Dayna) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Davyd Harries (Doran), John Hartley (Grose), Mark Sheridan (Lector), Deep Roy (Moloch), Debbi Blythe (Poole) and Sabina Franklyn (Chesil).

Crew: Stuart Fell (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Catherine Page (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Shuna Young (Director's Assistant), Riita Lynn (Assistant Floor Manager), Peter Chapman (Film Cameraman), Ian Sansom (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Steve Drewett/Jim Francis (Visual Effects Designers), A.J. Mitchell (Video Effects), Doug Burd (Graphic Designer), Peter Valentine (Technical Manager), Dave White (Senior Cameraman), Nigel Finnis (Vision Mixer), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Richard Partridge (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Nicholas Rocker (Costume Designer), Sheelagh J. Wells (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Jan Spoczynski/Ken Ledsham (Designers) and David Maloney (Producer).

Trivia: Along with Sarcophagus, this was the episode with the highest chart position on original UK transmission.

Story: The Liberator has been tracking Servalan's ship on a non-curvature course of 6453 for 27 days. As both ships fly into an uncharted, empty area of space known as "the outer darkness", they discover the planet Sardos, hidden behind two energy barriers.
Servalan lands to meet with a Federation Officer, Grose, who has assumed command after his ship crashed there after the galactic war and all his superiors died in "accidents". Having taken over the native population, Grose is recruiting criminals from the penal colony of Kalcos to become his own army. He captures Servalan and Tarrant, making a computerised blueprint of Tarrant's makeup and casting Servalan out as a slave. Vila inadvertently rescues Servalan, who frees her pilots and leaves the planet.
The Sardoans have invented an energy mass conversion device that operates by computer to process the atomic structure of an object and then replicate it. However, it cannot replicate living tissue. In order to see what their future would be, the Sardoans got the computer to perform a projection of two million years into their future. The computer devised Moloch, a hyper-intelligent being with a shrivelled body, who lives by symbiosis in a life-support machine. Having captured Avon and Dayna, Grose and his men are killed by Vila, Tarrant and two accomplices. The crew then has to deal with Moloch, who emulates Tarrant's voice to get Cally to beam him up. However, the Teleporter only beams up Moloch, not his life-support, killing him instantly. The others return to the ship and flee with Servalan pursuing them…

Vila: Vila and Tarrant's hostility comes to a head as Tarrant pushes him repeatedly to go with him to find Servalan on Sardos. "Listen, Tarrant," says Vila, "will you stop shoving me around, I've had enough!" Tarrant tells Vila he will do what he wants, holding his gun to his face, only for Vila to retort "If it comes down to that, Tarrant, there really isn't a lot of point, is there?" and walk away. Later, Vila takes great delight in letting Tarrant know that he was offered a job as Captain, whereas the Federation renegades only took Tarrant hostage for questioning. Vila also remarks that he plans to leave the crew when he finds somewhere civilised.

Avon: Ordering Cally not to beam an endangered Tarrant back aboard, Avon informs Dayna that he "is not as important as the Liberator."

The Liberator: Zen talks of the Liberator's time shift mechanism, which will cease to function after 159 constant Earth years' usage.

The Federation: Grose talks of Servalan's rebuilt Federation, suggesting that it's still not up to optimum capacity: "I already suspect my fleet outnumbers yours." Servalan also claims that a clever man would still require a minimum of five years training to even begin to pilot a Star Cruiser.


Viewpoint:
"My problem was always women."
"Did you like them?"
"No."


Another underrated Ben Steed script; this one is imaginative with an intriguing plot. It's like a kind of intergalactic Apocalypse Now, with John Hartley as a renegade Federation officer presiding over his own outpost rebellion. True to form, it also has some of Steed's trademark (satirical?) sexism, with Servalan offered up as a bound sex slave for Vila.

It never fails to amaze me how unsexy Blake's 7 makes its leading females. Look at Glynis Barber, introduced in season four as regular Soolin. Absolutely gorgeous in Dempsey and Makepeace, a dumpy blonde with a big ass in Blake. So I dunno about you lot, but I used to have quite unhealthy thoughts about Sabina Franklyn. I don't know if it's the hairstyles or the fashions, but she's about as sexy as a bag of spanners here. Oh, I dunno though, I probably would to be honest…

We're also back to cheapo Blake after four weeks of reasonable production values. Drawings for cities, toy models for ships on planet surfaces, wobbly dummies in CSO, and, of course, the titular Moloch himself. On a TV nostalgia show Paul Darrow particularly singled out Moloch as one of the more disappointing realisations on the series' budget. The guest cast are also a little lacking, with Hartley and Sheridan slightly wooden, while Davyd Harries brings the same amount of subtlety (i.e. none) to his role that he brought to Doctor Who in The Armageddon Factor just over a year earlier.

Such factors shouldn't really effect the enjoyment, but sadly they do, otherwise this one would probably be a four. Lastly, here are the three best innuendoes in the episode: Vila on Servalan - "She's finally gone over the top." Zen, possibly talking about the plot? "Suggest transfer from linear progression." And a full innuendo from Avon: "Careful of my wrist, Vila, it's had enough."