Time Squad

Written by:
Terry Nation
Directed by: Pennant Roberts
Episode Length:
Original UK Transmission Date: 23/1/1978
Original UK Ratings: 8.9m
Original UK Chart Position: 37

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 (Zen).

Guest-Starring: Tony Smart/Mark McBride/Frank Henson (Aliens).

Crew: Pauline Smithson (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Ian Scoones (Visual Effects Designer), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Ken Willicombe (Film Cameraman), Bill Meekum/John K.Murphy (Film Recordists), M.A.C. Adams (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Clive Gifford (Studio Sound), Barbara Lane (Costume Designer), Marianne Ford (Make Up Artist), Bob Blagden (Graphics Designer), Dudley Simpson (Music), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Roger Murray-Leach (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).

Story: The Liberator travels to Saurian Major in star sector 42.61, “one of the early self-governing colonies subsequently annexed by the Federation.” A Saurian day is “about 36 hours”, with all Federation signals beamed there, boosted, and redirected out. Blake teleports down with Avon and Vila in order to destroy the signal relay, and while there they meet Cally, a telepath from Auron (who can only project thoughts, not read them), who joins the crew.
Back aboard the Liberator, a cryogenic capsule that the ship brought aboard has defrozen, and the aliens inside try to kill Jenna and Gan. Eventually, with Blake’s help, they overpower them, and blast the shuttle back out in space. Jenna expresses unease after her experience about bringing aliens aboard (referring to Cally), though Blake amiably announces her as one of the crew, along with Zen. After watching the destruction of the Federation relay base on the Liberator viewscreen, he asks Zen to set a course for the planet Kentero at standard by two.

Gan: Gan killed an armed security guard who killed his “woman”, and has been fitted with a brain limiter as a consequence of this.

The Liberator: The Liberator has "etheric detector beams", as well as an electronic hand-held healing device that is shown to cure a bruise on Jenna's arm. Just look at the pervy smile on Gan's face after he's done it. The device is used once more, in Duel, though can be seen next to the tranquiliser pads in Breakdown.

“It all seems a bit single-minded to me.”

The episode to introduce Cally, the underused but likeable telepathic alien. Such b-movie characterising could sink a lesser series, yet Jan Chappell brings a lot of subtle charm to Cally, particularly in her scenes with Avon in season three. Watching this particular episode again, it’s strange how hostile the character initially was, before, like Jenna, she was diluted somewhat.

While nominally about Cally, it also gives Jenna chance to indulge in some excruciatingly bad slow fighting - a Blake’s trademark - while even Vila isn’t funny this episode. The linear plot is dragged out unbearably while Dudley Simpson’s dated maracas score distracts. And note how Jenna gets a bruised arm despite being hit in the back. What relevance do the cryogenic aliens have to the plot anyway? They get defrosted, have an unrealistic-looking fight, then get dumped into space… and that’s IT.

While Jenna’s rolling around with a stunt double (one tedious scrap lasting for over a minute), Blake, Avon, Vila and Cally run around an old gasworks and set off a pathetic BBC explosion. “The biggest explosion you’ll ever see!” What, bigger than a sparkler on bonfire night?

However, despite being, frankly, rubbish, and dangerously near to a two-mark rating, Time Squad is still entertaining enough to scrape a mediocre: