Seek - Locate - Destroy

Written by:
Terry Nation
Directed by: Vere Lorrimer
Episode Length: 51'16
Original UK Transmission Date: 6/1/1978
Original UK Ratings: 10.9m
Original UK Chart Position: 34

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: Stephen Greif (Travis), Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Peter Craze (Prell), Peter Miles (Rontaine), John Bryans (Bercol), Ian Cullen (Escon), Ian Oliver (Rai) and Astley Jones (Eldon).

Crew: Geoffrey Manton (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Ian Scoones/Mat Irvine (Visual Effects Designer), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Ken Willicombe (Film Cameraman), Graham Hare (Film Recordist), M.A.C. Adams (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Clive Gifford (Studio Sound), Richard Yeoman-Clark (Special Sound), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), 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), Robert Berk (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).

Trivia: This was the episode with the highest ratings on original UK transmission. On a season-by-season basis, season three had a 9.4 million average, with season one slightly lower on 9.2. The fourth and final season averaged 8.5 million viewers, with season two the least watched at an average of 7.1.

In the season two story Trial, the planet on which Travis organised a massacre was named Sercasta, not Oros as here. There are three possible explanations for this: 1. It had two different names, one for the natives, one for the Federation; 2. He's really busy, and it was a different massacre they were talking about; 3. Ummmmm…. it was a mistake?

Story: We are introduced to Servalan, Supreme Commander of the Federation, who has appointed Space Commander Travis to hunt and kill Blake. Travis is under a military enquiry after organising a massacre on Oros. His rank and authority were stripped from him, yet are now restored by Servalan who appoints him Senior Executive Officer of the station. He requests a crew of "Mutoids" to pilot his ships. As a result of an earlier clash with Blake he is forced to wear an eye-patch and an artificial hand with a built-on "laseron destroyer" ring. When they met Blake had "only been with the dissidents for a short while." Cornered by Travis during a raid, his band of twenty accomplices were shot down despite surrendering. Blake was brainwashed, placed on a show trial and the rebellion collapsed.
In the current timeline, the Liberator crew steal a Federation cipher machine (code 1430). However, Cally, left behind in the destruction of Federation property, is captured by Travis and taken for interrogation on Pentaro. Blake rescues her and teleports them both away, leaving Travis to swear he'll enact revenge.


Viewpoint:
"Yes, well I'm always grateful for a 'rough analogy.' What does it do?"

This episode sees Dalek creator Terry Nation try to introduce a rival into Blake's 7. Unfortunately the Federation robots look more like Jeremy, Mr. Claypole's robot from Rentaghost. Week after week Gareth Thomas would emote against whatever the production team threw at him. However, despite this - and the fact that it's set in an old gas works - Seek - Locate - Destroy turns out to be one of the better first season episodes.

Famously, it's the debut of arch villains Servalan and Travis. This might be heresy, but I generally think Servalan was a bad element of the series. As the show went on she corroded the programme into greater levels of high camp. Yet here, with androgynous bob, she plays the part straight. So too does Travis, a character who can also be accused of fey send-up. Though shall I again commit heresy and say that I think Brian Croucher's brusque playing is more suited to the part than Stephen Grief's mild effeminacy?

In typical Nation "Perils of Pauline" style, Cally is left behind when they teleport. Some have argued that Blake is a pretty thick saboteur not to realise she'd gone missing in the first place, which is a fair point. However, a clever twist - so clever you feel Chris Boucher must have added it - takes this episode onto a slightly above average ranking: