Games

Written by:
Bill Lyons
Directed by: Vivienne Cozens
Episode Length: 49'27
Original UK Transmission Date: 16/11/1981
Original UK Ratings: 8.0m
Original UK Chart Position: 95

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Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Josette Simon (Dayna), Glynis Barber (Soolin) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Slave).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Stratford Johns (Belkov), David Neal (Gerren), James Harvey (Guard) and Rosalind Bailey (Gambit).

Crew: Henry Foster (Production Manager), Frank Pendlebury (Production Associate), Christine Fawcett/Julia Hanrahan (Production Assistants), Kevin Mann (Assistant Floor Manager), Fintan Sheehan (Film Cameraman), Stuart Moser (Film Sound), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Sam Upton (Videotape Editor), Jim Francis/Mike Kelt (Visual Effects Designers), Robin Lobb (Video Effects), Iain Greenway (Graphic Designer), Francis Smith (Properties Buyer), Terry Brett (Technical Manager), Dave White (Senior Cameraman), Nigel Finnis (Vision Mixer), Warwick Fielding (Studio Lighting), Trevor Webster (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Nicholas Rocker (Costume Designer), Suzanne Jansen (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Eric Walmsley/Ken Ledsham (Designers) and Vere Lorrimer (Producer).

Story: Avon has been monitoring the work of a Federation geologist and mining expert, Acadamation Gerron, who has been delaying his findings so he can trade on shares. Avon blackmails Gerron into helping him, bouncing messages off an obsolete communications beacon in sector four, so Gerron won't be able to pinpoint his location. Gerron leads him to the planet Mecron, where a Federation operative, Belkov, has been mining Feldon for twelve years. Feldon is the hardest known substance in the universe (which contradicts Dawn of the Gods, which claims its Herculanium), and is such a powerful energy source it could render a -25000 planet workable. The Federation have invested 200 billion credits on researching Feldon, and plan to dominate nine new planets using the system.
However, Belkov has been tricking the Federation, as there is no more Feldon left on the planet. When the Scorpio comes into range, planning on stealing a 900 million Feldon consortment, Belkov tricks the crew into teleporting down. While there, he plans to destroy the mines and kill the crew, thereby covering his tracks and claiming it was Avon's sabotage. Belkov is killed, and Avon and the crew, trying to reach his supply of Feldon, realise it's a trap that will end with them being thrown into a black hole. They teleport back aboard Scorpio, where the ship blasts away at a Feldon supply to power them away from the hole. Vila reveals he'd stolen some Feldon crystals from Belkov's control room, but Belkov has the last laugh… they were fakes.

Scorpio: Although Avon and Soolin discussed working on Scorpio's weaponry system in Animals, this is the first and only episode where it is seen to fire. The production schematics suggested this was a "demolition laser", though this is not identified on screen.

Gambit: Belkov has a converted Federation Alpha 197 computer with a whole section of its memory banks supplied from a PPC (Pleasure Planet Computer) Unit. After Vila removes a component, the computer, known as Gambit, turns against Belkov and allows his ship, Alpha 3, to be destroyed.

The Federation: One of the mark one Feldon generators explodes, causing the death of thousands on the planet Egrava.


Viewpoint:
"I've been shot at, trodden on, nearly captured twice, and now I think they're trying to blow me up. A fairly average day, you know…"

A decent, yet not great, Blake's 7 episode. The overbearing exposition that kicks off the story makes this, like many other season four episodes, a bit of a kid's show. Yet, bizarrely for a story that doesn't have a credited fight or stunt co-ordinator, this has some of the most realistic-looking scraps ever, including Tarrant whacking a guard with an iron bar, and some absolutely superb explosions. Perhaps this is down to Vivienne Cozens's impressive direction, which provides us with such when we're normally confronted with slow fighting and sparkler fizzles.

Stratford Johns is good in a part that would have been outstanding if played by Leo McKern, while Jacqueline Pearce goes further down the road of shoot first, ask later. Of the "stars", then only Michael Keating holds his own, though Pacey's fireless Tarrant isn't so bad. Yet Simon is stagier than ever, like a Playschool presenter, Barber is just a non-entity and Darrow charts even further territories of ham. It's also strange how Servalan instantly believes Avon and co. are still alive without a second thought, despite having supposedly killed them only last episode. Uncustomarily poor script-editing from Chris Boucher there.

The crew no longer have conversations, instead preferring to bounce cheesy one-liners off each other ("They're after blood. My blood." "Tell them you've already given."), a function that only Vila used to fill, and, in a sardonic way, Avon. Nowadays they all think they're comedians. The final pay-off is okay, though seeing the crew stand around playing glorified Pac Man in computer games that have rapidly dated isn't the most thrilling prospect. Still, good fortune of the group to get a shooting game, a flight simulator and an impenetrable lock, what with them numbering a sharpshooter, a trained pilot and a thief. And Avon's on hand for the final, brain-related teaser. What would have happened if Dayna had been there, instead of being left on the ship alone like she rarely was? Ah, the delicious contrivance!