Friday, October 31, 2008

YOA & The Cognitive Dissonance pt 2

STREET

Early morning. Wide awake, Nigel runs out of the house carrying a parcel. He runs down the street to a very old-fashioned pillar box. Standing in front of it, in a queue are: Eve, Cuddles, and the man, all carrying similar parcels. Nigel fumes. Shoving past them, he drops the parcel into the pillar box and returns back to the house.

DAVE’S ROOM

Dave rolls over, gets up and stretches. He turns and looks to the computer – although it is switched off, steam is pouring off it and it is glowing orange. He frowns and gets up to go when the door bursts open and Nigel storms in.

NIGEL: Can you BLOODY believe it?

DAVE: [YAWNS] Morning, Mr. Meldrew.

NIGEL: All the other bastards have finished their submissions as well? How is that possible? In just two days, how could they have all finished a novel?

DAVE: [FROWNS] You don’t need to send in the finished novel, just an outline and few extracts, the ideas to explore...

NIGEL: I know that! But I thought sending in a complete novel would improve our chances – and I told everyone else you needed a novel as well, this totally sucks!

DAVE: Heck. ‘A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope big enough for a manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation for the editor.’

NIGEL: Dorothy Parker?

DAVE: Ring Lardner.

They start to leave the room.

NIGEL: I knew it was someone who worshiped Satan.

DAVE: [FROWNS] Why did you just say that?

NIGEL: Honestly? I have no idea.

They exit. A pause. Someone rushes into the computer and switches it back on again. It makes a pained whining noise as it boots up. A few moments pass and then the sound of typing is heard. Fade to black.

STAGE HALL

Caption: ONE WEEK LATER. Where the guys auditioned earlier. It is filling up with people – guests, media, the writers, caterers. We fade through several shots of the place filling up. A TV reporter is interviewing guests. We see a caption: BRONSON DACKER.

CUDDLES: Well, after a fortnight on some wild psychedelic drugs, I was called on by Vermin, who told me to write an original novel. However, I didn’t hear the word ‘original’, and so just typed whatever came into my head. I was able to use much of what was in my dream and put it in this novel, although most of the scenes involving pipe cleaners and cats were strangely cut out... The drugs... oh, they haven’t worn off...

Nigel and Dave enter, the former in The Suit, the latter squeezed into a tuxedo.

NIGEL: This is it, Dave! This is MY apotheosis! Stardom! Fame! Eating dissorders! ALL MINE!

DAVE: And what about me?

NIGEL: Tisk, tisk, David. If you can't even propel yourself into celebrityhood by clinging onto my coattails, then what's the point of you, eh?

DAVE: It's Andrew who wrote For The Love of God, Why? remember!

NIGEL: And Andrew is a hermit, remember! He didn't do this for the money, the fame, the fortune, the spectacle... come to think of it, I have no idea what he did do it for. Come to think of it I don't really care. I will be his representative on this Earth.

DAVE: What like the pope?

NIGEL: Yes, exactly like the pope. Except people will allow me near small children. [LONG PAUSE] Oh Yeah, I went there, bitches. I so went there.

Caption: TOM PAULIN.

MAN: When I wrote this book, I was convinced I was writing this amazing epic, full of battles and shock revelations. After my counseling, I have realized my mistake. I’m sure I planned the entire story out in every single detail. However, it does seem to be the case that the first draft was simply some scraps of used toilet paper. [LONG PAUSE] I’m NOT mad! Just... special.

REPORTER: Yes, well...

MAN: Now, there ARE romours that I wrote this book whilst in a drug induced trance. This is a complete lie! Anyone – anyone at all – who says otherwise will be murdered by my dealer. Is that understood?

Nigel looks around in annoyance.

NIGEL: Where the hell has Andrew got to?

Andrew staggers in. He is wearing a black cocktail dress, showing off his mainly hairy chest, and his hair is in a beehive hairdo. His red-rimmed eyes are bulging and he looks quite, quite insane.

DAVE: Holy Frank N Furter, what the hell happened to you?!

ANDREW: Hahahahaha. I did it! I did it, Harry, I did it! I have written the greatest book in all history!

DAVE: That's nice. I'm Dave.

ANDREW: Don't bother me with trivialities, Harry. I've been writing this book round the clock every day for the last week. I haven't slept once. But Battle Not With Monsters, Lest Monsters You Become will set me up above the literary gods. Move over JK Rowling, the A-Man is in town!

NIGEL: "Battle Not Lest Monsters..." What is this Pokemon shite? I thought the book was finalized as For The Love of God, Why?

Andrew puts a companionable arm around Nigel while still talking to Dave.

ANDREW: Nigel. Nigel, Nigel, Nigel. Nige. Ni-geeee-lah. I hate you, you do know that, right? I mean, I find your continued existence absolute concrete proof that there is no benevolent god. You make me contemplate suicide to escape this miserable planet you contaminate. You're aware of this, right?

NIGEL: Everyone says that when they're trying to hide their true love for me.

ANDREW: So, logically, by extrapapopolopation... any book you like, I'd hate. Your quality is my crap, my evil is your god and all that. So any book you thought would be brilliant, and, yes, honestly, I AM going somewhere with this, Harry, any book you like I would find morally repugnantly reprehensible. Get it?

NIGEL: Got it.

ANDREW: Good. And, logically, any book I would like YOU would hate. So, we are exact opposites. Ying and Yang. Kim and Kath. You see, Nigel, that was when I came up with my master plan. I would write a book entirely composed of your ideas, the crappest of the crap. Then all I'd have to do is reverse the polarity and write a book with the exact opposite plot, characters and stuff and it would be bigger than the Bible!

NIGEL: Andrew? I know all this. You told me on the way to the pub remember?

ANDREW: But that was just a plan, Nigel! THIS IS IT! IT'S REALLY HAPPENING! Every time you and Dave were out of the room I was there, retyping, rewriting, changing everything down to the smallest grammatical accuracy! [BLINKS] Oh, did I remember to turn it off?

DAVE'S ROOM

Smoke is pouring out of the computer. The monitor has partially melted. Suddenly it catches fire.

STAGE HALL

As before.

ANDREW: Oh well, never mind. The point is... is? Is. Is that with this one book I shall change Australian culture whatever.

NIGEL: Whatever. As long as I get rich and famous.

ANDREW: [WITH WOOZY CUNNING] You underestimate the magnitude of my betrayal, Nige. When we first chatted with the woman from Vermin, I discussed this plan with her... until she called the police and made me go away. Anyway, this book is all mine. Not yours.

NIGEL: We had a deal!

ANDREW: A deal? Oh. Yes. That's right. The deal was about For the Love of God, Why? though. This book is all mine. I take everything seriously. Except myself. I always try to mix a little foolishness in with my serious plans. [TO NIGEL] It helps, don't you find, Dave?

DAVE: What if Nigel's version wins?

ANDREW: Highly unlikely, I'd have thought.

NIGEL: You can "think" all of a sudden, can you?

ANDREW: While I was dropping off the finished manuscript of Battle Not With Monsters, Lest Monsters You Become I shredded For The Love of God, Why?, burned the remains and flushed them down the toilet.

NIGEL: WHAT!?!?

ANDREW: Now, now, Nige. You said I could do anything I want with the manuscript.

NIGEL: As long as you won!

ANDREW: And I will. Just not with yours. [BRIGHTENS] Oooh! Canapes!

He stumbles off into the groud. Nigel looks around him, furious. Dave starts to chuckle.

NIGEL: That double-dealing, two-faced, back-stabbing, lying piece of... WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!? [TO DAVE] Shut up. Now... what brilliant tactic can get me out of this? I said, shut up, Dave! Now. I need to try and win this on my own. Ergo. I need my own manuscript. Hand it in and win.

Dave is now laughing very loudly.

NIGEL: Shut up, Dave! OK. Writing a 9000 word manuscript off the top of my head inside [CHECK WATCH] one hour seven seconds a tad difficult. Stop laughing, Dave! But I can do it. I can do anything. I'm Nigel freaking Verkoff and this world shall bow to MY convenience.

Dave collapses screaming with laughter. Nigel stares at him.

NIGEL: [DRYLY] I can see you're right with me on this one. Now. I must... AWAY!!!!

He jumps over Dave's convulsing form and flees the whole shebang.

OUTSIDE HALL

Nigel makes his way through a throng of people and sprints across the road to an internet cafe. It's early evening and its got a sign saying SERVER DOWN in the window. Nigel stares at the sign for a long moment at it and runs inside. A moment later he is thrown outside again. Snugglewolffe leans around the door.

OWNER: Can't you read?!

NIGEL: I didn't want to use the stupid internet anyway!

OWNER: Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

Nigel rolls his eyes and checks his watch.

NIGEL: Less than an hour. Right. Who do I know pathetic enough to not only live round these here parts and also possess a half decent laptop with Microsoft Word?

Nigel wracks his brains, before noticing the door beside the cafe marked "DR. SPOON & CHAMBER".

NIGEL: [BLINKS] Seriously. Come on. What are the odds of that?

APARTMENT

Dr. Spoon is frantically typing at a computer and checking wires connecting it to a widescreen plasma screen. Chamber is carefully positioning a sofa in front of it and checking a bowl of popcorn.

DOCTOR: Oh yeah. Another minute and it's fully downloaded!

CHAMBER: The last of episode of Blake's 7! It's, what, 25 years old and we've STILL managed to avoid spoilers! And now we get to see it. I bet you anything there's a threesome between Vila and Soolin and Dayna. Mark my words, Rupert, this is going to be massive.

DOCTOR: Why on Earth would they have an orgy for a final episode?

CHAMBER: Duh. Because they don't have any more episodes?

DOCTOR: ...fair enough. Oh, man, this is going to be awesome! Much better than that stupid book competition over the road. You know, they turned down my application, Chamber?

CHAMBER: Did you send one?

DOCTOR: Maybe. Out of sheer muscular habit.

There is a banging at the front door.

NIGEL: [VO] Doctor Spoon you dirty albino, open the damn door!

CHAMBER: Nigel's come round. Man, this episode must be hardcore filth to get HIM interested!

DOCTOR: [OPENS DOOR] What are you doing here?

NIGEL: Being incredibly sexy, dashing and magnificent as ever. You? [CROSSES TO COMPUTER] I need to borrow your harddrive. Long story short I need to write a new manuscript in [CHECKS WATCH] less than forty-three minutes and come up with something greater than Harry Potter so the two of you can shut up. [STARTS TYPING] Right. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and it was a dark and stormy night as Oldark Moor heaved under the shame of its past..."

CHAMBER: That'll take you days! How are you going to write a thousand pages...

DOCTOR: Give or take a few.

CHAMBER: Shut up. Nigel, how are you going to do that in half an hour?

Nigel is typing furiously. Words fill up the screen rapidly.

NIGEL: The Big N has powers and abilities undreamed of by mortal men. Plus I have a great typing speed. 200 words a minute. 60 if you want them to make any actual sense. And worse case scenario, I'll just make the font incredibly large. You got a printer, right?

DOCTOR: Nigel, even if for the briefest of brief moments I cared for your predicament, we had kind of an evening planned. We've illegally downloaded entertainment and everything...

NIGEL: Oh, what is it? Might be some ideas to nick...

CHAMBER: It's the last episode of Blake's 7...

NIGEL: BRILLIANT! [TYPES MORE AND MORE] I'll set it on an agricultural planet overrun by criminals and bounty hunters, have the main characters go on a desperate soul-destroying quest to meet each other and finally have a huge misunderstanding which causes a huge shoot out and all the cast die horribly one by one in slow motion and the last one standing surrounded by faceless enforcers of a fascist regime and leave it open ended as to whether he somehow miraculously escaped or dies horribly. Just like in the last episode of Blake's 7, except it won't be quite as shocking, harrowing and distressing...

Doctor Spoon and Chamber have been listening to this in mounting horror. They exchange looks and turn to Nigel, who continues to type frantically, grimacing with the pain of moving his arms so much.

NIGEL: The brilliance is that only a complete idiot would have missed the end to Blake's 7 and ergo everyone would recognize it as plagiarism. So only a complete idiot would try and rip off that ending without every single person in the English-speaking world noticing and so, ergo, it just has to be one of life's little coincidences. The Nobel prize for literature, come to papa, that's it, there's a good---

STREET

The door to the stairwell bangs open as Nigel is thrown down the stairs. He finally hits the bottom and falls silent. He looks around in a daze.

NIGEL: Was it something the Big N said?

A screaming chamber throws a bowl of popcorn at Nigel's head, causing him to scream in pain.

CHAMBER: You total jerks! This is so freaking unfair! THERE IS NO GOD! GAAAAAAAAAAGHHHH!

He starts kicking Nigel in the ribs before collapsing in sobs. Nigel gets himself up, dusts himself down.

NIGEL: ...Okaaaay.... Plan C. [COUGHS] I can do anything. Isn't that right, Arco?

Chamber is curled up into a foetal position sobbing.

NIGEL: Who needs a fricken manuscript anyway. Time to crank the charisma to twelve. Only losers and the Bulldogs use it on eleven...

He strides off as Chamber continues to weep.


- to be continued...

YOA & The Cognitive Dissonance pt 1

THE YOUTH OF AUSTRALIA

A Novel Idea!

By EWEN CAMPION-CLARKE and DAMIAN SANCHEZ


MONTAGE

We see a shot of Sydney, then various shots of people getting ready to go to work/school/church, etc. All through this, a radio can be heard.

RADIO: And its forty minutes past seven o’clock on Monday, January 14, 1980! What do you mean, that’s wrong? Look, this is my damn radio station so just screw you! Ah, where was I? Yes, and today marks the first day of a new publication company, Vermin Publishing. The first submission automatically gets 20 grand paid to the author!

We see Andrew, Nigel and Dave watching TV, which is showing static. This last sentence plays from a transistor radio. They exchange looks and then run off.

RADIO: As Martin Luther once said, ‘The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure or limit to this fever of writing; everyone must be an author, some for some kind of vanity to acquire celebrity and raise a name, others for the sake of lucre or gain.’ What a wanker, huh?


STAGE

We see a stage in front of a woman sitting behind a table. A sign says VERMIN PUBLISHING AUDITIONS.

WOMAN: OK, who’s first?

Andrew comes on stage.

WOMAN: All right, what’s your name then?

ANDREW: Andrew.

WOMAN: OK, what’s your submission?

ANDREW: Two words: funky robots...

WOMAN: Next!

ANDREW: Damn!

He storms off stage. Nigel walks on.

NIGEL: Hi, baby! I’m Nigel. You’ll need to know that because you’ll be screaming that name at the ceiling later.

WOMAN: [STARES AT HIM] OK, what’s your submission?

NIGEL: I hope you like it, but I’ve got to warn you, I won’t work for anything under 50 grand...

WOMAN: Next!

NIGEL: [CONFUSED] What?

He walks off stage, shaking his head. Dave walks on.

WOMAN: Name?

DAVE: [CAUTIOUS] Dave.

WOMAN: So, Dave, tell me your submission. It better be within the guidelines, though.

DAVE: Why should I follow YOUR guidelines? I’ve written my own...

He starts to pull out a folder.

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew walks on stage, now dressed as Noel Coward – a dressing gown, slicked back hair, outrageous gay-sounding English accent.

ANDREW: What-ho, baby. My submission is set entirely in a toilet block in a park next to Cook’s River...

WOMAN: Next!

ANDREW: [DEPRESSED] Toodle-pip.

Nigel comes on stage, wearing black, with sunglasses and beret.

NIGEL: [IN FRENCH ACCENT] Zoot alors. I am French, mon fille.

WOMAN: And your submission?

NIGEL: Tray cool. Well, I ave read ze novelization of Battlefield Earth and I thought to myself, ‘Well, ma friend, if HE can get away wiz it...’

WOMAN: Next!

NIGEL: I fart in your general direction!

He walks off. Dave walks on with sunglasses and a moustache.

DAVE: Well, it’s kind of like a Stephen King novel, except the murder victims REALLY suffer...

WOMAN: Next!

[From now on we just cut to the three in various bad make-up]

Nigel, wearing a school girl’s outfit.

NIGEL: It’s called ‘How the Gynecologist Found His Groove’...

WOMAN: Next!

Dave, dressed as a tramp.

DAVE: It’s only partially about being an educative children’s book. The rest of it is about the alienation of an author suffering from writer’s block...

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew, wearing a giant banana costume.

ANDREW: I don’t like books that much...

WOMAN: Next!

Cuddles, wearing his own clothes.

CUDDLES: You’ve got to be hip. Get with the youth of today. Quentin Tarantino, Youth TV, that’s what the kids want...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, dressed as Cuddles.

NIGEL: It’s totally shagadelic, man...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, wearing a long red scarf.

NIGEL: I was thinking about Mahatma Ghandi. You say he’s a pacifist? Let me tell you, NO ONE is a pacifist...

WOMAN: Next!

Dave, wearing a duffel coat and his hair really fizzy.

DAVE: Well, it’s set during and about the birth of Jesus Christ and what really happened...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, dressed as Dave.

NIGEL: I know every single person on the planet will love this idea – Spiderman loses his memory and has to have every single adventure he’s ever been on explained to him...

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew, wearing a black suit and bowler hat.

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, in a gondolier’s outfit.

NIGEL: It’s set in the afterlife...

WOMAN: Next!

Dave, dressed as Andrew.

DAVE: Well, I’ve always hated John Howard...

WOMAN: Next!

ANDREW: I’m only doing it for the money and the chicks...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, wearing a black suit and bowler hat.

NIGEL: Look at this watch and repeat after me: I am a writer and you will publish my submission, I am a writer...

WOMAN: Next!

Eve, dressed normal.

EVE: It’s set in the far future on this weird planet that turns out to be Earth, only no-one knows...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, dressed in sunglasses and a moustache.

NIGEL: I’ve been thinking about it for ages and I still can’t come up with anything. Have you got any ideas...?

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew, dressed as Eve.

ANDREW: Well you know how some stories are frocks and some are guns. This is Arnold Schwarzenegger in a floral dress...

WOMAN: Next!

Eve, arms folded.

EVE: Whatever John Marsden’s doing next, I can do it better...

WOMAN: Next!

Dave, wearing his underpants.

DAVE: It’s a dark and stormy night...

WOMAN: Next!

Someone we haven’t seen before.

MAN: I’m Tom Paulin. How can you have gone so long without mentioning the troubles in Northern Ireland...?

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel, dressed as the woman.

NIGEL: I refuse to devalue my ideas by writing them down. If you’ve got a tape recorder ready, I’ll give you it down the phone, or here and now if you like...

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew, in a wheelchair.

ANDREW: I got the idea from listening to a Delta Goodrem song...

WOMAN: Next!

Cuddles, dressed as Noel Coward.

CUDDLES: For a start, nobody dies and there isn’t a mystery for Sherlock Holmes to solve...

WOMAN: Next!

Andrew, dressed as Cuddles.

ANDREW: It’s mostly in German...

WOMAN: Next!

Eve, dressed as Morticia.

EVE: Think of me as the next Jeffrey Archer...

WOMAN: Next!

Nigel attacks the woman.

NIGEL: What the hell is all this in the guidelines about not using Buffy?! She gives me the fucking *horn* goddammit...

WOMAN: Next! Next! Next! NEXT!

She stares at the empty stage for a moment.

WOMAN: Look, is there anyone else?

Dressed in their own clothes, Andrew, Nigel, Dave, Eve, Cuddles, and the man come out on stage, and begin to sing.

ALL: Please sir, or madam
Won’t you read my book?
It took me years to write
Will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel
By a man named Lear
And I need a job
So I want to be...

WOMAN: Next!

MONTAGE

We see a shot of Sydney, then various shots of people getting ready to leave work/school/church, etc. All through this, a radio can be heard.

RADIO: And its twenty past six, 1980! Yes, Vermin Publishing, on its third day has offered six applicants the chance to submit their novels for the winner does get 20 grand. I won’t bother telling you who they were, but let’s just say I wasn’t included, so you must kill them all, my slaves!

DAVE’S ROOM

Dave is writing on the computer. Nigel enters.

NIGEL: Hey.

DAVE: [TYPING] Hey.

NIGEL: Andrew says dinner’s up in a minute.

DAVE: [STOPS TYPING] He’s not going to do that bird regurgitation thing again, is he?

NIGEL: [QUICKLY] No, no, he’s learnt from last time.

NIGEL: What’re you up to now?

DAVE: I’m writing for this book competition.

NIGEL: Oh yeah? [SQUINTS AT SCREEN] Hamlet’. Snappy title.

DAVE: [TYPING AGAIN] Thanks.

NIGEL: [READS] Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by David M. Restal.

DAVE: [STOPS TYPING] What??

NIGEL: Nothing. Just thought it was by Shakespeare, that’s all.

DAVE: Nige, remember what they say.

NIGEL: Who say what?

DAVE: You know, monkeys and typewriters...

NIGEL: [SADLY] Oh, Dave, I never said anything like that! You’re a good writer, man and this is up-to-the-date...

DAVE: Not that, Nigel! You know – give some monkeys a typewriter and sooner or later, they’ll type out Shakespeare.

NIGEL: So?

DAVE: Would those monkeys be plagiarizing?

NIGEL: Um, well...

DAVE: [STARTS TYPING] Exactly. Besides, it’s 500 years old. It’s GOT to be out of copyright by now. Anyway, this is a radical rewrite. Lots more funny codpieces and stuff.

NIGEL: Still, you’re gonna have to shorten it to get it entered.

DAVE: I’ll do that.

Nigel leans on Dave shoulder (to Dave’s irritation) and studies what he is typing. He frowns.

NIGEL: Well, you can get rid of THAT for a start!

DAVE: What?

NIGEL: It’s dead wood, scrap it!

DAVE: DEAD WOOD!

NIGEL: Dude, you can’t waste valuable word counts on standup stuff in the middle of the action!

DAVE: The soliloquies?

NIGEL: Yeah! [SCROLLS UP AND DOWN] THAT one has to be the worst!

DAVE: What?

NIGEL: [READS] To be, or not to be: that is the question’. God, it’s like talking to John Howard about Seachange! Yawnsville! You can’t say that, it’s just... gibberish!

DAVE: Short gibberish! I need room to move in this word limit, you know.

NIGEL: Damn right ‘it’s the question’! What the hell is he talking about? He’s just standing there jabbering about God-knows-what and we’re just staring at him!

DAVE: Dude, that is some of my best work there!

NIGEL: Well, you could pep it up a bit, couldn’t you?

Shoving Dave out of the chair, Nigel begins to tap out happily.

DAVE: [SOURLY] HG Wells was right! ‘No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft!’

NIGEL: [TYPES FURIOUSLY FOR A MOMENT] Look, [READS] To be a victim, or not to be coward’. Much better!

DAVE: What? That doesn’t make sense! To be a victim of what? To be coward about what? Answer me that!

NIGEL: [TAPS AT KEYBOARD] There. ‘To be a victim of all life’s earthly woes, or not to be a coward and take Death by his proffered hand’.

DAVE: Get stuffed! That line was perfect!

NIGEL: Now, what do we have here? ‘Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.’ What in the name of Amy Acker is he’s talking about?! He’s going to put on a bow and arrow and potter down to the seaside?!? This is Prince Hamlet, not King Canute! He might as well kill himself if that’s the best idea he can come up with! [EYES WIDEN] What a brilliant idea! D-man, let’s have him commit suicide in the first act!

DAVE: [FROWNS] In the first act??

NIGEL: Why not? The ghost is cool, the sword fights are cool, that crazy chick in the see-through dress who does the flower jokes and then drowns herself... But who gives a stuff what happens to Hamlet? You trying for a Soprano-type character?

DAVE: [THROWS HANDS UP IN THE AIR] Fine! Let’s kill off Hamlet! He comes out on stage, says ‘Aye; there’s the rub. To die, to sleep...’ and then fall off the battlements! Happy?

NIGEL: [TYPES] Hmm. Emphasize the action and the travel, put in something about the plague and we have...

He makes a dramatic series of taps and Dave moves to stop him.

NIGEL: ‘Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take up arms against those cursed doubts that do plague on man and set sail on a sea of troubles.’ Much better. Brilliant!

DAVE: NO! You’ve ruined it, Nigel! RUINED! R-U-I-N-E-D! RUINED!

Dave grabs Nigel and points to the door.

DAVE: Out! Get out of my room!

NIGEL: Hey, I just saved you thinking up another 12 words!

DAVE: Great! It’s now total crap!

NIGEL: That’s Shakespeare for you.

Andrew enters with a covered tray. Frantic, Dave begins clicking UNDO.

ANDREW: Dinner time! What are you all doing in here?

DAVE: [CLICKING MOUSE] Rewriting Hamlet. And Nigel’s screwing it up!

ANDREW: [PUTS DOWN TRAY] Really. What’s he been doing? [READS] To be or not to be: that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing...’ WHAT?

DAVE: [FOLDS ARMS] Good, eh?

ANDREW: Good? GOOD! You can’t put a line like that in the play!

DAVE: A line like what?

ANDREW: A line like ‘or to take arms against a sea of troubles’!

DAVE: WHY NOT?

NIGEL: Because it’s crap?

ANDREW: Because it’s a freaking mixed metaphor! And you can’t put mixed metaphors in one of the greatest works of fiction in English literature!

NIGEL: [STARTLED] Is it? I just thought it was crap.

Andrew shoves Dave out of the seat and begins to type.

ANDREW: Anyone can justify crap. No one can justify a mixed metaphor. Let me have a go.

NIGEL: You can’t be serious!

ANDREW: You bet I’m serious. Mixed metaphors are very serious things you know, and you just don’t go round putting them in one of the great English plays. It’s just not on.

NIGEL: Look, what do you know about mixed metaphors?

ANDREW: More than you.

NIGEL: You’re a bloody loony!

ANDREW: [SHRUGS] A bloody loony a day keeps the mixed metaphors away.

DAVE: Who cares if it’s a mixed metaphor? Nigel, you’ve totally ruined the play! All of it! And that’s no mean feat. You want to rewrite Hamlet without Hamlet, go ahead!

NIGEL: Okay, so the H man has his moments – that mad stuff is pretty cool, just that one speech could be shortened a bit. Not too sure on those awful gravediggers, though.

ANDREW: Don’t worry, you can keep that!

DAVE: [FROWNS] What have you done?

ANDREW: Edited it. Eighteen pages and every scene is kept.

DAVE: Even the skull routine?

ANDREW: Yup.

DAVE: Cool. [READS]Life sucks. I think I’m gonna kill myself. Ah, better not. I think I’ll have a nap.’ That’s it??

ANDREW: The gist of it is there. And its under the word limit.

Dave screams in frustration and leaves.

NIGEL: [CALLS AFTER HIM] Temperamental bastard!

ANDREW: You know, it was Stephen King who said, ‘I’ve never killed anybody. Except in stories.’

NIGEL: Really?

ANDREW: Yeah.

A long pause.

ANDREW: Hey, let’s get pissed out of our minds until inspiration for a submission strikes us!

NIGEL: I’m on!

They run out after Dave.

PUB

Caption: AFTER A PUB CRAWL STARTING WITH THE LEAST POPULAR PUB IN THE SUBURB TO THE MOST POPULAR PUB IN THE SUBURB – IN TRUTH, THE ONLY PUB IN THE SUBURB, THE GUYS SEEK REFRESHMENTS. Andrew, Nigel and Dave stumble into the pub, quite obviously drunk. They eventually make it to a table and all try to sit in the same chair and end up arguing amongst themselves as to where to sit - there are only two chairs.

ANDREW: Barman!

BARMAID: So, guys, what’ll it be?

ANDREW: Yes, we’d like... Err...

He attempts to count the number of people at the table several times before resorting to a guess.

ANDREW: [SHRUGS] Five pints of absinthe, please! In half-pint glasses!

BARMAN: Coming up.

She wanders off and returns with a tray of bubbling drinks. She places them on the table and Andrew pulls out a leather purse. He struggles to open it for a while, then shrugs and hands it to the barmaid.

ANDREW: Um, we were talking about writing a book.

DAVE: Oh, yeah. As Gene Fowler once said, ‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.’

ANDREW: Oh? I thought Gene Fowler was the one who said, ‘Writers. Worst kind of vampires. Bastards.’

NIGEL: What?

ANDREW: You know! ‘They fill their pens from your vital juices, sucking up your experience, then smear it wantonly across the walls of these crumbling asylums called books.’ That was Gene Fowler. Wasn’t it?

DAVE: That was Jerry O’Flynn!

NIGEL: No, Delano, definitely. Jamie Delano.

ANDREW: No, it was Jerry O’Flynn.

NIGEL: Go stick your head up a dead dingo’s bum, Andrew! You’ve got it all wrong. Jerry O’Flynn was the one who said, ‘What no wife of a writer can understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.’

DAVE: Ah, screw you! That was Burton Rascoe and you know it!

ANDREW: Oh, yes. Burton Rascoe. ‘With twenty-six soldiers of lead I will conquer the world,’ that was one of his, wasn’t it?

The others shrug.

NIGEL: I think De Vries said it best with, ‘I love being a writer. It’s the paperwork I can’t stand.’

ANDREW: De Vries?

NIGEL: Yeah?

ANDREW: PETER De Vries?

NIGEL: Yeah.

ANDREW: I thought he was the devil-worshiping druidic maniac who hung around that stone circle until he mysteriously disappeared back in 1978...

DAVE: No that was Leonard De Vries!

NIGEL: Ohhhhhhhhhh. So, it must have been Hemmingway who said, ‘the most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector.’ [CROSSES HIMSELF] Ah, Ernest!

Andrew crosses to the bar. The barmaid isn’t paying him any attention.

ANDREW: So then, then, I shouted ‘Boooyakasha!’ and I began pacing around like a lunatic, can you believe it?

BARMAID: You wanna pay your tab now?

ANDREW: Sure. How much?

BARMAID: That’ll be $75, skip.

ANDREW: Skip? Hmm... could be a name for a character. I’m writing a story, you see. Muchos money. Thanks! Once it’s published, I’ll get you the $75. Promise!

BARMAID: Whatever... ‘Every writer, without exception, is a masochist, a sadist, a peeping Tom, an exhibitionist, a narcissist, an ‘injustice collector’ and a ‘depressed person constantly haunted by fear of unproductivity’,’ to quote Dr Bergler.

Andrew crosses over to Nigel and Dave.

NIGEL: [BELCHES] Hey, man, what’s happening?

ANDREW: [LOOKS UP] Hey, Nige. I’m writing my magnum opus.

DAVE: Don’t be disgusting!

ANDREW: You know something, Nigel?

NIGEL: Yeah?

ANDREW: I’ve decided to write the worst book ever written. I want something that will, one day, be auctioned off to the Times Literary Supplement for millions of dollars – just so they can publicly urinate on the said manuscript. And I want YOU to help me.

NIGEL: Really?

ANDREW: Yeah. I’m gonna make you creative consultant, AND the main character. I shall call him... Legin. A back-stabbing asshole who, who sings! How does that sound?

NIGEL: Coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool.

OUTSIDE PUB

It is the afternoon as the trio stumble from the pub.

NIGEL: Right. What we desperately need in this novel is... A redneck from Texas! Who romances every single character in the book, living or dead!

ANDREW: Yeah, who starts every sentence with ‘Haaaaaaaay!’

NIGEL: Yes, that’s cool. And ends every sentence with, ‘Wheee, I’m like so excited, ya’ll!’ and everyone tells her to shut up!

ANDREW: And the main protagonist?

NIGEL: Works in the diplomatic core, but can’t stand the hours! Then, he meets the sluttiest whore in existence for some romantic tension. Let’s call her ‘Detective Bitch’ A bit of dull feminine touches – AND some very lowbrow humor.

ANDREW: I know the perfect title: ‘For The Love Of God, Why?

DAVE: I’m thinking similar things.

ANDREW: Anyone can write a bad book by accident, but to do it deliberately. That takes imagination. Imagination and genius. Imagination, genius and Guinness. More beer!

Dave sighs and, delving into the pockets of his trench coat, pulls out a glass of Guinness and hands it to Andrew.

NIGEL: All the characters will be shallow – there shall be no hint of personality, no redeemable values, no exploration of depth. Just whine, whine, whine, bitch, bitch, bitch! Whine, whine! Bitch, bitch! The main bad guy will be, uh, something clich├ęd... Got it! A lawyer!

ANDREW: I’ve got to write this down!

He produces a soiled beer mat from his pocket and starts to write on it, taking swigs of his drink.

DAVE’S ROOM

Andrew, looking none the worse for wear, is tapping out at Dave’s computer, every so often casting a look at the crumpled beer mat beside him. Dave lies on his bed, reading a comic while Nigel paces.

ANDREW: Hah!

NIGEL: Good news?

ANDREW: I’ve already finished the first chapter, man. Just have to end it on a shocking cliffhanger.

STREET

The sun sets.

DAVE’S ROOM

Andrew is typing, Nigel is pacing. Dave is crouched by the printer lying on the floor as it spits out the novel. It is amazingly primitive and the paper is striped blue and white and lined with punched holes. Dave picks up the printout.

DAVE: [READS] Chapter One: ‘Shut Up, Ho!For no real reason, we decided to treat the man who saved us and brought us together like shit. And so, we smiled like the dumbasses we were, trying to provide the fellowship with the black attitude of the black Americans...

We zoom in on the wall clock. It speeds forward three hours.

NIGEL: We must get that clock fixed.

STREET

The stars come out. All the lights in the other houses switch off, leaving the only source off illumination in Dave’s room.

DAVE’S ROOM

Nigel is dozing. Andrew is eating a pizza and typing in no particular order. Dave stares at what he is reading, not taking a word in.

DAVE: [READING] He may have saved us all on more occasions than we could possibly count. He may have given us a reason to live and purpose and an idea for a new business venture, but why should we return the favor? The chances for a group hug and pretending it never happened were dropping by the minute unless he humiliated himself. And so, our hero began to sing, sing, SING! ‘Okay, hey! Look at me! I’m the hero! I’m a little teapot, short and stout! This is my handle and this is my snout!’ To be continued.

Nigel sits up and stretches.

NIGEL: Well, what do you think?

DAVE: Should I change that to ‘spout’?

NIGEL: Nahhhhhhh, I want gritty, realistic drama in my book.

ANDREW: [TYPING] Chapter Two: ‘Crap! I hope you rot in hell!’ Detective Bitch was gone, but did anybody care? No, actually. They were all so... damn fickle, they didn’t remember how they had saved each other’s sorry arses at least ten times in the previous chapter, and thus were ready to kick each other in those same arses...

NIGEL: Dude, we need an office romance for Legin.

ANDREW: Fine. He’s developed a soft spot for the redneck, even though he fell madly in love with that girl that he can’t seem to remember her name. What about Detective Bitch, though? His one true love of all the bad characters?

NIGEL: [BLANKLY] So?

ANDREW: Brilliant, Nigel! Of course, it makes sense. [TYPES] Oh, redneck, you’re the most beautiful woman in the world...

STREET

Dawn begins.

DAVE’S ROOM

It is still dark outside. A tired Dave enters, carrying a steaming tray of – coffee, tea and a glass of cold curry sauce. Nigel, Dave and Andrew take their respective drinks and return to their previous positions – pacing, the bed, and typing.

ANDREW: [RUBS EYES] Right. Chapter Twenty-Four: ‘Where Do Babies Come From?’ The redneck and Legin had a few drinks, mayhaps a little too many spiked vodkas, smoked marijuana once too often, played strip poker just that bit too much... One thing lead to another and now...

NIGEL: Yes, make that black American have a big secret that could destroy all the characters in the novel.

ANDREW: Fantastic. [TYPES] ‘Oooooh! Oooohh!’ said Sullivan. ‘Look at me! Look at me! I have a biiiiiiiiig secret! A secret that could destroy us all!’

NIGEL: So, now... what is he going to do with this big secret?

ANDREW: He could start by telling the others first, so they could sit down, discuss it and find out how to solve it?

NIGEL: Ah, bor-ring! Have him bottle it up inside himself, and hope it goes away, playing victim when it all goes wrong.

ANDREW: And his soul is symbolically corrupted by some shagging?

NIGEL: Now you’re getting the hang of it, Andrew! Now, for the steamy sex action scenes between Legin and his decrepit grandmother in the polar bear enclosure of the zoo!

STREET

It is now midday.

DAVE’S ROOM

Dave scratches at his stubble as he peers at the printout.

DAVE: [READING WITH HORROR] ‘Oh, gawd! I know this is totally wrong, but please! Take me, now!’ ‘I can’t. Someone chopped off my balls.’ ‘Oh, Legin! You’re so seks-say! Do me!’ ‘Hoboy!’

He throws down the page and starts to vomit copiously.

STREET

The sun sets until it is early evening.

DAVE’S ROOM

Andrew is typing at the computer, eyes wide and unblinking.

DAVE: I just don’t buy the nephew turning up and always acting tough around older people. In reality, younger people get to be hushed up in an instant!

NIGEL: Hey, it’s MY childish fantasy, so screw you!

ANDREW: And I’m finishing the last page of the last chapter of ‘For The Love Of God, Why?’. Now, the final surviving characters turn to each other after the massive battle. [TYPES] ‘I’m gonna kick your ass, Legin!’ ‘Didn’t I just save your soul?’ ‘Yeah... but what have you done for me in last couple of minutes. Huh?!?!’

NIGEL: And Legin says, ‘Hooboy...’

ANDREW: [TYPING WITH A FLOURISH] Hooboy...’ the end!!

DAVE: [HOPEFULLY] It’s over? It’s finally over?

NIGEL: Yep. Print it out, and we can mail it off. I bet none of the other applicants have got theirs’ in so quickly.

DAVE: Does that mean you two freaks can finally get out of my room and leave me alone?

NIGEL: Sure. Thanks for the computer. Come on, Andy, let’s mosey!

ANDREW: Yippee!

They click print, and shut the steaming computer down. Dave dims the lights and is in bed and fast asleep by the time the others are gone. A long pause. The door clicks open. Someone stealthily enters the room, switches on the computer and begins to type...

- to be continued...

Blake's 7 Burn Their Bras!

Now, I've enjoyed James Swallows' sadly limited repertoire of work, enough to say that the REG Doctor webcast him was in all probability a tragic loss. Singularity was great (though ironically RTD rewrite with the Master in contemporary Britain was probably more in keeping with Season 21), and Kingdom of Silver wipes the floor with Sword of Orion (both versions) and the whole Orion War scenario. Niether one is Earth shattering or toppling-Rob-Shearman-from-the-Totem-pole amazing, but they are well-written, entertaining and if they are the worst things on offer count yourself very good indeed.

I was, quite frankly, shocked at the revelation Swallows had written for B7 Reborn. Mainly because I was shocked ANYONE bar Aaaaronovitch was involved. Never once did I detect any other writer than the perpetrator of the frying pan shennanegins in the first episode. So, if they actually DID write for this range - and let's be honest, not one of them has ever gone on record as even knowing Blake's 7 exists let alone that they liked it - someone was script editing to the point of ghost writing the whole scenario. Is Ben Aaronovitch, so recalcitrent to tell us anything bar generic series details of the series, actually innocent of these crimes against pop culture? Since the sheer crapness of the dialogue elbowed out Marc Platt as sole architect of Traitor, let us see if ANYTHING of Swallows reaches my speakers...

From left to right: Avon, maybe-Servalan-or-Jenna, Blake, maybe-Vila, maybe-Travis-or-Gan and, by the way, what have they done to their faces? It looks like they've been superimposed over artists' impressions? Look at Blake? That nose isn't real? And once again Colin Salmon is the Auton left out in the sun...



CHAPTER ONE: Power

"The so-called Liberator. The misguided optimism of a lost cause."

There's not really much to this episode. Stephan G Travis (G is for Guisborne) is dragged before Servalan who demands to know why the fuck he never told her about the giant alien spaceship earlier. He says he did, she says, "Oh yeah" and then he tells her to fetch it for her as a present. It's little more than catch-up, as evidenced by Mezin's painful speech played in full (though showing us all that we've lost the only experienced audio actor of the whole bleeding lot with more talent and charisma than the rest of the cast put together). However, Swallows is already working his magic (between the long, long speeches that are very obviously the Evil Lunatic Script Editor, or ELSE as I shall dub it). For a start there is a massive retcon - or else a very desperately needed clarification - that Gizzy and Servalan never knew that Blake was aboard the Liberator. They knew he escaped and they knew a new spaceship was on their manor, but no connection between them. This makes Servalan's "Let Them Drink Soma" attitude slightly less cretinous, though the Bitch in White 2.0 is still annoyingly coy and acting like butter would not melt in her mouth. I must be accustomed to Kieth Allan's naked villainy, because I found Servalan's Bonnie Langford impersonations frankly irritating. God damn it, you're a corrupt and highly functional psychopath! ACT LIKE IT!

[And not in the Kaldor City way either, which involves you doing totally random and stupid things, pointing out the randomness and stupidity before adding "I'm a psychopath" which everyone knows is how all serial killers refer to themselves... But I was thinking more of TV's Servalan who in her first episode showed her credentials when she was genuinely baffled by her teaboy's problem with genocide. Or in Aftermath where she and Avon crash at the Mellanby household and within five minutes Avon is de facto uncle and everyone's written off Servalan as a superficial rich bitch with no manners whatsoever. Nevertheless, there is an echo of that here as Servie 2.0 instinctively dismisses Mezin's poor language skills as "she's only a Beta", showing her deep-rooted snobbery skillfully and subtlety.]

Gizzy continues to do what he does best - come across as simultaneously more intelligent but twice as pathetic as his boss and also use the expression "clear and present danger" like Lance Parkin wields "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow". I'm pretty sure Kelly's dark and brooding performance would work on TV, but on audio he comes across like he's had a bet with Zen about who can speak in monotone for longer. And it doesn't help as he gets a ranting speech about the Liberator being a Cthulu-like monster that sucks refineries dry. I mean, LOOK at the cover. That spaceship looks twice as inflexible as the original Liberator, and shows no signs of being able to out-gymnastic one of Ripley's Aliens and tear apart a cake, let alone a space station...

Another thing to bug me is the opening scene where a Texan called Ricks stops Gizzy in the corridor, hurls abuse at him for his recent anti-Liberator measures. It's not so much the objection, but the fact that Ricks seems to be trying to reference as many baffling sci fi shows as he can. For a start, the Arc Royal Fleet (???) was supposed to be fighting the Battle of Proxima (from Babylon Five) and taking on the Privateer Slavers (from Warriors Gate) and Asteroid Pirates (from The Space Pirates). Gizzy smacks Ricks down by a combined RTD namedrop and quote from Phantasmagoria: "I'm playing The Long Game and you can't see the board from where you're standing!" Mind you, the 'don't think outside your pay bracket' snub is a lot better. More evidence of ELSE is working on this scripts? You don't get such variance in quality from a single author in a single bit of dialogue, do you? Do you?

"Travis, we live in a delicate balance of power. Political strength rises and falls and a ship like that could tip the balance," Servie whispers in what is clearly supposed to be a seductive manner. "Imagine all that power under our control, enforcing Federation law. Look how it moves. As you say, instinctual, feral and deadly. We can't so lethal a vessel in the hands of a dissefected Beta. It cannot and will not be allowed to remain outside Federation control." You know, the original show assumed us intelligent enough to work out why everyone wanted control of the Liberator without all this bollocks...

So, all in all, this episode is an improvement. A bit like the second series of Torchwood, it does seem to be half and half an apology and retcon of the earlier crap. Is Liberator really good, or just not as complete crap as the stuff I have earlier on had to endure?

CHAPTER TWO: Outlaws

"It just doesn't feel right. We don't belong here."

The plot cuts to the Liberator with my all time favorite characters Vila 2.0 and Jenna 2.0. To be fair, Dobro's quite good in this episode, sounding surprisingly like a consistent human being, while I've discovered just why Vila 2.0 bugs me so much. It's not that he's a wind-up complaining machine and total jerk, it's that he doesn't actually sound like he cares. He speaks these lines about being scared and worried and never once actually convinces that he gives a damn. It's not so much bad acting per se, but it makes him come across as completely insincere and thus annoying. Plus, of course, we have to accept the idea that Vila is convinced the Liberator is evil and spying on him (despite Zen's reboot), and that he might get inducted (despite Zen's reboot), but NOT that he might get his head blown off by Zen. Even if we accept the idea he didn't give a tinker's cuss about Mezin, the fact she died on the flight deck (or Bridge as we must call it here) appropos of nothing doesn't seem to strike our theief. Mind you, Jenna doesn't win in the dialogue stakes as the author of this bit has that baffling hack idea that sci fi means characters randomly and pointlessly talking about sci fi - in this case, Jenna's not just bored, she's a spacer who chats about the heat death of the universe as you or I might use 'Christmas' as a measure of time. Yeesh.

Anyway, Vila's litany of complaints finally get a point as he uses his amazing powers of deduction to conclude that the Liberator... is alien. Sigh. It wasn't actually a secret, was it? I mean, even in B7 Reborn it's been stated in pretty much every episode. So Jenna's defense that the ship is suited to human beings is twice as pathetic as Vila missing it. I mean, in the very previous episode, Guisborne worked out it! And, like Guisborne, Vila fears that the aliens will come looking for their missing war ship. Wow. It's almost like they're building up to something... (to give it its dues, the idea that the System will come after the Liberator is more credible in this universe as it wasn't abandoned in a space battle but had a server crash).

Vila and Jenna return to the... Bridge... where Avon, Gan and Blake are tinkering with a console and Zen is being typically unhelpful in a scene that is so close to the original Blake's 7 - especially after the travesty I've had to suffer for the last twenty five chapters (hah, Travis-ty, get it?) - that I get a massive nostalgia buzz. Avon points out that ancient rights of salvage ("Finders Keepers") that the Liberator belongs to them, in a kind of unamusing wittless parody of Zaphod's "Property is theft, therefore theft is property therefore this ship is mine!" speech. Hopefully someone can keep count of how many poor Hitchhikers' homages these audios contain, because it just depresses me too much to count. As Gan bitches that all the instruction manuals are written in Auron (??), Jenna suddenly gets a panic attack that the Liberator might be off course by a tenth of a degree... clearly not remembering that Zen is there and supposed to compensate for such things. Once again, how did such a paranoid spaceaphobe get to be a notorious smuggler? Similar thoughts must strike Blake, who thinks they should all learn basic piloting techniques in case Jenna suffers a total personality failure starts trying to rip people's throats out. Again.

The crew discuss what to do now the Liberator is public enemy number one, two and three in a scene that Swallows clearly wrote as all the characters act and sound like they should. Avon suggests they flee to the frontier, Blake suggests they continue repairs and refueling, so Avon agrees to compromise. "What?" spits Blake. "And become PIRATES?! Paint a skull and crossbones on the hull?!" (I think ELSE has returned to the script editing chair) but Avon and Vila don't mind the idea of sailing the seven sectors living off the spoils of ships bound to be their inferior, and they don't even have to kill people. Blake points out that the Federation will just keep expanding and so Avon suggests they just keep moving. "You surprise me. I never thought you'd be so short-sighted," Blake says, and we must remember that Avon has saved the day six times in these audios compared to Blake who has... uh... well, if you call "nicking the keys" saving the day, a single once. Reeling from this chutzpah, Roj "Big Picture" Blake points out that basically they have the Liberator and the "power to alter the face of the galaxy!"

Ok, reason why the original series was much better # 2049: since Avon, Jenna et all lived with Blake for eight months, they know him well enough to know he'd use the Liberator against the Federation. Thus there was more interest in his methods rather than this "hey, kids, let's topple an empire!" grandstanding. This moves on to reason #2050: Blake was an amateur. Yes, he was a notorious rebel leader, but he was also completely green at space travel and his memories of his career were at the end of the day a vivid LSD nightmare. He was, therefore, improvising for pretty much most of the time, which made the character endearing in the way British TV always supports the amateur rather than the professional. Basically, Blake came across a lot better when he wasn't giving out "Feed the World!" speeches like he had just become Prime Minister and had a manifesto. Especially one as bad as:

"Liberator's technology is light years beyond what Earth's has and we can use it! There are dispossessed and disenchanted people all across Federation Space - the security forces keep them isolated! They stop them from connecting! They stamp out common cause! But if those people could be rallied, if they had a unifying force... We can turn this ship into a flagship against the Federation and despotic leaders like Servalan!"

"You're such an idealist, Blake," says Avon with disgust comparable to the reactions Jeff gets in Coupling. I'm sorry, Most Popular Revolutionary Ever and Avon's just twigged this? What the hell? Didn't he notice, you know, every single thing Blake has done in his presence ever since?

Suddenly, a fleet of Federation Pursuit Ships arrive at ludicrous speed, having somehow cloaked themselves with some bushes or something. Gan swears mightily how fucking retarded this all is as Jenna technobabbles like her life depends on it. Rather than, you know, dematerialize or something sensible like that, Blake orders all hands to the weapons, but tragically Mr. Gung Ho has been out Gung Hoed as the Pursuit Ships open fire first... um, don't they want to, you know, salvage the ship for Servalan?

And why couldn't Zen get to say "Plasma bolt launched"? Is it so much better to have Jenna squeal "They're firing!"? I mean, seriously?

CHAPTER THREE: Face Off

"Take a long hard look at this ship, Travis. It marks the end of the old order. It's a weapon the likes of which you've never seen. The Liberator is the herald of a new era, one where the Federation's injustices will not be tolerated, where they will be met by reprisals, by force!!!"

Despite the title, this episode sadly does not involve the cast cutting off their faces and swapping it with their mortal enemies. Or, tragically, with the original cast. Oh well. Instead we have Gizzy leading a flotilla of pursuit ships on the Liberator - amazingly enough only the second time this has happened in the audios and already as boring as hell as "the raptors" exchange space talk which boils down to "ooh, we hit it, I think, maybe, nothing's happening, is that bad?" as Gizzy wearily reminds everyone that Servalan wants this as her new Porsche and so they can't simply blow it up. Again, as the Liberator is a hundred times bigger than anything the Federation have, why are they so confident they can blow it up... and why the hell haven't we got a force field? That is, methinks, a retarded idea for an alien spaceship not to have a force field. This is the Liberator, not Starbug!

After having the crap kicked out of them, Blake has the brilliant idea of firing the guns (not neutron blasters, coz that'd sound stupid) even though they haven't recharged (recharged? From what? The last time they used it was blowing up Tepesh in Traitor!) and Gan gives ridiculously expositional descriptions. "Yes, sheared them right through the torpedo bay!" Why not something a tad more prosaic like, "Got the bastard!"? Avon points out that they are outnumbered and he considered the rest of the crew non-functional morons and suggest they dematerialize. It only takes a couple more direct hits before Blake decides to agree with top-flight hacker and the least idiotic character in the show and tells Zen to turn the "stardrive" up to 11. Stardrive. Give me strength.

Alas, Gizzy has a handy-dandy plot device called the Sensor Baffle (what a dull name) which EMPs Zen and the Liberator back to the stone age. Exactly how Gizzy got his hands on technology so perfectly in tune with an alien warship I dunno, but the whole crew are too much cowards to hit the power with all the scanners showing static, since they can't jump if they don't know where they're going. How the hell does that work, ELSE? They vanish into hyperspace, which is the point! Direction is immaterial in the short term! And, as Vila notes, "Can't you just look out the window?"

Gizzy rings up the Liberator and tells Mezin to kiss her ass goodbye. Since Avon needs a couple of days to rig up a counter-countermeasure to the Sensor Baffle, Blake decides to follow Vila's suggestion, look out the window to see where the Sensor Baffling pursuit ship raptor thingamajig is and get Gan to shoot it into teeny tiny pieces. However, even THIS will take the rest of the episode so our beloved leader must pad out the running time like there's no tomorrow which there might not be. Thus, he rings up Gizzy and tells the Space Commander that the biggest, baddest space warship ever is being run by Mr. Self-Harm Frying Pan Terrorist.

Now, this is kind of a good scene as completely smug Gizzy's face audibly falls as he realizes he's dealing with Blake. It's SUPPOSED to be up there with Robin using the pitch on Cyber-Gizzy in Childhood, but actually comes across like the first episode of Angel where our eponymous hero treats a two-bit villain like this is the Second Coming itself. But it's played a lot better and, out of context, could actually be quite entertaining. Even as he delivers the crippling putdown of "Rhetoric won't win your battles, and since you can't work that derelict it is worthless!" Gizzy sounds quite scared.

Anyway, Blake gives a long speech basically saying "We don't have to surrender peacefully, so we shall now kick your ass, bwahahahaha!" which is really quite scary if ELSE thinks the audience is supposed to think Blake is in the right, rather than a total nutter. He then nukes the pursuit ship that has the Sensor Baffle, restoring the Liberator to full power. But do they then escape? Oh no, that'd be dull. Instead they nuke all the remaining ships as well in a pointless bloodlust fury, but Blake spares the escape pods on the off chance that Travis will survive and pass on the message that Blake has the big spaceship of death. I mean, hell, Avon was prepared to spare defeated enemies (check out Aftermath where the tells Dayna not to kill his would-be murderer, "His friends might still manage it!"). And if Blake is so freaking determined to be noticed, why not carve SERVALAN SUX on the surface of a moon or something?

The episode ends with Gizzy ala Darth Vader, tumbling out of control in a space ship as the actor uses every last atom of his talent ot make "You can run, Blake, but you can't hide!" sound remotely convincing. But he can't, despite his best efforts. I'm sorry, did everyone else forget the scary psycho whispering of the original Travis, which I feel like quoting because it's a much better end to the episode. Or, indeed, anything...

With them gone, Travis cradled his false hand and looked up at the ceiling, imagining that to be the way Blake's ship had gone, not caring whether or not it was. Low and angry he said, "Run, Blake. Run. As far and as fast as you like, I'll find you. You can't hide from me. I am your death, Blake."

CHAPTER FOUR: Dead or Alive

"Do you have some trust issues, Blake?"

Some time has come and past, and I'm finally willing to return to Liberator to finish off the bleeding review if nothing else. This week starts with Vila hanging around Avon like a nerd trying to become cool by association. Avon 2.0 reveals another difference between the characters, as this one has a rather lazy sarcastic side - telling Vila he's casually planning to take over Zen and kill them all. Unlike Avon 1.0, who was often painfully honest as part of the cosmic irony that the dangerously insecure computer genius was technically the only honorable person in the galaxy. I wouldn't trust Avon 2.0 if he gave his word to make breakfast on Tuedays.

Anyway, Avon's tinkering with Zen is to generally stop the ship being complete crap and allow it to be bushwacked by pursuit ships and EMPs. Vila tries to beat me by pointing out the flaw in continuity before I can - that Avon was convinced such an adjustment would take days - but Avon points out that days HAVE passed and their body clocks are all fucked up from being in space with no sunlight to balance it out. Which is an interesting idea, I guess, as all bar Jenna were 'earther land lubbers' prior to the series beginning. Of course, this was probably dealt with in the missing four months in Space Fall so IN YOUR FACE! NATION: WIN!!!

On the Fligh... the Bridge... Jenna is being boring and spacey again as she smacks down Gan for assuming that the Federation might be hiding Pursuit Ships in the dead solar system they're currently hiding in. Well, screw you, bitch, that was the same logic you all had the LAST time Gizzy and his homies turned up! Blake has parked the Liberator next to an unstable star, just in case you didn't know our main character is insane and has a clear death wish and he now wants to travel to Rigel 4 (presumably to meet Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons). But when Avon and Vila turn up, Blake has another of his paranoid fantasies and assumes that Avon doing what he was told is a sign of total betrayal. Now, I might let this go except Aaronovitch was very and publically vocal that he had no desire to change the 'strong' personalities of Blake, Avon and Vila. And now they're basically different people entirely. More evidence the A-Man is ELSE's puppet?

Vila decides to show off his own awful characterization by picking a fight. Unlike his TV persona's blind faith in his friends, this one does not like Blake's fait accomplis and lack of democratic processes. For, if you remember, Blake did a little song and dance to Travis and completely blew their cover (despite only having chat over audio, it seems they all had their ugly mugs shown wide on TV screens to every possible survivor of their road rage, so we'll just go with this). Vila is convinced this was not, as we'd all assume, down to Blake being a complete idiot, but a deliberate ploy - now Avon, Vila, etc. are now known to be with him, they are public enemies of the Federation. They can't even flee the Liberator for their own devices, and they're all stuck on the Liberator with Captain "Frying Pan" Queeg.

"I'm not forcing anyone to do what they don't want to," pouts Blake pathetically, and the fact he can't even out-argue a weak dog like Vila 2.0 is a real kick to the bollocks of this uber-terrorist-massive-charismatic-finger-cutter. Assuming there are any bollocks after Rebel. Actually, this scene isn't bad and, had the original cast been there, this would be sizzling stuff. Apart from the fact that Jenna is so stupid she niether understands or cares Blake's betrayal and Gan doesn't give a crap either way. And the A-Man was so determined the lesser characters stand up for themselves to the audience, wasn't he? I dare say you could easily forget Gan is in it.

As the Liberator dematerializes, Servalan recieves the second of no-doubt-many-to-come "the Liberator kicked our asses" emails. Get used to it. Giving us a moment to learn that although Gizzy survived against all odds, Blake's 'restrained' massacre wiped out hundreds of people, our sulky antihero takes the phone and, after Servalan asks, "Where's my prize, Commander?" tells Servie to get off her fat ass and win it for herself for a fucking change and actually justify the waste of time, effort and sound design required to involve her.

No. Wait, that was just me, projecting. Gizzy bitches that he could have nuked the gigantic Liberator if Servalan hadn't thought it might look good in orbit around her garage (presumably blocking out the light of the sun), and that Psycho Blake is in charge of the space death ship. "He'll never surrender that ship," Servie pouts in a clear ELSE moment, "Not to us! His hatred for the Federation and me is far too strong!"

Wow. No shit, Servie. Are you going to sit around crying into your adrenaline and soma or are you gonna do something? What, you're telling Gizzy to do... exactly what he was doing in chapter one? Wow, brilliant. And "you don't tolerate failure"? Except apart from those last three times, then? In fact, Servie, I'm trying to find a moment of you actually do anything EXCEPT tolerate failure?

Servalan, Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation? No fist. Don't you ever appear in this series again!

GRAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!

CHAPTER FIVE: Safe Harbour

(I'm working on it.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ten Down!

EXT. LOCATION UNKNOWN

The Doctor appears a few feet above the ground, drops to the ground like a stone, rolls over -
THE DOCTOR: Please, let it be ginger.
And now it starts - the Doctor's face is suddenly covered by a swirling halo of blue-white light, shafts of light streaming out from his face. The light is growing even more intense until the Doctor's face becomes indistinct, only a few lines to indicate his eyes, nose and mouth are left now. He could be anyone underneath it...

Hold on this for a moment, then smash cut to the end credits...



- excerpt from Doctor Who: Schisms by some dude who isn't me

Where were you when you heard Eccleston had quit? Me, I was laughing my head off at Eye of Horus when they blabbed he had quit some time around Christmas 2004. When it was announced, there was such confusion about it - he sure as hell hadn't told the BBC to give that press statement, and everyone seemed to think he'd stick around for the Christmas special and stuff like that. Of course the "HEIRONYMOUS, YOU QUITTER!" meltdown that struck OG was, at the time, perfectly reasonable. He'd quit as far as we knew out of some fear of commitment and pretty much risked destroying the show we'd only just got back, with a whole new generation asked basically to become involved with leather-clad Northern Nutter... then ditch him.

So, yeah, we had a bloody good reason to be annoyed. And if the production team were really that concerned, they could have told us the truth, so no sympathy there.

Now. Where were you when you heard Tennant had quit? Disregarding every newspaper exclusive of "He's not staying" or the cliffhanger to The Stolen Earth, I mean. Well, I found out about it in a rather strange way as I looked at Demonoid.com for anything interesting that had been uploaded. And between a KLF remix albulm and an episode of House, what do I find?

Tennant Quits Doctor Who - 81.89 MB

I think I can safely say I am one of a few, a very few fans to discover such information from a bit torrent site. And an exclusive one too, they don't upload random crap like Eye of Horus.

You think I'm going nuts? When was the last time I posted a lie on this blog? OK, that was just bad luck. But I posted the specials gap of 09, did I not? I posted Davros would be back in the season four finale, did I not? And Rose? Huh? When was the last time I did this without absolute fricken certainty, mmmm?

What does the Doctor Who News Page say?

"I've had the most brilliant, bewildering and life changing time working on Doctor Who. I have loved every day of it," the actor says. "I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don't take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you'll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath chair. I think it's better to go when there's a chance that people might miss you, rather than to hang around and outstay your welcome. It would be very easy to cling on to the TARDIS console forever and I fear that if I don't take a deep breath and make the decision to move on now, then I simply never will. ... I'm still the Doctor all next year but when the time finally comes I'll be honoured to hand on the best job in the world to the next lucky git - whoever that may be."

Tennant added that he "always thought the time to leave would be in conjunction with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner who have been such a huge part of it all for me. Steven Moffat is the most brilliant and exciting writer, the only possible successor to Russell and it was sorely tempting to be part of his amazing new plans for the show. I will be there, glued to my TV when his stories begin in 2010." He furthermore says that he feels "very privileged to have been part of this incredible phenomenon, and whilst I'm looking forward to new challenges I know I'll always be very proud to be the Tenth Doctor."

Says Russell T Davies, "I've been lucky and honoured to work with David over the past few years - and it's not over yet, the Tenth Doctor still has five spectacular hours left! After which, I might drop an anvil on his head. Or maybe a piano. A radioactive piano. But we're planning the most enormous and spectacular ending, so keep watching!"

So.

Yeah. No more Tenth Doctor any more. Have to start saying 'Eleventh' Doctor and not think of the neighbour from Home Improvement bonking a synesthetic redhead and spawning incredibly messed up children.

Bummer, dude.

I've not really had to cope with this kind of deal before, really. With the Ninth, it was too shocking as I hadn't seen a single frame of the bastard. With the Seventh and Eighth, it was more the new guy was being introduced rather than the old guy snuffing it... and they get their own audios too, remember. So. Yeah. Bummer.

And so I'll say now that DT hasn't played the Doctor the way I expected. Or, to a degree, wanted. He didn't have his blue eyes from Casanova or rumpled clothes of Blackpool or his Scottish accent from Taking Over The Asylum. He didn't wear the right outfit, act in the right way, speak the right words or do the right things or fulfill Dalek Empire wank fantasies. And he didn't say "Jings!" half as much as he should have.

And good for him!

Fuck man, had us fans had our way with Doctors, it would be an endless collage of Terrance Dicks Jon Pertwee substitutes in frilly shirts from Tom Baker onwards! DT did it his way, and bugger the audience as he went from arrogant god to battered fighter to someone who could at least look his reflection in the eye. And that's more than most Doctors get. On telly anyway.

FULL FIST, DAVID TENNANT!


WHAT THOSE OTHER LOSERS THOUGHT -
My Mum: Oh well, it had to happen sometimes. He's been around a lot longer than the last one.
(See, that's why I love her.)

Outpost Gallifrey: a massive unified chanting of of "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" for 24 hours.

Eye of Horus: Mmm. Huh? What? What's going on? Is something happening? Why are we on a traffic island?

Alan Stevens: Bah! Tennant can't take the pace! Hartnell could! Did you know Jon Pertwee died in 1968, two years before he actually adopted the role? Anyway, the new Doctor must be Russ Abbot from the latest Sarah Jane Adventure, which I hate by the way because it seems to be something for kids. I would normally say 'Richard Briers' or 'Roger Lloyd-Pack', but I'm so hip and cool and funky and on the pulse, I'll say Russ Abbot. Aren't I clever? Go on, say you're impressed. Go on. Seriously. Tell me you're impressed. Fuck you, then.

Sparacus: What?! What's going on? Lee Williams would be good? Why is everyone asking me? What's happened? Why are we on a traffic Island?

Nigel Verkoff: You think if any sane man was given the choice between sexing Georgia Moffat 24/7 and doing a series of Doctor Who you'd even catch a glimpse of the police box. Dude, you're whacked. As for the next Doctor? I dunno. Colin Salmon, maybe. It'd stop those lameass B7 audios at the very least...

Dave Restal: Bullshit. Denis Lawson from Jekyll. Don't lie to me. He'd fricken rock.

Andrew Beeblebrox: I don't care, as long as Tennant bumps into the Brigadier before the bitter end.

Eve Markson: Oh well, there's still the other Tenth Doctor bonking Rose. I mean, he's got a sweet deal to come back. Or even have his own spin off. What a wonderful world we live in.

Nicholas Briggs: MY HOUR HAS COME! MY APOTHEOSIS IS NIGH!!!!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen: I called shutgun, you toothbrush-wielding bald loon!

Sparacus (again): Yes, I saw this the other night at the award ceremony. I'm not surprised he wants to move on - he obviously has itchy feet having starred in Hamlet etc. If I were in Stephen Moffatt's position, the role of the Doctor would be offered to Harry Lloyd if I wanter=d a young actor or Stephen Fry if I wanted an older one. Both are superb actors and the Doctor needs to be more of an English eccentric than either Eccleston or Tennant. The last thing we need is another 'everyman' Doctor. I think Lloyd has the gravitas to the play the role. He has always struck me as a serious young man when interviewed. I think if he played the part 'straight' as Jon Pertwee did then he'd be fine as a younger Doctor. Having said all of this, my absolute dream choice for the role would be either David Bowie or Morrissey. However obviously neither would accept it, both having musical careers. But both are perfect. A black doctor would be fine providing that the actor was the best one for the role. Obviously the Timelords can regenerate into non-caucasion bodies as there have been black actors playing them in some episodes.

Mad Larry the Pirate King: David Tennant was sacked because he was part of the Ross/Brand scandal... and if not, why not? I hate you all. Why are we on a traffic island?

Me: Maybe I should wait 24 hours or something for people to actually react to this breaking news. [long pause] Ah, fuck em.

In conclusion, a vid of The Doug Anthony Allstars somehow managing to sum up my entire emotional state with their usual... batshit insanity.

TIM: And now, a message to all the young and beautiful and the wealthy Doctor Who fans out there, who know now that with Doctor Eleven on the horizon, they're bound to run out of regenerations and have to axe the entire series within the next few years. Just one question: what on earth are you doing? Turn off your televisions and kill yourselves!

PAUL: Yeah, go on, end it all now. You know you want to. Go on. Kill yourselves now. Better in the long run. Go on.

RICHARD: Go on. Come on. Put the remotes down. End it all. That's it. Do as you're told.

TIM: One, two, three...

ALL: KILL YOURSELVES!

(long pause)

TIM: Well. I think they're all dead.

PAUL: Mmm.

RICHARD: Every last one.

PAUL: Well, eh?

ALL: ...what a pack of wankers!

(They shake hands on a job well done and begin to sing "Heard It Through The Grapevine" in honor of discovering Tennant quit through a friend of a friend of theirs... probably Flacco...)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blake's 7 - The Pain Continues

Of course, we all know pilots suck. The reason The Way Back works so well is that it doesn't introduce the whole show but focusses on telling a story, and the following episodes build on it. Remember, the format is only completely established in the first episode of the next season. The closest thing to a business-as-usual episode is Project: Avalon for crying out aloud, with Blake running rings around Servalan and Travis. So, trying to jam all the plot developments into one story is ridiculous, especially when it struggles to keep the rough plots (Blake is betrayed; the failed rebellion; Cygnus Alpha). I begin to wonder if the series is full of references to the old series and Rebel was hastily forced to write in those adventures so the later references make sense. Actually, that's probably wrong, and it's still stupid.

Mind you, if you want to see a similarly flawed pilot for Blake's 7, check out Farscape, the show that needed to bring in Servalan and tell everyone it was Servalan as the main villain when no one twigged. True, Farscape is an acquired taste, but it is the white chocolate to Blake's 7's dessicated coconut... rather than Rebel's frothing puss ulcer.

It was lucky I double checked about which was the next story. I assumed it would be Liberator, since the series really should focus on its main spaceship which the A-Man has gone out of his way to make as boring as possible, like a lobotomized Moya with all the DRDs switched off. But no, it's Traitor.

Blake: rebel, traitor, liberator. Get it? Like tinker, tailer, soldier, spy?

Yeah, took me a while, too. Still didn't laugh.



Oh, god, what an awful cover. Seriously. And how DARE you forge Terry Nation's signature. He wouldn't piss on this if it were ablaze! Hell, he'd probably be adding the petrol...

Anyway.

CHAPTER ONE: Communion

"I'm just an ant, lost in the mind of God."

My hopes for this are high. There are plenty of people who've made good of rubbish series, and surely Marc Platt can spin some gold from the dross left over from Aaronovitch's pilot, right? After all, pilots suck, the rest of the show doesn't have to. This can improve. Right?

Enthusiasm bleeds as the story opens with boring space talk from Jenna as she comes to the amazing conclusion that their huge stolen spaceship might actually be able to travel faster than an ice cream van, and also tells Mezin to shut up every single time she tries to be helpful. Oooh, upset she's played by someone who can ACT, Jenna? Is that it? Mezin meanwhile is not the useless hovering vocal conscience of Rebel and points out that even if they can get the ship to go 88 mph and time travel, all they're doing is piss-farting around and trying to attract attention from the Federation. Jenna hurls more abuse at Mezin before childishly blaming Avon for not fixing the strange alien technology for her to joyride. Or "get his ass in gear" as she says.

In fairness to Platt, I'll assume it's script editing keeping all the characters the useless jerks they were last week, but it's not doing anyone any favors. So we cut from the PMT bitchfest on the flight deck, to the other end of the whacking great corridor that is the rest of the ship (how do they travel so quickly from one end of the ship to the other? Segways?), where Avon is arguing with Zen in some astral plane. Zen refuses to do a damn thing until a crew is providing for him and Avon is only able to sulk. Blake breaks him out of the trance and calls him stupid, and Avon says he's not stupid, it's just an impossible task.

Vila and Gan meanwhile are exploring the incredibly long corridor and Gan, understandably, is bored shitless. Compensation, Vila is scared shitless despite his desperate desire to loot the Liberator for everything he can, while Gan seems to have got lost. In a corridor. For hours. Has the Giant Corridor of Space been retconned out of existence already? We can only hope. Vila then asks Gan for his opinion of Blake in a scene that both supports and contradicts WVMG but definitely contradicts Rebel. Basically, while Gan voted for Blake in an election he apparently never stood for, Vila really should already know this. Vila thinks Blake is a televangelist (???) and longs for some criminals to talk to... SO WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU STAY ON CYGNUS ALPHA, YOU THROATY COCKNEY MOCKERY?!? Anyway, Vila finally stops whining like a bitch and tries to break into a room on the basis that the door is locked. Give me strength! This is barely Vila 2.0 let alone Vila 1.0, as the writer seems to think Vila is a psychotic kleptomaniac unable to string two concepts together.

Meanwhile, Platt struggles to find something to do with Servalan and Guisborne in the House of Commons (moderated by Deep Thought), where they face Evil Exposition Man who tells us the plot of Rebel. Servalan gives a very long winded reply, and basically the gist is, "Are you telling me you've let Blake get loose with a giant alien spaceship?" "Maybe." which naturally cause wild and mass applause amongst those there. God, I'm getting nostlagic for The New Statesman. Servalan whines pathetically and tells Guisborne to find out who told everyone and punish them to death (uh, it was Gizzy, wasn't it? I mean, he ran around a dinner party shouting, "Blake has a spaceship! Doesn't this strike anyone as interesting?!") and Servalan continues to mindlessly chant that Blake is not a threat, but the people who think he is ARE the threat. "The man is a political virus," Servalan minces, still struggling to get Gizzy to sound like he gives a shit about anything. And failing.

Back onboard, Zen demands Avon to tell him who the others are in a scene not half as mysterious, scary, intriguing or downright erotic as Jenna's original bonding with Zen. But trying that on audio could just get icky. Zen just keeps chanting ominously, "The completion program must be finalized!" and refuses to discuss what happened to the old crew or how the ship got damaged. Finally Avon tells Zen to go fuck himself and the computer seems to decide to do just that and trigger self-destruct! Or. Something. We then cut to Jenna whining with annoyance when the ship immediately aims itself into the heart of a passing stunt in the brilliant reenactment of a Disaster Area concert. Oh, is Avon's face red!

I'll cut you some slack, Platt, and assume this abomination was down to whatever foulness script edits this mess.

CHAPTER TWO: Directive

"Nothing worth liberating."

Without doubt the sign that B7 Reborn is a complete failure is the fact that the spaceship full of main characters sent hurtling into a sun doesn't cause me the slightest concern. I don't care whether they live or die. And I'm still traumatized by the deaths of the originals. I feared for the crew of the SS Pentallion when they suffered the same thing. Hell, I worried about the poor suckers raped/eaten in Xtro. For crying out loud, I FELT SORRY FOR JOHN HOWARD! And I have a blogpost to prove it. If I don't give a shit about your characters in mortal danger, something is very, very wrong. And I teared up at the end of End of Days when Jack returned to the gang and forgave them their tresppassers... in one of the most stupid and moronic scripts ever. But I still wept at the sheer beauty of telling someone what they need to hear for their benefit. And it was Owen fucking Harper! I'm an easy touch, so the Sci-Fi Channel must be congratulated on making the entire format so unlikeable it is only my obsessive compulsiveness that makes me listen to this. I mean, I've had these for years, and I'm only now properly listening to them...

Where we we? Oh yeah, sundive. Right. Ahem.

Well, Blake wants a rather petty 'let's find out who to blame' conversation while Avon rightly tells him to shut his mouth while our "top flight hacker" tries to talk Zen out of his Douglas Adams homage. Blake still wants to have an argument about Avon's attempts to hack into Zen (uh... you asked him to, remember? In the previous episode? Huh? Hello?) while Mezin gets bitchslapped for her, all-in-all sensible plan of "send out a distress call while there's still time". Forgive her for not wanting to die, will you, Jenna? Oh no, I forgot, India Fisher can ACT which is why Mezin is ugly, stupid, treacherous and evil. This is much more sophisticated than the TV series, isn't it, boys and girls?

"She's giving away our position!" Jenna bitches, clearly not having got the memo of imminent fiery apocalypse, while those who actually CAN give that defense - Vila and Gan - are up to their usual annoyingly pointless shennegans, as Gan uses SuperStrength to rip the lock off the door so Vila can... oh wait. Whoops. To give it its dues, this scene does give Vila 2.0 a decent scene with his passion for lockpicking and the minds behind him, like City of the Edge of the World. When he's in the 'zone', this new Vila isn't complete crap. The trouble is, he's not in the zone often enough. Vila soon opens the door to the locked room, but suspects that it was not so much to stop him getting in but to test his ability, but it leads to the Liberator's wooden-panelled Edwardian secondary control room. Or a cryo-storage room, they refuse to make their minds up. They then stumble across a man-shaped burn mark on the wall... hang on. Humanoid burn marks, space ships hurtling into the sun? They're ripping off 42! Platt, I'm ashamed of you! You can't think of better things to nick than Chibnall's cast offs? No fist.

Oh well, there's still FOUR hours before striking the sun, so there goes any real tension. Mezin suggests they leg it in a shuttle but, remember, she's ugly and stupid so Blake's mindless insistance that the alien ship is kinda nifty and must be protected at all costs is gone with instead. "I'm not giving it up until it's burning around me," whines Blake, stamping his foot. I wish I could come up with a better verb than 'whines' or 'bitches', but they really do fit these idiots, who spend their whole time ineffectively complaining at the messes they get themselves into. Avon has annoyingly retained his 'it may be a life or death situation, but you MUST be polite to me or I'll let us all die in petulance' streak, which of course makes him SO endearing.

Anyway, Avon explains that Zen (still not named, BTW) is split into six subsystems to match six crewmembers. This is incredibly useless information, since self-destruct overrides the subsystems anyway. Zen bitches that if the crew weren't complete crap, it would have been able to finish its program and NOT throw the ship into passing stars. Mezin tries to understand what Zen wants while Jenna continues to find new and excruciating ways of annoying me, this time suggesting that the computer is hungover. Very helpful Jenna, now fuck off. To my increasing despair, Avon agrees and deduces that Zen is traumatized from something that's occured within the ship. Over to you Private Dexter.

OH-YAH-AH-HADDEN-FORT-OF-DAT!

Thank you, Private Dexter. Well, as Avon and Blake argue about who gets to talk to Zen, Jenna has another schizophrenic episode and decides to use Mezin's plan of escaping in a shuttle. Hypocritical bitch. Mezin for her part, doesn't indulge in petty vendettas (proving herself 200 times more emotionally mature than everyone else in this story) but notes that Vila and Gan aren't present and goes to look for them since oh-so-moral Blake hasn't noticed them gone, Jenna doesn't care and Avon is (for some unfathomable reason) more interested in NOT dying horribly. Avon now reveals that the original crew rebelled against Zen, who went utterly stark raving bonkers and has been trying to kill itself ever since, throwing itself at planets and stars like that Monty Python Scottish soldier not allowed to kill himself for his country despite his best efforts.

Jenna announces with a stream of technobabble and butch space talk that an unknown ship is heading straight towards them and, uh, this is bad because the ship can't escape if they're attacked. They are the sitting target of the next episode's title, completely ignoring the fact that

  1. they aren't sitting, they're moving straight into a sun
  2. isn't the 'straight into the sun' stuff a bit more pressing than whether or not a ship attacks them?

Thankfully, this bit is over. I think my hair is starting to go grey.

CHAPTER THREE: Sitting Target

"You're always one step ahead in depressing me."

Showing the same care and attention to detail as Rebel, the last episode ended with an unknown ship bearing down on the as-yet-unnamed-but-incredibly-suicidal Liberator. This one begins with it actually being a Federation scoutship from 'the United Planets of Earth'. That slight scraping sound is my soul dying further as some guy called Tepesh radios over and politely asks them what they're doing in Federation territory because "hurtling out of control into the blazing heart of a star" is way too obvious and they're obviously faking. Yes, despite gossip across the galaxy that Blake's got his hands on an alien battle cruiser, they have managed to bump into the one scoutship not to get the memo and assume this is actually a first contact situation. Oh, the irony! Oh, the fact that Jenna, Avon and Blake KEEP TELLING US ABOUT THE IRONY! Oh, MAKE IT STOP!

Blake tells Avon to tell Zen to let them speak to the ship. So Avon tells Zen to tell him what the computer's prime directive is. Clearly a failure of communication as Zen obvious thought Avon asked him to lock down the entire ship and make it certain that they are all completely doomed. Mezin bounces in to report this, as she was just trying to nick a shuttle when the doors locked. (Hang on, isn't she supposed to be searching for Vila and Gan? And why didn't she use the internal comms? Has Zen shut them off too?) Genius and hardcore man of brilliance Avon decides his new plan: "Hang a white flag out the window." Yes, he seriously says that.

Meanwhile, Vila and Gan idly open one of the cryo-pods to reveal... another burnt shadow of some poor sucker and then... I dunno. I honestly don't know. Vila screams a lot as something nasty happens to Gan. Zen keeps demanding someone identify themselves, and there's lots of static. This makes me doubt very much that Marc Platt is writing this bit. I've heard his audio dramas for Big Finish and he's never written something so incoherently baffling before (insert "What about Ghost Light?" gag here). He's quite straight forward in terms of telling you what's going on through dialogue and sound effects, and if there isn't time in these five minute eps for such a sequence, I credit him with enough intelligence to realize it and write SOMETHING ELSE!

Blake seems to have forgotten his mindless refusal to let reality get in the way of his aims, as he now meekly uses Mezin's walkie-talkie to beg the scoutship to rescue him. I thought you weren't giving up the ship until it blew up around you? Blake, you a lying prick. Hastily claiming that they're all a Federation survey team stuck on an alien derelict, Blake hopefully asks Tepesh, "Any chance of pulling us off?" And if that doesn't sound like the cue for a really dirty joke, then what does?

Suddenly Zen starts reading out Gan's postal address (the Kenny Rodgers Bloc of Croyden, if you care cause I don't), having apparently trapped the big man and is demanding information, and definitely not finding name rank and serial number sufficient. So Zen tortures Gan with static until he talks, because God knows we can't abide a LIKABLE character in this entire series, can we? So Zen decides to hack into the scout ship's on board computer for some kind of intelligent conversation, and downloads all the Myspace info for the main characters since no one would answer the fucking question "Who are you?" And, since Zen is so nice, it then nukes the scoutship full of nice people more than willing to try and help out our main characters.

"He's gone, he's just... been blown away..." marvels Jenna - is this some sort of innuendo-based drinking game thing happening here, or something? Vila runs in screaming that Gan had been kidnapped as Zen starts ranting that the 'Sis-TEMMM' will eliminate any and all threats, though at least Blake at least calls the computer up for its homicidal tendencies. Zen is not pissing about any more and names all the remaining parts as the new crew and tells them to get their asses ready for "induction", lest his incredibly creepy whispery Xoanon impression gets out of control. "When induction is complete the crew will save the ship!" Zen demands.

I suppose "let em all die!" ISN'T the reaction the producers wanted?

CHAPTER FOUR: Induction

"We're entering the solar furnace!"

The episode begins with everyone shouting and generally trying to make sense of the cliffhanger. Kudos for the vaguest of Avon/Vila scenes, since they've been together for four episodes and not exchanged a word before ("I don't trust it, it's bigger than me." "Most things are bigger than you." "Why do think I'm so nervous?"). Zen clearly is getting sick of being ignored, so architectually reconfigures itself so the flight deck turns into the Induction Chamber (AFAICT, it's the communal sleeping gizmo from Alien) as everyone freaks out about organically-adaptable structure. What a brilliant concept, Platt, pity it's on audio, eh?

Blake reveals that we've wasted three hours so far of its 'plunging to infernal depths' time (why have these ridiculously long countdowns and then ignore them? WHY?) and starts bitching that Zen's treatment of its former crew is not exactly encouraging. Zen reminds everyone it doesn't care about this shit and more screaming and SFX bollocks fill the air as they are somehow forced into the cryo-pods along with Gan, and Blake's brilliant plan is... to kill each other before they can be 'inducted'. Best cut their fingers off to be on the safe side, huh, Blake?

Zen tries to explain it in simple words because Christ knows it's so bloody obvious - it needs a crew hotwired into its system to shut down the self destruct. Either Blake swallows his guargantuan pride and chronic insanity, or else THEY ALL DIE. It is THAT FUCKING SIMPLE. "Your first crew stood up to you and we'll do the same!" screams Blake, not paying the slightest attention. "We will not be subordinate parts of your system! We'll have principles and we'll die rather than betray them!" This is supposed to be the brilliant and charismatic leader, not someone who makes Ben Chatham look studious and open-minded! Did you just give up, Marc? I'm not entirely sure I can blame you...

Zen decides to wash its hands of the lot of them and switch himself, leaving the others to die screaming in agony and who can blame him? But Avon has a cunning plan - the cybernetic equivalent of putting a hood over a parrot's head. He simply fakes a reading to say that the ship is already IN the star and thus, since Zen has fulfilled the self-destruct command, they are now free. The fact the ship is still in one piece is an irrelevent point which will be fully explained in a further outline.

Rather depressingly, Zen completely falls for this crap. Even MORE depressingly, Jenna has to have this whole thing explained to her despite being so bleedingly obvious the Womp could have twigged to its nature. But Blake is already telling Zen to get himself a name and in return they'll become the crew of the psychotic and painfully gullible computer with suicidal tendancies - not that he lets anyone else have a say in this. "The man's living in fantasyland," dismisses Avon in his best Steve Foxx impression as Gan finally returns to the plot and hurls abuse at everyone else for not rescuing him sooner.

"Hey, let's call it Liberator!" suggests Jenna totally out of the blue and since they've none of them got involved in this of their own free will, has to be the most ridiculous idea so far. I detect the A-Man's hand in this bit, as every single character goes out of their way to prove how stupid this is. Even Zen. And Jenna.

The episode ends on the optimistic note as Avon predicts that Zen will kill them all the second he gets a better offer. You and me both, Zenny-boy.

CHAPTER FIVE: The Outcast

"Blake, space isn't a joy ride. It's the coldest and cruelest place to be. The moment you think Earth's worse, you're dead. Earth's just an imperial admin block. The Federation's not held together by law and order, it is built on money, lies and blood. Space is Hell, Blake. One false step out here and it's your last."

With the last bit of Cygnus Alpha successfully raped and pillaged, Traitor turns its attention to... other stuff in a special feature length episode! Vila is demanding that Mezin be chucked off as she's far more interesting and likable than anyone or anything on ship. This just pisses me off, since Vila's acting like they've been fighting for weeks when they haven't exchanged a single word. And why is Vila setting himself up as a spokesman for the rest of the crew? They can speak for themselves, the retards. Blake of course parries this with his usual brilliance of complaining "The ship has a NAME, you know!" and going into a huff. Jesus fucking Christ, Vila's happy to stay aboard a ship with a record of murdering its crew, but not with an ex-Federation officer with countless uses and a better actress than Jenna? You're a worthless prick Vila, and I hope you die horribly and regenerate into Michael Keating.

Gan meanwhile has starting talking crap that everyone except Mezin should be allowed a fresh start on the Liberator. Wow, that makes a lot of sense! Fuck off and die nobly already, Gan. Jenna agrees with this... and says that Mezin should stay, while Avon uses his cutting wit to point out Mezin is "a Federation-indoctrinated soldier monkey one step up from a mutoid", which I'm sure makes sense to everyone since mutoids have not appeared or even been mentioned over the last seventeen long fucking installments. Nevertheless I'm not sure as to whether Avon is saying chuck her or keep her, but Blake caves like a house of cards and decides he is outvoted and Mezin must go. Despite the fact it's three to two and one unclear. Fucking hell, now the writers can't even fucking COUNT!

Finally Avon reminds everyone that if they ditch Mezin, Zen will have another freak out - something which it is agonizingly apparent NO ONE ELSE thought of. Despite the whole 'plunging into the sun and torturing Gan with electric shocks'. Sweet God, these idiots deserve to die. But wait, Jenna gets to tell us all about some tacky tourist destination they intend to dump Mezin and it's so fascinating I feel compelled, like Ace in Shadow of the Scourge, to pop my own eardrums to escape that American monotone of warm crud. Apparently, the planet is full of Amish religious freaks or something. Do I look like I care? A clue: no.

Anyway, since Jenna's bigging it up as some Pearl Bay of the Second Calendar, it's obvious a ravenous death trap and my inclination to switch off grows with every passing second. Jenna rants that space travel is as dangerous as being a Spinal Tap drummer (before a random digression into the Federation sucking massively) until Blake shuts her up by agreeing with. Oh, why did you become a smuggler if you're so astrophobic, you dense tart? SHUT UP AND GET SOME ACTING LESSONS! You know every insult I ever gave to Chip Jamison? Apart from Shadow of the Dragon, he's Sir Derek bleeding Jacobi compared to Ms. Dobro here! Let's hope you get THIS crap cancelled as well as Crusade, huh?

Moving on, it's time for more boredom and technobbale as Jenna tries to get Zen to 'jump super-luminal fringes' and bollocks like that. In the olden days, we just said "standard by six" and got on with something more interesting. And now harderned 'spacer' Jenna doesn't even know what star charts are? STAR CHARTS! THE CAT KNOWS WHAT STAR CHARTS ARE!!! OH GOD! They've deduced that Zen's updated said charts from his Federation download... AFTER HE FUCKING TELLS THEM ALL! WHY??

WHY?!?!

WHYYY?!??!

Right. Where was I? Oh yes. Which would I rather suffer? Threads or the new B7 Audios? Mmmm. Tough choice. I'd have to settle for some sort of halfway measure of pergatory, like Red Dwarf USA... But alas I do not have this luxury. Oh well. Right, the gang are going to ditch Mezin in Amish Paradise Isiah and are looking at the updated star charts. Yeah. Right. You know, I haven't actually watched Threads in about ten months. Maybe it's nicer than I remember it. Aw, well...

OK. The Liberator jumps in its disturbingly TARDIS like fashion and reappears above a miserable grey planet. Be this Bucol 2? My favorite! Oh, the friendly horny yakmen and the sex offender who owns them, surely they will be done justice by these new audios? Anyway, there are none of the friendly Amish locals or even a local service provider, and Jenna babbles that this is impossible. Wow, it turned out NOT to be some kind of Ursa Minor hang out. What a shock. However, the crew of backstabbing cynics do not consider that either Jenna or Zen might be at fault and this is the wrong bleeding planet? Which 'banned industry'? What, in the same way that Cygnus Alpha 'banned' industry? Gimme strength.

After a few minutes of arguing Zen picks up a distress call from Rula Lenska who doesn't sound like she gives a shit. Who can blame her? "So this is our memorial. Our home among Isiah has been ripped out and destroyed. Thank you to all our friends. Remember us. We are eternall in your debt." Somehow, I really seriously doubt this is the man who wrote Spare Parts, Valhalla and Lungbarrow. Hell, I doubt this is the bloke who wrote the theme music to Star Cops. Wow, Star Cops remastered by Ben Aaronovitch with Burn Gorman as Nathan Spring and a T-5000 killing machine as Box as they run a corner shop post office and police station... IN HYPERSPACE!!!!

OK, OK, back to the plot. Avon has apparently hotwired Zen at some point only to respond to his voice patterns, which leads to Avon taking on Sigourney Weaver's role from Galaxy Quest as he has to relay instructions to the computer in lieu of dialogue. Blake decides to catch a shuttle down to the planet to find out what's up, while the insane bitch who brought them there cools her heels and clearly has no interest on finding out what happened to all her friends and suppliers she's been boring us with all episode. Despite the fact the planet is clearly bombed back to the Stone Age, Blake agrees to take Mezin down to drop her off... despite the fact they only came to this place so they could find a civilized drop off place! Why aren't they worried what Zen will do without her? And will Blake nick the fuses again now he leaves the ship in the hands of people who STILL have given no reason to trust him?

One musical cue later and Blake and Mezin are on the surface (yeah, why bother with teleport, you are SO right, Benji, this makes a real difference) which resembles a muddy quarry. Yes, audio drama blowing the original TV series out of the water there. I mean, what's more interesting: Saurius Major the red-atmosphered post-holocaust ruin of carnivorous vargaa plants and telepathic guerilla bandits? Or Isiah, a muddy field?

Anyway, no sooner has Blake promised Mezin not to maroon her here (despite the fact that's what he's told the rest of the crew), and whinged unhappily that he's not actually a child molester (um... if it's such a big deal, why not mention it earlier?), before Mezin told him to pull his fricken finger out as she's on the run for helping him and doesn't need his sob story, then Rula 'Ritalin' Lenska radios them and asks with a complete lack of interest what the hell they're doing and are they friend? Or foe?!? My god, she presumably expects any nasty folk to go, "We're foe, actually, so whatcha gonna do about it? Throw some mud at us?"

Luckily, they are managing to talk to the one suvivor of this planet who both knows Jenna, trusts anyone who might mention her name (despite the fact she's been arrested), and also has a communicator. Blake's brilliant mind once again deduces that the survivors and the last remaining traces of civilization are behind an EM feild perception filter gig, mere minutes after Rula Lenska explains it to him. I'll just note that the idea that an EM feild can camoflague something is ridiculous, and assuming it did anything more than screw up everything WITHIN the field, would instantly cause a whacking great radar blackspot and attract attention. Gosh, this is a long episode, isn't it? Well, Blake lands his shuttle (which I hereby name The Plothole) at the ruined base and gets out to chat with Rula Lenska. They exchange nihilistic pleasantries for a moment before Rula notices Mezin is wearing a Federation uniform and wets herself in panic, screaming at Mezin with the same shellshocked lack of acting ability (and that's unusual for her), "Haven't you ruined everything enough already?" and other such platitudes that would have pissed me off had I seen this before I'd ever seen Blake's 7, back at the tender age of two and a half.

And suddenly, mercifully, it's over in what is no doubt the weakest cliffhanger so far. No mean feat that.

CHAPTER SIX: Old Isiah

"I dare any man here to call me a liar! But, I swear I've seen Ezekial and I swear I've seen Isiah, toasting marshmallows in Beelzebub's fire!"

OK, that's not actually a quote from the ep but the zenith of the Doug Anthony All Stars' Bottle, an ode to alcoholic insanity and the pointlessness of life itself. Methinks Tim, Paul and Richard saw this story coming...

"No lecture, Blake. Please."

Well, this story really does have the feel of a hastily-rewritten Doctor Who adventure (which I suppose you could argue adds to the B7 feel). I can easily see the TARDIS landing on Isiah and finding it less than pleasant as a holiday destination and the crew stumbling across a hidden base where they are then captured and suspected of being spies. It certainly seems like that as Blake and Mezin try the old 'we're just travellers!' on the criminally-stupid-and-gullible Rula who has, get this, forgotten to bring her gun! Is she suffering senile dementia? Is it supposed to be funny? Is it the kind of Threads-style shellshock I've been idly considering more entertaining than "Marc Platt" (I no longer believe it's you, buddy, we're cool).

"We're not armed, and we're not who you imagine!" Blake insists, one line away from suggesting a nice cup of tea and a jelly baby and why the hell aren't they armed? Don't they have the weapons from Rebel? Oh wait, yes, I remember, that was a glue gun. And they haven't found the armory (despite the fact that logically a soldier like Mezin would have asked Zen if there was one the moment the electric nutter stopped trying to kill them). And, am I the only one on the planet who finds the abbreviation of "Fed" COMPLETELY annoying? "It's not a Fed ship but why is she in a Fed uniform?" Fed off, you fedding fedder...

Rula Lenska finds it 'difficult to know who to believe'... despite the fact she's the only one contradicting Blake and Mezin's story. But then when Mezin recites Blake's wikipedia entry, Rula Lenska suddenly realizes who Blake is! (There's a lot of this slow-on-the-uptake stuff in this universe, have you noticed?) Exactly why Blake is so hard to recognize when his ugly mug was plastered all across the Federation a couple of years ago, not to mention a few months ago when he found himself with a reputation rivalling Michael Jackson (and Rula actually mentions all this as well), is not explained. I guess we just have to take as fact all the evidence that Rula Lenska's character is a complete moron. Oh wait, Blake has a beard. He is, therefore, completely unrecognizable. Should have guessed earlier. Does the Liberator have ANY useful stuff on it? Insane computer, murderous robots, boring design, no teleports, no gun locker... It doesn't even seem to have bathroom facilities!

But more Who cliches as some alarm goes off and the suddenly friendly natives (Rula Lenska and some hack) urge Blake and Mezin underground to safety to escape the evil Gutter. Whatever the hell that is, since Rula Lenska wants to explain it all later, including why they don't dive into the Plothole and Junior Bird Man the hell out of there. We now discover that Isiah is ruled by a giant robot composed of combine harvesters who lurches hither and tither and yon gutting things, hence the name. Our heroes must hide in comms silence (Shh! Spanners!) while it lumbers around being all televisual and plot devicy, built by the Federation to stripmine planets and/or butcher innocent victims.

This is pretty much the first time the audios have dwelt on the Federation actually being evil, since this series first story made the intergalactic empire come across as less corrupt and efficient than the Sir Francis Urquart government that couldn't even manage Guantanamo Bay without letting all the prisoners loose on youtube. But here, it's going nuclear on the planets that dare try to exist without express permission of the Earth, and despite Mezin's speculation this is all some ghastly misunderstanding (since the stripmining is all automated, it's possible it malfunctioned and didn't notice all the people) is rejected by Rula Lenska because.... um... wait, the giant robots rounded people up and executed. Rather than just smashing cities, Godzilla style. Right.

Showing his usual trustworthiness, Blake reveals he's got the keys to the shuttle and tells Mezin to go there with RL's lackey because they're both surplus to requirements in the two-hander script this week. Though this "space game" is all new to him, Blake is willing to offer an actress of Rula Lenska's standing a place on the Liberator, but is turned down because Rula Lenska for some reason wants to stay on the dead planet for some kind of principle thing. I dunno. I just... no. Don't ask. Meanwhile, Mezin reveals that the Liberator is not meant for human beings... despite all the evidence... and suddenly goes nuts and decides to use the communicator to contact every Federation ship she can. There are a couple of flaws with this:

  1. For a start, Blake has the keys to the shuttle. How can she turn it on?
  2. Why should a shuttle communications system of alien design work on Federation ships on the other side of the galaxy?
  3. The Gutter attacks when it senses communications frequencies, so Mezin has waved a huge sign saying "EAT ME YOU WEAK SPINELESS DOG! RAAAHHH!"
  4. Having been abandoned to her fate once, why does she think the Federation will spare her life?
  5. Why hasn't Mezin shown ANY sign of ANY duplicity all story? I mean, it might make a shock twist, but then so would Ianto Jones revealing he's actually Bonnie Langord. It does not automatically exonnerate the incredible stupidity of it, does it?

And that's the end of the episode. Good on you, Indie. Kill the bastard and get your own show. Maybe with Colin Baker as co-star. I get the feeling you two would work well together.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Under Siege

"Such monstrous audacity still leaves me speechless! One day a great tide of retribution will come, when the blood of her victims sweeps her away to wash the galaxy clean! I shan't see it of course. But it's a comforting thought in the longer hours of the night. And you're the man to do it, Blake."

With a rising sense of despair, I report the latest episode features the return of Servalan doing what the character is best known for - making rather dull, exposition-filled speeches. Rather than say shagging interns between over-cunning Hustle-style cons that trigger global genocide. This time the speech is a completely unconvincing "Aw, isn't it sad Blake is a child molesting wanker?" which thankfully Rula Lenska ends abruptly, having shown Blake on the off chance he'd forgotten that he'd been framed by the same corrupt bitch. However, thankfully Blake remembers this and muses poetically that Servalan paves her road to success with the skulls of her enemies. Hmm. People Servalan has killed in this series? None. People Blake has killed in this series: twelve. Nice to see the new version is keeping the old's morality and cynacism there.

But then the Gutter turns up and Rula Lenska interrupts her hideous meladramatics (which I have transcribed in full above) and explains that the EM shield will confuse it. Why wasn't the shield on already? And if it is on, why doesn't that nullify Mezin's back-stabbing two-facedness no-on-second-thoughts-I-can't-even-pretend-to-be-morally-outraged message? And why does Blake suddenly not know what the giant metal bastard looks like after the very, very, VERY long discussions about it last week?

Anyway, the Gutter wanders off so presumably the EM field does conceal communications. Except that it didn't the first time. Or this time. So the only time it protects people from sending messages through space is when they're double-crossing you? Ah, Federation tech, best in the galaxy. Anyway, by 'this time' I mean Jenna contacting Blake. Um... how? They don't have communicators, and Jenna would have no way to contact Rula Lenska since, well, she doesn't even know they're there! So if she is contacting the Plothole, why hasn't Mezin hung up on her?

While we're reeling from this baffling singularity of plot problems, marvel in Jenna's spiteful "She's done it again!" despite Mezin never actually betraying them before. I mean, do you count sending out a distress signal as you blummet out of control into the fiery heart of a star 'betrayal'? Well, obviously Jenna does, the schizrophrenic space tramp. Blake tells Jenna to piss off as she's attracting monster robots and then does his whole 'disappointed' act with Mezin. Uh... what? She's just strolled back into the base? Why didn't she just take off? Are they all actually aboard the Plothole? So Blake and Rula Lenska didn't NOTICE Mezin shopping them to the authorities and beating the crap out of Lenska's boytoy?

"All that trust wasted, Blake," sobs Lenska, which if you swap 'trust' for 'talent', sums up my view of this entire enterprise so far. "Ash to ash, mud to mud!"

Despite the 'smoke and mirrors' EM field baffling the giant robots for months as established at the start of this episode, it suddenly doesn't do that any more and the motorized woodlouse wants to pick a fight. But Lenska is now wanting to stay on the planet and die horribly and generally be unhelpful. Blake listens to her whine for a minute before sagely noting he KNEW she'd be like this. Wow, what gave it away? The fact she told you in previous episodes she still wasn't leaving? Goddamn, Blake, you criminal genius you. Never let it be said old Roj doesn't grasp the bleeding obvious when rammed into his skull repeatedly.

Slightly more surprisingly, Mezin wants to stay with Lenska. OK. Once more.

  1. You want to stay with a woman who will most likely kill you for being a traitor.
  2. You want to stay in a building being attacked by a giant robot you know rounds up all human life and hacks it to pieces
  3. Assuming the first two don't kill you, you expect NOT to be executed by the Federation when they turn up and you don't have Blake as you promised
  4. If you want to stay on Old Isiah... why exactly did you have to sell Blake out? "I'm on the payroll" doesn't really explain that, since the whole Federation left you to die TWICE now.

Curiously enough, Blake and Lenska point out most of these flaws with Mezin's plan, which might let me shrug off this insanity as "Mezin is like the A-Man said, ugly and ergo stupid". But this doesn't explain Blake's attitude that Mezin is "too resourceful" to be left to die, as is Lenska. Dude, these two incompetents made Dante and Randall from Clerks look like Martha Jones! But maybe Blake's just a twat, since his brilliant plan is to contact the Liberator and attract EVEN MORE giant robots straight towards them. Rather than just leaving since they're all in the Plothole and it got to the planet with no trouble, ergo it should be able to leave the same way.

Blake pathetically asks Avon if they can fire the neutron blasters through the atmosphere and nuke the robots. Avon is prepared to try and carpet bomb the whole planet, but Blake turns this down on the grounds it would kill him too. Which, I think, might have been WHY Avon wanted to try that particular course of action. But luckily, Blake has a Plan C - they use the EM field to surround the nearest Gutter and stop it in its tracks. Brilliant! It makes them sitting targets for the thousands of other robots on their way, and it involves sending everyone out of the Plothole into the firing line, but as Blake's plans go, much better than usual. I mean, no frying pans or severed fingers are involved this week. On the other hand, Blake has to explain his mad scheme YET AGAIN when they're outside and up against the 'impressively big' giant robot. It's a giant robot, Blake, what the fuck were you expecting?!

Alas, because Lenska and her boy toy are complete idiots... and because Blake is a complete idiot too... he somehow gets trapped with the giant robot inside the EM field trap. OK, when did electromagnetic fields become physical barriers? Blake's bitching about being trapped, but logically he can walk straight through with nothing but a nuked digital watch and a mild headache as the risk? Does EM not stand for Electro Magnetic? What does it stand for? Eccentric and Maddening? It works as a cloaking device, a scrambler generator and now a force field... and it's crap at every last one!

This massive oversight brings to an end yet another episode. Leaving us to wonder not only why Blake ran straight up to a gigantic killing machine in the first place, but do we really, deep down, want him to survive? I mean, I liked this cliffhanger a lot more when it was the Doctor and Tegan threatened by the Myrka in Warriors of the Deep. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.

CHAPTER EIGHT: In Memoriam

"This is the most precious of all... this is the last of Old Isiah's fruit tree. The last of a new start. Just don't forget to water it."

Has this saga left your brain bleeding and bruised? Well, if not it will now as Mezin suggests they extend the forcefield around her so she can drag Blake out. Why not just retreat the force field and allow Blake to escape? How can these forcefields extend without grinding Mezin to pulp, since it's a physicall barrier? And why does she want to save Blake? Does she just want the body? Her excuse is "Life's full of surprises!" like that explains her characterization which is now twice as baffling as Jenna's. Blake awkwardly changes the subject and explains the field only trapped him because he was surrounded by reflections and unable to work out which direction to run. Right. Guess that mental instability that let him regain his memories really has been forgotten, huh?

Our heroes then spend the next thirty-five seconds marvelling at the Gutter killing itself, presumably trying to make sense of the various plot flaws in this series. "I've always underrated vengeance, but that was very satisfying. I could get addicted!" crows Rula Lenska with the complete lack of enthusiasm any actress of her talent would have when told to recite warm crap like that. Meanwhile, her boytoy brilliant works out it would be the best time to restore the EM fields around the base, after Lenska shouts at him to do just that. Jenna rings up (ergo attracting yet MORE robots) and notes that some pursuit ships have turned up and slags off Mezin again. Oh, learn to prioritize you insane bitch!

Blake tries for, what, the fifth time now?, to get everyone aboard the Plothole and hurtle to safety. Lenska says she has 'a flame of rememberance to attend', but gives some letters she couldn't be arsed to post (post? POST?! IN THE 23RD CENTURY THEY HAVE SNAIL MAIL??!?!?!) and a potplant. Mezin says she's staying to be rescued, but promises to tell the Federation that Blake dropped by (um... didn't she already do that at the cliffhanger two weeks previous?). Lenska's boytoy isn't even given the option and Blake pisses off with an even LESS successful recruitment drive than the one he tried on Cygnus Alpha. Suddenly, Lenska suddenly changes her addled mind and tells Mezin what a complete retard she is for staying here, and Mezin simply replies with "You think I don't know that?"

Seriously, Mezin. Have you gone utterly insane? I mean... make your mind up! Since it was completely ridiculous for her staying there in the first place, her decision to stay has done absolutely nothing bar pad out this tedious episode. So Mezin runs into the Plothole, sobbing that she made a mistake and they can be happy together and crap like that.

"We're not staying!" Blake shouts for anyone who'd suffered sudden complete amnesia about the last twenty seconds and the USS Plothole hurtles into the stratosphere. Then, pursuit ships open fire and Mezin and Blake shout things like "Look out!" "There was a flash!" "Oh the humanity!" "Damn them! DAMN THEM!" and Mezin, who completely failed to comprehend mass slaughter a few episodes ago, now instantly understands Rula Lenska was assinated to remove evidence of the scorched earth thing happening on Isiah. Wow! Lucky you happened to get out of ground zero in time since you coincidentally wanted to hang around Blake out of sheer idealism, huh, Mezin? Not suspicious at all? Of course, even if she did somehow know at the genocide about to happen, why bother to stay in the first place? All she's done is appear more and more suspicious!

However, Blake is convinced they were nuked because the Federation thought he was there. Self-absorbed bastard. Sure, have a cry about it, you wuss.

CHAPTER NINE: Vishnu Junction

"I felt a complete fool... standing in Vishnu Dome Reception... with a small tree. People were staring!"

With the "Zen is nuts" part of Traitor complete and "Rula Lenska is nuts" part of Traitor finished, the story struggles to find a new plot for its remaining four chapters. Thus we start with Guisborne getting reports about the Liberator buzzing various planets from some gofer whose voice is so nasal the back of my throat starts to ache when he speaks. Since this Liberator can flip its way through space and, well, space and blow up ships at random, and is also absolutely huge, Guizzy quickly deduces it to be a clear and present danger. Not that anyone so far has given a tinker's cuss what he thinks. "This is technology more advanced than anything we've ever seen before," he realizes after his aide tells him this. Dear God it's annoying when these characters do that.

The Liberator is meanwhile parked above Vishnu, a backwater residential planet. Why? No idea, but maybe Blake wants to drop off Rula Lenska's mail and sell the sapling to a florist. Vila of course goes on a crime spree and rings up Gan on the Plothole to complain at the poor level of security - God, some people are never happy, are they? Do you EVER stop complaining, Vila 2.0? Blake has his own reason to bitch: Rula Lenska was utterly bonkers and all her mail is to people who died eight years ago. Go figure. You think the birthday card she sent to Jesus wasn't mayhaps a clue? Idly they wait for Vila to actually steal some supplies as their Liberator is so shit it lacks even lavatory paper, before they can leave. This is, of course, because if they did things properly then Guizzy couldn't turn up for the cliffhanger. Odd how the plot suddenly becomes more predictable when there is only thirty seconds of set up before the end, huh?

As Blake bitches that Avon no longer flirts with him and finds Zen's innards more interesting than the rest of them put together, our top flight hacker is trying to philosophize with a certain metal moron about sharing control of the ship with the crew. Heh, you see what I did there? No? Your loss. Anyway, Zen understandably doesn't trust the crew a bloody inch and will not give them any kind of symbiotic link. And since Avon doesn't actually believe that sharing power improves efficiency, what with him making sure no one else can use Zen, he can't win that argument. Lame. Also, remember these little chats occur as Avon meditates on the flight deck, so Mezin and Jenna toss a coin for who gets to beat him back to reality. "Who needs the therapy more?" asks Mezin, before wisely deciding to let Psycho Jenna do it.

Alas, with Avon and Zen playing some strange "no, you hang up first" game, it is left to the girls to run the Liberator in a complicated 'vacuum up all the supply crates that Vila is now going to jettison from a factory into the upper orbit maneuver'. Which of course is the sort of thing that is just made to be told on audio, isn't it? As Vila bitches his goosebumps have goosebumps and he wants something to drink that's alcohol based and alcohol topped and generally every single bleeding thing, they actually do this rather boring stuff. Egads, wait, there's a "police skimmer" at "two o'clock!"

And with the Liberator out of control, the Plothole is left at the mercy of the local fuzz! GAZOOKS!

CHAPTER TEN: Sightseers

"Ay-varn, tark to ther ship! Yer the one with yer head up its backsard! What ther hell sart of marnsta are we trapped ensard? AY-VARN?!"

This installment kicks off as the police ship opens fire on the Liberator (which remember is ten thousand times larger than it and covered in guns) and surprisingly blows the crap out of it with zero resistance. The Liberator spins off into outer space as Blake is left impotently shouting. A lot.

Meanwhile, Zen has once more decided that none of its crew will get anything done and take matters into its own hands. Since its prime directive is to fix the Liberator, and the Liberator is low on fuel, it completely abandons Blake, Gan and Vila (so far, so good) to find a power source of DH3 a substance that powers every other ship Mezin's seen. Why exactly the giant alien battlecruiser would automatically work on unleaded escapes me but Zen has smelt something he likes in an orbiting gas refinery (how you refine gas in a vacuum?!?), and we cut to ground control on Vishnu as... I dunno stuff happens. The locals goggle at the sight of the giant spacehsip doing a mating dance around a refinery while the refinery crew exit stage freaking left and the police decide to settle for targeting the Plothole. Before ground control tells them not to.

No, don't mind me, yawning. You carry on.

Anyway, the Liberator starts humping the refinery and sucking out power or gas or some crap like that. People shout a lot. Jenna realizes that thousands of ships are taking off Vishnu and coming straight for them and instantly deduces they're just gormless tourists taking photos of this naughty display. The Plothole tries to mingle with 'bloody tourists' and sneak back to the Liberator. "Tries" being the operative word. So Blake decides to use the Plothole's tractor beam to fling their stolen goods at the Please Do Not Cross barricade between the Liberator and them. Gan marvels at the lateral thinking while Vila starts bitching even more. Then pursuit ships turn up to film the bonking spaceships and put it on youtube.

But lo, what poor acting through yonder static filter breaks! Tis Commander Travis, I mean, Guisborne and he immediately takes charge! Of course, despite this impressive entrance, A) the guy playing 'Travis' is no Richard Amitage, or indeed any kind of decent actor and B) Ground Control Girl pointed out that the Liberator is surrounded by an Exxon oil slick and gawping tourists, so they can't really open fire without causing a firestorm and some serious bad publicity.

Oh, wait, it's the end of the episode. Fancy that.

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Stand-Off

"First contact protocols? Since their brand of 'first contact' is to shoot and kill. Garcia, then I think we can drop the brass band and canapes. If they try to engage, I want the resulting shrapnel to reach their home world long before their scream for help."

Well, the penultimate episode begins. If my pulse hadn't given up somewhere around the fryin-pan-gram in the first installment, it would be racing as Gizzy sends in his main goon, Adam Garcia from The Christmas Invasion. Blake, Gan and Vila the Bitch effortlessly manage to dock the Plothole with the Liberator as Vila finally moans about something vaguely relevent: while the current state of play keeps them safe from plasma bolts, the moment they try and leave they're dead meat. Presumably everyone aboard ship has forgotten the Liberator is not only very fast and heavily armed but can also dematerialize. Morons. Oh wait, being too close to a sun means they can't jump. So, Vishnu is close to its sun. The same Vishnu which is a freezing zero-gravity wasteland, huh? Give. Me. Strength.

"Liberator is the most powerful ship they've ever seen!" Blake rants in what is presumably supposed to be a reassuring manner. "They want it intact, not in charged pieces, but it is OUR prize! And there is NO way we're giving it up!" Oh shut the fuck up, Blake. You STOLE it, you moral crusader, and you can't relinquish control of it since you don't have control in the first place. But if you think that's irritating, Jenna has to slag off Mezin again with "It's your Federation out there! Sizing us up down their gun barrels! I know we're better! Since when were you on our side, huh?"

Seriously, if anyone can explain any kind of logic as to that rant, please tell me. My head hurts.

Blake arrives and screams that Zen's betrayed them all before finally noticing Avon zoned out and drooling. Finally, Avon returns to the land of the living to tell Blake to shut up and stop being a whining cry baby hypocrite who tells everyone he trusts them when he manifestly doesn't. "When this ship gets an urge, it isn't easy to stop it," Avon chips into the double entendre competition. Blake is furious that they will have a reputation as a gang of cutthroats, which is "not what we're about"! Whatever. Another list please, maestro:

  1. You're a child molester, a smuggler, a murderer, an imbezzler, a psychotic thief and a deserter. Your rep was not very good to start with.
  2. They don't actually know for sure you're even on board.
  3. As Guizzy notes, you already HAVE that rep for slaughtering the scoutship that tried to help you.
  4. You have done more for Vishnu tourist trade in ten minutes more than anything else in this century and not actually killed anyone yet.

Avon points out number two before Blake can answer the incoming communication, so Mezin suggests she answer the call and ensure no one knows about the others. Remember, this is the 23rd century and no one has a TV phone or a webcam. Vila and Jenna mindlessly continue to slag off Mezin until Gan thankfully tells them both to shut the fuck up for two seconds. Mezin takes the call: it's Stephan Travis!

Heheheha. Stephan. BWAHAHA! STEPHAN TRAVIS! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAH! HAHAH! OH, THAT IS THE FUNNIEST SHIT EVER! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAA! HAHHAHAHAHAH! AHAHAHAH! HAHAHAHAHA! HEHAHAHAH!

...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHA!!!

*ten minutes of laughter comparable to watching Dylan Moran's Monster while on ecstasy later*

Hahahaha. Oh well. Right. Ahem. Stephan. Mr. Guisborne. Ahem. That'll be the cool alien futuristic name so typical of Roj, Vila, Kerr, Oleg and... Laura. Oh well. Anyway. Yes, the bloke in charge of the Federation Defense Service Vessel Cormorant. Heeheee. Another name for "shag" seabirds. No. Focus. Focus... hahah... Stephan of The Shag! Oh god... HAHAHAH! HAHAHAAHHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAAHAHAH!

*ten minutes of laughter comparable to watching the Black Books "Grapes of Wrath" Frankenstein parody for the first time while also on ecstasy later*

Yes. Well. Quite. Guizzy of the Christopher Isherwood Poetry Slam is saying hello. And Mezin (I swear India Fisher is trying not to piss herself laughing as well, listen to the way she sniggers "Commander Travis") instantly goes nuts and starts shouting things like, "How does it feel to live in the dark like the rest of us?" which really doesn't help from a purely diplomatic point of view. Rather put out, and clearly not recognizing Mezin at all, Gizzy asks if maybe they had some ultimatums or something?

"This ship is the Liberator and it's a flame of remembrance, a torch for all the people and worlds you've destroyed to feed the empire you've built on money lies and blood! And for all the innocent citizens you've condemned to prison planets because they had ideas of their own! Your days are numbered, Commander! IT'S BETTER TO FOLLOW ONE LIGHT THAN LIVE IN THE DARKN OF THE FEDERATION!!" Mezin shrieks with evangelical fury, ever-so-slightly-undermined by the fact she's just quoting Jenna and Rula Lenska, the two most clueless and melodrammatic bitches I have seen outside of Cancer in the original series. "That's what I said!" moans Jenna unhappily at having her dialogue ripped off, and also meaning Travis now knows she's there, as well as Blake who goes so far as to mention Jenna's name...

You know, when Avon noted no one knew who they were "despite Blake's best efforts"? He was right.

Anyway, Gizzy is poking holes in Mezin's rhetoric faster than I can - like how her 'innocent prisoners' are in fact all of them, to a man, guilty and their choice of spaceship name is positively perverse. So Mezin hangs up and, idiotically pleased, Blake suggests they have a nice absinthe to celebrate... ignoring the fact they have no food or water, they abandoned all their supplies, and they've also managed to piss off the Terran Federation even more than simply being alive. Still, why let reality get in the way of a good piss up, huh? Still, at least no one's mindlessly screaming 'Tray-tah!' at her every time she speaks...

Zen clears his throat and explains that he's sucked the life out of the refinery and wanders what they should do now. With exaggerated formality, Avon offers to let Blake give the freaking obvious order "Get us out of here!" and Gizzy orders his 'raptors' to attack the Liberator. Pesumably they're named raptors for being unconvincing CGI effects with random plot attributes...

Alas, the episode is over. Oh dear what a pity never mind.

CHAPTER TWELVE: Zen

"That ship cost me a whole squadron today. I'm mobilizing the entire Outer Fleet. I want it and its crew, whatever they are, hunted down and torn off the bloody surface of space."

Um. Stuff is happening. As far as I can make out, those deadly raptor things weren't wearing sunblock so their little kamikaze dive into the sun proved just that. No, wait, some bad exposition from Jenna reveals the idiots were firing lasers into all that spilt and volatile fuel. After the fifth one accidentally kills himself, Gizzy finally decides to change tactics as the completely unharmed Liberator cruises away with all the urgency of a completely lazy and unhurried thing, shooting and blowing up all the ships that don't melt. This is of course much to dismay of Blake, Mr. 'Frying Pan Unibomber'. Mezin meanwhile is double taking something chronic at the civilian death toll of Commander 'Suicidal Insanity' Gizzy as all those comic relief tourists burn to death, which I hasten to point out, is all her fault.

Gizzy meanwhile decides that having lost a whole squadron of idiots isn't good enough and wants to lose the entire galactic fleet blowing up the Liberator and everything in it. And never once does he break his monotone. Class act there, Stephan of Shag. Hehehehe. Ahem.

"I survived the sun!" booms Zen in his crazy Xoanon voice, and no sooner do the crew realize that they've unintentionally made their flight computer think it is God then Zen wants to get the crew 'inducted' once more and it doesn't give a flying fuck about Blake crying about the 'deal' they had. Avon suddenly reveals he too has a separate deal with Zen... but it turns out this revelation is nothing since Zen isn't going to honor that either. "I knew not to trust him!" Jenna crows. SHUT THE FUCK UP, JENNA! SHUT UP!

Mezin twigs that Zen is panicking and trying to induct the crew rather than cope with anything new, a snap diagnosis as the flight deck transforms into some cyber conversion chamber or another. "You need us!" she shouts at Zen, "but we only agree on Blake's terms! WE KEEP OUR OWN THOUGHTS OR YOU'RE NO BETTER THAN THE FEDERATION!" Now, if you remember how well Mezin's other pep talks have gone (she chats to some prisoners, who kidnap her and steal a ship; she chats to Gizzy, and he slaughters thousands of innocent people), I reckon we can predict that Zen isn't really going to take this well.

So Zen (somehow) blows her head off. Gan is the only one who shows any kind of unhappiness at this news. Presumably the others are deeply relieved that India Fisher has left the building and stopped being a better actor than the lot of them put together. Blake demands to know what the hell Zen intends to do now? Kill the rest of them? Unfortunately, that seems to be the plan so everyone decides to start insulting Avon instead and with the biggest fourth wall chutzpah known to human kind, Blake says the immortal words:

"Have you sold us out, Avon?"

Avon responds by saving each and every one of their asses by shouting codewords and completely reprograming the homicidal computer with Program AlphaZen (or in other words, asking the Liberator to tell them what is the sound of one hand clapping?). Of course, it would work a hell of a lot better without Blake screaming "What are you doing? What's going on?" throughout, but this entire sequence can be summed up with the expression "Fuck you, Roj Blake."

The insane computer is now Zen (I know that's what I've been calling him, but now he is), the interface betwixt Liberator and crew that doesn't involve brain surgery and now does what he is told and all the other stuff you'd expect from a main computer. This is what Avon's meditation has been about throughout the last dozen episodes. "Is that it?" asks Vila bored and not remotely interested with the corpse at his feet until Gan bullies him into helping the super hulk shifting it.

This is without doubt proof that Vila 2.0 is a total fuckwit who cannot die quick enough.

Blake meanwhile awkwardly tries to apologize while never actually saying he's sorry and Avon not only reveals that his work on Zen is NOT of a renaissance standard but that it allows the entire crew equal control of the Liberator. One can only assume Avon has done to rub Blake's face in it. Meanwhile, Jenna tells Zen to dematerialize and everyone ignores the fact that not only is Mezin dead, but they treated her like shit absolutely wrongly throughout the story.

I hope they all die.

The End.

Traitor, huh? I wonder who it refers to? Zen? The crew? The Federation? Mezin? Why is Colin Salmon's ugly mug on the cover rather than India Fisher's divine countenance? She's in every episode, the story's around her, and I can think of at least one photo of her that doesn't make her look butt ugly. Seriously, check out Salmon in Silence in the Library, it's amazing he doesn't look like a lump of rotting clay in real life... And Traitor. What a stupid name. There was a proper episode named Traitor, but that was because they refused to let Rob Holmes use A Land Fit For Helots. Ah, Holmes. He still had it when everyone else didn't...

In conclusion, this is an improvement on Rebel but I don't really want to imagine what might be worse. On the good side, the twelve-part epic is split into three manageable stories rather than Rebel's baffling 'one episode per chapter' 'one scene five chapters' rewrite. The fact Traitor's tales aren't retarded rewrites of TV episodes makes them automatically less crap. While explaining the big mystery of the Liberator and giving a new origin for Zen is, IMHO, a bad idea, the explanation that Zen tried to merge with the brains of the crew and then killed them all is kind of cool, as is the idea that the crew free Zen from his programming as much as it frees them for the Federation. The Old Isiah segment feels like the missing conclusion to the Giant Robot Monster trilogy Big Finish had with ID and Exotron, and the final heist-goes-wrong is arguably the most honestly-B7ish of anything the audios have done so far. What's more, Traitor shows the Federation as evil by deed rather than word as they slaughter innocents who get in the way of their aims rather than, as in Rebel, being shockingly lenient with a mass-murdering terrorist.

All of this makes it clear to me that Marc Platt had as much to do with this story as Terry Nation had with The Dalek Masterplan. It's easy to imagine Platt coming up with these ideas at the pub and the hack responsible for this actually writing down the script with the worst dialogue I have ever heard outside of the Outpost Gallifrey mythmaker section... and even then the characters stayed in character, no matter how repellant. The internal continuity is a mess and the complete non-reaction to Mezin's death would be a problem if you only heard the last chapter, let alone the entire story. The characters switch back and forth and Avon comes out the best simply by not having such crap and idiotic dialogue. It's a case of 'there has to be a first place' rather than any talent and writing out Mezin just feels stupid. Had she perished at the hands of the Federation it would have meant something, either in betrayal or defiance. Here she just gets killed while everyone stands around and then Avon pulls a dues ex machina out of his rectum and saves the day.

Think about Mezin for a moment. There was a good idea buried in her. Imagine if Raiker had not tidily fallen down a space chute to die horribly, but actually got aboard the Liberator. Would Blake kill him in cold blood? Would Raiker manage to switch sides and talk his way out of trouble? That's drama right there, Pizza Supreme. However, Mezin was not a mass-murdering rapist with power issues. So, that idea is scrapped. But all the talk of indoctrination and brainwashing could have explained the poor characterization of Mezin and why she switched sides so randomly... what if she really was brainwashed? What if, despite her loyalty to Blake, she was conditioned and simply couldn't help giving the game away? What if all the faceless Federation troops were similarly under control? You want shorthand proof of an evil empire, have its lackeys forced against their will.

Even Mezin's death could have been made a big moment, with her breaking her conditioning and saving the others at the cost of her life... an act that could convince the gang of arseholes to unite, to avenge her. OK, its a petty reason, but at least it's a reason to fight the Federation rather than legging it. Instead, despite all Blake's fear that they'll come across as no better than their enemy, they all ignore her death the second the threat is taken from their own necks. Despite getting three times the screen time of Nova, Arco, Selman, Veron, Keril, Neebrox... Mezin doesn't feel half as important, since no one considers her worth mourning, even though she was the only person to be in any way effected by the carnage of the story.

Like India Fisher herself, Mezin was simply too good for this crap.

Just because it can only get better doesn't mean it will...