Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Star Wars Canon Cannon

How much of Star Wars is canon?

There are so many spin offs, from comics to books to cartoons to computer games to internets fanfiction, that the answer will differ for every fan of Star Wars. My friend Starcat, like all cats, only considers the core six films to be truly canon. In case you don't know much about Star Wars, the "core six films" consist of:

  1. Star Wars, 1977 (sometimes called A New Hope by mannys to differentiate it from Star Wars as a whole)
  2. The Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978
  3. The Empire Strikes Back, 1980
  4. Return of the Jedi, 1983
  5. Caravan of Courage, 1984
  6. The Battle for Endor, 1985

By 1984 there were already comics being made for those Star Wars fans who wanted more stories but did not yet have the internets to read fanfiction on, because in those dark times there was hardly any internets!

One such comic was Return of the Jedi #49, and in it there was a very unusual story that seems to lay the foundation for the (non-canonical, at least in the opinion of all cats) fanfiction films known as the 'prequel trilogy' - The Phantom Menace (1999), When Clones Attack (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005).

The story is presented in the form of a quiz with 20 questions and answers - some of the questions refer to events which appear in the core six films, but not all of them.

For example, question 1:
What was the Emperor's name and title before he declared himself Emperor?
The answer given is "Senator Palpatine" and that is also the name of a character in the prequel trilogy who goes on to become the Evil Emperor in the end. If we confine canon to just the core six films, then the Evil Emperor is just called the Emperor, so it seems that the makers of the prequel films decided to accept this as canon for their films.

Question 8:
How did Darth Vader become 'more machine than man'?
When Obi Wan Kenobi defeated him, Vader fell into a volcanic crater and nearly died.
While the phrase 'more machine than man' is paraphrasing a quote from Return of the Jedi, the events in the answer are not seen, described or made explicit in any way in any of the core six films. But events that fit that description* do occur in fanfiction film Revenge of the Sith.

However, if we look at question 15...
Who trained Obi Wan to be a Jedi?
...we will see that it backs up the answer given in The Empire Strikes Back as "Yoda" - no mention is made of Qui-Gon Jinn - so it seems that the makers of the prequel films are happy to contradict both the original films and the expanded universe of the quiz when they want to.

In conclusion, me and Starcat would like to finish by saying that Star Wars has a complicated relationship with canon and continuity, and that the prequel films are still rubbish. So there.

* Very loosely. A more fitting answer would be phrased "When Obi Wan Kenobi defeated him, Vader lay in a volcanic crater with his arms and legs chopped off and nearly died."

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Weapon That Guards Itself

Weapon is Chris Boucher's second episode of Blakes 7, and the first that really spends more time with the baddys than with Blake and Avon and the rest of the Liberator crew.

It is also an episode in which Avon gets shot!

Despite these things it still manages to be a good episode because the story is great.

Weapon is the first episode to feature Brian Croucher as the new Travis. The first thing he does is shoot Blake!
But it is a fake Blake; the real Blake is still alive.

Weapon is also the episode in which Carnell appears. Although he is only in four scenes, Carnell is an important character because he appears in Kaldor City with Paul Darrow, which is how we know Kaston Iago is really Avon in disguise. Speaking of Avon...

It's Avon!

Blake and Avon are about to teleport down to the planet for some action scenes on film.

Unfortunately for Blake and Avon, Travis is also on film...

...and Travis shoots Avon (and Blake and Gan) with IMIPAK. Luckily for them, IMIPAK is a McGuffin weapon so it doesn't kill them right away.

Servalan is waiting for them back in the studio, and she gives them a chance to get away. Fortunately they do, so this isn't the end of Blake and Avon.

To show how much the story emphasises the baddys over our heroes, the episode ends not with a scene of Blake and Avon flirting having manly dialogue flirting, but with a scene of Carnell and Servalan flirting.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Genesis of the New Series

Part Five

1. Int. Main Laboratory. Night

Grade: You will tell me. You will tell me. You will tell me!
David: Steven - please - don't tell, Steven!
Steven: All right, all right, just leave them alone.
The appointment of Andrew Cartmel as Script Editor in 1987 gave a new direction to the series with his 'Masterplan' and a darker portrayal of the Doctor by Sylvester McCoy from his second season.
The line of Virgin 'New Adventures' novels continued this direction throughout the 1990s, even in the absence of the TV series, and gave a new generation of writers the opportunity to have their Doctor Who fanfiction professionally published...
David and Karen listen helplessly as Steven relates his knowledge of future Doctor Who history.
We stay on Steven for the first few lines of his speech and then angle away to the tape winding on to an almost empty spool.
Steven: And Russell T Davies' revived version of the series proved to be completely resistant to any form of criticism in the mainstream media or any threat of cancellation from within the BBC.
Steven's voice fades.

2. Int. Main Laboratory. Night.

Close on the tape spool, now almost filled with tape. The machine clicks to a halt. Grade glances at the machine, and then at Steven who appears almost utterly shagged out.
Grade: This seems an opportune moment to end this session. Powell, release the prisoners and take them to the detention area.
The two guards quickly unstrap David and Karen. Powell does the same for Steven.
Grade: The interrogation will continue later. And I must thank you Steven, what you have told me will be invaluable. Take them away.
The BBC guards lead David and Karen out. Steven makes to follow, but Grade halts him.
Grade: Oh Steven, stay a moment, sit down. Let us talk together now not as prisoner and captor but as television professionals. There is so much I wish to know. Powell, take charge of the tape.
Steven shrugs and sits back in his chair.
Powell: Immediately Grade.
Grade: It will be your responsibility, and remember it is priceless, its value beyond computation.
Steven watches as the tape is lifted from the machine. His eyes follow it as Powell heads towards the exit.

6. Int. Main Laboratory. Night.

Grade: Now future errors will be eradicated. Ratings defeats will become victories. You have changed the future of the BBC.
Steven: I have betrayed the future. Grade, for the last time, consider what you are doing... Stop the cancellation of Doctor Who.
Grade: Impossible. It is beyond my control; the studios are already reconfigured to produce daytime television.
Steven: It isn't the transmission times, it's the quality of the programmes inside them... Programmes that you commissioned... They are totally evil!
Grade: Evil? No, no, I will not accept that. They are commissioned simply to survive. BBC1 can survive only by becoming the dominant channel. When all other channels are suppressed... When BBC1 is the supreme ruler of British television, then you will have peace. Ratings wars will end.... Daytime television is the power not of evil, but of good!
Steven: Grade, if you had commissioned a drama series to be filmed in your studios, something that was a ratings triumph and won awards regardless of overall quality... A drama series that would destroy all other forms of television drama, would you allow its broadcast?
Grade: It is an interesting conjecture.
Steven: Would you do it?
Grade: The only TV drama format... A populist entertainment ruling supreme... A fascinating idea...
Steven: Would you do it?
Grade: Yes, yes! To hold in my hand a master tape containing such power... To know that ratings on such a scale was my choice... To know that the tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to press 'transmit', would end everything of any decent quality on British TV... Yes, I would do it! That power would set me amongst the gods! And through Doctor Who I shall have that power!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Shadow (The Shadow) (The Shadow)

Shadow is the first episode of Blakes 7 not written by Terry Nation. But it is still good, because it is written by Chris Boucher. Shadow has two plots that are separate until they come together, and this is mirrored by Avon wearing two costumes!

I am not really by Avon's side in this episode, sadly, but this is the story where this picture originally comes from.

In amongst all the plot shenanigans with the Terra Nostra, who rule Space City (are we sure this wasn't written by El Tel?), there are great little moments like this one, where Avon tries to keep Blake's money bag but Blake wants it back.

"I know my silver costume is fabulous, Blake, but if we're about to go filming on location then I'm going to change."

Blake attempts to upstage Avon by showing off more of his manly chest, but Avon doesn't look too impressed by this.

Here Avon's got his gun out, and it seems as though Blake is having second thoughts about the wisdom of attempting to outdo Avon in the 'looking manly' stakes.

"Next, please."

Near the end of the episode we get another iconic shot of all the main characters (plus guest character Bek in the background) as well as this accompanying dialogue exchange, Avon being self-deprecating as usual:
"Where are all the good guys?"
"You could be looking at them."
"What a very depressing thought."

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Leather vs Sleeves

It's season two, and Redemption.

Avon and Blake have had a row because Avon worked out what Orac's cliffhanger meant before Blake did.

Blake is now wearing a top with enormous sleeves to reassert his manliness, but Avon has countered with a black leather costume plus added studs.


Avon remains the most handsome manny in Blakes 7. Or in anything, really.

Avon and Blake make up when the Liberator gets taken over and Avon rescues Blake from being electriced by a cable.

"I wish Blake was standing here beside me instead of Jenna."

"Ah, that's better."

Paul Darrow's facial expressions are as subtle as a cat's.

But sadly there isn't time for Avon to just stand around being handsome, because the Liberator is about to reach...


It's a world. In space.

I'm not sure if that is different from where worlds usually are. I don't know about science things, I'm a cat.

Of course they escape from Spaceworld, and the episode ends as it should, with Blake and Avon gazing into each other's eyes...
Well, almost. That bit comes from the last scene, anyway.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Savin' The Day

"What do you think of my recap of last week's adventure, Avon?"

"Well, you missed out the bit where I was worshipped as a god and saved an entire race, and the bit where you were held prisoner by a dying man too weak to even stand, but apart from that: fine."

"You've made your point. Shall we get on with this week's adventure now?"

Orac is the last episode of Blakes 7 season one. Avon doesn't do much in it until right at the end when he turns up to save Blake.

"I'm just going to stay here and take it easy while you teleport down to the planet this week."
"You will teleport down and save me when I get into trouble, even though you're dying from radiation sickness?"

Later on...

"Oh noes, Travis!"
"Aha! I have you now Blake!"

"Good shot, Avon."

"I was aiming for his head."

"Next season I'm going to be even more clever, save Blake even more times, wear even more fabulous costumes, and just generally be even more handsome."

"What do you think of that, Orac?"

"Space vehicle will be destroyed."

"Oh noes, a cliffhanger!"