Sunday, 22 June 2014

A fool knows everything and nothing

"Moons of madness, why am I encumbered with incompetents?"
"Captain, sir."
"Your report, Mister Fibuli."

"Yes, sir. I have it."
"It is thirty seconds late."
"Yes, sir."

"My qualities are many, Mister Fibuli."
"Oh, yes, sir. I..."
"But an infinite capacity for patience is not amongst them."

Somewhere inside The Keeper is a much better episode trying to get out, but its qualities are rarely visible from under the confused script and hammy acting.

Bruce Purchase gives one of Blakes 7's hammiest performances ever, and considering his competition includes BRIAN BLESSED, Colin Baker and, yes, Paul Darrow, that's quite an achievement... of sorts.

Avon wisely decides to stay on the Liberator this week, to avoid getting into a ham-off with Bruce Purchase down on the planet.

Paul Darrow does his best with minimal material to make these scenes tense and exciting, but ultimately they are filler scenes, only there to provide a reason for not teleporting Blake, Vila and Jenna back when they get into trouble.

Travis and Servalan are wasted in this episode, having only about two scenes each. Servalan didn't need to be in The Keeper at all, and Travis accomplishes more off screen than he does on it. The trouble is that the script focuses on all the wrong things.

For example, a lot of time is spent on the subplot of Jenna finding out who has the brain-print that is the clue to the location of Star One that they are searching for, and - to give The Keeper some credit - it is a clever reveal that neither of the two obvious "keepers" really are The Keeper.

But most of the subplot is spent on Jenna pretending to have fallen for Bruce Purchase, while he goes on a lot about wanting to "pair bond" with her. I don't know what that means. This uses up time that could have been spent better foreshadowing the twist, or on showing Travis finding the secret of Star One before Blake.

Flashes of the hidden, much better version of The Keeper come through in Cengiz Shaner's performance as the Fool, which is of a significantly higher quality than anyone else's. He seems to be really trying to give his character depth and realism through every physical movement, and he makes the most of the handful of lines he has.

And this scene, where everything comes together with the location of Star One being revealed from the dying old king and the Fool, goes some way towards redeeming the episode as a whole. The Fool's haunting song sung over his master's body, and the way he recites the location of Star One, sell it.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now six years old. I spent it watching Blakes 7 (when I wasn't having important sleeps), so it is a shame that it was The Keeper and not a better episode. But The Keeper is the episode that comes between Gambit and Star One, so you have to take it as part of the journey that is Blakes 7 season 2.

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