Starring Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon, Michael Keating as Vila Restal, Josette Simon as Dayna Mellanby, Steven Pacey as Tarrant,
Glynnis Barber as Soolin and Peter Tuddenham as Zen
with Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan and Gareth Thomas as Blake

Avon tries to scare the laconic Dorian

40 Rescue

A slightly botched start (given the production gap, making the thing start almost immediately after the end of Season 3 is unfortunate - just a few lines indicating they'd been scraping a life on Terminal for a couple of months would have made their rescue less contrived) gives way to a decent performance from Geoffrey Burridge as Dorian, which is then undone by the half-baked, unexplained nature of whatever is in his basement. Quite why they had to make it so obvious with his name I don't know either.


41 Power

Paralysingly dull, and stupid to boot. Gunsar is even harder to take seriously than the inhabitants of Goth, while the Homek are just as bad. A moronic 'battle of the sexes' storyline is further swamped by misplaced intentional comedy and rampant unintentional comedy, not helped by diabolical acting from just about everyone and leaden, hollow attempts to recreate the sniping among the crew from the last season.


Avon and Gunsar

Tarrant and Dayna express shock at some terrible makeup

42 Traitor

A somewhat bland rebel story enlivened only by the callous, weary Quute and the callous, idiotic Hunda, who stand out a little from the usual Federation captains. While perhaps avoidable for production reasons, it's a big shame that we find out that Sleer is Servalan almost straight away, and that she and the crew discover the other's survival only two episodes after "Terminal". The plot is generally competent, but largely forgettable.


43 Stardrive

Much like "Dawn of the Gods", the scenes onboard the ship (especially as it's the more claustrophobic Scorpio) are nicely done, even if Dayna and Soolin don't really have any personality. It all goes downhill when they hit the planet, though - the Space Rats are every bit as terrible as they sound and look, and that's before you see the mighty trikes they drive around. Avon's calm killing of Doctor Plaxton is memorable for the right reason, but not much else here is.


Vila and Dayna express shock at some terrible makeup

Dayna about to get a clip around the head from Ogg

44 Animals

Remember Dayna? Well, she gets something to do here. The downside is that she's massively out of character - seemingly being reunited with her tutor/lover turns her into a flapping girl. "Animals" has some good bits, and is better than its' reputation (being a step up from the preceding three episodes for a start), but it's still not particularly good, especially the dodgy brainwashing. Is it me, or is Dayna left brainwashed to unconditionally love Justin at the end?


45 Headhunter

What on Earth...? Very weird throughout, from the robot somehow managing to mount a decapitated head on its' shoulders without anyone noticing, through to the sheer strangeness of the rest of the episode. Needless to say the headless version is completely unconvincing, while the location footage utterly fails to convince us that it's anything other than the English countryside in 1981. Even Paul Darrow can't be bothered for most of this one.


This is actually what the future will be like

Avon and Dayna take Neebrox onto Scorpio

46 Assassin

Despite being a tedious sequence of coincidences, this one at least generates a bit of much-missed friction between the crew members. Caroline Holdaway is passable as the intentionally irritating Pirri, but less tolerable when she's basically the same as Cancer. Add in the silly slave auction sequences (complete with cheesy Arabian music!) and the obvious designated corpse status of Neebrox and it's another disaster, though there are a few moments of promise at last.


47 Games

A big step up in quality. "Games" is probably about middling for the series as a whole, but feels like a quantum leap after seven poor-to-awful instalments. Stratford Johns helps a lot, but the plot is interesting (and holds up nicely), forgiving a few contrivances. While it's a bit hard not to wonder why the Scorpio isn't an irrelevance to the Federation, at least the show is fun to watch rather than painful.


Soolin shoots at herself

Enemy mine - Servalan and Tarrant

48 Sand

Neat and imaginative, "Sand" benefits from the chemistry between Pearce and Pacey and some rather good ideas. Unlike Tanith Lee's previous script it feels more like it belongs in the show, without compromising its' individuality. It's great to see something of Servalan beyond her domineering, ruthless side, while once again the enclosed Scorpio sets are put to good, claustrophobic use.


49 Gold

A well-plotted heist thriller with a couple of decent twists. It's basically about the Scorpio crew trying to nick a load of cash with nothing bigger going on, but it's handled well. Roy Kinnear might be just doing the same thing he does everywhere else, but his hapless demeanour fits Keillor nicely and he never overpowers the regulars. Add in some good set-pieces and one of the show's tighter scripts and you're left with a good, fun episode.


Keillor with Avon and Soolin

Avon and Vila haggle with Egrorian

50 Orbit

Chiefly remembered for the tense, harrowing scenes of Avon hunting for Vila at the end of the episode, there's actually a lot more to "Orbit". John Savident does a good job as the mad, delusional Egrorian, with Larry Noble providing fine support as Pinder. Avon and Egrorian are basically bluffing each other, and their scenes are very enjoyable, as are those featuring the increasingly exasperated Servalan. And then there's the great ending too.


51 Warlord

Out of nowhere Avon finally seems to be getting somewhere, which comes as a bit of a shock - structurally it might have been better if the crew had gradually formed some allies as the season went along, rather than every helper they had dying and yet they suddenly have the basis of an alliance here. This aside, "Warlord" has some real flourishes, such as the spooky drugged civilians, rather a good fight scene on some dunes, and a pair of guest performances that go some way towards redressing those awful orange wigs.


Zukan throws his weight around at Xenon Base

52 Blake

Even before the superbly staged downbeat ending this one continues the big step-up in quality from the second half of the series. There's a sense of purpose to the crew again, and everything moves that bit quicker. Even Soolin gets stuff to do. And then, yes, there's the ending - the only way it could really have finished, handled perfectly with layers and layers of characterisation in one scene between Blake (who's excellent all episode) and Avon as the crew are terminally undone by paranoia and misunderstanding. Excellent.