The Keeper isn’t a story that has a great deal going for it. The setting is the planet Goth and its inhabitants, led by Gola (Bruce Purchase), clearly favour a faux-medieval feel (plenty of flickering torches and over-ripe dialogue).
Purchase, who’d played the Captain in the Doctor Who story The Pirate Planet shortly before, approaches this role with a similar lack of subtlety. But whilst there was slightly more to the Captain than initially was apparent, Gola is just a blustering fool who spends his time shouting – it’s almost as if he’d taken lessons from Brian Blessed.
Blake, Vila and Jenna teleport down to find the brainprint of cyber-surgeon Lurgen. Once they have that they’ll be able to establish the location of Star One. Avon asks Blake what they’ll do once they know where Star One is.
BLAKE: Finish what we started.
AVON: Destroy it?
BLAKE: Of course. And the entire Federation with it. Does that bother you suddenly?
AVON: Star One is the automatic computer control centre for the entire Federation.
BLAKE: Get to the point, Avon.
AVON: That is the point. Through Star One we could control everything. The Federation could belong to us.
VILA: I could be president.
Blake and the others are only on the planet’s surface for a few minutes before they’re overpowered – it’s a remarkably inept display by Blake (strategic planning has never been one of his strengths). Vila and Jenna are carried off whilst they leave Blake behind (why?). Blake urgently requests teleport, but Avon and Cally have moved out of teleport range in order to destroy Travis’ ship.
How Avon manages to identify the ship as Travis’ is never explained – surely there must be others in the galaxy that are similar? It probably won’t come as a surprise that Travis wasn’t on board – he and Servalan are both on Goth. Their on/off working relationship is now back on and Travis is in a remarkably mellow mood as he attempts to forge a more permanent alliance with Servalan.
TRAVIS: Look, Star One is the computer control centre. It controls the climate on more than two hundred worlds, communications, security, food production, it controls them all. It is the key to our very lives. Think of all that power.
SERVALAN: You can see why the Council themselves don’t know where Star One is. In the wrong hands …
TRAVIS: Yes, but in the right hands: yours and mine.
SERVALAN: Be very careful you don’t overreach yourself, Travis.
One part of the story that does work very well is Travis’ contribution to it. It seems obvious that he’ll be around for the duration, tangling with Blake and the others, but about twenty minutes in he disappears and it slowly becomes clear that he’s not coming back. He’s already found Star One’s location and not only has he betrayed Servalan but as the next episode makes clear he’s betrayed the whole human race …..
A quick mention for his personal communicator, which is the size of several house-bricks (almost like the most primitive mobile phone). Considering that Kirk and the Enterprise had pocket sized communicators a decade earlier you’d have imagined B7 could have done something similar. It’s hard to imagine him putting that into his pocket!
Whilst Blake runs around achieving very little, Jenna and Vila are making the acquaintance of Gola. Vila becomes the King’s fool, supplanting his existing one (played by Cengiz Saner) whilst Jenna immediately attracts Gola’s attention. It’s a good thing that The Keeper gives Sally Knyvette something to do, it’s a bad thing that she has to spend her time as the object of Gola’s attentions. But Knyvette does manage to mine some comic moments from this fairly unpromising material.
Elsewhere, Blake meets Rod (Shaun Curry) who is Gola’s brother and plans to challenge him for the throne. It won’t come as surprise that Rod is a bluff and hearty fellow (he’s not quite in the Purchase/Blessed camp for loudness, but he comes close).
Blake also runs into an old man locked in the dungeon (played by Arthur Hewlett) who turns out to be Gola and Rod’s father – and so is the old, disposed king. Hewlett’s performance is notable for his moaning (he may be playing for laughs or he may not, I can’t be sure). Also eschewing any subtlety is Freda Jackson as Tara, Gola’s sister. She can cackle with the best of them and when she’s not doing that she maintains a baleful watch over the unfolding events.
Eventually (thank goodness) Blake discovers the location of Star One, which means we can happily leave the planet of Goth far behind and journey onwards to the climax of series two.