Programme 34 (15-October-77)


Expanding sun? Solar flare? Put your guesses in now! Also, do the non-white featured players indicate that this is London’s near future?

Thrill 1 – Invasion!

It’s a dangerous time to be in the British resistance… all too regularly people are willing to sell out their countrymen for the chance to curry the Volgs’ favor. One such man is Macgregor, who tries to turn in Savage for camping on his property. All the Volgans who show up to capture him are killed though, and when facing down the prospect of an execution, Macgregor begs Savage to sign up with the occupiers. Bill seems oddly convinced by this pitch, and runs off with Mac to deal with the Volgs.

The rest of the Mad Dogs feel betrayed, none of them seeming to understand that Savage always has a plan to escape Nazi clutches and kill everyone who tries to stop him. This time it seems that his plan is to ingratiate himself with Mac, who’s holding a dinner for Volgan officers that very night!

Yes, Mac is so convinced that Bill Savage, the most notorious Volg-hater in the entire country, has crossed over that he lets Bill drive a Volgan armored car right onto his property, where the officers are already having dinner, without leaving any guards outside to protect them. This allows Bill to load his armored car with explosives and send it right through the wall into the dining room, killing Mac and all the assembled officers. Also the frightened domestic staff who were serving the Volgs only under fear of death. Of course, Bill has never worried too much about innocent bystanders.

With all the Volgs dead Bill is free to steal Mac’s Rolls and drive back to pick up his compatriots. Then Bill reveals a little about his background, when he announces that he knows a ‘bloke’ down in Aberdeen who’ll give a good price for cars, no questions asked. Just what was Savage shipping back in his lorry driver days?

Thrill 2 – Judge Dredd

This can’t be! How can this episode be opening with Dredd’s death? All we know is that his funeral is a media circus, with everyone reporting generically on the tragedy. It seems that Dredd was shot by a mystery assassin, and is now being afforded the biggest funeral in Mega-City history. Including weird butchering of Shakespeare quotes!

Other people eulogizing include Judge Gibson, who claims to have been one of Dredd’s best friends. Since the idea of Dredd having friends is utterly ridiculous, and we’ve never heard of Gibson before, I surmise that he must be the killer. A surmumption that proves wholly accurate just one page later, when Gibson flashes back to events he wasn’t present for, namely Dredd examining the MO of famed bank robber ‘Mutie the Pig’

Seeing as there’s only three left-handed Judges in the entire justice department who use that particular technique, Dredd is able to narrow the suspect list down to three, of which only one was in town when the robberies occurred… Gibson.

Hold on a second – can there really be this few an amount of left-handed Judges? How many judges are there, anyways? This is a city of hundreds of millions of people. New York city has 10 million people, and they have like 40 thousand cops – so about one in every 250 people is a police officer. Assuming that a crime-infested hell-hole like Mega-City 1 has the same percentage of Judges to the normal population, this should mean that there’s more than a million judges. With one in seven being left-handed, that’s a pool of over a hundred thousand left-handed judges. And only three use that aiming technique?

These are just back of the envelope calculations, of course, and I won’t know for sure until the comic actually provides us with some concrete numbers for Judges in Mega-City 1, but still, it seems like a stretch.

Proving that Gibson is a pretty decent criminal, he was watching Dredd’s investigation from across the street – because it’s plausible that the main computer room of Justice Central has a window – and shoots Dredd while he stands at the computer. Expecting, I guess, that the other judges who rush in to check on Dredd won’t notice the fact that the computer readout shows the names of three possible suspects for the MTP crimes, including himself.

The next day is declared a city-wide day of mourning, and the weather control turns on the snow. Gibson goes out for another robbery, but he’s foiled in mid-crime by Dredd, who’s somehow not dead! Tune in next time for the shocking explanation!

Judge Dredd Kill Count (38)

Thrill 3 - Shako

It looks like time’s running out for Shako. He’s injured and there’s a snow-cat bearing donw on him. His one advantage? It’s the middle of a blizzard, so the whole world looks the same colour as he does.

Jake and another redshirt track Shako to his cave, but unbeknownst to them Shako heard them coming, and is lying in wait above the entrance! He leaps down and corners the two men in the back of the cave, making redshirt drop his rifle, then lies down at the entrance, blocking their escape and waiting until he gets hungry.

At this point, you may be asking yourself why Jake doesn’t just shoot the hell out of Shako with his pistol. I mean, he’s only got one arm, yeah, but he can still hold a gun. The answer is… terrible writing! Yup, no explanation for Jake chasing down a killer polar bear completely unarmed is offered by the story.

Jake buys himself a little time by throwing his redshirt to the hungry yogi, then grabbing an icicle with which to stab the bear when it goes to sleep. For some reason he doesn’t go for the fatal neck stab, hoping instead to distract the bear with a haunch stab, giving him enough time to grab the rifle. Here’s how that works out.

With all the key members of the team dead, Buck Dollar comes to a conclusion. It’s time to get serious, and kill Shako. Um, you know, if you’d done that when he was drugged, all those other people you're feeling guilty about would still be alive.

Just a thought.

With Jake and redshirt both being mauled quickly, that brings the total number Shako’s victims to have died ‘real slow’ to 2 out of 43, or roughly 4%

Thrill 4 – Dan Dare (?/Gibbons)

After saving the Phoenicians last week, Dan received in return a map to some other interesting ‘lost worlds’. On their way to the closest, the jungle-covered ‘green world’, a stowaway makes his presence known. It’s a space monkey! One of the crew tries to kill it (one of the problems of crewing your ship with violent psychopaths), but Bear stops him – killing a monkey is bad luck in space, because monkeys were the first astronauts!

You know, that’s a really good fake superstition. I’ll have to remember it.

After landing on the surface Dan and company start chopping their way through the undergrowth. Why are they bothering with this planet at all? Because the other members of the lost worlds are terrified of the monsters that live there, and Dan thinks that by slaughtering a few, they can build a rep. Doesn’t it seem like killing all those space pirates would have handled that already?

The away team doesn’t get more than a few feet into the jungle before men start mysteriously disappearing. But how? There aren’t any animals around, nothing but closely-spaced trees! I’m guessing you’re seeing this twist coming, right?

Yup, the planet is covered with killer walking trees. Dark young, if you prefer. Dan and his men open fire on the monstrosities as the episode draws to a close – now that’s a cliffhanger!


That’s a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s basically the solar focusing mirror from that episode of Futurama!

In addition to the story there’s an interesting letter this week – Earthlet Crispin Julian asks what happened to the other robots that helped out with the rebellion. It seems that Howard is now a cab driver, J70/13 is trying to become the first robot judge, and Stewart got a little too into his pleasure circuits, and wound up destroying himself with too much pleasure. Which sounds a little like Futurama as well.

There’s also a weird pitch for prog 35.

Yes, she can. It happened last week. How’d Tharg miss that one?

Thrill 5 – MACH 1

It seems a group of British mountaineers are attempting to climb Everest by the most direct route – but then a few of them are swept away by an avalanche while approaching camp! That’s the tenth avalanche on the trip so far, and the men are getting scared to continue. Their fears are justified when an ice wall in front of them melts, revealing some frozen mountaineers!

Probe is sent in to check on the missing mountaineers, and he finds the oddly warm section of the mountain where all the corpses have been revealed. Following the heat to its source, he finds a giant solar energy collection station just below the summit! Before he can investigate further or make a report Probe finds himself under attack by a guard! The man is quickly incapacitated, but then Probe is drugged with a syringe before he can get any answers!

The episode ends there, suggesting that Probe has wholeheartedly adopted the multipart story thing, which is a great idea. Now if that karate-master would just make another appearance…

Thrill 6 – Future Shock

The future shock opens in medias res, with a group of Ezquerra-drawn spacemen fleeing an alien bat-monster that’s bent on sucking their blood! Rimmer, one of the crewmembers, is bitten, but his friends manage to drag him on board.

Safely away in space, Rimmer finds himself quickly changing into a beast – one that craves blood! He begins to devour his crewmates, who find their stunners and deathrays useless against his magic powers! Soon every member of the crew is dead, save for the cook, so Rimmer heads down the galley to finish his work-

Time to guess the twist, folks. Lock in your answers, then read on.

It seems that while all the other crewmen are too scientifically-minded to know how to stop a vampire, the chef is something of a classicist.

Final Thoughts

Best Story: Future Shock – That was a space vampire, damn it. And I refuse to apologize for loving space vampires. Especially magical, rather than scientific space vampires.

Worst Story: Shako – Explain to me why Jake didn’t have a pistol and I’ll rescind the ranking, Shako. But don’t try to pull this crap again, got me?

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