It is not evident when the four compilation tapes were withdrawn, although it was probably before the complete set of twenty six tapes were released in 1991-92. It is stated on the back of the relevant boxes that parts of the episodes were first shown in 'the relevant composite tape'. (This information does not appear on the 20th Anniversary reissue of the series, in 1997.)
The videos are each about 120 minutes long, and are rated PG (Parental Guidance). All the boxes have an image of the Liberator on the front, with two or three stills on the back. All produced by David Maloney, with the directors of the several episodes indicated. BBCV 4326-4328 are 'by Terry Nation' and BBCV 4329 is 'by Terry Nation and Tanith Lee.' Not all the characters/actors appearing are mentioned.
The deletions are various and scattered throughout the episodes involved. Much of what can be described as 'historical' information has been deleted and the recaps or overlaps at the beginning of several episodes (Cygnus Alpha, Orac, and the first line of Powerplay) have been removed as unnecessary. Some subplots disappear entirely - for example Rai, and the previous expedition to Aristo. 'The Beginning' loses the equivalent of an episode and a half, compared to cuts equating to half an episode from the other three.
'The Beginning' shows the heaviest editing - starting with the opening sequence, which goes straight to Blake going through the corridor rather than the longer sequence of 'The Way Back.' The sequence of events is somewhat foreshortened in places - the video goes straight from Blake's return to the Dome to the closing sequence of his trial and then shows the prisoners leaving the holding cell for the London: only about 15 minutes of 'The Way Back' remain. Of the characters whose reasons for being sent to Cygnus Alpha is given on the original episodes, the histories of Vila, Jenna and Gan's have been removed, and only Avon's story is recounted, with a very truncated version given for Blake. Blake's lawyer is reduced to his unexplained presence at the trial verdict - at which he does not speak. The closing scene of 'The Way Back' where Blake says that he will return to Earth has been deleted. A number of the scenes on the London's flight deck have been removed, along with Vila's comment about the armoury, and Jenna's remark to Avon that some dreams are worth having. More cuts take place on the Liberator: the weapons bank is not shown, nor is Avon's posturing with his Liberator gun (but he is shown holding the weapon). Blake's makes only one visit to Cygnus Alpha, and does not get an account of Vargas' family history. Jenna and Avon consider what would happen should someone be teleported into space. With both 'Cygnus Alpha' and 'Time Squad' the order of scenes has been rearranged in part - to achieve a balance between the various plot strands that would otherwise uneven with the cuts. Scenes deleted from the two later episodes include Blake's resting in his cabin and some of the speculation on the origin and intent of the alien brood ship, and Cally's explanation that she is an Auronar. There is, however, one scene that appears in the compilation tape that is not included in the 'full' episode, in original or 20th anniversary issues. During the fight between Avon and Garton in the London's computer room Avon boxes the other man's ears. As this is potentially dangerous, it is understandable why the cut was made. (It should be noted that tape 1 of the 1991-92 series of tapes, unlike the others, is not marked 'two complete and unedited tapes' - which comment which does not appear on any of the twentieth anniversary tapes.)
BBCV 4327: Duel (Marked on the cover 'The sequel to "The Beginning".': titled on screen as 'Duel'.): Directed by Michael E Briant, Douglas Carnfield and Vere Lorimer. Stills on the back: Jenna, Avon and Vila on the Liberator' and 'Blake holding a Liberator gun to Travis' (still used for the cover of vol 4 of the 20th anniversary issue). Compiled from Seek-Locate-Destroy, Duel, and Project Avalon. In the 'Seek-Locate-Destroy' element of 'Duel' a considerable of the discussion about Travis has been removed - between Servalan, Bercol and Rontane, and between Servalan and Rai. There is no information about the original fight between Travis and Blake, beyond Blake's comment that he would recognise the man who had killed twenty of his friends. From the eponymous episode the opening dialogue of the episode, between Sinofar and Giroc has gone, as has the first encounter in the woods between Blake and Travis. Zen does not explain that the Liberator crew are seeing events through Sinofar's eyes. Avon's joke about Blake and Travis throwing nuts at each other, and his remark that one does not have to #show# one cares has gone. The mutoid Kiera's history is not given. The last scene from this episode is the Liberator leaving the system - no comment by Blake and Jenna about Sinofar, last encounter between Travis, Giroc and Sinfar, or closing scene on Travis' ship. In 'Project Avalon' the deletions are less obvious, the most noticeable being Vila's adjusting the settings on his thermal suit is shortened, and the scene where Travis is looking at a large screen with 'falling circles' has been deleted.
BBCV 4228: Orac ('The sequel to "Duel".' Title on tape 'Orac'). Directed by Michael E Briant and Vere Lorrimer. Stills on the back: 'Blake and Jenna' (still from 'Redemption'), 'Blake holding back the others' and 'Blake with Spaceworld guards, one holding a weapon to his neck'. Compiled from Deliverance, Orac, and Redemption. In the discussions between Ensor junior and Marriott in 'Deliverance' the reference to the Ensors' having thirty odd years' independence and the summary of Cephlon's fate have been removed. Chunks of the dialogue between Servalan and Travis have been deleted: the section launches straight into Servalan's telling Travis about Orac, and ends without no mention is made of Travis' connection with Marriott, or Travis comparing his and Servalan's ruthlessness. There is no mention of Gan's limiter as the trio look onto the Scavengers' camp on Cephlon, nor the exchange between Vila and Gan after they return to Meegat's domain. The beginning of the eponymous episode 'Orac' has been changed: the section opens with Cally meeting the ill Jenna and then Avon's slight dizzy spell. Blake's review of what happened to Ensor's spaceship has been removed (as partially redundant there is a jump straight to Blake spotting that the explosion is in the wrong place. Ensor's checking of his mechanical heart and playing his musical bird are deleted, as is his deciding to sleep. All mention of the earlier expedition - including the skeletons - is removed. All that remains of the 'meeting in the Liberator teleport chamber' is the statement that Blake and Cally have been down on the surface for two hours. Blake, Cally and Ensor's leaving the main room in the base has been simplified, as has Avon summoning Vila to the teleport unit and their going down to the surface of Aristo. 'Redemption': Blake and Avon's discussion about standing on the edge of a cliff has gone. So has part of Blake summoning Avon to deal with the cable, including Avon's reference to 'fearless leader' and Vila's placing even bets on Avon and Blake. Blake does not tell Avon about owing him one for the rescue. With the end titles both actors' names are given under 'Ensor', with no mention as to which is father and which son.
BBCV 4329: Aftermath. (On the tape, label and screen is 'The Aftermath') Directed by Fiona Cumming, Vere Lorrimer and David Maloney. Stills on the back: 'Avon and the Mellanbys', 'Dayna and Tarrant in a Liberator corridor', and 'Servalan tied to a pillory on Sarran.' Compiled from Aftermath, Powerplay and Sarcophagus. 'Aftermath': the scene between Vila and Cally after the life capsule leave the Liberator is deleted, as have parts of the scene between the two troopers on Sarran, including their being killed. The last few lines of the exchange after 'you fight well' have disappeared. Hal Mellanby does not give Avon Dayna's gun to test. Part of the discussion between Mellanby and Servalan on the massacre he experienced has been deleted like the other historical elements. Servalan does not tell Chel about the capacities of the weapon she has. Part of Vila's litany of complaints to Zen over the communicator has been removed as has his 'talking to his men', though Lom does make reference to them. As the exchange between Servalan and Cally after the former recognises the latter has been removed Cally's telling Vila that she thinks Avon is still alive is unclear. Avon's introduction of the unconscious Cally and Vila has gone, and this section of the tape ends with Dayna and Tarrant being 'introduced' to Zen, rather than with the joking about Vila's being one spare part or several. Sarcophagus: All that the 'Vila substitute' is shown doing is looking through the brass tube. The exchange between Cally and Avon, after Vila's joke about holding hands has been omitted, as has the latter part of the conversation between Tarrant and Avon after their squabble, from Avon's 'You talk too much,' down to Dayna's song (although she is later seen holding the lyre). The flying tray has fled, and Vila does not perform his tricks to applause. Dayna does not say he brings out her sadistic side, while there is no interaction with the floating lyre. Tarrant and Avon do not have their discussion about 'pawing the ground.' Tarrant's link, as he goes through the corridor, with the figure in red with a weapon is not made. Part of the discussion between the Alien and Tarrant, in which she refers to the Liberator is cut, and the Alien does not refer to Vila acting like an imbecile, or to Dayna's singing. The final explanatory discussion between Vila, Dayna and Tarrant has been largely cut.
Comments: If any of these four tapes approaches 'must have' status it would have to be the first tape, 'The Beginning.' This is mainly because it diverges so much from the four episodes upon which it is based.
The Begining is dated 1985 (MCMLXXXV) and has a BBFC sticker.
As far as I know, it seems to be exactly the same as the 1990 release ( except for the date and product code )....
It also came in a black case not see-thru like the later releases.
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Last updated on 20th of October 2003.