While Orac is otherwise busy trying to keep his lab funded, meet Orac

Grant deadlines strike again, and there’s no new Insolence for you to peruse today. (The problem with doing real science, as opposed to blogging, is that you actually have to apply endlessly for grant money, and, believe it or not, that comes first, before even Insolence.) Fortunately, I’ve been made aware of an endless source of entertainment for you, my readers. I’ve explained before from where I chose the pseudonym “Orac.” It was from what was at the time a popular British science fiction series that ran for four years back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Unfortunately, the passage of time has made it obscure, and in the US it’s particularly obscure, only having been shown in relatively few markets, mostly PBS, in the 1980s and 1990s.

In any case, Orac was a character in the show, a computer actually. The most powerful computer in the galaxy, he was known for a prickly personality (like that of his creator, Ensor), a tendency to be dismissive of concerns of the crew with whom he found himself, and only interested in what he was interested in. You can see why I picked him. In any case, I just discovered that the entire four year run of that now-obscure British science fiction series Blake’s 7 is now on YouTube. Disappointingly, the resolution is only 360p instead of the original 480p, but, let’s face it, given the quality of the special effects you probably won’t notice the difference anyway.

Low budget, 1970s/1980s era BBC special effects notwithstanding, it’s an awesome show, and you should try to watch all 52 episodes before the BBC makes whoever put the episodes up take them down. It’s a great series, featuring a band of rebels fighting a galactic empire with one of the greatest villains ever (Servalan) leading it. Unfortunately, Orac doesn’t appear until the very end of the first series—which in the first few episodes is mostly taken up with the origin story that describes how Roj Blake, former leader of the resistance but now seemingly safely brainwashed into subservient compliance, stumbled back into his former life after being falsely accused of pedophilia by the federation, came to lead a band of rebels escaped from federation prison ship, and acquired his legendary alien craft the Liberator—in an episode entitled, appropriately enough, Orac:

And the awesome conclusion in the first episode of the second series:

If you want to understand Orac, going to the source is a good place to start, at least until Orac is out from under this grant deadline.