Blake's 7: An Episode by Episode Re-Evaluation

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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I'm the other way around, Blake was always my favourite character, but as I have got older I have started to see that Blake might not have been as clear cut hero as my younger self felt. It will be interesting to see how things go this time around. Avon certainly seems to get the better lines.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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Episode 7: Mission to Destiny

The Liberator investigates an apparently stricken ship and the crew find themselves in a murder. As Blake takes the valuable cargo in an attempt to get it to the planet Destiny as a favour to the crew, Avon is left behind to try and repair the ship – and solve a murder, the problem is more bodies begin to appear…

This starts off as what looks like a weaker episode. The tactical displays are poor although on their favour they try and give the idea of three dimensions. The space ship adrift in space looks particularly bad, but inside the controls look dated but functional. There are still some funny futurisms, like the pilot leaning forward to speak into a microphone, or a pen that has been redesigned to make it look futuristic. Although not particularly detailed the corridors on the ship look quite good, and strangely there is the feeling of being on a ship.

The story itself is one of those that could appear in any show, but the thing that saves the episode is Paul Darrow. This is mostly Avon’s story and he takes the ball and runs with it. You can see him enjoying every moment of the limelight, as Avon tries to repair the ship and track down the killer. There are some great moments, from his Sherlock Holmes like deductions, through to a Miss Marple moment when he presents his findings to the room. In the end it is he that solves the case and even has the humility to say that he was looking in the wrong place to begin with. He also gets an appropriate snarky line.

There is the feeling that Nation, having introduced Cally as a telepath does not really know how to use the character, as she seems to be slightly lacking in direction here.

Blake and the others are relegated to the side lines, and probably has one of the biggest faults in the season, apparently as part of the drama. As the Liberator speeds towards the planet Destiny it finds the path blocked by one of the biggest meteor storms they have ever seen. To go round it will add days to the journey, so they opt to go through it with shields on full and speed up high. They only just make it and even then have to drop the shields and pray they can make it.

A few hours later they have to urgently turn tail and head back to Avon and the ship, but despite being low on power they don’t seem to run into the meteor storm which should be just behind them!

An average episode then, raised above that by Avon.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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It is really, but still gets a great Avon line.

Cally: My people have a saying, "A man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken."

Avon: The life expectancy must be fairly short among your people.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
It is really, but still gets a great Avon line.

Cally: My people have a saying, "A man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken."

Avon: The life expectancy must be fairly short among your people.
Ah, that brought it back, thank you. As I recall, Cally was painfully serious in it. She really was a lady needed taken out, fed lots of sauvignon, and told to please, please, learn to chill a bit. :D
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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Ah, that brought it back, thank you. As I recall, Cally was painfully serious in it. She really was a lady needed taken out, fed lots of sauvignon, and told to please, please, learn to chill a bit. :D
That seems fair enough! I think that so far she has been the most disappointing character, and the most underused. At the same I have to ask myself is she meant to be the way she is? She is meant to be an alien, combined with being the sole survivor of a destroyed resistance group perhaps she isn't serious really, it's just alien! (Nothing a little tipple would not help of course!)
 

Perpetual Man

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Episode 8: Duel

With the Liberator out desperately low on power the crew decide to rest in orbit around a desolate world. While Blake decides to stretch his legs he notices three pursuit ships closing in on the ship – Travis has found them. Unfortunately they are caught in a perfect trap and can’t escape, they can only take hit after hit waiting for the power to drain. In an act of desperation Blake decides to ram Travis’ ship.

It is stopped at the last moment by two powerful female entities on the planet below. Travis and Blake are brought to the surface. Everything is disabled they are told they will have to fight to the death. The winner’s ships will be allowed to escape or finish their attack.

Blake and Travis are joined by one crew member and proceed to fight. Blake wins and the Liberator is fully recharged and allowed to escape.

*****

This has the feel of another ‘filler’ episode, although it is not a bad one. I always remember this as being not the best of episodes, but this time around I quite enjoyed it.

The two entities are Sinofar and Giroc, the former a young, attractive woman the voice of reason, while the other is an old crone, but one that cannot quite let go of her violent past – she almost steals the show.

Although almost destroyed Sinofar tells us that the planet once held a wonderful species, but one that could not get beyond violence and war. In the end the two opposing factions all but obliterated each other leaving deformed mutants and sterile humans that slowly died out. Apart from the end this could also be seen as the genesis of Doctor Who’s Daleks – also created by Terry Nation.

Now the two survivors test those who fall into their area of influence to see if any race is capable of letting go of the violence that plagues them.

The Liberator is caught cold. I don’t know whether it was intentional but it shows that although an active and successful freedom fighter, Blake has little skill as a tactician – especially in space. Travis on the other hand comes across as an able commander who captures the Liberator perfectly, there is little doubt he would have destroyed it if not for the intervention of Sinofar.

On the other hand when it comes to people, Travis shows a woeful lack of empathy.

We are introduced to Federation personnel called Mutoids. They are humans who have been altered into something akin to machines. They have no recollection of previous lives, and apparently little interest in it. They survive by ingesting plasma. In a pinch they are able to use blood – animal or human to survive.

There is very little for the rest of the Liberator crew to do, only Blake and Jenna get any serious limelight.

Blake lets Travis live again, using the same argument that he knows he can beat him.

The fight between Travis and Blake is probably the best staged fight we have seen yet. It looks as though Travis really hits Blake on occasion.

I’m beginning to see why Avon was so popular. He is relegated to a back seat this episode, but still manages to get the best lines (well apart from Giroc).

There is the slightest of hints that Avon may have been hurt emotionally in the past, but does not go much beyond a pause before answering a question.

Vila: Have you thought of another plan?

Avon: Yes. I'm going to get some sleep.

Vila: How can you sleep with all this happening?

Avon: With all what happening? Blake is sitting up in a tree, Travis is sitting up in another tree. Unless they're planning to throw nuts at one another, I don't see much of a fight developing before it gets light.




Avon: If any of our control systems are damaged by the impact, we will be helpless.
Roj Blake: We're not exactly in a commanding position now.
Jenna Stannis: Activating!
Roj Blake: Have you got any better ideas?
[violent impact. As Blake and Avon reel back, Avon clutches Blake protectively]
Avon: As a matter of fact, no I haven't.
Roj Blake: Does that mean you agree?
Avon: Do I have a choice?
Roj Blake: Yes.
Avon: Then I agree.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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Keep it up.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of a remake?
Thanks Rodders I shall, I generally get the chance to watch two episodes at the weekend, but it will keep me going, every now and then I might get to sneak another.

The possibility of the remake? It is something that has been kicked around for years, with a couple of serious attempts getting under way and ultimately failing. As Jo says, Paul Darrow walked from the last one which seems to have stopped it in it's tracks.

When you look at Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, both have/were really successful reimaginings/continuations of old series, could the same work for Blake's 7?

If something did happen it would have to be done right, possibly with the input of original actors/creators. A total reboot taking the basic premise and developing in it's own way would be interesting, or a continuation set years after the final episode could be interesting. But a simple retelling of the original series would probably fall flat.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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I meant to continue with this over the weekend, and was looking forward to the next two episodes, but a corrupted hard drive has put paid to all plans for the weekend as I have been trying to get it up and running again before I go back to work on Monday (It was the work computer) and its not called Zen. Or Orac.
 

paranoid marvin

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Hey, a great thread with some insightful comments.

I too am revisiting the series , and agree that some episodes are better than others.

It is a shame, and a little surprising, that there hasn't been a remake, as the storyline is a strong one.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
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Thanks PM!

I'm not sure how I feel about the possibility of a remake. There have been so many attempts and suggestions, and everything seems to fall flat. I'm not sure what would work better a remake or a continuation. I'm sure it will happen sooner or later.
 

Perpetual Man

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Episode 9: Project Avalon

This is one of those episodes that I remember in two different ways. The first is that it was boring, especially back in the day. The second it was also the centre piece of the second Blake’s 7 novel released.

With the former in mind I was quite looking forward to seeing the episode again as I was intrigued how the older me would see it.

I think it is safe for me to say that I have decided it is probably one of the high points of the season so far.

If Blake is considered the ultimate face of the resistance, then Avalon is not far behind him, a name that is used to unify many behind her on various worlds. Now she needs extraction and Blake moves in to accomplish his task. Only to find her group has been eradicated – apart from one man, and Avalon has been taken hostage by the Federation – with Travis behind it all and with a cunning plan no less.

There are some great twists and turns, no real outstanding dialogue, but it does not matter because the power is in the plot. There are some really nice touches – despite the fact that could be seen as stereotypical bad guys, the Federation comes across as quite efficient. Travis is already under pressure for his failure to capture Blake. He feels hamstrung over having to capture the Liberator rather than destroy it.

It is luck that undoes the plan really. Even though Servalan hauls Travis over the coals at the end of the episode, his plan succeeded. The viral agent would have shattered if it had not been dropped onto a jacket that happened to fall on the floor.

Blake continues to show that he can be rather smug when it comes to beating Travis.

The design of the base seems quite good, although you can tell that the walls have some form of grey sticky back plastic over them due to the air bubbles.

The writing is weaker than it has been, possibly due to the pressure Terry Nation was under to get the scripts out. He over explains point and emphasises things too much giving away some of the twists. Travis’ final rant at the end is delivered as well as Greif is able, but the dialogue is so pantomime it is hard for it to be taken seriously.

It is probably the most we have seen the guns used so far.

The fighting is quite a bit better.

The main mutoid in the episode is played by Glynis Barber – later to be Soolin, one of the 7.
 

Perpetual Man

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I seem to be falling behind here, a lot more than I would have liked, sorry to anyone following. I've started to watch another episode today, so there maybe a post or two over the next 24 hours....
 

Perpetual Man

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Episode 10 Breakdown

This episode delivers a simple idea, but what that is surprisingly effective. As they are travelling Gan’s limiter breaks down, causing him immense pain and driving him to violent acts against the crew. In desperation they try to help him, but as the limiter continues to fail he becomes more violent and it will eventually kill him.

They are forced to seek help from an independent space station, but ion order to get there they must cross an area of space that Zen designates as too dangerous. When they continue the computer turns himself off.

It is nice to see David Jackson’s Gan given a meaty role, even if he does not have to do much other than growl and moan in pain. Cally gets to play a bigger role and you can really notice the way she speaks. I’m not sure whether it is the way that Jan Chappell is a weak actor or whether it is her portrayal of an alien – either way it works and is effective, the speech disjointed and inflections wrong. She also has a naiveté and innocence that causes her to make mistakes.

There are more than normal fight sequences in the episode, and they are better than we have seen, but they still look choreographed as though the actors don’t want to hurt each other.

The special effects are their normal mix of good model work and weak execution, just making the best that the BBC could manage. The space station looks quite good, and there is one sequence with the Liberator that stands out as being one of the highlights of the series.

The characterisation is good, as always although everyone seems to be settling into their roles. There are a few nice touches, Vila explaining why he stays with Blake being one of the best. Once again though it is Avon who steals the show by admitting he has had enough of the risk and danger and that he is going to jump ship. He actually puts the plan in motion, but when he realises the decision is the wrong one sides and stays with Blake.

Blake continues to show a measure of trust in Avon.

There is an appearance with a self-important genius doctor by a young Julian Glover. He and Blake get the best moment in the episode when feeling threatened he tells Blake there is nothing he can do to him, to which Blake replies he will break his hands, the ultimate threat to someone who needs them for his surgery.

A solid episode where just desserts are received.
 

Perpetual Man

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Episode 11: Bounty

Blake leads the Liberator and his crew to a planet where a president lives in exile. He lost the election on his home world, and now lives amongst antiques and facsimiles trying his best to forget about his past. Strangely the Federation are worried for his wellbeing and protect him with a number of troopers. Blake and Cally attempt to convince him to change his mind, while the remainder of the crew go to the rescue of a space liner with unfortunate results.

Although we are only 11 episodes in, and coming toward the end of the first season, there is already a set pattern to some episodes forming, a default setting if you will. Blake and a member of the crew go off on a mission. Something happens to distract the crew of the Liberator, and when things get hairy for Blake and he needs a quick rescue there is no-one there. (Until the last second of course.)

There are some interesting ideas, the antiques that the President collects are all old by 1970’s standards, whether they would have survived another 500 years is anyone’s guess. I guess it is what the BBC could get their hands on, without having to make loads and loads of props.

We get to see a lot more of the Liberator interior, and as a whole the sets look quite good.

There is a nice bit of vagueness over whether Jenna has changed sides or not. This works quite well, I guess on first viewing it would be easy to believe that she has joined the bounty hunters.

Gan is prepared to sacrifice himself for the crew. This is something that will have greater importance later.

The Federation are once again shown to be subtle, not just an all-conquering juggernaut. Their plan for taking over a planet is quite simple but effective, saving on men, time and energy.

The cast performs well, and guest star T P McKenna is good value for money.

The fights still look distinctly choreographed.

An average episode then, but still with a certain something that keeps it going.
 
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